26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Hie PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 preface a question lo the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral by drawing attention to a rather dubious allegation that an officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation approached a student of the Western Australian University and asked him to inform on I he activities of other students, and also that other students were involved. Will the Minister request the Attorney-General to investigate this allegation?
– The answer is yes.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. ls it a fact that, because of damage by vandals to public telephones, the Postmaster-General’s Department has decided gradually to withdraw public telephones? If this is true, what provision is being made for substitution for this most essential service to the community?
– I do know thai there has been a great deal of damage done to public telephones by vandals which has caused very great concern to the Postmaster-General and which has represented a very great disservice to the people who usually use these telephones. I cannot tell the honourable senator what plans the Postmaster-General has concerning this matter, but I shall certainly place the honourable senators question before the Postmaster-General and obtain a reply for him.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Further to the answer given by the Minister to representations made on behalf of the Tasmanian apple and pear growers for a subsidy on export fruit, in which he stated that the Government would experience a constitutional difficulty in granting a subsidy to an industry in only one State, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Does this debar the apple and pear industry of Australia from making further representations for assistance in connection with losses caused through devaluation of the British currency or by the continuity of the present low market returns from overseas? Will the Government give further consideration to any request for assistance from the Australian industry? In any further review of the situation, will the Government ensure that Tasmanian interests are fully represented, bearing in mind the significance of the apple and pear industry to the economic welfare of Tasmania?
– I should like to assure the honourable senator that the Government is fully aware of the importance of this industry to Tasmania and of the vicissitudes that the growers in that State have suffered. I shall put his request to the Minister for Primary Industry and ascertain whether it can be acceded to.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. In view of the newspaper report that a Canberra meat wholesaler is importing New Zealand lamb into Australia and selling it at about 10c per lb below the price for Australian lamb, can the Minister give me information about the weekly imports of New Zealand lamb over the last 4 to 6 weeks and the proportion of fresh meat brought in by air as against frozen meat by sea?
– Records of imports are not maintained on a weekly basis. Official monthly figures which are available only for the first two months of this year show that import clearances were 1 tons in January and 43.6 tons in February, making a total of 43.7 tons for the 2 months. 1 understand that about 87% of imports in this period were by air, the remaining 13% being by sea. The average annual Australian production of lamb is 220,000 tons. The New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement contains safeguards to protect Australian industry from disruption due to increased imports. If there is any subsequent information that the honourable senator may want, I have no doubt that he will make representations to me, upon which I may be able to get some further information.
– Can the Minister for Repatriation advise what repatriation or other benefits are available to Australian war correspondents, Army chaplains and civil aid workers or their dependants when such persons are injured or pay the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam or any other theatre of war? Having seen the great work performed by these men and women, T ask what assistance is given to them or their dependants in the case of fatal or less serious injuries.
– Some time ago this question arose and the position was being examined as to whether these people were to be placed in the same category as that in which similar personnel were placed in World War I and World War II. I am not quite sure whether a decision has been arrived at yet but I shall find out and let the honourable senator know.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Will the Minister make a statement on yesterday’s Naval fuelling mishap on Sydney Harbour which resulted in certain foreshore oil pollution. Besides revising existing re-fuelling methods, will the Navy meet any of the resultant expense to harbourside municipal councils of reclamation work?
– In anticipation of a question on this subject, I asked the Minister for the Navy for information and the following is the information supplied to me: HMAS ‘Supply’ was scheduled to move from Cockatoo Island Dockyard to Garden Island Dockyard at 10 a.m. on Monday, 6th May. Before the ship moved it was decided to correct a slight list by pumping oil from No. 2 tank aft to a wing of No. 6 tank forward. During this operation there was an escape of oil through a sea valve. It was noticed almost immediately and corrective action was taken. Some 6 tons of oil escaped into the harbour. The ship remained alongside at Cockatoo Island Dockyard for 4 hours beyond the scheduled time of departure in order that the ship’s hull would assist in containing the escaped oil and in order that steps could be taken to neutralise the oil that was accessible. Arrangements were made for a floating boom to contain the contaminated area after the ship moved and for the neutralising operation to continue. A detailed inquiry into the cause of the escape of oil is in process.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry and it follows upon the question asked by Senator Henty regarding the plight of the apple and pear industry in Tasmania. I ask: In view of the grave consequences of devaluation, low market returns, the grip that the conference lines shipping oligarchy has on the Tasmanian apple and pear trade, and the rejection by the Minister for Primary Industry on behalf of the Government of a request for price support for apple and pear exports from Tasmania to the United -Kingdom and Europe this year on the ground thai it would involve Commonwealth assistance to part only of an Australian-wide industry, wilt the Minister propose that special officers of the Department of Trade and Industry be posted to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Peking, Manila. Singapore, Djakarta and other Asian areas with a view to gaining alternative markets for the finest apples grown anywhere in the world?
Ser.alor ANDERSON - The honourable senator has asked a question in relation to the promotion of Tasmanian apples. I believe I can say that we in the Senate are as one in our appreciation of the Tasmanian apple and that we all have a genuine desire to see trade promotion in the apple industry. Il is equally true to say. as might be expected, that honourable senators from other Stages also would want to advocate the promotion of the apple industry in their States. The question asked .by Senator 0’Byrne is directed to trade promotion and therefore 1 will direct it to the Minister for Trade and Industry. In due course I hope to have an answer to give to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls it a fact that the visit of the Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi, will lake place’ during the week that the Parliament will be in recess? ls it also a fact that a parliamentary luncheon will be tendered to Mrs Gandhi at a time when most members will be absent from Canberra, so that a fully representative gathering is nol likely at such a lime? In view of the high status of this visitor, who is the Prime Minister of a large and influential member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the only woman Prime Minister in the world, would it be possible for the Parliament to defer the recess for one week so that all members might pay their tribute of respect to a friendly nation and its most distinguished leader, one of the world’s great women?
– J am sure we all would agree that the visit of the Prime Minister of India is an important occasion for Australia and that Mrs Gandhi, as a woman and as Prime Minister of India, is one of the outstanding personalities in ‘ the political arena of the world. The sittings of both the House of Representatives and the Senate were determined a considerable time ago. The arrangement was calculated to enable members of the House of Representatives and honourable senators to prearrange their commitments in their constituencies and States. It is unfortunate that the visit by this very important person will coincide with the week in which the two Houses will nol be in session. Nevertheless I am hopeful - and I am sure the Government will be most desirous - that as many members and senators as possible, who have not predetermined commitments, will he able to come to Canberra on the occasion of Mrs Gandhi’s visit, to meet her and to be present at the functions that will be provided for her here.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. ls il a fact that the United Nations Conference on Human Rights at present . meeting, in Teheran adopted, without opposition and with very few abstensions, a resolution urging a world wide ban on Nazi and racist organisations? Did the Australian representative vote for this resolution? The Press does noi indicate the answer to that question. If not, why did he not do so? In the light of the attitude expressed in the resolution, does not the Minister consider that recent Nazi-type activities and propaganda in several Australian States require Commonwealth Government attention?
– I am without knowledge of the resolution to which the honourable senator refers, but 1 shall inform myself of it. I shall take the earliest opportunity to advise the honourable senator on the attitude of the Australian representative towards the resolution.
– 1 ask my question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the basis that he is aware of the murder, in particularly callous circumstances, of three Australian journalists in Saigon last weekend. ] assume that he has read the credible eye witness account of what actually occurred. Does the Minister regard these killings as atrocities by the Vietcong? If so, has the Government information as to other atrocities committed by the Vietcong and vouched for by credible witnesses? Will the Government consider making available details of such atrocities so that the Australian public will be better informed of the horrors to which the South Vietnamese people have been subjected and will be subjected unless satisfactory guarantees are obtained in the peace settlement which we. hope will eventuate?
– I am sure that the whole world regards what happened in Saigon with abhorrence, and there can be no doubt that it was, in fact, an atrocity of the worst possible kind. So far, 1 have only been able to read what has been published in the Press about the matter, but it was made abundantly clear by the survivor that these journalists were shot down in cold blood. They were obviously members of the Press and they clearly were not armed. They were travelling in an open vehicle.
– Are you sure they were not armed?
– That fact has been confirmed by the eye witness who was a member of the unfortunate party. 1 would respectfully suggest to the honourable senator that he should stay away from this, lt was an appalling incident and I suggest it would disgust the whole of the free world and any person Who has any element of humanity in him. lt is shocking to think that people who are going about doing their work in a non-combatant way can be shot down viciously as were these journalists. This was an atrocity of the worst possible form and when all the facts are revealed I am sure that the revulsion that is in the hearts and minds of people will be accentuated. As to the remainder of the question, I should like the honourable senator to put it on notice so that I can get a full and comprehensive answer regarding other incidents which may have occurred. I deplore, as I am sure does everybody else, that such a degrading and horrible thing should have happened.
– Can the
Minister for Repatriation say whether Australian war correspondents or their dependants are eligible to receive repatriation benefits from the Commonwealth Government?
– I thought that the honourable senator was present when I answered a similar question asked by Senator Fitzgerald. The answer 1 gave to Senator Fitzgerald is the answer to Senator McClelland.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate look at question No. 184 on the notice paper, which I put there 3 weeks ago, relating to the bravery of pressmen in Vietnam? I asked whether the Government would consider making some meritorious award to such people - Pat Burgess, one of the men involved in the Saigon incident is an example - who are in danger as much as are our troops. Will the Minister examine the question?
– Yes. I certainly will examine the question to see whether 1 can get a prompt reply for the honourable senator. However, on the general question I should like to add to what 1 said earlier. I am sure our very real and very heartfelt sympathy goes out to the relatives of those persons who were killed in the tragic affair in Saigon.
(Question No. 4)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What action has been taken to define the authority of the Judge Advocate-General of the Air Force following the findings of the Courts
Martial Appeal Tribunal in the recent case involving Corporal S. F. Wilson, No. 79 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force?
– The Minister for Air has supplied the following answer:
No action has been taken to implement the suggestion made by the Courts Martial Appeal Tribunal to the effect that the rulings of the Judge Advocate-General should be made binding on serving members of the RAAF. The duties of the Judge Advocate-General in the RAAF . may be summarised as follows:
Review of procedures of all courts martial and advice to the convening authority as to whether the trial has been properly conducted and whether finding and/or sentence should be confirmed;
When a petition against finding and/or sen tence is submitted to the Air Board, not being a petition under the Courts Martial Appeals Act 1955, advice to the Air Board as to whether the petition should be upheld or dismissed;
When a petition against finding is lodged with the Air Board in accordance with the Courts Martial Appeals Act 1955, advice to the Air Board as to whether the petition should be upheld or dismissed;
Providing opinions on matters of law and procedure at courts martial and summary trials as required by the Department of Air; and
Advising service legal officers who act as judge advocates at courts martial on matters of law and procedure.
It will be clear from the above that the opinions of the Judge Advocate-General of the RAAF are, and traditionally have always been, purely advisory. Therefore, although his advice is always given due weight by members of the Air Force, it would be inconsistent with the nature of his office to give such advice a binding effect.
Further, the establishment in 1955 of the Courts Martial Appeal Tribunal as the final arbiter on questions of Service law has removed any advantage there may have been in giving such force to his opinions.
(Question No. 55)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What has been done to implement the recommendations on vehicle design and safety equipment of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety that-
‘The motor trade should install seat belts of an approved standard in all motor vehicles. Road safety authorities should give publicity to. the advantages of wearing seat belts’, and
‘The co-operation of the motor car industry should be sought for the installation of approved safety devices and equipment in cars”?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers:
Federal and State road safely organisations are giving continuous publicity to the desirability of using safety bells, and it could also be said that private organisations including the insurance and motor industries are active in promoting acceptance of safety belts.
The function of the panel is to study and make recommendations to the Australian Transport Advisory Council on matters associated with vehicle design affecting road safety.
The Australian Transport Advisory Council has adopted recommendations of the panel concerning door latches and hinges, seat anchorages, seat belts and seat belt anchorages.
The motor vehicle industry is co-operating in the formation of recommendations. A member of the panel is an engineer nominated by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Safety features such as seat belts are now provided as standard equipment by a number of manufacturers.
(Question No. 78)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Records are maintained on a 1st July to 30th June basis. The term ‘servicemen’ embraces all men undergoing detention, i.e. Navy, Army and Air Force members.
In addition to these figures for within Australia, the following figures refer to detentions in the Australian Force Vietnam Detention Barrack since its establishment on 1st June 1967:
(Question No. Ill)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In the event of employees of the Commonwealth Public Service or of a Commonwealth instrumentality volunteering for Army service in Vietnam, is there any guarantee given of their reinstatement in their jobs on discharge from the Army: or is it a fact that no such guarantee is extended as the official view is that Australia is not at war?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No provision exists for a person to volunteer specifically for service in Vietnam, although it might reasonably be assumed that a person who enlists in the Permanent Forces and who wishes to serve in Vietnam would, at some stage, serve in that locality.
Until recently, officers and employees of the Commonwealth Public Service joining the Permanent Forces for full-time military service were required to resign. As a result, however, of amendments to the Public Service Regulations recently approved, an officer or employee may be granted leave without pay for a period not exceeding 3 years for full-time voluntary service with the Naval Forces, the Military Forces or the Air Force.
Whilst the grant of leave is not mandatory, careful consideration will be given by the Public Service Board to such applications with special regard to both:
Australia’s overseas defence commitments and the continuing need for volunteers for full-time defence service: and
a deliberate weighing of the relative advantages to the defence forces and the Public Service, respectively involved in the release of the officer or employee from his normal Public Service duties.
Where leave is granted under these conditions, no question of formal resignation and reinstatement is involved as the officer or employee resumes duty at the expiration of his approved period of leave without any loss of status in the intervening period.
Whilst the initial grant of leave is for a period not exceeding 3 years, this period may be extended where the officer or employee concerned is required to render additional service.
Consideration is being given to the extension of similar provisions to the employees of Commonwealth instrumentalities.
(Question No. 116)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What action is the Government taking to control that part of overseas investment which the Minister has said is dangerous, particularly where it involves full ownership and control of Australian resources and industries.
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
The Government welcomes . overseas investment in Australia, particularly where it is likely to lead to -the development of new industries or to the improvement and extension of existing industries. On balance, overseas investment has brought great advantages to Australia. However, all aspects of overseas investment in Australia are kept under continuing study by the Government.
(Question No. 140)
Senator KEEFFE (through Senator
Poyser) asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Does the Government intend to protest against or resist in any way the resumption of French nuclear tests in the Pacific?
What is the current measurement of fallout in (a) Queensland and (b) the Atherton Tableland, Queensland, of strontium 90, strontium 89, caesium 137 and iodine 131?
When the tests for this year are completed, will the Government announce the results of fallout for the radiation isotopes as listed above in the same areas?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
ANZUS Council, at which Mr Hasluck, Mr Holyoake and Mr Rusk represented the Australian, New Zealand and United States Governments respectively, included the following sentence in the communique issued after the meeting:
Noting the continued atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by Communist China and France, the Ministers re-affirmed their opposition to all atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in disregard of world opinion as expressed in the nuclear test ban treaty’.
(Question No. 145)
Senator KEEFFE (through Senator
Poyser) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What was the total expenditure for the 12- month period ended 29th February 1968, for (a) Navy, (b) Army and (c) Air Force?
Flow much of this expenditure was directly or indirectly incurred as a result of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam?
How much of the expenditure was caused by other overseas commitments?
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 151)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 153)
Senator KEEFFE (through Senator
Poyser) asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
As numerous dismissals have taken place in the mining fields in the Ipswich district, will the Government examine the possibility of granting a special Commonwealth loan to the Ipswich City Council for the purpose of providing employment for displaced miners and other unemployed persons in the Ipswich district?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question: ft has been the long established general policy of the Commonwealth not to provide finance direct to local government authorities. As local authorities are constituted and function under State laws the Commonwealth’s view is that the responsibility rests with the Stale Governments to determine to what extent the financial resources available to these authorities should be supplemented and what form any such supplementary assistance should take. The financial assistance grants which the Commonwealth provides to the States are made on the basis of a formula which virtually ensures that they will increase each year at a faster rate than the growth of the economy as a whole. The States themselves are free to allocate these grants for any purposes, including the provision of financial assistance to local authorities. The Australian Loan Council has, with Commonwealth support, substantially increased the amount which individual local authorities may borrow without approval in the current financial year.
(Question No. 172)
Senator KEEFFE (through Senator
Poyser) asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice.
– I now provide the following answer:
(Question No. 178)
Senator KEEFFE (through Senator
Poyser) asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Are ‘D’ security notices being usedto restrict Australian Press, radio and television agencies in their use of news despatches from the Vietnam war area?
– The Prime Minis ter has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There are no ‘D’ notices restricting the reporting of news despatches from the Vietnam war area.
(Question No. 206)
asked the Minis ter representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Is a claim by a taxpayer for eisteddfod expenses of one of his children allowable as a deduction under the item of educational expenses? If not, why not?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer:
For income tax purposes the term ‘education expenses’ means expenses necessarily incurred by the taxpayer for or in connection with full time education at a school, college or university or from a tutor.
It is accepted that the term applies not only to direct school expenses but also to private tuition for the purpose of assisting the child in his academic studies at the school at which he is receiving full time education. The cost of music and singing lessons may be deductible if incurred for these purposes. It is essential, however, for the taxpayer to establish a substantial relation, in a practical sense, between the expenditure and the full time education at the school he is attending. If the dominant purpose of expenditure was to enable a child to participate in an eisteddfod, the expenditure could not be claimed as a deduction under the heading of ‘education expenses’.
– by leave - I propose to read to the Senate a statement on defence which was made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) in another place on Thursday night. Honourable senators will understand that where the pronoun T is used it refers to the Minister for Defence. The statement is as follows:
Perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in our own sphere of interest in South East Asia are we in the grip of history in the making. The colonial1 era has gone. Newly independent nations have risen. The British have taken decisions about their forces cast of Suez which, for so long, have meant so much to the stability and security of our part of the world. Communist China has emerged as a major power with a developing nuclear capability. Vietnam is still an unfinished chapter in history. In these circumstances, Australia must make its response in its own present and long term interests. The decisions that fall to be made in this rapidly changing situation are not to be taken without the most thoroughgoing study. Some cannot be taken because of uncertainties still persisting as a result of the British decisions. The coming five power talks should help to resolve those uncertainties.
There has been lively debate on the defence aspects of these issues, on our involvement in Vietnam and the likely consequences of the British decisions. Questions have been raised about the merits of our forward defence posture; whether the needs of regional defence might be met by garrison forces, by contributing to the training of local forces, or by mobile forces capable of swift deployment as required; the value of our treaties; how much of our national resources should be devoted to defence; the nature of our changing relations with New Zealand; and the state of our defence preparedness.
Before I proceed, I wish to mention two matters, to me of some consequence. Firstly, few appear willing to concede that silence is essential to much being considered or done in the defence field and is not indicative of failure to perceive, let alone cope with, the problems that face us. Next, it is in the nature of things that achievement earns little acclaim. But the fact is that over the last 10 years a first class and highly effective job of increasing, training and re-equipping our fighting forces has been done by those concerned with defence - civilians and servicemen alike. 1 believe their efforts ought to be widely applauded.
Our whole nation should be proud of the performance, in peace and war, of our defence Services. It would be a boost to their morale to have it acknowledged. Whether on land or sea, or in the air, whether national servicemen or regular servicemen, our men and women have done their duty steadfastly, courageously and competently - in a way that merits the nation’s admiration. The Government believes this. 1 believe the Parliament as a whole, and the Australian people, believe this. This needs to be emphasised.
On Vietnam. Australia’s military contribution to the struggle for peace and security accords with our capacity and national interest. The Government has supported United States bombing of North Vietnam. We have equally supported the numerous peace initiatives of the United States. We have accepted the reduction of bombing as another and more powerful encouragement towards an end of hostilities. lt is a measure of the sincerity of our search for peace that the bombing of North Vietnam has been reduced and the prospect held out that other steps could follow. We would ourselves be prepared to support even further reductions, consistent with the safety of our forces. It would be reasonable to expect that those reductions would be conditional on reciprocal steps being taken by the other side - in accordance with the .San Antonio formula. It is a measure of the effectiveness of the bombing that the reduction decided on was sufficient to bring a response, however preliminary, from Hanoi. Now we are witnessing another attempt to bring about talks that might lead to a solution in Vietnam. This is a time when we must watch, both hopefully and carefully, all moves that are made.
I say no more at this stage than that whatever situation ultimately emerges in Vietnam will have a positive and direct bearing on our defence effort, and the disposition of this country’s forces. Conceivably, situations could arise which would call for a complete re-appraisal of our strategic situation. Hopefully, we would look forward to the progressive development of regional security arrangements amongst the nations of South East Asia, for only in regional peace can there be a guarantee of those conditions essential to development - economic, social and political - among those who need it so much.
No one could assert that a progressive reduction in the British military presence in the Far East was not inevitable. Certainly, successive modifications in the last 2 years of the plans presented by the British Government in February 1966, have measurably increased the pressure upon us to consider the problems facing Australia. The critical development was the sudden decision, only 3 months ago, to compress greatly the period within which the British withdrawal should take place. But even with the decision of last January before us, we should remember that post 1971 Britain will still not have renounced all her interests in our part of the world. She is not withdrawing from the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. She has not taken the line that never again will her forces be deployed, or be engaged in exercises, in the area with which we are most concerned. On the contrary, the British Government has stated that the United Kingdom will sustain its interest in the stability of South East Asia. The British Minister for Defence contemplates a continuation of training exercises in the Singapore and . Malaysia area. But having said this, the last British decisions vastly change the conditions in which Australia must fashion and apply her own defence policy.I would not wish to minimise the importance of these changes.
Following the British announcement of last January, the tempo of our study of the implications of the British decisions was stepped up. We sent to Malaysia and Singapore a team from the defence complex of departments to make a thoroughgoing reconnaissance of facilities and installations; to secure the data on which various alternative plans might be based. More recently, representatives of each of the three Services have participated with Malaysian and Singaporean representatives in detailed technical studies of particular military aspects initiated by the CommanderinChief, Far East. He is, of course, also the Commander of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. Now we are preparing for fivepower talks involving Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, which are scheduled to take place in Kuala Lumpur in early June. To date we have taken no decisions. Final decisions cannot be taken until after the five-power talks. Indeed no final conclusions may emerge from those talks. They might be the forerunner of others. At this stage I may only make several observations.
Nobody imagines that Australia could, or should, take over the present British role or commitments in Malaysia and Singapore. These grew out of Britain’s position as a colonial power. Whatever our role there may prove to be, it must be in the setting of co-operation between and with the Governments and peoples of Singapore and Malaysia. The primary interest in the preservation of peace and security and the promotion of development within the region belongs to them, and because of this, the need for close and co-operative defence arrangements between them is evident. So, if we are to maintain a military presence in the area, it must be in the context of a total co-operative effort, involving all five powers to be represented at the June conference. We would not visualise our participation as being against anybody. Rather it would be for the preservation of peace, stability and development in an area which vitally affects Australia’s interests. We would be looking to the day when truly regional co-operative arrangements would extend beyond Malaysia and Singapore.
Moreover, it should not be assumed that any contribution we may make would necessarily retain the form or composition, or be maintained at the levels, of the forces presently in Malaysia and Singapore. It would seem sensible that any contribution on our part should be directed to areas where the growing capability of the Malaysian and Singaporean forces most needs help. There can equally be no assumptions about the period during which any contribution we may make would be sustained. I conclude, on this matter, that at the five-power talks we will be prepared, as indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech, to discuss the size and role of any contribution to combined defence arrangements which embrace a joint Malaysia and Singapore defence effort.
Through all of the studies arising from the British defence reviews over the past 2 years, Australia and New Zealand have kept in the closest possible touch through the exchange of papers and frequent visits at ministerial, official and Service level. New Zealand officers were members of the reconnaissance teams which recently visited Malaysia and Singapore. Discussions on matters of mutal interest arising, continue. i see in this, practical expression of a growing accord with our partners across the Tasman, in defence as in other directions. Australia and New Zealand have what approaches an identity of strategic interests. It is expressed in common membership in SEATO, ANZUS and ANZAM, in which we share common aims and work closely together. In two major wars as well as in Korea and now in Vietnam our common interests have been expressed in common military effort. For a decade past, both countries have contributed forces to the Strategic Reserve. It has long been the aim of our policy to develop close co-operation with New Zealand in all matters affecting defence, and the extent to which this has already been achieved may not be generally realised. Each country maintains defence staffs in the capital city of the other. Defence planning, intelligence and equipment policy papers are freely exchanged between the two countries.
The Australian Services assist in the training of New Zealand personnel at the Royal Australian Naval College, the Royal Military College, and the Officer Cadet College, our staff colleges and a variety of other schools and technical courses. Elements of New Zealand forces participate regularly in exercises with all three Australian Services. There are officer exchange arrangements between the two countries.
In New Zealand recently, 1 offered exchanges of Australian and New Zealand civilian and Service officers in our respective departments of defence. The Government of New Zealand welcomed the offer for consideration. On the supply side, Australia and New Zealand look to standardisation of equipment wherever practicable. The two countries have, for example, Canberra, Hercules and Orion aircraft in common. While New Zealand has looked to the United Kingdom for much of its defence supply, because of its traditional trade and other links with that country, there have been important growing purchases from Australia. It may well be that economic circumstances will encourage New Zealand increasingly to regard Australia as a source of supply. We would welcome such a move, but accept that it would impose upon us an obligation to develop, more actively, arrangements for joint or reciprocal defence production.
Three years ago I had the pleasure of extending to the New Zealand Government an invitation to attach scientists and/or technicians to our defence research and production organisations here in Australia, and generally to avail themselves of such Australian technology and experience as would be useful to them. I believe that such an arrangement could be widely beneficial to New Zealand’s already growing industrial competence. It seems inevitable that events in South East Asia will draw our two countries still closer together in defence, and that this will be to the benefit of us both.
The 3-year period of the current defence programme which has yielded so much in terms of strengthened and re-equipped defence Services, will end next June. While the content of a further 3-year programme to follow has been under study, a number of factors, including the uncertainties which surround the still fluid situation in Malaysia and Singapore, makes it undesirable to go firm on the future at this stage. This does not mean a cessation of, or any loss of continuity in, defence planning, lt does not mean that the process of maximising the capability of our defence forces is to be halted. It does mean adaptation of planning to changing circumstances. It does mean that it is, at present, premature to make a final choice between various possible plans. Tn the meantime, the defence expansion of the unprecedented kind we have had in recent years has a momentum which will carry on. Some orders placed for new equipment, and some approvals given for the raising of new units, have yet to become fully effective. Expenditure generated by the present 3-year programme has still to be brought to account.
May I run briefly over what has been achieved over the last 3 years? Tn November 1964 the then Prime Minister announced the Government’s decision to introduce national service. He also outlined proposals to strengthen the Services in terms of manpower, ships, aircraft, and military equipment of all kinds. For the 3- year period ending lune 1968, in all the programme was estimated to cost $2,44.1 m. Events added new obligations. At the beginning of the period, we had forces deployed in operations in both Borneo and South Vietnam. In 1965 we added to the Army training team in Vietnam a battalion. We built this up to a battalion group later in thai year, to a 2-battalion task force by the middle of 1966, and finally towards the end of 1967 to the 3-batlalion task force with tanks and artillery presently deployed in South Vietnam. The Air component was similarly built up over the period to a force consisting of a Canberra bomber squadron, a squadron of Caribou, and a squadron of Iroquois helicopters. Naval assistance was added by the attachment to the United States Seventh Fleet of a newly purchased guided missile destroyer, a clearance diving team and naval pilots. Other changes and additions were made to the original defence programme, the cost of which now seems likely lo be $2, 813m for the period to 30th June next. Of this amount, expenditure on ships. aircraft, weapons, vehicles, machinery and plant and other equipment for the Services and for the Defence and Supply departments will total S 1,094m.
The national service scheme has been an unqualified success. It has provided the Army with the strength it needed to carty out the role allotted to it, where no other form of recruitment could have done so. National servicemen have been integrated with voluntary regulars, without distinction either in conditions of service, or training, or indeed in anything else. In their Service life, the two are indistinguishable. They are simply Australian soldiers, all doing a thoroughly professional and praiseworthy job. The number of regular servicemen now stands at 64,150 and should reach 65,400 by June of this year. The Pacific Islands Regiment is now approaching a strength of 2.400. Altogether, the numbers in the Services on full-time duty will have risen by 27.600 over the past 3 years, to a total of 83,750. During this period also, the Citizen Forces will have increased by 9.300 and the Emergency Reserve by 1,750.
The Navy has taken delivery of three Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers. The destroyer tender, ‘Stalwart’ was commissioned last February, the first of the Oberon submarines was commissioned in March 1967, and the second has just been commissioned. Eleven of twenty patrol boats being built in Australia will also have been delivered. Two more type- 12 escort ships are due for completion in 1969. Two more submarines are building and the balance of nine patrol boats is due for delivery by the middle of next year. In aircraft, the Navy has now received its ten Skyhawk fighter bombers and fourteen Trackers. The aircraft carrier, HMAS Melbourne’ is currently undergoing an extensive refit. The Australian designed antisubmarine missile system, Ikara, has been installed in four of the type-12 escorts that are in commission, and in the guided-missile destroyer, ‘Perth’. Research and development on the Ikara system, on behalf of the Royal Navy, continues, and we are currently engaged in a vigorous effort to sell the system to the United States Navy.
Army expenditure on capital equipment will have covered a wide variety of weapons, ammunition, transport, equipment and stores. Some of the more significant purchases include light aircraft and helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, surface-to-air man-portable guided missiles, man-pack radios and counter mortar radar sets.
Material changes and additions have been made to the Royal Australian Air Force’s aircraft inventory during the last 3 years. Eighty-eight of the Mirage fighters on order will be delivered by June next. Delivery has been taken of ten dual Mirage trainer aircraft. The programme is on time and within estimate. The production of the Macchi jet trainer is now well under way. Twenty-one will have been delivered by June. Twelve Hercules C130E transport aircraft were delivered on schedule and the Orion anti-submarine aircraft will have been received by June. Eight HS748 trainers, in replacement of the Dakota navigational trainer, will come into service in the latter half of 1968. Eight of twentytwo Iroquois helicopters on order have been delivered and the balance should be on hand by the end of June of this year. Production of the twenty-four FI 1 1C fighter bomber aircraft is on schedule and all twenty-four are expected to be delivered between July and December’ of this year. I will have more to say about the Fill later. One of the two portable control and reporting radar units on order has been delivered.
Industrial backing for defence has been strengthened by the growth of Australian industry during the past 3 years. Specialist capacity in Government munitions factories has also been augmented in important respects - one example is the establishment of the guided weapons repair and maintenance facility. The Government’s prime concern is to ensure that its forces are equipped with the most modern weapons appropriate to our needs, and within resources which can be prudently set aside for the purpose. As far as practicable, the equipment requirements of Australian forces and the repair and maintenance of that equipment are met from Australian sources. In some cases, the quantities of highly complex equipment we need are so small that the cost of development, tooling and production would be completely prohibitive. In these cases, importation - with the establishment of domestic facilities for repair and maintenance. - is indicated. There are other cases where the cost of equipment from domestic sources may be two or three times the price of imports, without introducing either new technology or experience into Australian industry. Mere again, normal international trading considerations must apply. 1 believe that the development of modern technology and the application of advanced techniques, generally first demanded in the defence field, bring benefits to Australian industry, and to the extent that these benefits are reasonably attainable, they are eagerly sought. Research and development, in relation to military equipment, is tremendously expensive, particularly when applied to Australia’s small requirement, and the cost of research must be prudently contained. But this does not mean that there is no scope for Australia. Indeed, there are some notable examples of Australian development and production which have enriched industry. I would instance Malkara of earlier years, the pilotless target aircraft system Jindivik, still earning foreign currency for Australia, and more recently the Ikara weapons system in which something over 250 Australian sub-contractors participated to’ give the Australian Navy the world’s most advanced anti-submarine weapons system.
Australia’s participation in Project Mallard is another illustration. This project is for the design, development and production of a tactical communications sys tem, in which the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia are interested. For its success, Project Mallard will demand the development of new techniques in the electronics field, and the broad application of the most modern technology. Australia will be both contributor and beneficiary. The current phase of the project calls for competitive systems studies, four of which, within this country’s technical competence, have been awarded in Australia. Relevant to what I will say later about the Fill project, it is prudent to point out here and now that Project Mallard will call for a considerable amount of research and development. There will therefore be a degree of uncertainty about final costs which the Government accepts as justified because of the necessity of our participation.
The alternatives here were that we joined with our American, British and Canadian allies in the development of the free world’s tactical communications system with al’l of its advantages and accepted a share of the essential costs of research and development, or that we opted out of the arrangement altogether. In the latter case, when the system went into service we should have found ourselves obliged to buy at commercial prices, which would cover the cost of research and development, receiving none of the benefits from participating in that research, or of limping along behind our allies with inferior, and perhaps incompatible, military communications. This is the kind of dilemma which increasingly faces governments in respect of modern defence preparations.
Since World War II Australia has developed a defence scientific service of high competence. A substantial part of this has been employed in scientific support of the Australian Services, but the larger part of our capacity has, to date, been used in support of British development of guided weapons and related technologies. From this, considerable benefits have accrued to Australia. The whole of our defence science activities are now under close review. This carries with it no intention to duplicate scientific work done overseas, merely for domestic prestige. Nor have we any intention of attempting to cover all areas of technical development We do, however, need a vigorous scientific effort to harness world developments to our own military needs., always subject to the limitation imposed by resources available to us for this purpose. As well, we have reached a point where Australia needs, and is able to take, more independent initiatives in the solution of military problems.
I come now to that prospective powerful addition to this country’s defence strength, almost invariably described by the Press as the controversial’ Fill. I pause to recall that Mr Roger Lewis, the President of the General Dynamics Corporation, in giving evidence before one of the unending succession of political inquiries into this project in the United States, said that whatever his company did was controversial, in that projects undertaken generally ranged far ahead of present technology, and looked to performance which greatly advances the present state of the art. The problems encountered in this kind of endeavour are not readily understandable by the layman, and the skill and persistence of scientists and engineers are completely undervalued in the solutions which are- then accepted as a matter of course. The FI 1 1 project has encountered its full measure of this kind of misunderstanding.
On the Fill, memories arc short. I propose to refresh them. Since ils inception, the Fill project has been under constant criticism, here in Australia arising generally from political opportunism, and in the United States for this and other reasons which seem lo be adequate to the critics, but which are nevertheless largely irrelevant to our interests and concern. If 1 should appear to introduce a political note into this recital, it is only towards the restoration of some objectivity in our consideration and - to prevent irrelevant, unfounded and uninformed criticism from continuing to obscure the facts about a project which will contribute so greatly to this country’s future military security.
I propose to traverse the history of the project, deal with the criticism, expose the error, attract attention to the difficulties, and leave it to the Australian people, to whose defence the Fill is 1 believe a valuable addition. io judge whether or not the project is sound, and has been - as well managed as the circumstances I will establish permit. The decision lo purchase the FI I . ls was no panic operation. Our Canberra bombers went into service with the Royal Australian
Air Force in 1953. In the late 1950s it became clear that the Canberras were becoming progressively more vulnerable as modern defence systems developed. Nevertheless, the Government of the day had to give a greater priority to other defence equipment programmes.
In June 1.963 an RAAF mission was sent overseas. In August 1963 the mission reported a detailed evaluation of five aircraft, including the British TSR2 and the TFX, now the Fill, and concluded that of all the aircraft evaluated, it was clear that TFX should meet the air staff requirement in almost every respect and, if considered in isolation, should be the logical choice of aircraft with which to replace the Canberra’1. However, in view of the production time scale for Fill aircraft, then known to the RAAF mission, and a deteriorating strategic situation, it turned to the purchase of another type, the RA5C. It is valid to point out that, had aircraft of this other type been purchased - their estimated cost was $US196m - our defence would now be firmly attached to an aircraft able barely to meet our requirements when it was first considered. The Government of the day took the view that the urgency for the replacement of the Canberra was not such as to deny procurement of the aircraft best suited to our needs. Subsequent events have confirmed the prudence of that decision.
In the event, the then Prime Minister, on 24th October 1963, announced the Government’s decision, accepting a proposal put forward by the Secretary of Defence in the United States, Mr Robert McNamara. in the course of personal negotiations with our then Minister for Defence, under which his Government offered to supply twentyfour FI 1 1 A aircraft to Australia, according equal priority with deliveries to the United States, at a general order of magnitude of cost, based on a production run of 1,500 aircraft, which was then estimated lo be approximately $US125m to cover the aircraft, the first year’s spares, ground handling equipment and crew training.
The offer made by Mr McNamara. obviously with great sympathy for our position, look account, of a number of potential difficulties. There was, firstly, the question of whether the aircraft would finally go into production, and then the problems of earlier delivery and price. There was the tremendously important question of interim protection if our strategic situation should deteriorate before delivery of the Fill occurred. These negotiations produced a virtual guarantee of production and an offer of delivery of the aircraft as early as 1967, should we so desire, on a priority basis equal to that of the United States armed forces, from the first production aircraft, a hitherto unheard-of arrangement with a major operational aircraft.
Thirdly, it gave us a price formula under which we would pay only the average unit cost of development and production of the aircraft based on the total production run, the cost being as determined at the time of delivery of our last aircraft and not as calculated on actual costs as at the time of delivery, lt offered us the use, on loan until the FI 1 1 deliveries commenced, of the American B47E, although, in the event, we did not take up this offer. It provided for a co-operative logistic arrangement, linking United States and Australian supply systems, under which we are able to draw our spare parts directly from the inventory of the United States Services. Finally, financial arrangements enabling us to spread the cost of the purchase were offered. The Government was familiar with the risks, particularly price risks, in committing itself to a developmental project of this nature. It could have waited until the position was clearer, sacrificed early delivery of the aircraft and, in doing so, taken a serious risk with the security of this country. The Government did not think this was acceptable.
Let me firstly look at the need for an aircraft of this kind in Australia’s defence inventory. The air staff requirement of 1963 looked forward to an aircraft of the Fill’s capability. The requirement was written for the future, and not alone with relevance to the circumstances of the time. This should answer the sometimes heard criticism that we have no use for a strike reconnaissance aircraft of the F111C type and that somehow it is a mistake to proceed with the project. The inference is that, within the life of the aircraft, in one of the world’s most turbulent areas, of vital concern to Australia’s future, no situation could arise demanding the use of strike reconnaissance aircraft of the Fill’s capability. It would be folly of the worst kind not to provide against such a possibility, lt is a risk no responsible government could take. Every reasonable appreciation of the strategic position in our sphere of interest supports the need for a strike reconnaissance aircraft capability. If there should be lingering doubts about the suitability of the FI 1 1 for this role, it is worth noting that the United Kingdom, certainly not inexperienced in air warfare, proposed to deploy its Fill’s into South East Asia. The cancellation of its order in no way invalidates its assessment of the aircraft’s capability.
As is well1 known, the Fill is in service with the United States Air Force in South East Asia. Regrettably, three aircraft have been lost in operations. It is public knowledge that in one case the loss was due to avoidable causes having nothing to do with the aircraft itself. As to the other two, the House would not expect me to go into details. I merely say that if it is established that the cause had anything to do with the functioning of the aircraft, it will be rectified - with profound respect for American technology, of that I am sure. Australia has an established need for strike reconnaissance capacity best provided by the F1UC.
Let me now turn to costs. Here a criticism which might be accepted by the Government is that it should have been more sceptical of the order of magnitude figure of $US125m. But I point out the Government’s awareness that the cost of the Fill, to use Mr McNamara’s description, was a general order of magnitude of cost. The purchase of the alternative operational aircraft, the RA5C, subject to early obsolescence, was prudently put aside in favour of an advanced weapons concept which would meet this country’s needs, perhaps into the 1980s, although the Government was aware that the tremendous research and development component might push the price forward, lt is relevant to point out, in this latter regard, that the Anglo-French Concorde began with an estimated research and development component of £Stg130m. The cost is now expected to exceed £Stg500m. This and any number of similar experiences in the field of advanced weapons technology indicate that modern technology is expensive.
As the House will be aware, an agreement was subsequently reached wilh the United States authorities that SUS5.95m would be the ceiling price of the aircraft in fly-away condition, subject to escalation of labour costs and materials after April 1965, modifications requested by us such as the longer wings and stronger undercarriage we have ordered and which are estimated to cost approximately $US3m, and modifications proposed by the United States and accepted by us costing approximately SUS 1 00.000 per aircraft. Putting aside the modifications sought by us, which most certainly we must pay for, it is not possible to say at this juncture whether the ceiling price quoted will be pierced by the application of the provisoes I have just mentioned. However, our last advice from the United States authorities was that the ceiling price would not be pierced. This permits me to make another completely valid comparison, lt is to compare the FI 1 1, a highly complex military weapons system of quite outstanding performance, at a fly-away cost of SUS5.95m, with the fly-away cost including all fittings of a Boeing 727 civil aircraft at SUS5.14m or of a DC9 at $US3.98m. Surely no reasonable observer, having an appreciation of relative military and civil performance, could regard the cost of the FI 1 1 as other than reasonable. 1 turn now to other costs associated with the project. First of all, there is the supporting equipment and services, including spare engines, spare parts, test equipment and ground handling equipment, simulators and other training equipment, the cost of training crews overseas, the production of technical data and publications for the aircraft and its equipment, delivery and other incidental costs, lt is in this area that major cost increases have occurred. The indications are that the costs of these items will be in the order of $US120m. There is a simple explanation for much of this.
The decision was taken to procure more equipment than was in the minds of the Americans when the original deal was clinched - and for two reasons. Firstly, extra equipment was required to enable the aircraft to be deployed away from their home base at Amberley, to deploy them to any area of strategic interest to us, to confront any threat that may arise. This meant duplication of test equipment and other items. Next we needed extra equipment to enable us to maintain the aircraft in this country with the support of the Australian aircraft industry. This was the counterpart of equipment available to the United States in the factories of the manufacturers. The Government believed that the course decided on was essential in relation to an aircraft which will be so powerful a deterrent to hostile military adventure in our sphere of interest. I point out that there are 75.000 individual and separate items in the inventory of spares and ground handling equipment. Understandably, to provide the inventory has been a tedious and demanding task, and this has contributed to our inability to put a final figure on the costs of this element.
Let me now come lo the reconnaissance element of the project, since the reconnaissance version is essential to the effective use of the FI 1 1. As the House knows, the plan we had in mind was to return six of our aircraft to the United States in 1970 to be fitted with equipment which will permit the six aircraft to be used either in a strike or reconnaissance role. Research and development of this equipment is still under way and final figures for reconnaissance equipment and retro-fitting charges and services will not be available until 1970, although the present estimate of $US34m, which allows generously for contingencies, is believed, on the closest possible consideration, to be adequate to meet the programme.
Bringing together all the figures, and subject to the qualifications that J have indicated, the total cost of the Fills with their equipment should be of the order of $US300m, or in Australian currency S266m. It could be less; it could be more - for the reasons I have given. But clearly the area within which changes either way may occur should be small. As at 3 1st March the Department of Air had entered into commitments amounting to $US236m.
The figures we have been discussing relate to the original offer by the United States and 1 have sought to compare like with like. However, there are other costs associated with Air Force weapon and service development which could, from one point of view, be put down to the Fill but which sooner or later would have been necessary as we proceeded to develop our Air Force capability. The costs I have given for the Fill make provision for one particular weapon. As weapon development proceeds we will, no doubt, from time to time consider the purchase of more modern weapons so as to increase the effectiveness of the aircraft. This we would be doing with any aircraft we possessed, and as well a number of the weapons might be used on others of our aircraft.
The housing of the new aircraft and supporting equipment calls for improvements to facilities at Amberley, which will be the home base for the Fill. Consideration is being given to further runway extension at Amberley to upgrade the safety factor for the Fills and their crews during certain phases of training. Provisions of these kinds have to be made for any new operational aircraft joining the RAAF. What is done will, of course, have permanent value to the Air Force and be adaptable to Service aircraft into the distant future. Indeed, some of the facilities have been designed specifically to meet the requirements of other aircraft in the Air Force inventory, and the costs of these and other improvement should not, therefore, be attributed entirely to the support of the FU 1 project.
This, then, is the story of the FI I Is, the first of which will be delivered to us in the United States of America in July and fly in Australian skies in September. That the cost of introducing the FI 1 1 into the RAAF has been high serves dramatically to point up the cost of modern defence equipment in a field where second best is nol nearly good enough. But the facts indicate that Australia has a need for this kind of capability in the future, that the cost of the aircraft is not unreasonable having regard to its role and performance and that the cost of spares and ground handling equipment is the price we pay for the ability (o deploy the system wherever it is needed and to maintain a reasonable degree of national independence in repairs and maintenance of our own equipment. One thing is certain - the F1 1 1 provides for Australia a strike reconnaissance capacity ahead of that of any other aircraft now flying or known to be in production. It will immeasurably strengthen our defences through the 1970s and beyond
The resources that can, from time lo time, be devoted to defence arc for consideration by the Government at the appropriate time. Normally this is at Budget time. In this statement it is proper that I make some observations of principle. Strong and diverse as our economic base is, there is a limit to what we can do in the defence field.
Clearly, there is a point beyond which allocation of resources to military activities becomes counter-productive. The ordinary purposes of growth will be prejudiced if loo much manpower, equipment and materials arc devoted to defence purposes. And, of course, every development of our natura! resources, every strengthening of our industrial potential, adds to our defence capability. But there is one particular aspect which must be emphasised. Defence in its modern forms grows more and more costly in point of resources. If we are to have the latest and best in combat equipment, much of it has to be purchased overseas and at high cost. Our overseas defence expenditure this year, largely for equipment, will reach $350m and next year, in all probability, it will be higher. Although the defence credits we have obtained are helping to defer the liability, the whole account has to be settled sooner or later for cash out of our earnings abroad.
Fortunately, these recent years of rapid defence expansion have seen remarkable developments, especially in mining, which have raised, and will still further raise, our export earning capacity. But even as the United States has found, and the United Kingdom has found, our balance of payments problems must be constantly in our minds as we consider our defence programmes. So far we have succeeded fairly well in combining a large defence effort with a high rate of domestic economic expansion. It could not be said that defence has so far imposed a serious pinch on our economy; but a sharp downturn in export earnings, or a falling away of capital inflow, could fairly quickly show up the real weight of our external defence commitments and require close examination of national priorities.
It is proper that I should say something at this time under the general heading of defence administration. Operational and technological factors tend to pull the Services closer together and to blur the traditional distinctions between those who fight in the respective environments of the sea, the land and the air. We are carefully studying movements towards Service integration in other countries, particularly in Canada where a quite revolutionary change has established a unified defence force. We, however, retain the conviction, at this stage at least, that the separate identities of the three Services should be preserved. But this does not. mean that, in every respect, the status quo should be maintained.
I mention two current studies of particular interest directed to the development of a common outlook in the three Services and recognition of the interdependence of their roles. Last year I announced the appointment of a special committee, chaired by Sir Leslie Martin, which had been given the task, of developing a plan for the establishment of a Joint Service College to provide tertiary level education for officer cadets of all three Services. The study is now well advanced and I would expect shortly to have final proposals for evaluation. In these, provision will need to be made for the transitional period prior to the establishment of a Joint College. Under the Joint College concept which we have in mind, officer cadets of all three Services would work together at the outset of their careers in many aspects of their education and training. Working, living and constantly mixing together must tend to break down Service differences, develop a deeper awareness of the problems of Australian defence as a whole, and create common bonds of comradeship between the cadets who, themselves, will be the senior officers of tomorrow.
But, of course, further training of a Joint Service nature is required, in particular to train selected Service officers for joint Service staff and command appointments. With the growth of the defence Services, it is both logical and highly desirable that staff training requirements of all three Services should be provided for at one location - preferably in Canberra where the defence departments are established.
The proposal now being studied is to establish, in Canberra, an Australian Service Staff College, which would provide in the one complex for both single Service and joint Service training. It would be a second important step in shaping the outlook of our forces for the future. Detailed planning is now proceeding.
Changes in the joint planning arrangements centred in my Department are under close consideration. Much of the work now carried out by present committee machinery would I believe, in future, be better done by planning and executive staffs of mixed civilian and Service composition - with the tours of duty of the Service personnel being rather longer than the present 2-year rule. A working party study of present joint intelligence arrangements and means of improving this is in an advanced stage.
Progress has been made in integrating activities in the medical and dental fields. In another area we are working towards a common code of discipline applicable to all three Services and towards a common series of arrangements for the conduct of investigations into Service matters. The foregoing are illustrative only of the efforts we are making to improve the efficiency of our forces and the defence machinery at large - all directed to obtaining the best value from the resources devoted to our defence effort.
Our forces are in good shape. In the light of developments it is clear that we have made the right choices in the equipment we have selected. The future carries many uncertainties. We start from our alliances, but I do believe that within their framework we must more and more contribute our own independent judgment of situations and act accordingly. In the defence sense, Australia has now fully come of age.
The South East Asian region is Australia’s strategic environment. The security of Australia itself is intimately affected by developments in the region to our near north. We cannot but be concerned with the stability and security of the South East Asian region as a whole. Our concern extends, of course, far beyond merely military matters. We want to see. in South East Asia, free and independent countries with developing economies and progressive societies. Necessarily, any great change for the worse in the conditions of South East Asia would equally- be a change for the worse in respect to our own ultimate security. In relating our continuing objectives of South East Asian security and stability to changing circumstances, we shall be guided by our independent judgment of what best serves Australian interest. We recognise and welcome the importance our neighbours attach to regional security. Doubtless, in relation to this, there will be a part for us to play. I present the following paper:
Defence - Ministerial Statement, 2 May 19*8. and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
– I present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee:
Ninety-fifth Report - Treasury Minutes on Seventy-eighth, Eighty-first and Eighty-second Reports
Ninety-sixth Report - Expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for year 1966-67.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
Hie DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The ninetyfilth report relates to Treasury minutes on your Committee’s seventy-eighth, eightyfirst and eighty-second reports which were concerned respectively with the report of the Auditor-General for 1964-65, the Supplementary Report of the AuditorGeneral for the same year and expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer for 1955-56.
The ninety-sixth report relates to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the financial year 1966-67 and covers the remaining items which were examined in a combined inquiry that related also to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and which were reported on in the ninety-third report of your Committee. This report shows that there are explanations for expenditure variations from the Estimates which, due to unforeseen circumstances or other factors, are acceptable, lt also shows, however, cases where departments have sought funds prematurely in the original appropriations, either because they have disregarded their own experience in the areas of activity where expenditure is to occur; or because they have applied for funds without a reasonably clear appreciation of the expenditure which might be involved or because they have accepted at face value, estimates supplied to them by other departments or authorities. For this reason your Committee has again set out in this report for the guidance of departments, the principles relating to estimating which have been formulated by the Department of the Treasury and endorsed by your Committee over the years.
Your Committee would also direct attention to the incidence of clerical errors revealed in evidence and the frequent failure to detect them during the financial year concerned. We would emphasise that the consequences of these errors can be serious. As in our eighty-fourth report, we would reiterate the need for departments to pursue claims for settlement vigorously and we would also draw particular attention to the responsibility which rests with the central offices of departments to ensure that estimates formulated by their regional offices and overseas posts are adequately scrutinised and are supported by such material as will enable the central offices to perform their review functions at a high standard.
Finally, your Committee would refer to the matter of recoverable expenditure. By its nature, expenditure of this type is cancelled out in the overall budget to the extent that recoveries are made in the year of expenditure. Not all recoveries, however, can be achieved in the year of expenditure and therefore, in any given year, recoverable expenditure can affect the budget. Your Committee believes that departments have a responsibility ‘ to formulate and pursue claims related to such items with the same diligence that they are required to apply to other items under their administrative control. I commend the reports to honourable senators.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony, left Australia on 5th May to take the place of Mr Mc Ewen as Leader of the Australian delegation to the International Sugar Conference in Geneva. After the Conference concludes, Mr Anthony will make short visits to several other countries and intends to return to Australia at the beginning of July. During his absence,- the Minister for the Interior. Mr Nixon, will act as Minister for Primary Industry.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Breen be granted leave of absence for one month on account of family illness.
– Consequent upon discussions between the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Minister, and, at the request of the Committee, an amendment to the Norfolk Island Immigration (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance 1967 has been tabled in the Senate this day limiting the period of operation of this ordinance to 31st October 1968. Following discussions with the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) concerning the Committee’s objections to provisions of this ordinance, the Minister has given an assurance that the Committee’s views will be taken into account when considering the permanent ordinance for Norfolk Island. Under these circumstances, the Committee no longer objects to the present ordinance.
Motion- - by leave - withdrawn.
Consideration resumed from 2 May (vide page 783).
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to. Clauses 3 and 4 - by leave - taken together.
– I move:
The effect of that amendment, if it were carried by the Committee, would be that no appeals would lie from a decision of the High Court or any federal court in any matter except appeals from decisions already given in or in respect of proceedings already commenced in a court before this legislation came into operation. I want to make clear what I said when the Senate was debating the second reading of this measure. We want to take steps which will go as close as possible to abolishing appeals to the Privy Council from all Commonwealth courts whether or nol the matter is one of Federal jurisdiction or involving an interpretation of the Constitution or .the interpretation of a Commonwealth law. I believe that the amendment that I have proposed will achieve this.
– Would it not achieve abolition completely rather than go as close as possible to achieving it?
– It would certainly satsify me. Nobody wants to deprive any litigant who has already commenced proceedings from prosecuting his appeal as far as he is able to take it, up to the Privy Council, if he has rights in that direction, but. it would certainly mean that no appeals would lie henceforth other than those in respect of which some proceedings had already been commenced.
I said during the second reading debate that, the position under this Bill is unsatisfactory. The Government has not explained why it has, so to speak, charged half way up the hill then stopped to gather its forces and left it at that. I believe this is a timid and over cautious approach by the Government. It leaves unsolved more problems than it. solves. One had only to listen to the very thoughtful and interesting contribution by Senator Greenwood the other day to realise that we would by no means be out of difficulty in passing this measure because, not only does it leave subject to appeal to the Privy Council decisions of the High Court, in matters coming from the States in jurisdictions which do not involve matters of Federal jurisdiction or the Constitution or the interpretation of some Commonwealth statute, but it also leaves the litigant free to go through the High Court to the Privy Council in these matters, although the same litigant cannot go beyond the High Court in any matter involving Federal jurisdiction or the construction of the Constitution or the interpretation of some Commonwealth statute. We believe that is quite unsatisfactory.
When the debate adjourned, I had raised with the Minister the question of whether there was some particular reason why the Commonwealth had stopped short where it had on this particular issue. I do not want to debate the issue at length with the Committee. We of the Opposition believe, and 1 am sure the public believes, that it is time to abolish these appeals, so far as that can be achieved. If there is some impediment to that, 1 would like to bear it spelled out by the Minister in discussing this amendment.
The effect of carrying this amendment would be to achieve what I had understood the Government really wanted to do; but, for some reason or other, either because the Government was overcautious or timid, or because it felt there was some genuine obstacle, the Government is not doing this. If we can hear some indication of the Government’s attitude, we will know how to proceed with this debate. If honourable senators want to vote effectively for the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council, I suggest they ought to vote for this amendment and not for the Bill as it stands. While the Bill is better than nothing and while we would not reject the measure, if it came to that - I remind the Senate that we did vote for the Bill on the second reading - we still feel that it is only a halfway house, and a very unsatisfactory halfway house at that. For example, Senator Greenwood, raised a number of questions as to what is involved in deciding what are matters from which an appeal would be if the Bill became law. They must be matters not involving the application or interpretation of the Constitution, or of a law made by the Parliament, or of an instrument, including an ordinance, rule, regulation or by-law made under a law made by the Parliament. There would necessarily have to be a preliminary question decided as to whether a matter is such as to be appealable to all. These are not easy questions and they would give rise to many complexities and many difficulties. We do not see why we should be wandering consciously into a new sea of difficulty or why we should not be prepared to grasp the nettle and say: ‘Now this is the moment. It can be done.’ We could achieve that, I believe, by voting for the amendment which I now propose.
– As a layman 1 have been studying this material as best I can. lt is very complicated and there is one thing that does stand out. I should like the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to say what action the Commonwealth has taken to get the States to agree with the Commonwealth on a general approach to this matter. For example, did one State agree or one not agree or were all States unanimous in opposing the taking of any action as regards Supreme Court appeals? What was their general attitude towards the matter? This is not the first time the Commonwealth has had to seek complementary support from the States in introducing legislation which involves the Constitution. It did this in connection with the Coal Industry Act and it has been done many other times. Of course, in wartime it is always done. I should be grateful if the Minister would explain the attitude of the various States. In particular, what was the attitude of the New South Wales Government in relation to a more complete approach to the question of appeals to the Privy Council?
– With regard to the matter about which Senator Ormonde asked, the position is that there has been quite a deliberate conference between the Attorneys-General of the Commonwealth and the States and that leaves the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) of the Commonwealth in no doubt that only a very small minority of State Attorneys-General were then in favour of limiting appeals from State Supreme Courts to the Privy Council. That was of a recent date. Therefore, I suggest, it is prudent that we proceed upon the basis that there is quite a deliberate viewpoint amongst State Attorneys-General at the present time that the right of appeal to the Privy Council from Supreme Court decisions in matters coming within the jurisdiction of State Supreme Courts should be retained. That is the nub of the whole matter. There are two sources of appeal to the Privy Council, one that is simply the prerogative of the States, belonging to litigants whose cases go to the Supreme Court of a State and concern what are called for simplicity’s sake a State subject matter, that is to say, a subject matter other than Federal. We have explained in the speeches and in the Bill what we mean by Federal’ in that context, that is to say, any subject matter that arises from the Constitution or Federal law or Territory law.
So, when we recognise that to the States belongs the right of decision as to whether or not litigants in State Supreme Courts should retain a right to go to the Privy Council direct from a State Supreme Court, I would suggest that our situation here in this chamber - especially as a States’ House - would have regard to any incongruity that might be caused if we attempted to abolish an appeal from the High Court in a case where a litigant, having gone to the State Supreme Court, appeals to the High Court and then wishes to go to the Privy Council. If we did attempt to abolish that appeal once a decision of the High Court were given in that subject matter, we would very probably increase the number of appeals in cases that, having only a State content and having been litigated in a State Supreme Court, would go from the State Supreme Court to the Privy Council. Anything that will multiply the number of Privy Council appeals in that province, I submit, is a disservice to a State litigant.
Therefore, it is suggested that prudence requires that we leave the State litigant in the present position where, having got a decision from the State Supreme Court, he can still have his choice - as of now, and we cannot do anything about it - of appealing to the Privy Council or to the High Court. An appeal to the High Court may well settle a matter in the great majority of cases because further elucidation in the High Court will be an advantage to a litigant’s advisers and probably enable him to see that there is not much chance of going on to a superior court. But if litigants wish to go on the Government does not believe it should put a blockage on that type of appeal simply because it has come up through the High’ Court and so, in effect, induce litigants not to appeal to the High Court as a first step of their appellate process but rather to adopt the line of going more consistently than hitherto to the Privy Council.
It is really out of respect for the fact that the decision in that respect is a matter in the jurisdiction of the States, an intention not to destroy that right either directly or indirectly so long as the States are opposed to such a course, and a recognition that there should be available to litigants, if they wish, on purely State matters in State Supreme Courts the right of appeal to the Privy Council that we adopt this attitude. Recognising that they have a choice as to whether they go to the Privy Council or to the High Court, we see no virtue in saying: ‘If you go to the High Court you shall thereafter not go to the Privy Council*, because that may cause a blockage in the stream of appeals to the High Court at the Supreme Court level and divert to London a lot of litigation which otherwise could be resolved in the High Court jurisdiction. Tn addition to that, it is thought that if a double line of appellate courts is developed in purely State common law matters we are likely to promote two streams of authority - of precedent - that may develop on an inconsistent basis. That is only a subsidiary consideration but those who have practised in the law courts would appreciate that it is very important from the point of view of getting some certainty in advisings on litigation. The States have the right to decide whether they wish appeals to the Privy Council to be limited and the Commonwealth proposes to respect that right. Litigants on purely State matters may appeal against a decision of the State Supreme Court and the fact that they avail themselves of the right to appeal to the High Court should not be used against them. To do so would not only be without advantage but might be of positive disadvantage by increasing appeals to the Privy Council. I think that the view of this chamber will be that most litigants will be satisfied with an appeal to the High Court, which is a competent and independent tribunal of the highest substance. However, I urge the Senate to respect the State viewpoint and, as a first stage towards limiting appeals to the Privy Council, to accept the position that is outlined in this Bill.
– Whilst appreciating what the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) had to say about this matter, it seemed to me that he was labouring under some difficulty because the logic of the amendment was a very real obstacle to him. He cautiously probed for ground upon which to make some presentable argument and in the end he was forced to rely on nothing more substantial than that it appeared that the majority of the States were nol at present prepared to abolish the right of appeal from their own courts directly to the Privy Council. I respect the attitude of the States although I do not agree with it. I do not think that there should be any appeals to the Privy Council, but I respect the fact that, in their wisdom, a number of the States have said that they arc not prepared to abolish appeals to the Privy Council from their own courts. The States ure entitled to say that.
But nothing in the amendment that we are proposing would take away from a litigant the right to approach the Privy Council from his State court in a matter that did not involve Federal jurisdiction. We are asking why such a person should be in a different position from any other litigant in Australia who approaches the High Court on a matter involving Federal jurisdiction and who, by this Bill, is being deprived of the right to appeal to the Privy Council. 1 cannot see the logic of this from the Commonwealth’s point of view. ; The Commonwealth is instituting a system which is bound to give rise to friction and difficulty between citizens in this country. A litigant will never be able to understand, when his lawyer tells him that’ he cannot appeal to the Privy Council, why he could have appealed from a supreme court to the High Court and thence to the Privy Council if it had been a different case. He will never understand why another person has a right to appeal and he has° not. I can see the Minister smiling. 1 have no doubt that’ over the years many people have put such a question to him on a hundred different matters. The view that I am putting to the Government is that here we have the opportunity to cure the situation once and for all by a little boldness but instead we are creating problems by excessive timidity.
I certainly do not quarrel with the right of States to say, - in their judgment, that people should be able to go to the Privy Council, and litigants certainly will do so if they have nothing to lose. But if a litigant can go to the High Court first and thence to the Privy Council without any impediment, what encouragement is there for the States ultimately to take the step that the Commonwealth is now taking? It seems to me that a State may not feel disposed to make any move in the matter at all, because a litigant can appeal from its courts either directly to the High Court or to the Privy Council and if he fails to make his case in the High Court he can go on from there to the Privy Council. A State may regard that as a perfectly good arrangement. If the Commonwealth will not use the power it has to cut out appeals from the High Court then there is no encouragement whatever for the States to do likewise.
I think that this half-way house scheme will be the source of a lot of trouble in the future. The Commonwealth should squarely face up to the situation and admit that it will, by the passage of this Bill, lose a tot of its influence with the States in discussion and consultation if it intends to try to persuade the States to do what it has done. It seems to me that this is a logical assumption and that we will be left where we are for a long time to come unless and until the Commonwealth takes the second step. The States will not be the first to take this step - or most of them will not - and it will be for the Commonwealth to say in the future: We did not do the job properly the first time; we will have to do the second half of the job now’.
– It appears that when one attempts to limit appeals to the Privy Council there can be a variety of ways of doing so. I darc say that the easiest way of describing them is to categorise them as cautious, timid, liberal or conservative. The real issue is whether or not Senator Cohen’s amendment suggests a preferable field of limitation than does the clause contained in the Bill. 1 have already indicated, and I do not wish to go over the same ground again, that- 1 think that the clause contained in the Bill does lead to problems and that it is involved and somewhat complicated. But I suggest to the Senate that the problems which would arise if Senator Cohen’s amendment were adopted would likewise be complicated and 1 ‘ do not see how it will improve the situation. That is quite apart from the particular issue which he adverted to and to which the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) referred in reply.
One aspect which comes to mind immediately is the question of what is a ‘Federal Court’ in the amendment proposed by Senator Cohen. His amendment states:
Leave of appeal to Her Majesty in Council, whether special leave or otherwise, shall not bs asked from a decision of a Federal Court (including the High Court), or of the Court of a Territory of the Commonwealth. . . .
A substantial field of jurisdiction is exercised by the supreme courts. They exercise that jurisdiction pursuant to a Federal Act and they administer Federal law. This position appears to have been covered by the original clause in the Bill which excludes any right of appeal from the decision of a supreme court exercising Federal jurisdiction. It would appear that this position is not covered by the amendment moved by Senator Cohen. I therefore ask whether he intends that the words ‘Federal Court’ shall include a supreme court exercising Federal jurisdiction or whether this is something which he intends not to be comprehended by his amendment.
Senator Cohen has suggested that the Government’s proposal will have the effect of encouraging the States to retain their right of appeal to the Privy Council. I respectfully suggest that the tendency would be the other way. If Senator Cohen’s amendment were to be preferred, a litigant who had a Supreme Court decision, might ask: ‘Where do I go from here? If I go to the High Court, that is the finish. If I go to the Privy Council, true that is the finish, but J will not be able to get to the Privy Council by way of an appeal to the High Court first.’ In the circumstances envisaged by Senator Cohen’s amendment the litigant might be inclined to favour the ultimate appeal to the Privy Council. If that were the course he desired to follow he would accordingly fight to retain the right to go to the Privy Council. The alternative, under the Government’s proposal, is that when he has his decision from the Supreme Court he has the alternative of going directly from the Supreme Court to the Privy Council, or to the High Court. Because the matter does not involve Federal jurisdiction he still has the opportunity to go from the High Court to the Privy Council. In those circumstances, if a State were inclined to abolish the appeal to the Privy Council from the State Court, it would bc more inclined to do so if it knew that a litigant could go to the High Court and, from the High Court, appeal to the
Privy Council. I appreciate that there must be a lot of speculation in this field when one attempts to work out the natural consequences of a decision accepting either the amendment or the clause in the Bill. I should think, contrary to what Senator Cohen has expressed, that the tendency on the part of the States would be to fight to retain an appeal to the Privy Council if the alternative was an appeal to either the High Court ultimately or the Privy Council ultimately.
A further aspect, which was developed by Senator Wright when he said that the procedure might well be to multiply appeals to the Privy Council if the proposed amendment were accepted, is that there would be a tendency, as a corollary of that, to bypass the High Court. Experience over the past 3 or 4 years in the State of Victoria shows that the number of appeals to the High Court has been disproportionately low when compared with the number of appeals from the Supreme Court of New South Wales. We in Victoria say that that is a tribute to and a test of the quality of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The fact is that the number of appeals from the Supreme Court of Victoria to the High Court has been relatively insignificant compared to the pattern in New South Wales. This, I imagine, is merely a passing phase and that in time to come there may be more appeals from the Supreme Court of Victoria to the High Court and possibly a reduction in the number of appeals from New South Wales. There is a cyclical phenomenon which may be observed. Likewise this cycle may apply with respect to appeals to the Privy Council. If Senator Cohen’s amendment is adopted, if the High Court for some reason or another appears to be a court which litigants desire to avoid, then certainly litigants will be anxious to go to the Privy Council. Whilst they have that right available they will wish to retain it.
I believe that these are reasons of some weight against Senator Cohen’s amendment being preferred. Once the decision has been made - and the Government has made this decision - that the line shall be drawn between Federal matters as defined and other matters, it is necessary and desirable Chat that definition be preserved in the way in which the clause in the Bill preserves it. For those reasons I oppose the amendment.
– I wish to express another lay view, if I may. Australia is one of the last nations in the Commonwealth of Nations to have a connection with the Privy Council. My reading leads me to believe that Canada has a similar federal set-up to ours. Canada withdrew totally from connection with the Privy Council without any great disputation between the Provinces. 1 ask the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) whether the Government has considered settling these problems by referendum of the common people. Often it is a good idea to settle in that way problems on which lawyers cannot agree. 1 ask the Minister: What machinery is necessary for the holding of a referendum? It would have to be a national referendum, of course. Would the result of the referendum depend on a majority of the Slates?
– If the Government obtained a decision by way of referendum many of the injustices of which the Minister spoke would still remain,- but the result would be on the shoulders of the people who voted on the question: ‘Will we withdraw from the Privy Council or not?’ 1 would like the Minister to explain to me, and to the general public of course, why a referendum has not. been called for and what, would be the procedure if the Government failed to gel: agreement for the proposal contained in this Bill. If the operation of this legislation is not satisfactory and there is a good deal of injustice, it may still be necessary to have a referendum. Would that be a likely proposition in the future?
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania - Minister for Works) (5.17] - Experience with regard to constitutional referendums would not encourage any Government, especially this Government, to undertake such a referendum as a political exercise in the light of such recent events as the referendum last year. I take it that we could set out to amend the Commonwealth Constitution by abrogating the right of appeal to the Privy Council from State Supreme Courts, but it would not fit very nicely into any niche that I know of, as expressed in the Constitution. In answer to Senator Ormonde’s question, the usual majority would be required; that is to say, a majority of the electors voting in a majority of States. I should think that it would be complete political imagery to suggest such an idea in relation to this matter.
With regard to Senator Cohen’s references to complicating the situation, T avoided any reference to difficulties that arise upon an interpretation of his own proposal. It would appear as a possibility - 1 will not urge it as any more than that, although there is a basis for a much stronger viewpoint - that his proposal would attempt to do that which section 74 denies us the authority to do. Section 74 entitles us to legislate for the limitation of appeals, whereas the amendment may very well be considered to be an attempt to abolish appeals and not to pay heed to that restriction. Senator Greenwood referred to other matters as strengthening the argument that I put. lt should not be thought, from Senator Cohen’s speech, that his form of words is all in favour of simplicity. There would be quite a basis, I am sure, for the lawyers to wrestle with questions of interpretation, even coming from the excellent draftsmanship of Senator Cohen. 1 do not think it is necessary to answer the suggestions that we are timid or over-cautious, or to have charged half way up the hill. They do not aid an argument such as this.
The fact is that the States have a right, which we are not entitled to abrogate and which it would be imprudent of us to attempt to abridge. Therefore, so long as the States have that right to go direct from the Supreme Court to the. Privy Council, we believe that it is very prudent to induce them, while ever the High Court sits, to take advantage of such jurisdiction as the High Court has; without preventing the States, if still unsatisfied in State matters, from exercising their right to invoke an appeal to the Privy Council. It is on that basis - most helpfully assisted by Senator Greenwood - that I submit that our Bill should stand.
– I do not want to prolong the discussion unduly but I was a little surprised to find that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) at the eleventh hour should pull out of the hat the suggestion of some constitutional impediment to my amendment. The whole purport of my speech during the second reading debate was to test the strength of the Government’s stand on this very issue, and 1 deliberately framed the amendment and the argument that J put in support of it on the basis that I was keeping within the Commonwealth the power to limit appeals, assuming that there was a view that that did not include the power to prohibit. I specifically invited the Minister to say - to help in our considerations over the weekend when we might be adverting to these matters - whether it was thought that in any way my suggested amendment went beyond that power. To do him justice, he said merely that he had not time to give it consideration and that he was not going to say anything about it at that stage. When I put the same argument again today in proposing my amendment, not surprisingly but rather as 1 had expected, the Minister was careful to avoid any suggestion of unconstitutionality in his first remarks rejecting the amendment and indicating that the Government would not support it. He put his case fairly and squarely. He said that the nub of the matter was the attitude of the States and what flowed from that, and what a State House ought to do and so on.I can respect that argument. There was not the slightest suggestion of any constitutional impediment. Now when we are teasing out the implications of these various matters and when Senator Greenwood. draws attention to some alleged weakness or omission in my own drafting, we get the suggestion of possible constitutional . difficulties. I would have expected that, this would have been (rotted out earlier in the debate so that we could at least recognise whether the Government was really relying on this argument. I feel bound to suggest that the fact that it was not produced until late in the argument means that it is not an argument in which the Government has any confidence.
– The Minister put it forward only as a possibility.
– I know. J am sure he will not be over-sensitive about my criticism, and I hope that the honourable senator will not beeither. The real position is that if… this were his trump card he would have played it early and not left it until late in the piece. At one stage I was inclined to think that I ought to be prompted by Senator Greenwood’s drawing attention to the position of appeals from Supreme Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction, into thinking that in a multitude of counsel there is wisdom. But on reflection I do not think I should ask leave to alter my amendment because the very clause 3 that 1 am proposing should be deleted does not, in fact, deal with this either.It does not deal with appeals directly from State Supreme Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction; it deals with appeals from decisions of the High Court in matters coming on appeal from decisions of Supreme Courts not exercising Federal jurisdiction. The Bill presented by the Government does not deal with this. Indeed, it leaves open the real possibility that there could still be appeals to the Privy Council from State Supreme Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction. I think that is the position. So I do not know that I need to venture into areas where the Government has not seen fit to tread and I am content to leave the provision as applying to appeals from decisions of Federal courts. I think I have stated the position fairly. The difference between the Minister’s thinking and the thinking of the Opposition is obvious and I ask the Senate to seize the opportunity presented by the introduction of this Bill to do the job properly and do away with these appeals.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cohen’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 755). on motion by Senator Scott:
That theBill be now read a second lime.
– The purpose of this Bill is to Create a Collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory and to amend certain provisions relating to the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise in the States and Territories, particularly in the Northern Territory. There are five associated Bills as machinery measures, made necessary by the setting up of a separate departmental office in the Northern Territory. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) pointed out in his second reading speech that in recent years developments in the Northern Territory have led to an increase in, and a significant extension of, the responsibilities of his Department. As Darwin is the front door of Australia serving as the point of entry for many other parts of the world to our north, increased facilities for shipping and aviation have been established there. The development of various activities in the Northern Territory has necessitated the establishment there of a Collectorate of Customs. Previously there had been a dele gation from the adjoining States of some of the customs responsibility. This Bill corrects the original Act in respect of such delegations of authority. It provides that the principal officer of the Department in the Northern Territory may be vested with the powers and functions of a State collector as may be specified by the Comptroller.
This is an important step in the overall development of the Northern Territory towards equality with the States in respect of the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise. This pleasing move is part of a gradual process. As the area develops I believe that all the Commonwealth departments will be represented by administrative heads in the Northern Territory. Perhaps in the not too distant future the hopes of the people of the Northern Territory for a form of self-government will be fulfilled. They want their own councils and Territory organisations to perform as do similar organisations in the States.
Proposed section 8a provides that for the purposes of the Customs Act and the administration of the Department, a part of a State or Territory may be attached to another State or Territory. In the original Act provision was made only for attachment to another State. The growing importance of the northern part of Australia is manifested in Ihe outlying areas of Queensland and Western Australia where a tremendous surge in mineral development is occurring. I refer particularly to the northern area of Western Australia. It may be that in the future the areas of north western Australia, northern Queensland and possibly the northern area of South Australia will be administered by Ihe Collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory. This kind of provision makes the most efficient use of staffing resources in the supervision of import and export activities. The amendment is quite a reasonable one in view of the growth in the area.
The Minister has pointed out that these areas are geographically far removed from the main commercial centres of the Stales. There are consequential amendments which refer to the powers and functions of the Collector of Customs. The associated Bills, which are more or less machinery measures, concern excise on beer, coal and canned fruit, and distillation. Each measure is consequential to the establishment of a
Collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory. Authority is given in respect of each of the separate Acts.
The Opposition does not take exception to any part ofthe measure. Basically it concerns the expansion of the Department of Customs and Excise into a new area by the establishment of a new office. It is a new phase in its development. It places on the Department the responsibility to handle with its usual resourcefulness, tact and diplomacy the task of collecting vast revenues for the Commonwealth. We wish the Department well in setting up its Collectorate in the Northern Territory and we will assist in the speedv passage of the Bill.
Senator SCOTT (Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise) (5.39] - in reply - I am pleased that the Opposition is not opposing this Bill. I wish to mention in a few words the importance of having a Collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory. It will be at Darwin. The growth in the Territory, with the consequent increase in the amount of money collected by the Department of Customs and Excise and in the number of staff employed by the Department, has warranted this move. It is interesting to note that the number of staff, which 20 years ago was five, is now thirtyfive. Customs collections have increased from about $376,000 to more than $1,155,000. Excise collections have increased from $15,800 to more than $2,205,000 since 1953-54. As Senator O’Byrne said, the growth of mineral development in the Territory has been really fantastic.
The other interesting point is that the Collector of Customs in Darwin will administer the northern part of Western Australia as well as the Northern Territory. I have a map showing that the towns of Derby, Broome and Wyndham in Western Australia, as well as the Northern Territory, will come under the Collector of Customs, Darwin, when this Bill has been passed. So quite a large part of northern Australia will be under the control of the Collector of Customs and the Collectorate at Darwin.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 755) on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is associated with the Customs Bill in that it is necessary as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a Collectorate of Customs in the Northern Territory. We do not oppose it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 756) , on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is associated with the Customs Bill. We do not oppose it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 756), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Opposition supports this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 2 May (vide page 756), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 2 May (vide page 756), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business)
– I move:
I gave notice of this motion on 12th March last and made the terms of reference of the proposed committee as wide as possible because I believe this to be a very important subject and one that the committee, as it delves into the problems associated with it, will find of immense interest.
The terms of reference refer to the quality of water used in Australia. That is the first matter on whichI should like to elaborate. I hope that the committee will realise that this aspect of the terms of reference covers such matters as salinity in water and the effects of salinity upon various types of agriculture and of industry. I hope the committee also will have the opportunity to consider the question of the re-use of industrial1 waste water after treatment. I read a very interesting short paper on this subject by Dr T. L. Judell which was presented to the University of New South Wales on 1st June 1966. In it he said:
The quality of water used is critical in some industries simply because it comes into contact with, or enters the product. For example, the food industry must have tasteless water of high purity, the textile industry wants water of low hardness, the paper industry needs water free of turbidity and substances that colour paper, the brewing industry must have odourless and tasteless water free of nitrates, bicarbonates, ferrous iron and copper compounds. Chlorides cause difficulties for the steel industries and the manufacture of pharmaceutical and biological products requires purity of water considerably above drinking water standards.
I regard the quality of water as one of the most important aspects on which the committee will have to take evidence, which it will have to consider and in relation to which it will have to make a recommendation to the Senate. As the committee moves around Australia I am sure that it will hear much about the salinity aspect.
On the general question of water pollution the committee will have to consider the causes of pollution, the effects of pollution and the methods of prevention and control that are necessary. Those four aspects will open a wide field of inquiry. In fact,I doubt very much whether the committee will be able to complete its work by the end of December this year, thetime 1 have specified.
– It cannot be done.
– I do not think it can be done either. If this proposed committee does its work as thoroughly as all committees of the Senate do their work I think it will have to seek an extension of time to cover all aspects of this rather wide term of reference. I am sure that, if necessary, the Senate will meet the request. In the paper to which 1 have already referred Dr Judell mentioned water pollution in Australia in this way:
In Australia the growth in population will contribute to an increasing pollution problem and to the necessity for waters to be cleaned and re-used.
Already in USA more than 40% of the population of that country consumes water which has been pumped from the river by a community located upstream, used by that community and returned to the river.
To date in Australia there is only a small scale rc-use of water in this manner because we do not have major cities or industrial complexes located on rivers, in fact it is interesting to note that in the USA the Ohio River, alone, serves as a source of water and a carrier of wastes for a population roughly equivalent to that of Australia. lt therefore appears reasonable to assert that because of the lack of great rivers in this country the planning for re-use of water in Australia should be imaginative and comprehensive.
That is a salient comment on a problem which will confront this country before much longer, namely, the re-use of water which at present is largely wasted once it has boon used.
I have selected only one or two of the very many facets of this subject because a number of honourable senators want to take part in the debate on the proposed committee and its terms of reference.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of pollution is thai of oil which leaks from vessels into our rivers, harbours and coastal waters. Only this week I read in Tasmania of an overseas vessel with a major oil leak in Launceston Harbour. The Marine Board attacked the oil pollution with detergents. 1 wonder what damage will be done to the marine life in the rivers along our coast when the detergents flow into them. I wonder whether the detergents will nol do more damage than the oil itself. I have raised this- aspect because I want to refer to the great disaster which occurred recently in the United Kingdom when a tanker broke up. Information which has now become available to us seems to indicate that the detergents which were used to break up the oil slick possibly did more damage than the oil would have done.
Fascinating studies arc being carried out at present into the vast marine life outside the low tide mark along the shores of countries because that marine life is looked upon as a possible source of much of the food which may be required by the rapidly growing population of the world. If. as this population grows, the world’s surface proves insufficient lo produce the food stuffs that will be required, scientists believe that a great deal of additional food could be obtained from the plant and marine life in that area round our coast beyond low water mark. Therefore J think it very important indeed that the proposed committee investigate thoroughly the problem of pollution of the water by oil and the likely damaging effects of dispersing that oil by the use of detergent which at the moment is the only method known to industry and the marine authorities for overcoming the oil problem.
Another problem that requires careful investigation is that resulting from the establishment of industries. Here I must pay tribute to the many major industries in Australia which, with a great sense of responsibility when erecting their plants, have given serious attention to avoiding the possibility of causing damage to the streams, lakes and rivers into which the effluents from their industries will discharge. Of course, iiic question of air pollution is a matter into which another Senate select committee is inquiring.
As to water pollution. I feel that thereis a great deal still to be done by the State governments. Some State governments have attempted to deal with the problem. Their marine boards, their harbour authorities and their municipal .bodies have discussed with various major industries ways and means of dealing with this problem with a view to introducing the most effective legislation Tor safeguarding the purity of our water from damage by the effluents from the various types of industry that are operating in this country. But other State governments have yet. to deal with the problem. I hope that as a result of the evidence put before the proposed committee and as a result of a careful analysis by that committee of the various problems connected with water pollution as submitted in the various cases put before it. the committee will be able lb submit recommendations which eventually will become the basis for co-operation between the State governments and the Commonwealth Government in arriving 3 an overall plan for dealing with this problem while Australia’s population is small and while, judged by world standards, we arc still- but a small industrial country so that we’ may avoid in the future the damage thai has been done in the older countries of the world before they had a full appreciation of the serious problem that could arise iti connection with water pollution.
I obtained from the Library a copy of an article on the oil pollution problem, written by Mr Andrew Hopkins. R also has reference to water pollution. The article is Headed ‘Science and Man’ and reads:
The appearance of an oil slick in the Yarra this week focuses attention again on the problem of oil pollution. In March last year the Torrey Canyon-
That is the tanker that broke up off the English coast - run aground near Land’s End, England, and 60,000 tons of crude oil escaped. Spending over the sea, it threatened the coasts of Cornwall in England and Brittany in Northern France, lt was feared that the oil would destroy marine life and disfigure beaches, and large quantities of detergent were used to disperse it. But it has now been shown that most of the damage to sea and shore life was due to the detergent.
The oil did ruin beaches but 6 months after the accident it has been dispersed by wind and tide. Its effect on marine life was negligible, apart from the destruction of large numbers of sea birds. But a wide variety of molluscs and other small animals as well as marine vegetation were destroyed by the detergent. Fish were unaffected, presumably because they could leave the polluted areas.
Later in the year a lush growth of green marine algae had appeared where the limpets - small molluscs that live by browsing on marine plants - had been destroyed, lt will take at least 3 years for the limpet population to recover and for the balance of nature to be restored. Leaking oil must be dispersed to avoid fire risk, and chemists are trying to develop for the purpose detergents harmless to marine life. Accidental oil loss has already taken place in Australian waters on a smaller scale.
In Westernport Bay last July, a berthed tanker lost part of its cargo. In Fremantle, last February, an oil residue barge sank in the harbour and threatened to pollute the Swan River foreshores. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) announced recently that the State and Commonwealth governments agreed on the need for an authority such as CSIRO to determine the most suitable detergent for treating escaped oil, and for all ports to have stocks of such a detergent. With the development of the Bass Strait oil fields, supplying half of our crude oil requirements, Australia’s need for a detergent harmless to marine life will become more pressing.
I must say that I was somewhat surprised to learn that this great oil slick off the coasts of England and Normandy disappeared after a few months and that it was not the real cause of the damage that was done in that area. If all these points are considered thoroughly by the proposed committee and recommendations based upon them are submitted to the Senate, then I belive its report will be of great value indeed in safeguarding our future welfare. 1 should like now to read to the Senate a short article that appeared in the ‘SunHerald’ of 14th April 1968 because it gives an indication of the way in which some
State governments are acting in connection with this matter. The article states:
The State Government is alarmed about the pollution of the Harbour and is drawing up new laws to protect it. The Minister for Health, Mr A. H. Jago, said this week: ‘There must be an aroused public conscience before any Government can make a real impact on the problem. Every citizen will have to co-operate.’
Under the new legislation (based on New Zealand’s anti-pollution laws) a new body will be set up to control all aspects of water pollution and will have powers of prosecution, lt will be administered by the Health Department and will replace the divided control of the Harbour which has hindered all efforts to keep it clean.
The article then goes on to deal with the action proposed to be taken. I quote the article to inform the Senate that at least one State Government realises that it has a most important part to play in this field and to indicate that State governments are gradually becoming more and more aware of the damage that can be done. 1 pay due credit to them for taking the matter in hand and for what they are doing. 1 repeat that I sincerely hope that the report of the proposed committee will lead to much more action on the part of both the Commonwealth and State governments and that they will act in co-operation one with the other in whatever action they take.
I should like to deal now with the effect of pesticides. I had the great good fortune to have sent to me by an interested person who had read in the Press that the setting up of the proposed committee was contemplated a very interesting article that was published in the journal ‘Scientific American’. The article is headed ‘Toxic Substances and Ecological Cycles’, lt is written by Mr George M. .Woodwell. In it he refers to a long investigation into the use of pesticides and the effect of pesticides and deals with what is probaly thought to be the most dangerous one at the present time. He says:
Our chief tool in the pesticide .inquiry is DDT. There are many reasons for focusing on DDT: lt is long-lasting, it is now comparatively easy to detect, it is by far the most widely used pesticide and it is toxic to a broad spectrum of animals, including man. Introduced only a quarter-century ago and spectacularly successful during World War II in controlling body lice and therefore typhus, DDT quickly became a universal weapon in agriculture and in public’ health campaigns against disease carriers. Not surprisingly, by this time DDT has thoroughly permeated our environment It is found in the air of cities, in wildlife all over North America and in remote corners of the earth, even in Adelie penguins and skua gulls (both carnivores) in the Antarctic, lt is also found the world over in the fatty tissue of man. lt is fair lo say thai there are probably few populations in the world that are not contaminated to some extent with DDT.
We now have a considerable amount of evidence thai DDT is spread over (he earth by wind and water in much the same patterns as radioactive fallout. This seems to be true in spite of the fact that DDT is not injected high into the atmosphere by an explosion. When DDT is sprayed in the air, some fraction of it is picked up by air currents as pollen is, circulated through the lower troposphere and deposited on the ground by rainfall. 1 found in tests in Maine and New Brunswick, where DDT has been sprayed from aeroplanes to control the spruce budworm in forests, that even in the open, away from trees, about 50% of the DDT does not fall to the ground. Instead it is probably dispersed as small crystals in the air. This is true even on days when the air is still and when the low-flying planes release the spray only 50 to 100 feet above treetop level. Other mechanisms besides air movement can carry DDT for great distances around the world. Migrating fish and birds can transport it thousands of miles. So also do oceanic currents. DDT has only a low solubility in water (the Upper limit is about one part per billion), but as algae and other organisms in the water absorb the substance in fats, where il is highly soluble, they make room for more DDT lo bc dissolved into the water. Accordingly, water that never contains more than a I race of DDT can continuously transfer it from deposits on the bottom to organisms. 1 shall not weary the Senate much longer but 1 should like to refer to one or two other quotations from this particularly interesting article because I think they are relevant. The article states:
DDT is an extremely stable compound that breaks down very slowly in the environment. Hence with repeated spraying the residues in the soil or water basins accumulate. Working with Frederic T. Martin of the University of Maine, 1 found that in a New Brunswick forest where spraying had been discontinued in 1958 the DDT content of the soil increased from i lb per acre lo 1 .8 lb per acre in the 3 years between 1958 and 1961. Apparently the DDT residues were carried to the ground very slowly on foliage and decayed very little. The conclusion is that DDT has a long half life in the trees and soil of a forest, certainly in the range of tens of years.
The final passage to which I wish to refer reads:
We must learn to use pesticides that have a short half life in the environment - better yet, to use pest control techniques that do not require applications of general poisons.
– The article states that DOT is very toxic. Does it refer to the damage that it can do to humans?
– lt does, but I have not included that reference nor have I studied it. I wanted to refer only to those parts of the report which are relevant to the setting up of a committee to inquire into this problem. There are in the Senate people who are better qualified that I to speak on the subject of the damage that can be done to man. The article does refer to the fact that DDT is damaging to the fatty substances of human beings. I recommend to the Senate that it agree to the motion. At the moment it is not proposed to nominate the personnel of the committee. As honourable senators are well aware, there are in existence a number of select committees of the Senate and senators arc working extremely hard. In fact, I do not think the personnel of the Senate has ever had more and harder work to do, because of the select committees on which honourable senators are serving.
If the Senate agrees to the motion it is not proposed to call upon personnel to form the committee until the Budget session. This will give an opportunity for the select committees dealing with the metric system, containerisation of cargoes and one or two other matters to finish their work and for the personnel of those committees to be available for this and other new committees, ft will also give an opportunity for new senators coming in on 1st July to take part in the work of select committees of the Senate. I do not think they can learn better or more quickly the real value of the Senate and the work it has to do than by gaining positions on these committees, watching them at work, studying and analysing the evidence, and taking part in the deliberations of the committees and the recommendations that they make. I believe that the committee I propose will be of great value and will bring credit to those who serve on it and to the Senate itself.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Benn) - ls the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– On behalf of the Opposition I move:
J say at the outset that the Opposition is tlo light oil that this vital question has been ventilated through the medium of Senator Henry’s remarks. At the same time we feel, from experience in both the United States of America and Canada, that there is some overlapping in the problems of air pollution and water pollution and it is on that basis that we submit the amendment. Under a federal system the Commonwealth Government - like its equivalents in the United States and Canada - has to fill the role of co-ordinator. I mention that because Senator Henty referred to the rofes of the Slates and local government. Most States have clean air legislation and all have health regulations. Municipal and shire councils and maritime service boards have certain authority. All of these people are endeavouring to apply some standards. 1 am fortified by the experience of a United States congressional inquiry in 1967 which is epitomised in the remarks of Senator Clarke of Pennsylvania, who drew attention to the fact that when a council or State authority endeavours to apply standards rigidly the approach of some industries usually is: ‘If you are going to be that tough we will transfer to another State.’ Of course, it is not an easy situation. Obviously, at a local government level, a council could find itself facing various legal challenges that might finish in the Privy Council and the ratepayers would take a grim view if the case were lost. Conversely, with the rivalry that exists between the various States, it would be rather a brave Premier who would say: ‘Never mind what you feel about this industry. I think it has a pollution potential. Let it go to another State’. I do not want to prejudge the issues at this stage, but I hope that we will be able to provide Federal codes where industry as a whole has lo face the problem on an equal footing. I know of industries that are most conscientious in their desires to prevent water pollution but I know of others that are not. That is one of the difficulties of this competitive world that we live in. There is no doubt that some oyster producing areas - and I refer particularly to the Parramatta and Georges Rivers in New South Wales - have pollution problems. If we could reduce this pollution to some extent we could put more oysters on the market. This would be an effective revenue earner for Australia.
Senator Henty referred to an article that appeared in the Sydney ‘Morning Herald’ of 21st April 1968. Undoubtedly there is a growing civic consciousness of the need for something to be done to prevent water pollution. Senator Henty referred to oil pollution. We all know that as the years go on oil tankers are getting larger and larger. While it may be said that the human error will decline, the plain fact is that there need only be one error to produce serious problems. Through the efforts of Mr Callaghan, the British Home Secretary who visited Australia some years ago, 1 am a member of the United Kingdom Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea. That Committee has done very effective work, largely through the distribution of pamphlets to various maritime organisations setting out their responsibilities for the prevention of water pollution. Honourable senators are aware of what can happen when people operating valves on oil tankers make a mistake. I know that Senator McKellar, who is the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, will agree with me when I point out that serious consequences can result in a harbour from slight inattention - and I use the word advisedly - when handling fuelling equipment.
Some people will say that problems can arise from a multiplicity of organisations. With the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate in Hansard the names of the organisations that are represented on the United Kingdom Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea. They are:
Association of County Councils in Scotland, Association of Municipal Corporations, Association of River Authorities, Association of Sea Fisheries Committees of England and Wales, British Hotels and Restaurants Association, British Resorts Association, Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, Convention of Royal Burghs (Scotland), Council for the Preservation of Rural England, Council for the Preservation of Rural Wales, County Councils Association, Dock and Harbour Authorities’ Association, Fauna Preservation Society, Federation of English and Welsh Inshore Fishermen, International Council for Bird Preservation (British Section), Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Rural District
Councils Association, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, Urban District Councils Association, Wildfowlers Association of Great Britain and Ireland.
Many of these organisations have their equivalent in Australia, ranging from groups who rely on the seaside tourist resorts for their income to local government organisations. I have no doubt that when the proposed Senate Select Committee is launched, either in the form that Senator Henty proposes or in the form envisaged in Senator Cohen’s amendment, the public in general will welcome it tremendously.
I notice that Australia was represented by its High Commissioner at the International Conference on Oil Pollution of the Sea held on 27th October 1953 but it was not represented at the conference held in Copenhagen on 3rd and 4th July 1959. I do not say that in any disparaging way, but I remind honourable senators of recent incidents - one in Fremantle and one in Sydney - which could be called mini disasters but which might have resulted in serious oil pollution. I feel that if from its deliberations the Committee could provide an effective code to prevent water pollution this would be much better than having a considerable number of local government authorities, supported by State governments, coming to Canberra and saying to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon): ‘We have had the equivalent of a Torrey Canyon disaster. We want some assistance’. There was an oil pollution disaster in Capetown harbour a few days ago and I gather from an article in ‘Newsweek’ of 18th March 1968 that a similar situation occurred in the Carribean recently. It is obvious therefore that anything the Senate can do in this regard will be very much welcomed by the people at large.
That is only one phase of the problem. I want to deal with another matter and that is the use of pesticides. I think anyone who has read a book by Dr Kenneth Mellanby, Director of the British Nature Conservency’s Monks Wood Experimental Station, will understand the danger here. I say in support of the. amendment that the Opposition has put forward that there does seem to be an overlapping of the problems of air and water pollution.
– In a minor way.
– 1 am not going to take issue with the honourable senator at this stage. All that I am interested in - and I think he is too - is iri getting action. Some detergents used at the present time produce a foam which brings bacteria to the surface: In certain Yorkshire and Lancashire cities it was found that heavy winds blew this infected material into the streets and caused mild epidemics. Although some of the detergents that we see in television advertisements may meet with success in the kitchen, they can cause problems when passing through the sewage systems into the rivers. I understand that the West German Government has banned the sale of hard detergents and has insisted on the use of soft detergents. That is a matter that the Committee could examine. I did make inquiries of the West German Government in Bonn on this matter but unfortunately I have not received a reply. About 2 or 3 years ago when I visited West Germany I noticed people swimming and rowing in lakes adjacent to industrial ‘establishments. When I asked whether’ there was any danger of contamination I was informed that the West German Government was allowing taxation deductions to firms that had gone to work and were effectively disposing of waste products without polluting lakes and rivers. No doubt this is another matter the proposed Select Committee could examine.
I was impressed by the multiplicity of witnesses that testified before United States Congress inquiry on water pollution. They included various senators and congressmen and representatives of automobile associations, manufacturers and chemists. I imagine that when the Senate Select Committee is launched, as no doubt it will be, in the various States it will examine comparable bodies to the New South Wales Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board and it will ask whether the catchment areas are menaced by pesticides. ‘
The cement industry was very vocal in its submissions at the inquiry in the United States. I do not say that disparagingly, but in New South Wales at the moment we are facing a situation - and I am indebted to Alderman Douglas Southland of ‘ the New South Wales Water Sewerage and Drainage ‘ Board for my information - where the cement industry holds, through the New South Wales Mines Department, permits to mine for limestone. This will pose two problems. For example, it could be argued - 1 use the words advisedly - that at the Berrima cement works there is a certain menace in that silicon dust could drop on catchment areas. Only a committee inquiry could determine whether or not sufficient measures were being taken or whether the various water boards and equivalent authorities in the States have been a little easy going in regard to the development of limestone mining and quarrying adjacent to catchment areas.
– What danger would this be to a catchment area?
– This is not the time to argue that point, but I am very hopeful that, if the inquiry takes place and members of the New South Wales Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board and delegates from the cement combines testify, we will obtain the. answer under crossexamination. 1 can assure the Sena’.c that very authoritative bodies in Sydney, of all outlooks, are concerned about the rather narrow attitude adopted by representatives of the cement combines, and by others, from Premier Askin down, in saying: ‘Why should we have Tasmanian cement when we have it closer in New South Wales?’. I know that a freedom fighter like Senator Wright will not buy that argument. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has gone on record as saying that there arc ‘ twenty-two alternative sites in New South Wales for limestone quarrying. So there should be no need virtually to ravish our catchment areas. I believe it is time the Commonwealth gave an example of leadership, in face of the narrow parochialism that infects :0111 c of the Stales, including the State that I represent. 1 am a very charitable person. If the committee is appointed and Senator Henty is in the chair, we will get some of the answers. Unfortunately Senator Henty is not in the chamber at the moment. The purpose of the committee will be to obtain answers to questions such as those I have mentioned, and I believe that much can bc done by it.
Another important factor is that of cost, i refer lo a statement by Senator Robert Kennedy, released in New York on 20th September 1.967, in which he points out. among other things, that the United States
Government is providing 55% of the cost of sewerage treatment facilities and that the balance is made up by the State authorities and the various borough councils. The Canadian ‘Weekly Bulletin’ of 6th March 1968 shows that the same percentages apply in Canada. I believe that this is very important. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), Senator Devitt and a number of other honourable senators have had quite a deal of local government experience. Those honourable senators will agree that under the federal system the day is gone when one could say to local government authorities that they should be seen and not heard. If we believe in a federal system, we must agree that it is a partnership, a three-tier form of government. The establishment of this committee is one of the ways in which that partnership can be advanced. Senator Kennedy was very concerned about pollution of the Hudson River. A similar position could apply to quite a number of rivers that flow through the metropolitan areas of the various States of Australia. George’s River in New South Wales is a case in point. There is considerable slow pollution taking place. People say: ‘We swam in this river 5 or 10 years ago, but now swimming is prohibited. We fished here, but now we are nol allowed to fish here.’ This is one of the problems that have been intensified by modern industry. There is no doubt about that. We have made many techniques a lot easier by the use of various detergents and chemicals, but other problems have been created. I believe that the proposal that the Senate should have a look at this particular problem is to be commended. A factual survey, provided that we select the witnesses, will go a long way.
One of the problems concerns the length of time that the Committee should sit. The methods adopted by the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Cargo Handling and the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures were ideal and very effective. I believe that the committee will establish the need for a three-tier form of administration. The general public is becoming aware of the need for such a committee. Industry .is a whole and the various organisations that want to do the right thing also will agree. I know that in the past fortnight mo-;! honourable senators have received a particular publication from one of the oil companies, which indicated that the company was on the ball in relation to public opinion. Unfortunately, unless there is some kind of a uniform code, firms will say: What is the use?’
Reverting to the oil pollution of the sea inquiry of 1959, British delegates gave evidence. lt is true that the British shipowners were among the few shipowners in the 1920s who did anything to combat oil pollution. The Scandinavian governments were not far behind, but of course, the owners of liners operating under the Panamanian flag did everything they could get away with. Referring to a particular instance, a British delegate said at the 1959 inquiry that while a British ship coming out of the Channel was most scrupulous as to the way in which oil was discharged, another vessel coming up the Channel had oil gushing out the side, lt was Hying the Panamanian flag. The second mate on the British ship said: ‘It is not much use Britain lining up with Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands when we see these so-and-so’s doing that.’ The situation here is somewhat similar. The world is becoming smaller. If Australia can play a vital role on international committees and if at an internal level it can combat the pesticide menace and assist the various State water authorities in this field, we will do a lot of good. Senator Cohen and members of the Opposition respectfully suggested that the functions of this committee and those of the committee in relation to air pollution overlapped. We believed that the inquiries should be telescoped and it was on that basis that we put our amendment. The Senate tonight is taking a step forward. If I may say so, it is adopting a mod approach to a problem that confronts Australia today.
– It is not my intention to debate the pros and cons of the proposed terms of reference and their extent, or to describe the duties of the committee when it becomes operative. I must confess that two things stuck in my mind when I listened to Senator Henty, who moved the motion. Looking around at honourable senators sitting in their places I tried to form an estimate of the amount of hydrocarbons resting in their kidney fat, and that put me off drinking water for the rest of my life.
– What is the alternative?
– Some process of filtering, 1 should imagine. I would like to say that I do not agree with the terms of the amendment that these two committees should be amalgamated. Although air pollution, by the incidence of rainfall, can cause river pollution, and to that extent the subjects impinge one upon the other, I am of the firm opinion, the more I think of it, that these two committees should be divorced. The subject matter of each is of such an extensive nature that it is appropriate that the committees should be separate. I intend to oppose the amendment by voting against it when the opportunity arises.
I would like to turn to the actual terms of reference of the committee proposed by Senator Henty. I am glad that the honourable senator is present because 1 address myself to him in particular. By virtue of the experience that I have had and by direction of the Senate, I was a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Cargo Handling. I know of problems confronting that Committee in relation to its terms of reference. Although they appeared in the Senate to be adequately drawn, when it came to dealing with the subject, it was found that they were not adequately drawn. It was decided by the Committee that the terms of reference, although spelt out by the Senate and seemingly clear enough when spelt out, were not wide enough to enable the Committee to carry out its duties. I only tell this story to illustrate that it is very important that the terms of reference should be clearly spelt out.
In considering this matter of the terms of reference, 1 noticed from the notice paper that this motion deals with the subject of water. Everyone knows what water is, but when I referred to the Oxford dictionary in order to discover the definition of water I found that the dictionary had two separate notations, one relating to water and the other to sea water. Quite obviously from his submissions in support of his contention for the need of a committee of this nature Senator Henty had in mind the problem of sea water pollution as well as fresh water pollution. Perhaps he might, upon reflection, and in order to make it easier for the committee not to be challenged by witnesses, as sometimes committees will find themselves challenged for going outside what witnesses conceive to be their terms of reference, amend his motion so that it refers to water and sea water. When Senator Henty mentioned salinity, for one horrible moment 1 thought he was referring to the contentious subject of the Chowilla Dam on the River Murray, but as he did not go on with the subject and provided no opportunity for honourable senators from South Australia to intrude that matter into the terms of reference of the proposed select committee, I am not going to make any further reference to it.
I turn now to the most important matter relating to the select committees that the Senate is setting up. It is easy, sitting here in the Senate, to discuss the need to set up a select committee to examine a specific subject. In the past, when select committees of the Senate were a very casual and intermittent delegation of the Senate’s power, the Senate was able to find from within the administrative resources of the Clerk’s office the necessary administrative back-up to support the committee. However, with several committees sitting, this imposes an intolerable strain upon the administrative resources of the office of the Clerk of the Senate. If the appointment and existence of committees is to be a continuing process of the Senate then I draw attention to the fact that in this month, which is the Budget preparation month, there should be sought a substantial increase in the Senate appropriation account in the Budget to enable the office of the Senate to provide the administrative resources that are required adequately to service these committees.
– Ask the appropriate Minister to draw the Treasurer’s attention to these remarks.
– I should be grateful if the honourable senator would do that for me. When I talk about the administrative resources or the back-up resources that are required in order to service these select committees I emphasise - and I am sure I will find agreement on this among honourable senators who are sitting in their places at the present moment - that senate committees are committees of the Parliament. A Senate select committee is not set up in order to discover information for the Government. The temptation exists, because of the poor resources that are available to service a Senate committee, to apply to government sources for information which the committee should be able to get without having to attend constantly upon the government. A Senate committee is a parliamentary committee trying to discover the answer to problems on behalf of the Parliament. Parliament should draw the attention of the Government to the fact that there is a price to be paid for the support of the Government, and that is the implementing of conclusions which have been reached by parliamentary committees.
– What about the findings of the television committee?
– I am not debating the question of television. I am now conveying to the Senate information derived from my own experience Over the last 12 months as chairman of a committee which has had the scarcest of administrative resources. Two devoted officers of the Senate serviced the committee to the utmost of their ability, and I have no quarrel with their efforts at all. In fact, I have nothing but unreserved praise for the Principal Parliamentary Officer, Mr Cumming Thom, and Mr Guy Smith, but I am concerned about this most disturbing pattern, particularly when we are considering select committees that will be investigating technological and technical fields in which, for example, this proposed committee will have to operate. Technical officers must be available to be called upon as constant servants of the committee to provide technical information and to undertake technical research for the committee.
The committee, on which Senator Gair and Senator Branson served wilh me, had to undergo long periods without meetings while various members of that committee set to work to do their own basic research work in order that we could begin to define our area of investigation. In older days when the complexities of government were not nearly as difficult as they are at present, or as difficult as Senator Mulvihill pictured just now, it was quite easy to select areas from which to obtain evidentiary material and to elicit information by crossexamination, but today it requires a substantial amount of research before a committee can proceed to get at the area of information that it wants. If a committee proceeds under the old fashioned system it has to examine twenty to thirty witnesses to try to get one speck of truth whereas if a committee is adequately served by resources, which should be available without question to a select committee, then it can call one or two witnesses who can provide the answers.
I do not think I should say any more except to repeat v/hat I have said earlier. Firstly, some consideration might be given by the mover of the motion to providing a- clearer definition of what is meant by water’ to indicate that his motion encompasses what clearly he had in mind, namely, pollution of sea water as well as pollution of fresh water. Secondly, the Senate also should take note of the necessity to provide greater administrative resources for select committees. Thirdly, some advice should be conveyed to the Treasurer by a Minister - and I should imagine the Leader, of the Government in the Senate would be the appropriate Minister - and by Mr President, regarding the need for a substantially augmented, appropriation for the Senate to enable it to carry on the business of select committees.
– I take this opportunity of making observations on this very important subject which Senator Henty has quite properly raised, in line with the .comments I passed a few nights ago on the role of committees of the Senate. I commend, this as a continuation of what seems to. me to be a programme of launching the Senate upon its proper course. I am not saying that the Senate has followed an. improper course in the past, but I am much drawn to the point of view that its primary role is the securing of necessary information for the Parliament. So we see committees being launched to investigate some extremely important subjects. T think that, history will record the tremendous value of these committees which wi]l be making worthwhile contributions towards mankind’s progress and stability.
I was pleased- to note the point drawn out by Senator Cormack, and confirmed by Senator Henty, that the investigation of water pollution and water quality extended into the field of desalination. If a committee ‘ were to inquire into that one aspect of water alone, such an inquiry could continue for years into the future. To my mind desalination on an economic basis is the most outstanding technical problem remaining for mankind to :solve. Throughout the world problems arise concerning’ the availability of water. In the last couple of year’s there has been the most overwhelming evidence the world has ever known to justify a great programme of technological examination and investigation of desalination of water. On’ reflection we will appreciate how remarkable it is that we can send vehicles to the. moon and ultimately will be able to travel to the moon, that we can move backwards, forwards and sideways in outer space and arrange meetings in outer space, but have not yet been able to solve the basic problem of desalination of water on an economic- basis.
Throughout the world there are parched areas of earth, devoid of vegetation, not far removed from the sea where thousands of’ millions of tons of water roll right to the coastline. The obvious answer in these circumstances is desalination. One day the world might turn its - attention away from the. destruction- of mankind. -by. the many highly sophisticated forms, of weapons we: have developed; we may turn -from despatching our brothers to .concentrate our attention, on the .great human problems of the world. As an ordinary, and simple sort, of person it seems . to me. that in studying the problem of the provision of the world’s food supplies ‘ and its attendant problems, the ultimate answer lies in “desalination. The solution may not be discovered in my time. It may. not be discovered for genera-‘ tions to come, but eventually a solution1 will- be found. The - great . minds and resources of the world will be concentratedon this problem. When this tremendously perplexing and challenging -problem is solved, the world will be a’ much better place..
The Opposition has proposed an amendment which virtually has the effect of joining together the Select Committee on Air Pollution and the proposed committee to inquire into the pollution of water. Senator Henty said in his opening remarks that there was no intention at this stage to select’ the personnel of the committee on water pollution. That would be done at a later stage. I believe the honourable senator suggested (hat it could be done during the Budget Sessional period. The composition of the -committee would depend to a degree upon the discharge of the responsibilities of honourable senators serving at present on other committees. I do not see any difficulty about the joining of the two committees. The problems involved in the pollution of air and water are very similar. It is almost a natural flow from an inquiry into air pollution to an examination and investigation of water quality and purity as the next phase. In line with Senator Henty’s suggestion, would it not be possible to join the two committees and upon fulfilment of the obligations in respect of the first phase dealing with pure air, could not the committee then be launched upon the second phase dealing with water purity?
– There would be two separate inquiries?
– Two inquiries flowing on, one from the other. We cannot live without air and we cannot live without water. Senator Turnbull will confirm that humans and vegetation must have air and water. They are the natural elements we require for human and plant life on this earth. After the committee dealt with the problems associated with air pollution it would be proper for it to deal with the pollution of water.
– I agree, but it would have to conduct two separate inquiries and furnish two separate reports.
– We could work out the mechanics later on. The inquiries could be described as part one and part two. I do not think there should be any discrimination between the two functions of the committee. I suggest that some very deep and involved problems will be encountered by the committee. At first sight the subject of water pollution seems to be a fairly simple matter, but once the committee commences its inquiries it will find that it is engaged upon one of the most important examinations that it could possible conduct. The subject has wide ramifications. I can think of many things to be explored by a committee examining water purity. It could conduct its inquiries for years upon this matter and would be sure to require a great deal of assistance.
Senator Cormack referred to some of the difficulties associated with manning Senate committees. Quite frequently now the Senate is dealing with the setting up of committees. Ultimately the problems involved in arranging meetings, staffing and that sort of thing will be ironed out. The
Senate will develop skill in these matters. It will be familiar with the problems that arise and will be able to take early action to meet the difficulties before a committee actually commences its inquiries.
The provision of water services is a problem that has beset local government authorities throughout Australia ever since Australia has had local government. This is almost an exclusive function of local government authorities. They must attempt to determine the purity and suitability of the available water for municipal water schemes. The difficulty of a high bacteria count is commonly experienced. Other problems encountered are carelessness in the disposal of industrial waste, the carelessness of people living along water courses in residential areas and in the farming communities, and so on. 1 have seen the great difficulties that confront local government authorities in undertaking the establishment of a water scheme. The provisions of the Public Health Acts relate to the pollution of streams and water courses. It is very difficult legislation to police. The responsibility to do so is generally thrown upon the local health authorities.
A council has an obligation to install a water scheme and to ensure that pure water is provided. Some local government authorities are obliged to undertake huge expenditure in this respect. Many of them are required to install chlorination plants and flocculation facilities to remove soil and waste, matter from water. Some authorities provide fluoride in their water supplies. All these facilities are needed to provide water as pure as it is possible to make it to satisfy the needs of the community. I suggest that the proposed committee would find itself obliged to make recommendations to the National Parliament for substantial financial assistance to be given to municipal councils throughout Australia so that they could accept the additional responsibility to provide water of a standard that ought to be provided for our citizens. An interesting point is that when the local government authority is relatively small and has not very great financial resources there is likely to be a lower purity rate in its area than in the cities, which have the facilities for the proper treatment of water. There should not be this difference in the standards of purity of water as between one place and another merely as a result of the cost of providing filtration systems and so on.
In recent times this problem of water pollution has been under examination in the United States of America. I have before me a copy of a statement made by Senator Robert Kennedy to the Conference on Water Pollution of Raritan Bay in the United States. The statement was released on 14th June 1967. In it reference is made to the role of the federal government in assisting local governing authorities to raise the standard of purity of their water. The conference dealt not only with reticulated municipal water schemes but also with such problems as the discharge, disposal and treatment of industrial waste and the discharge of raw sewage into water courses. Senator Kennedy pointed out that the federal government would be obliged to provide of the order of 55% of the cost of installing the facilities necessary to improve the condition of water.
He also pointed out that primary treatment of sewage secured an improvement of 45% in the purity of water, that that was not good enough and that an intermediate type of treatment system would result in an improvement of 65% in the purity rate. That means that in an area with a population of three million the level of non-pure material being discharged into the water systems around the area would be equivalent to the untreated or raw sewage from a population of one million. The conference went on to agree with the contention that the lowest acceptable standard of purity would be in the vicinity of 90%. That is the standard to be aimed at. Apparently it is the standard that has been adopted in the United States. The cost to the local governing authority is based on sewage treatment to a 90% purity standard.
The discharge of industrial waste is another problem that has been receiving a great deal more attention in recent years than formerly. The report of the statement by Senator Robert Kennedy points to the great problems that exist in this field in the United States. We have these problems in Australia, too. I can point very quickly to an area on the north west coast of Tasmania where a great deal of damage has been done to the beaches as a result of the discharge of surplus material from a factory operating in the area. It is very sad to have to relate that miles and miles of that lovely coastline have been despoiled as a result of the discharge of reddish coloured factory waste. We cannot permit that sort of thing to continue in a country that is becoming industrialised at the rate at which Australia is. Now is the time to act in this matter.
I suggest very strongly that the proposed committee could spend many days examining what is happening in regard to the disposal of industrial waste and its discharge into the sea and water courses and how we will be able to solve this great problem. One can see the situation that confronts industry if we have not in operation a system that assists it to solve this problem. I believe that generally speaking experience has shown that the health departments in the States, having broached the subject with the industrial organisations concerned, have met with an acceptance of the proposition that the present position is wrong, but up to the present wc have not made any really concerted effort to provide the means of solving this problem. If we put it on a common and general basis throughout the country there can be no argument by industry that somebody is being singled out for criticism or that somebody is being given preferential treatment.
These problems must be looked at by the proposed committee. When we go into this subject to any extent we see just how important it is. There is no disagreement from this side of the chamber with the proposition put forward by the Government through Senator Henty, namely, that a committee bc established to examine the question of the quality of water in its many forms throughout the country. In fact, we are entirely in agreement with it. The only difference that we have with the Government is, as stated in the amendment that has been moved by Senator Mulvihill, that we believe that the proposed committee should be conjoined with the Select Committee on Air Pollution. However, let it be clearly understood that we are in agreement with the proposition that the time is now opportune for a committee to be established to investigate the whole of this broad field of water purity. We hope that the Government, seeing that our thoughts are in line with its thoughts on the need for such a committee, will agree in a spirit of cooperation and compromise that an investigation of water pollution should be part of the responsibilities of the Committee that already has been set up to investigate air pollution.
– 1 rise to take part in this debate on the motion moved by Senator Henty which seeks the appointment of a select committee to inquire into and report upon water pollution and the quality of water for different uses in Australia. In moving the motion earl’ier this evening, Senator Henty drew on his quite vast experience and highlighted the urgency of the need for such an inquiry in the interests of Australia’s economic and national growth. He listed three areas to which the proposed committee might well give its attention, namely, the causes and effects of water pollution, the methods of prevention and control and, as he very wisely put it, matters incidental thereto.
Various honourable senators contributed to the discussion. Included in the contributions was a proposed amendment which in effect suggested that this committee should be merged with a committee already existing to deal with air pollution. One recognises that water pollution and air pollution are two very vital factors in our society, one realises the effect of air pollution and water pollution on the general health, welfare arid activities of the community but not one argument has been put forward to suggest, to me at any rate, and I fee] sure to the Senate, that there is real value in having these two subjects investigated by the one committee. To use Senator Devitt’s own words, the committee would devote many days to the matter of water pollution. How can a committee dealing with air pollution be expected to devote many days to the subject of water pollution? Surely it could not possibly assume that it could take unto itself the responsibility of investigating all the variations and implications of air pollution and then, either before, after or during that time investigate all the variations and implications of water pollution upon our society.
Senator Cormack earlier this evening directed attention to the general question of Senate select committees. 1 regret to say that he did not devote much time to the content of Senator Henty’s motion but very properly and in a true contributory form he spelled out for us out of his own experience, which is quite considerable, some of the mechanical situations that confront a Senate select committee. With considerable emphasis and, I may say, with considerable conviction and clarity he persuaded the Senate - I am sure of that - that Senate select committees are not serviced sufficiently well. If they are to work as Senate select committees should work, they should be serviced with personnel, not only at the secretarial level but also at the research level and in all other necessary avenues so that they may bring not only to the Senate but, as he said, to the Parliament, the Government and the country a complete picture, a complete report and a complete list of recommendations.
Bearing in mind some of the references that were made when we were discussing the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution not very long ago, and the vast quantity of material that we know has been made available in relation to water pollution, it is beyond my comprehension how one committee could settle down to work on air pollution and water pollution and bring in a complete report with recommendations by any date, least of all 31st December 1968. I hope the Senate will reject this proposed amendment for the reason that both subjects are of considerable importance and merit the undivided attention of separate select committees. T am sure that course will be followed.
In the debate this evening there were references to the mechanics of select committees and Senator Henty brought forth some persuasion as to why a select committee should be set up to investigate water pollution, but I suggest that sufficient has not been said as to the reasons why a select committee should be set up. Let me return for a moment to the terms of Senator Henty’s motion. He asked that a select committee be appointed and he suggested terms of reference relating to causes and effects, methods of prevention and control and matters incidental thereto. It is important to recognise that in the terms of his motion he spelled out various other points such as how the committee shall be constituted, how it shall operate, the evidence for which it shall call, when it shall sit and the matters that may be regarded as of a machinery nature and which apply to other committees. In addition, the committee will be required to report to the Senate on or before 31st December. 1 do not see how on earth it can possibly do that. Therefore I hope that it will do such work as it can and then seek leave to continue its investigations.
To highlight the urgency of this motion let me point out that the subject of water generally has been debated at great length in the Senate. I imagine it wilt be debated in the future because the lack of water in Australia is a matter of great concern to us. For the first time in their lives many people are placing a new value on the whole question of water. River systems are under new challenge, storage systems are the subject of new inquiry and the patterns which we have accepted in the past have been changed and are being reviewed constantly. As Senator Henty has said, this select committee will deal not only with the quantity of water in Australia but also with the quality of water in Australia; not only with our present supplies of water but also with our future supplies of water. That is an important element because in both contexts water becomes very much everyone’s business, not only because of production in our rural areas, not only because of industry and manufacture but also because of the stability and wellbeing of the community in our rapidly growing metropolitan and urban areas.
The motion before the Senate was commented upon in no less a journal than Rydge’s’ magazine which, if I remember correctly, stated that it was important that we study this matter now while we were stilt in what it called a comparatively enviable position, especially in relation to costs, and while there was still time. The magazine went on to add that investigations undertaken now could be highly significant as the beginning of model codes of legislation in relation to water pollution. I direct attention to the phrase ‘model codes of legislation’. I hope that the committee, when it is established,- will devote some time to, and do some research on, what I shall call, for broad purposes, model codes of legislation. If there are to be any recommendations in relation to water pollution and if there is to be any pattern to be followed in dealing with it, at some point there must be some plan of operation; there must be some restriction; there must be some legislation and there must be some administration. Somewhere along the line this committee should tay down, if not in detail then at least in broad terms, some general recommendations in relation.- to proposed or considered legislation.
May 1 take a moment to look at some details of the implications of the resolution before the Senate because in my view there is profound significance in almost every word of it. We are talking primarily, and very wisely and properly so, about the Australian situation. The Australian situation has been brought about by an awareness in the world of the problems that are arising in the economic and social community as a result of water pollution and matters related to it. I suppose it is fairly obvious that this arises from operations in heavy industrial areas. In such areas as the Ruhr Valley pollution has become a national problem because pollution from one city affects cities down river. In this day and age, water has to be used and reused many times before it reaches the sea. In Australia with our concentration of industries along the coast, the situation is less serious, although, in our major industrial areas, and in specific inland areas, certain problems have arisen. This is one of the things that a committee could look at.
Another thing, perhaps, of which a committee ‘ will take note is that we cannot resolve this problem just by saying that we want to resolve it. Because of our federal system, to which reference has been made earlier this evening, there are certain State governmental responsibilities and there are departmental responsibilities within State governments. Some of the State government departments have interest in water pollution, some have an interest in health, some have an interest in public works, some have an interest in harbours and some have an interest in such things as soil conservation. There are also other kinds of authorities. All of these bodies are involved and the proposed committee will have to listen to and receive representations from them all.
Water being one of our rarest national resources, it is of considerable importance that we do something to conserve it in quantity and preserve it in quality. When Senator Henty introduced the motion he dealt at the outset with what he called causes -and effects’. I suppose most people do not think much about water, except perhaps at the end of a drought summer, and I fear that not enough of our citizens think very much about water pollution at all. In some ways, this is a new presentation. It is something that may not have been dealt with before. The government of a British Commonwealth country in taking up this matter would only be dealing with a matter that has been dealt with in other Commonwealth countries over the years. I mention this because, in my reading on the subject I learned that 100 years ago Queen Victoria appointed three commissioners to inquire into the pollution of rivers in England. Bacteriological and chemical analyses as we know them today were not available then in any form, and progress in public health and everything pertaining to it has been spectacular since those days. So also, may I remind the Senate, has been our development of manufacturing processes and, along with that, the expansion of our residential communities, our cities, our suburbs and all of the things that go with the development of a community of this kind. .
Not very much has been said in the course of the debate about the basic matter of pollution. May I, for the record, define it as certain authorities have described it in a number of places in order to give some idea of what it actually means. I read that it is described as the deterioration of water quality by admixture with domestic, industrial and other wastes to the stage at which the use of water for domestic, industrial, agricultural, recreational - be it noted - or other beneficial uses is unreasonably impaired. It exists only when the composition or condition is adversely altered so that it is left unsuitable for any or all of the purposes for which it would otherwise be used in its ordinary or natural state. When we say this here in Australia, we are broadly reflecting what has been established in’ the United Kingdom, on the continent of Europe, in Russia and in the United States of America where the control of water pollution is regarded as good sense economically as well as aesthetically.
It has been laid down in no uncertain terms that water pollution can threaten the economy of a nation. The community must be alerted to the fact that water can no longer be regarded as just an abundant natural resource to be taken by the people as and when they want it, used, and then rejected in a low quality state. It must be regarded as a valuable raw material that is essential to economic growth and development, and which must be cared for all along the line. Supplying suburban and industrial areas with the water they require involves not only the creation of large reservoirs but also the tapping of ground water reserve’s and in all cases the preservation of this water and the control of pollution must be very carefully administered indeed.
Pollution arises from a number of different causes. As these have nol been listed in the course of this debate tonight, I should like to give some of them. Different authorities list them in- different ways. I bring to the notice of the Senate some of the several different causes which are described as types ‘ of water pollution. Firstly, there is the discharge of quantities of organic matter which’ have a detrimental effect upon the water and of -course are particularly dangerous- to communities of fish and which in extreme cases create not only disagreeable odours but also disagreeable colours. Secondly, there is the pollution that comes from suspended- solid matter which may produce sludge banks in a stream. Oil and petroleum products may produce surface films and taint the water. Industrial waste water is a common cause of water pollution. Something pf a contemporary nature is the pollution caused by detergents which have a . foaming effect. These and other trace organic compounds such as pesticides which cannot be removed by conventional treatment, pf water can have a very detrimental effect. Then there is the cause which is particularly well known to some of us. I refer to the discharge of highly saline wastes, from industry or irrigation drainage. This can increase the salinity and make the ‘. water, less suitable for a water supply. The presence in domestic and industrial waste water of plant nutrients, nitrogen, phosphate, silica and trace metals so important as fertilisers when applied to soil can also fertilise water leading to unsightly conditions of the water.. Then there is what is perhaps, the better known effect, that of the pollution by domestic waste water upon stream conditions. Almost, all countries of the world have water pollution problems today. Where it. is serious it is as the result of development of communities arid industries.
I am sure that when’ it is1 looking into this matter the proposed committee will take into account the experiences of other countries because one can truly say that the countries with the longest experience are those which are well developed industrially. They. too. have had the most experience iti ways of trying to deal with the problems of water pollution. The fact that some of these countries are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on capital works to secure some form of relief from water pollution is in itself evidence that they are aware of the harm that is being done.
Our proposal relates to an Australian committee. Therefore, it relates to Australian circumstances but, in arriving at any Australian solution, we should take note of the experiences of other countries. But because other countries are spending considerable sums each year on this matter that is not to say that any country is yet satisfied wilh the present position or indeed that it looks forward to the future with any degree of confidence that it will overcome its water pollution problem.
I make this point because there is an increasing demand for water, both domestic and industrial, and even if the present rate of increase continues, the demand will double about every 20 years. Whether honourable senators agree with that figure or not, at least the increasing demand has several important consequences. It suggests to mc in the first place that, even supposing that the proportion of water requiring purification before use does not increase, it will certainly be necessary to increase water treatment works, but the additional water will become increasingly costly to obtain because the nearer and cheaper sources will have already been tapped. Then the polluted waste water will also increase in volume and expenditure on treatment plants will increase proportionately. It is important, also, to point out as far as this country is concerned that the natural flow in the rivers is nol likely to remain as it is now because increasing quantities of water will be required to meet the additional water demand.
When all of these factors are taken into account, even a country that is well developed, with adequate authorities, good intentions and no lack of money, must view its whole future with a certain amount of caution and maybe some misgiving. But if a well developed, highly organised and affluent society has this misgiving, may I take a moment of the Senate’s time - because the- committee will have to take this into account - to refer to the problems that exist in what are called the developing countries? I am not describing these as underdeveloped countries in any way. They are’ countries whose economic activity is on the way up, where the population growth rates are higher than they are here, where industry must not only provide for increasing population but also must raise the standard of living, where financial resources are not quite as good as they are here and are subject to certain changes in demand.
The World Health Organisation, in looking at the whole matter of water pollution, stated that the rate of population growth in seventy-five developing countries was 40% greater than the average for the world as a whole, which meant that water supply and water pollution problems would be greatly increased for some decades. The increase in population, as honourable senators already know, is greatest in these developing countries and particularly in their towns and cities. Since it is in towns and cities that the greatest pollution problems occur, it would appear that there is a doubling of the pollution problem every few years. This is the background against which the Australian situation must be discussed through the activities of the proposed committee. Australia is a developed country. It may have elements of a developing country but the committee will examine the details of the Australian situation against a background of the experience of other nations, both those that are fully developed and those that are on the way up. Much of our rainfall pattern, which is the source of our water supply, is irregular. Our rivers are few and the demand upon them increases each year. As time goes on, pressures on the system will increase and so, of course, we will run the risk of a grave increase in water pollution.
It would be pertinent to say a word or two about the effects of water pollution. It seems obvious that it can affect public supply, industrial use, the production of foods, the programme of irrigation, stock watering, transport, and recreational activities. But the committee will need to look at the whole pattern of health in relation to fevers that have for too long been associated with polluted water. It sounds rather remote to talk about the mortality rate in a country like this but as pollution of water becomes a greater problem within our community so does public health become involved and so the risk of an increase in the mortality rate arises. Probably what affects us more as a community than the things I have been mentioning is the pollution of industrial water supplies. This may reduce the utility of water for industrial processes. Many such processes require quite a variety of water. For example, water required for cooling processes may be of. comparatively low quality. Some processes require an unusually soft water while others can tolerate hard water. A large part of the water used in the paper industry may be of relatively low quality. By contrast, high pressure boiler feed water must be of very high purity to prevent corrosion. Steel rolling mills require water that is different from that required by other industries. In short, polluted water sources can involve very substantial costs indeed from the point of view, not only of industry, but also of effluent and its effect upon streams and rivers.
Nearer home we are concerned, of course, as to the effect of water pollution upon agriculture. This has been mentioned in the Senate in a variety of contexts. We need to place on record the fact that the world cannot be supplied with the food and raw materials that it needs without large scale irrigation. As I say that, I realise that irrigation also can be a major cause of water pollution which in turn can greatly affect the productivity of land. Earlier Senator Cormack referred to the matter of salinity in the River Murray area. Undoubtedly when the committee starts work it will have to devote some time and attention to the matter of salinity in this area and in other areas of Australia. Most honourable senators are familiar with irrigation processes. As water returns to the main stream it may have a higher degree of salinity with consequent damage to the area in which it flows. It is important to observe that other people at various stages of authority and responsibility within the nation are thinking in terms of water pollution. I am looking at a newspaper report of a statement made on behalf of the Australian Primary Producers Union, expressing grave concern at the pollution of the inland river systems of eastern Australia. A committee of that organisation that dealt with this matter slated that the position seemed to be getting progressively worse. It agreed that much of this was due to the restricted river flow because of drought conditions but it recognised also that at this stage of our rapid development we must regard it as a matter of extreme urgency to prevent destruction of our river systems by pollution.
So it is in these areas and against this background that our committee must work. References have been made to oil pollution and the problem of our estuaries. All over the world there are problems of water pollution. I read tonight the statement of somebody who has been in Europe recently that the lakes of Geneva, Lucerne and Zurich have become fouled with growth and that their traditionally icy cold, crystal clear water is now murky. This is the sort of thing to which we must give attention while there is still time and while we are in our present enviable position. Other problems relating to the control of pollution will have to be examined by the committee, not the least of which are matters of authority economics and cost.. I feel sure that the committee will be able to investigate the whole matter of water .pollution bearing in mind not only the Australian economy, agriculture and industry but also Australian life in its safest and most effective form. If it is to do this the committee must be set up to do this thine alone, lt must not be cluttered up w:rh the work of any other select committee in the way that has been suggested in the terms of the amendment which I hope the Senate will reject. I hope that when the report of the proposed select committee on water pollution is brought before the Senate it will provide a basis upon which the most effective administration will be undertaken.
– The problem of water pollution is much more serious than most people realise. We live in a world where the population is increasing at a rate which many thinking people already claim to be catastrophic, and under those circumstances the world faces grave problems in providing sufficient food for the. future population. In a sense water is a food - a vital and essential foodand that makes the problem of ensuring that we get the full benefit from our supplies of water all the more urgent. Water pollution must be prevented as far as possible.
In 1967 the United States of America conducted an inquiry into this very problem. I imagine thai the conclusions which that inquiry reached will be the subject of study by the proposed select committee. The inquiry, which was entitled Water for Peace 1967’, summed up the question very well in one sentence when it stated: ‘Water and its proper use and control are unquestionably an essential factor in the global war against hunger’. Water is vital as a food and it is vital for the irrigation of areas in order to grow food. Not only is water vital for the purpose of irrigating areas for the growing of foodstuffs, but clean water is also particularly vital for urban populations, which are increasing throughout the world. . lt is well known that safe, piped water is vital to guard urban populations against water-borne diseases. A survey of water pollution was recently carried out in Japan, particularly in the rural areas, and that survey showed, as an instance of the manner in which safe, piped water could reduce disease, that a safe water supply had cut intestinal disease by 70% and trachoma by 64%. Diseases such’ as cholera and typhoid which had been almost epidemic in certain areas were virtually swept out of existence when those areas were provided with an unpolluted water supply. Obviously there are many reasons for the pollution of water. One is that in. many places the catchment areas arc poor and as a result certain materials find their way into streams, lakes and reservoirs where they destroy the plant life and fish life that are vital for the preservation of the purity of water.
Of course (he biggest factor in waler pollution is industrial pollution. Surveys which have been held in recent years have shown conclusively the seriousness of thermal and chemical damage and the organic infection and oxygen depletion which result when industrial pollution of water is allowed lo take place. Therefore this select committee will have to call upon a considerable sector of the community for assistance in anything that has to bc done in the fight against water pollution. This is a matter where the farmer, the forester, the fisherman, the wild life expert, the miner and the industrialist all must play their part. In addition, of course, governments and private individuals will have to play their part.. Action against water pollution is particularly necessary in a country such as Australia which has a low rainfall and limited water resources. If we act against water pollution then we will be helping to make the most of our limited water resources.
Unfortunately too little has been done in Australia on this problem. An earlier speaker said that an article in “Rydge’s* magazine had made the claim that we were very fortunate in that we had not yet reached a serious point in regard to water pollution. But I would like to point out that there has been little or no preparation for the future on this important topic. There has been very little done in the nature of scientific measurement of, for example, one of the most vexed aspects of water pollution and that is the effect of certain forestry and agricultural practices. Scientific investigations of these .matters have been made in other countries but practically nothing has been done in Australia. In my own State of Victoria there has been at least an attempt to begin this work. I tru-st that the committee will make some examination of the work that has been done in the Stewarts Creek area near Daylesford.
One of the most important tasks of the committee will be to attempt to make a fair assessment of the conflicting claims of foresters and the timber industry on the one hand, and of the water conservationists on the other. Powerful claims will be made by those in charge of water conservation that they must have the full and complete control of watershed areas. Against those arguments will be the claims of the foresters and those in the timber industry that they are able to take timber from watershed areas without causing water pollution. I believe that there is abundant evidence that forestry work does affect watershed areas. I have seen figures which indicate that large dumps of sawdust have an effect on water. I assume, therefore, that when the committee is appointed one of its principal tasks will be to determine the degree to which forestry activities can have an effect upon the purity of water
Finally, I refer to the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition. Originally it had some attraction for members of the Democratic Labor Party because the select committees already appointed by the Senate have made inroads upon the manpower available lo my Party. However, as Senator Henty has been kind enough to point out, the position will be remedied tq some extent after 30th June. For that reason I have some sympathy for his suggestion that the appointments to this committee might be made after that date. However, I will not mind if they have to be made earlier. Despite the attraction of the amendment from the point of view of reducing the necessity to make extra manpower available, when Senator Gair and 1 examined the position we could not see any community of interest between an investigation of air- pollution and an investigation of water pollution. Also, an experience common to us is that a better job is done and a better report is made when an inquiry is confined to one question. For that reason we do not propose to support the amendment but we will support the motion for the establishment of this committee.
– Firstly, I wish to congratulate Senator Henty for moving the motions for the establishment of Senate select committees to inquire into water pollution and air pollution. I think that Senator Henty will probably be remembered for a lot. of things in this chamber: He will be remembered as a Minister who held many portfolios, as a Deputy Leader of the Senate, and as a Leader of the Senate. But if my judgment is correct he will be remembered more for having the foresight to see the difficulties that will face Australia unless something is done in respect to water and air pollution. In my maiden speech in the Senate I made the statement, which was not original and which people had said before me but which I still believe to be true, that the one factor that will limit Australia’s development and its growth of population is water supply. One does not have to be a Rhodes scholar to understand this, because Australia is the driest country in the world. Unless we husband our meagre resources of water, unless we re-launder the water we use, our growth of population will be restricted.
Senator Devitt was kind enough to reply to an interjection that I made. I was interested to hear the ‘honourable senator say that one committee could do the two jobs. One committee could do the two jobs, but it would not be effective. The honourable senator said that the committee would take on the task in relation to water pollution. One committee would do the work that two committees should be doing. I appeal to Senators Lacey, Ormonde and Gair, who are to be members of the Committee on Air Pollution, of which I” also have the honour to be a member, not to support the amendment. There is a minor way in which the two committees are similar, but I believe that to compare the duties of the two committees would be like asking somebody to make an investigation into rugby and Australian rules as a form of sport. Certainly they are both played on a field, a leather ball is used, there are goal posts and spectators watch, but I maintain that the similarity ends there. I am sure that my Victorian, Western Australian, South Australian and Tasmanian colleagues will agree that one game requires a great degree of skill and is very spectacular to watch.
– Queenslanders and New South Welshmen would not accept that.
Sena:or BRANSON - I. agree, but Queensland at the moment plays a little of each. I do not believe that one committee could do the task that Senator Henty envisages. If the two committees are married justice will not be done. A committee could not visit a place like Newcastle and sit from 9.30. a.m. to 12.30 p.m. hearing evidence on air pollution and then put on another hat at 2 pm. and take evidence on water pollution till 5 pm. I do not know how honourable senators could properly devote their minds to both subjects. I look around the chamber and see - honourable senators who are at present sitting . on select committees. I see Senators Marriott and Benn and a number of other honourable senators. I wonder how they would fee) if they were given two tasks to do in the. one commission. That is what the amendment is asking. I cannot see that one committee for the two tasks would be successful, and that is the reason why I oppose the amendment.
I believe that water pollution is of paramount importance in Australia. When one visits countries like Taiwan one sees that the people of such countries are completely re-laundering the water they use in industry. I know that other honourable senators have been there and have seen what I have seen. The people of Taiwan were re-laundering water and selling it back to the consumers - when 1 was there it was in the days of pounds, shillings and pence - for 2d per 1 .000 gallons. They were using water that had been highly contaminated by industries such as the cement, plastics and aluminium industries. They were completely relaundering the water and sending it back to the users.
I was interested to read an article in Factory and Plant’, written by Mr Peter d’Abbs and J find myself in agreement with many of the things he said. At present each State in Australia has its own particular and peculiar problems in respect of water pollution and its own particular way of solving some of these problems. In Victoria the system of control is so fragmented that there is the Water Act, the Health Act, the Mines Act, the Poisons Act and the Fisheries Act. In other words five or six people are trying to control this matter. Mr d’Abbs suggests - and Senator Henty will be interested to know, if he has not seen this article - that the first and most important requirement in all States of Australia is a pollution committee of some sort. [ gather that he means a permanent committee to overcome these problems. I believe that Senator Henty has gone well along the way. towards setting up such a committee because I imagine that one of the recommendations that the committee on water pollution makes will be that there should be some permanent standing committee to co-ordinate the actions of the various States. Mr d’Abbs suggested that such a committee would bring together representatives of all the departments concerned, as well as representatives from industry. Actually a State pollution committee was established in Victoria in I960, but it just faded away. Mr d’Abbs suggested that such a committee, having sorted out who should do what, could then create a meaningful set of regulations - standardised, I believe he meant - and could be given meaningful powers to enforce them, powers which would raise the level of control1 above the cops and robbers status, to use the term used by Mr d’Abbs, that exists today.
Senator Henty paid tribute to a number of Australian companies that have done a lot and gone a long way towards mitigating water pollution. Many companies have discovered that it is not difficult to circumvent, to bend or simply to ignore existing legislation on pollution caused by industrial effluent. There are many reasons why existing Slate legislation is inadequate. The means of enforcing legislation are even more inadequate. Too little is known about the nature and the consequences of water pollution, even though quite a lot has beer written on that subject, particularly with regard to effluent resulting from some of the more modern industrial processes. Perhaps the main reason for lack of knowledge is that very few people in Australia really care much about this matter. Occasionally a journalist is inspired to write articles and bring it to our attention, but generally we just coast along and accept the fact that while some day it may be n problem, it can be kept under the carpel and we need not worry about it. That is why we are indebted to Senator Henty for bringing the matter forward.
asked broadly what water pollution meant. I believe this is the quickest way to summarise it: Pollution in its broadest sense is defined as any outside influence which tends to disturb permanently the biological balance, of. the environment or of the water. T .believe that is a very simple way of stating it. I said earlier that water pollution could. cost Australia a lot of money. Unless something is done about it, it will cost Australia a lot of money. We only have to look at what happened recently in the United States of America. American Government sources estimate that control of pollution will require the expenditure of about S60,000m during the next 15 to 20 years. That sum is ten times the total estimated expenditure envisaged by the last Australian Budget, including the expenditure on defence. The cost of handling and treatment will be divided equally between municipal and industrial wastes. This is what America will have to spend now but just to hold that position and to prevent the situation deteriorating it is estimated that an annual expenditure of approximately $ 1, 200m is needed. These are colossal sums when they are related to the annual Australian Budget - $60,000m to correct the position and $ 1,200m annually to hold the position. These are sobering figures. Currently, in the United States, industry as a whole is spending about $400m per annum on pollution abatement facilities: The chemical industry alone is spending S60m annually. These are big sums of money and if we can, as a result of these committees that are to be set up, save Australia from some of this collossal expenditure, the setting up of those committees will- be well justified. lt should be realised that there is an ever increasing demand for water supplies for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes. Increasing activities in respect of sport - whether it be on lakes, rivers or in the ocean - and all of those things associated with a growing population and a more affluent society demand that the development and preservation of our water resources be watched closely. This is the sort of thing that 1 imagine the committee will be recommending. The inevitable closer settlement in any State as a result of our immigration programme, with more population, more industry and more processing of agricultural products within the country areas all add up to more polluted water waste and an increasing hazard of water pollution. To preserve our natural water resources we have to control closely the discharge of polluted water waste. Water pollution is more dangerous than the depletion of a water supply because it has more disastrous results, lt is possible to relaunder water rather than having it run to sea or be discharged elsewhere in a completely polluted state.
Most developed countries, and certainly those in Europe, have encountered the problem of water pollution. May I quickly refer to some of the areas concerned? Vast areas of the Great Lakes in America have become useless for any purpose other than navigation. The fish have died and only ships can exist upon them. San Francisco bay has suffered a similar fate and over $Im a year is currently being spent on an exhaustive survey of the problem there. Senator Davidson referred to the Ruhr, and the Ems River has become a sewer for the vast industrial complex of that area. The lakes near Madison in Wisconsin have struck the same problem. Lake Washington, near Seattle, had to have a new sewerage system costing $400m because it did not deal with the problem of pollution earlier. There are locations close to home in Gippsland where pollution from milk processing has created difficulties in treating river water for water supplies to downstream towns. Whey is one of the greatest pollutants of water. Discharge of paper pulp into the Columbia River had exactly the same result. Massive fungal growth in that river caused the death of the salmon and the resultant death of the fishing industry which was important to the area. A similar situation occurred in the Mississippi River as a result of pesticides being washed into the river. 1 could talk for hours on the material that is available. In the United States of America more than 40% of the population - and I have not worked it out but it would run into millions - consumes water which has been pumped from a river by a community located upstream, used by that community and then returned to the river. This process continues right on down the river. I only hope that their treatment system is effective.
Up to the present time in Australia there has been only small scale reuse of water in this manner. We do not have complex industrial centres located ‘ on our rivers. I read an interesting article in the ‘Herald’ of 30th March 1968. Mr Peter Henderson, a reporter, was examining the water position in relation to the Yarra. He wrote:
I saw a 100 foot wide slick of foul smelling fat, blood and something like phenyl spreading across the Yarra River this week. Fat rats sat in front of me drinking and eating muck, in a small creek running into the river. And experts agreed with me that the Yarra would turn into a sewer if nothing was done to stop pollution. ‘That has been going on for two years - and there are plenty more places like it.’ Mr Dewar Goode, chairman of the landscape preservation committee of the National Trust, said today.
This is what is happening to the Yarra River now. In justice to the members who will sit on the water pollution committee I submit that it should not be associated with the air pollution committee because I honestly do not think they could devote themselves to the two subjects and do justice to both. I oppose the amendment and support the motion.
– I thank the Senate for the reception given to my motion. I thank those honourable senators who have spoken for the immense amount of research work they must have undertaken in the preparation of their speeches. This has been an intensely interesting evening. I did give- consideration to including an investigation of air pollution and water pollution in the work of one committee but after further study and after discussion with Government departments I formed the conclusion that it would be a retrograde step to have both subjects included in one inquiry. I hope that the Senate will reject the amendment and will enable the two committees to go ahead and investigate these matters which are of vast importance to Australia.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Mulvihill’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Economic Aid to South Korea - Alleged Atrocities in Vietnam
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Tonight I want to refer briefly to an aspect of our external affairs policy, particularly in respect of South Korea. I am fortified in what I have to say by the answer I received from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Husluck) to ques tion No. 150 on the notice paper. The Minister indicated that the amount of money spent on economic aid for South Korea in 1966-67 was about $223,000. In a footnote the Minister stated:
It is expected that our economic aid to Korea will show an increase in the current and next financial years as a result of a recent decisionto supply a harbour dredge for the port of Inchon.
In conjunction with that answer I wish to refer to a sentence in the last statement on external affairs made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), who represents the Minister for External Affairs in this chamber. The Minister said:
Finally, Australia observes basic human rights and fundamental freedoms at home and believes in the promotion and encouragement of respect for them in the rest of the world without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
I had heard rumours of the position of the trade union movement in South Korea. I hasten to add that in some of the debates in the Senate on Vietnam and other trouble spots we have been told, in dealing with the civil administration and human problems of those countries, that a sense of values has to be changed because those countries are under military pressures. I do not wish to debate that aspect tonight. In South Korea a period of about 14 years has elapsed since the last conflict. I think it would be reasonable to. say, in view of the objectives in respect of hitman rights of the Minister for External Affairs, that the position he describes should obtain in South Korea.
I digress to say that last year some very harsh comments were made about civil disturbances in Hong Kong. It was remarkable that within a month or 6 weeks of that time a joint statement was made by Protestant and Catholic bishops about the rather slow tempo of improvement of social conditions in Hong-Kong. I wish to relate that religious approach to South Korea. As I said earlier, I had heard certain rumours about the anti-trade union attitude of the South Korean Government. The Catholic Weekly’ could not fairly be described as a left wing publication. In its issue on 21st March last it referred to happenings on the island of Kang-Hoa in the Diocese of Inchon. I referred earlier to certain additional aid to be given by Australia to South Korea in respect of the port of Inchon. In effect, Australia is providing the cheque for certain economic development of that area. The ‘Catholic Weekly’ states that Father Bransfield, a missionary in South Korea, suggested to employees in the silk industry that it was time they organised to obtain better conditions. Senator Cavanagh and other honourable senators are well versed in trade unionism- and recognise the need for it when 13-year old girls are working 7 days a week in sweat shop conditions and are subjected to wage payment delays and so on. In objecting- to those conditions one could not properly be accused of adopting a Marxist attitude.
The report states that the Young Christian Workers movement was criticised for setting up an organised union affiliated with the National Silk Federation. A silk mill owner, who is also a deputy in the South Korean Parliament, took a rather dim view of that situation. As a result eighty-five of his employees were sacked because of what he defined as illegal activities. He went further and claimed that Father Michael Bransfield had carried on pro-Communist agitation. He wanted the authorities to expel him from South Korea. In 1968 I do not think there is any argument about the rights of trade union associations in countries that are supposedly part of the free world.
I am trying to be fair in my attitude. Honourable senators, opposite might say that they are quite happy about a union’s advocating better wage conditions but they object to trade unions . interpreting international affairs and our external affairs policy. The position of South Korea is not clear. The sweat shop conditions prevailing there are a return to the dark ages. The South Korean authorities stood by and tacitly condoned the sacking of eighty-five members of the silk industry because they had the temerity to agitate for belter conditions, the right of assembly and so on. That was what happened when the missionary endeavoured to’ do something practical.
In regard to the various ideologies, whether on the far left or the far right, if we are honest with ourselves we will admit that, w hover the religious leader- is and whatever his creed is, if he wants to have a following, and to adopt a modern attitude he cannot simply quote various biblical utterances; he must be materialistic in his : approach to modern conditions. Both in the statement made by the various religious leaders in Hong Kong and in the case in South Korea, that was the core of the problem.
This is what worries me: This article was published on 2 1st March. I am not one of those people who, when they read something in a newspaper, say: ‘That is right’. I say: ‘Let us wait and see what the rebuttal is’. So, last week I telephoned the editor of the ‘Catholic Weekly’, Mr Hilferty. I asked him: ‘Did you receive any reply from the South Korean Embassy?’ We all know that one of the political facts of life in Canberra is that on many occasions we make a statement and within a week we receive a reply from an embassy to the effect that we were a little unfair to its country. The editor of the ‘Catholic Weekly’ assures me that he has received no rebuttal from the South Korean Embassy. So I believe that it is reasonable to assume that the things mentioned in the article are happening.
When 1 have been critical of the situation in South Vietnam, honourable senators opposite have replied: ‘What is the choice? if you have a Utopian society with reasonable trade union freedom you may jeopardise certain military commitments’. That does not apply in respect of South Korea. If we are spending $230,000 in South Korea to perpetuate a police state when we have been told that freedom was achieved in 1953-54, then I believe that it is time the Australian Embassy in South Korea passed on the message that Australian aid will not spurt out in the same quantity in the future if the South Koreans are not prepared to put their house in order.
I have one other regret, although it is probably not relevant to this submission. I was hopeful that when the Minister for External Affairs was approving of the delegations to visit Asia this year he would approve of a parliamentary delegation visiting South Korea and going to Inchon to have a look at the area and to see just what the position is. One comment that I heard in the precincts of the Parliament was: Even if these people were treated in a pretty tough way, the Koreans. aTe .a pretty durable people, whether they come from the North or the South. What does it matter if a few policemen bounce a few people on the pavement? They are used to that sort of thing’. 1 am not looking at the physical side of this matter; 1 am looking at the mental side of it. Frequently in our Press we read about continuous agitation on the border between North Korea and South Korea and that the agitation has been from the North. That is probably so. 1 am not here to defend such agitation or to argue about it. This is what T am saying: If we are trying to build up what is called a better society and a free society in South Korea, why should Australia be the bunny, as it were, and continue its aid when free association and trade union organisation are not allowed?
In Sydney last week 1 saw a chap walking up and down outside the Taxation Branch office. He was carrying a banner, the purport of which was that he did not want to pay income tax because he felt that it was being used for an immoral war in Vietnam. The members of the Clothing and Allied Trades Union in Australia might say that part of their income tax goes towards giving aid to South Korea, a country in which a person in a similar occupation to theirs is not allowed to organise.
I do not expect a direct decision on this matter now, but I respectfully ask how Mr Hasluck can reconcile his statement of principles in his last ministerial statement with the gross neo-Fascist attitude of the South Korean Government which refuses to allow people to organise, particularly in relation to industrial conditions. There is no question whether a trade union is dictating the foreign policy of a country. This is a clear cut issue. This is a report which cannot be dismissed just by saying: ‘This has come from the far left; we have some suspicions about it’. We on this side of the chamber have said repeatedly - our opinion has been endorsed by Senator Robert Kennedy, with his experience in various parts of the globe - that, rather than try to change the feudal concept of life in some of these Asian countries, if the people are prepared to carry on and to say: ‘We are not worried about the future as long as we can hang on to what we have’, it is not much good Australia or any other relatively advanced country endeavouring to build a new society.
The owners of the silk industry in South Korea might say: ‘If you improve the living conditions or industrial conditions of the workers, what will happen to the capacity of the industry to make a profit?’ During the American Civil War, those in the South said: If you free the slave from his bondage the cotton industry of the United States is doomed’. But it was not doomed. Neither will this sweat shop industry in South Korea be doomed. J ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to convey my request to the Minister for External Affairs. I should like to know for how long we are to be sugar daddies, as it were, externally, giving these big donations to countries which, after 14 years of relative peace, have not reached the stage at which a group of workers can get together and form a trade union to better their conditions.
– I desire to support what Senator Mulvihill has said. We are reaching the stage where we should look at the position of countries that are not permitting the formation of trade unions for the purpose of organising against the exploitation of the less privileged members of society. I rose tonight to express not only my support of Senator Mulvihills comments but also my concern about, the question asked this afternoon by Senator Greenwood in relation , to what he described as an atrocity, namely the shooting of four journalists in the streets of Saigon. My concern is reinforced by a report in this morning’s Adelaide Advertiser’ which stated:
Another Allied newspaperman was killed today - the fifth in 36 hours - while covering the fighting in Saigon.
He was Charles Eggleston, 23, of Philadelphia, New York State, a photographer for the United Press International news agency . . .
His death brings the number of foreign journalists killed in South Vietnam to 17. Many others have been wounded.
The fact that seventeen journalists have been killed in South Vietnam must be deplored by everyone. No matter what the circumstances are, we must deplore the fact that people who are in Vietnam not on a war mission but to give the outside world news of what is happening there are subject to shooting when they are not offering any threat to any group of people operating in Vietnam.
I understood the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), in replying to the question that was asked this afternoon, to say that the journalists were not carrying guns at the time. .1 am advised that the journalist who survived the incident made a television appearance last evening and stated that journalists had been advised by the Australian Army to carry a gun at all times while in Vietnam. There should be an examination of this question. Not one person on this side of the chamber has ever supported the shooting of journalists or the shooting of, or the commission of any atrocity against, people who arc noi committed in a war. There is a feel’ing that the crime against these journalists is all the more serious because they were Australians, but we are participating in this war and we are an enemy of the Vietcong and the people of North Vietnam.
On previous occasions when atrocities have occurred I have appealed for them to be condemned. We, as leaders of a movement, should be united in our efforts to arouse public opinion to condemn atrocities. We should try to get some code of ethics to prevent useless and unwarranted atrocities. The attitude of the Vietcong is wrong. lt is to be deplored that attempts have been made to use these atrocities for purposes of political propaganda. When I have appealed previously for a united front to arouse public opinion against atrocities in Vietnam I admit that I have been referring to atrocities which I claimed were committed by the side we are protecting in Vietnam, but wherever they are committed should we not be endeavouring to arouse public opinion against them?
I have said before that I am prepared to act upon any committee -of this House, irrespective of the political persuasion of the members of the committee, to try to get some humanity into the Vietnam conflict. It is no use condemning what happened to four journalists. The same thing is happening throughout Vietnam as a result of action by both South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese, but I am prepared to condemn it wherever it occurs, to do all I can to eradicate it and to get back to some rules of warfare. I seek a cessation of this inhumanity to man that is going on in Vietnam. I ask that my challenge be taken up.
I have risen to say that I deplore the deaths of the journalists. I deplore the death of any civilian and, as I have said, 1 am prepared to join with anyone in a campaign to arouse public opinion against this and other atrocities. Let us not use them for political propaganda. Let us search for a common approach to this most vital matter. In a document which is published, I think, by someone from Sydney there is talk of Australian atrocities. I have no knowledge whether they have occurred. Let us be humane and try to ensure that a stop is put to all atrocities. The greatest deterrent to atrocities is well-informed world public opinion. Let us join together, as I join tonight with Government supporters, in deploring these atrocities. Let us try to bring the atrocities that occur in Vietnam before public gaze for public condemnation and try to put an end to them.
– I am prompted to speak tonight by the comments made by Senator Mulvihill. I do not question his great sincerity in mentioning what he believes to be oppression in South Korea but I had it strange that he should invite us to pick on South Korea and, by inference at any rate, to consider whether we should reduce our aid to that country because of the action of someone in oppressing those who wish to form a trade union. It does not matter whether we approve or disapprove of what has happened in South Korea. Surely a principle is involved in this and if we apply the principle to South Korea we must apply it to the many other countries to which we are supplying considerable aid. I find most extraordinary the argument that simply because one country acts in a way which does not meet with our approval, we should therefore reduce our aid.
I remind Senator Mulvihill that when I was in Pakistan some little time ago I and other members of the party were told by the Leader of the Opposition in the Pakistan Parliament that some of his members were in gaol because they had been too outspoken, but I have never heard anyone suggest that because of this action, which would not meet with our approval, we should cease to give considerable aid to Pakistan.
– Should we make it a condition of aid that they have freedom?
– I am saying no, Senator Mulvihill is saying yes. I agree with Senator Cavanagh. We should not make it a condition of aid.
– lt is not an unreasonable request.
– 1 do not understand the honourable senator’s argument. 1 say we should not make it a condition of aid. If we did that in respect of South Korea we should do it in respect of all countries. I am reminded that a gentleman named President Sukarno ruled Indonesia for quite some time. There was no freedom in Indonesia and no acceptance of the basic human rights or the basic human freedoms, yet Australia maintained economic aid to that country. I did not hear any suggestion from the Opposition that we should cease giving aid to Indonesia because of the denial by Sukarno of basic human rights and basic human freedoms.
I rose only to say that if we are to adopt the principles Senator Mulvihill has put with great sincerity in relation to South Korea, we should adopt them in- relation to all countries.
– Hear, hear!
– Senator Cavanagh says Hear, hear’. May I say now that I disagree entirely with him. It is not our job to say what other governments should do because our own policies- could be questioned by them. For example, they might not like our immigration policy. I do not think we should stand in judgment on other people.
The South Korean Government has. done an excellent job in developing its country. In fact the economic development of South Korea, wilh American aid, is one of the greatest stories in Asia. That is one reason why we are giving it such small amounts of economic aid. South Korea has developed economically in a remarkable way. Senator Mulvihill said that we cannot make the excuse that South Korea is under military pressure. I challenge that statement because today South Korea is under military pressure. That can be proved easily. Many authorities believe that South Korea is the next country to watch in the Communist plan of domination.
It is worth noting that since 1966 there has been a significant increase in the infiltration of arms into South Korea, coinciding with some changes in the hierarchy of the North Korean Communist Party where the hawks have replaced the’ doves. We hear plenty about American hawks and Aus’ tralian hawks but we do not hear much from the; Opposition about Communist hawks. I have some figures, which I believe are significant, to show that there are military pressures against South Korea. Whatever faults it may possess in denying basic human freedoms, it does not possess them to the same degree as does North Korea which does not allow any basic human freedoms. In 1966 there were 37 incidents of infiltration into South Korea which involved harassing fire and mining, and counter intrusion fire. In 1967 there were 438 incidents and in the first 3 months of this year there were 68.
– From what is the honourable senator quoting?
– I am quoting from a document supplied to me by the Department of External Affairs.
– Mr President, I ask that the document be tabled. -
– I agree to- table the document.
- Senator Cavanagh can make his request, at the end of Senator Sim’s speech. . . ,
– Let us look at this question. Since 1966, the North Koreans have established four centres for the training of guerilla ‘ type infiltrators. These are based wherever possible at centres where the Communists have some connections in South Korea. This is sickeningly familiar to us. They are being trained to infiltrate the Republic of Korea and carry out a variety of subversive activities. Their’ aim is to disrupt the growing economy of South Korea and to cause uneasiness and a sense of uncertainty in the country. Only recently we had the incident in- which a group crossed the border to try to assassinate the President of South Korea. I have with me a document in which it is stated that the second lieutenant in charge of this force, who was captured, gave a conference to fifty foreign Press correspondents in which he outlined the training and activities of these groups and their plans. .
I do not want to take up much more time, but I am interested in this subject. I wish only to quote one short statement by Premier Kim D-song.- Quite recently he expressed his concern at the fact that the unification of North Korea and South Korea was becoming more and more difficult. He suggested that the people of North Korea, which he calls the revolutionary base for accomplishing the national liberation, should support the cause of the revolution in the South. Are not those expressions sickeningly familiar? We hear them, of course, from the North Vietnamese. Kim suggested that the North Koreans should actively support the cause of the revolution in the South. As Kim put it:
We must accomplish the South Korean revolution, unify the fatherland in our generation . . . We must quickly make all conditions ripe for the realisation of the unification of the fatherland.
He pointed out - and again we have an example in Vietnam - that:
To build a Marxist-Leninist Party which would form a powerful main force of the revolution - was the most important task. He finished by saying:
The revolutionary movement in South Korea, when developed, would have to use a variety of methods. It would combine diverse forms and ways of struggle: The political and economic struggle, the violent and non-violent struggle, the lawful and unlawful struggle.
We have heard this from General Lin Piao, we have heard it from Ho Chi Minh and we have heard it from Chen Yun. So I submit that we have no right to be criticising these small incidents in these countries. If we are going to criticise them and if we are going to make them a condition of aid then I expect the Opposition to make it a condition of aid to every country to which we are giving aid. I am surprised that the Opposition did not raise this proposition when Sukarno was in full charge in Indonesia.
Tt is not right to say that South Korea is not under military pressure. South Korea is under military pressure. The North Koreans have made it quite clear that their policy is to liberate South Korea - from what I do not know. If the basic freedoms are restricted in South Korea, they are restricted to a far greater extent in North Korea. Let us be consistent.- When I hear the Opposition say that we should not give aid to Pakistan or any other country where we do not always agree with the actions of the government, then I would be inclined to agree that they are showing some consistency. In fact, I do not agree with the proposals of the Oppostion, but if its members were more consistent I would be more inclined to listen to their views.
– I ask that the two documents from which the honourable senator quoted be tabled. One relates to the military invasion of South Korea and the other relates to a statement by the Premier of South Korea.
– That will require a motion by the honourable senator.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That the documents be tabled.
– There are two issues before the Senate. One is Senator Mulvihill’s suggestion that in South Korea there are some restrictions against trade union organisations and that action was taken against a Catholic priest who advocated that people engaged in the silk industry should be organised into a trade union. Senator Mulvihill argued that because the South Korean Government had taken action prejudicial to union organisations in South Korea we should restrict our aid to that country. I think Senator Mulvihill had a good point there because this Government supported a standard system of adjusting employer-employee relations at the International Labour Organisation. I see no reason why Senator Sim should complain about what Senator Mulvihill put to the Senate with relation to the need for an organisation in South Korea. It seems to me that there is a great need for an industrial organisation in South Korea. If the people in South Korea are being pressurised against joining an industrial union, we should have recourse to the principles of the International Labour Organisation. This Government should complain to that Organisation about the actions of the Government of South Korea and ask for an examination of the matter. I take it that that is all that Senator Mulvihill is seeking. All he requests is that there be an inquiry by the Minister into whether overt pressure is being exercised upon this particular Catholic priest who suggests the establishment of an organisation for workers’ not only in this industry but also in other industries in South Korea. It is as simple as that. It seems to me that if the Minister examines what Senator Mulvihill has alleged and finds any substance in his allegations he ought to request the International Labour Organisation to examine and find in favour of the people who want their trade union organisation.
The second point at issue is the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh relating to Vietnam. As I understand the position, Senator Cavanagh points out that we of the Opposition are opposed to the commission of atrocities by any side, that we are opposed to the Vietcong gunning down bona fide Press correspondents and we are opposed to Australian and American forces permitting atrocities against the Vietcong. Senator Cavanagh argues that the Senate should promote the setting up of some organisation or device to investigate the circumstances and if after examination it is found that there has been any sort of terrorism or any attempt at exploitation in the way he suggests, we should declare that we oppose this kind of thing. We should come out against it.
– What does the honourable senator mean by ‘come out against it’?
– Put them in the ALP.
– No. We should penalise them. Having been a member of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Gair has an expert knowledge of the sort of device which should apply. I put it to honourable senators that what Senator Cavanagh is advocating is that we should investigate these allegations of atrocities and whether the findings are favourable or unfavourable to the Vietcong they should be made known. That is all Senator Cavanagh asks and he puts forward his proposal in a non-partisan spirit.
Tt seems to me to be a sound suggestion. I submit it is not unreasonable to argue that the Senate should investigate the types of reports we have had, not only about the recent deaths of free lance journalists, but also about the killing of others and about alleged atrocities that have been committed prior to this time. I submit that is a sound suggestion. If the Senate could employ its time in investigating these reports of alleged atrocities, I submit it woul’d be making a great contribution towards the achievement of peace and the fulfilment of the principles of the Geneva Agreement into which we have entered. I can see nothing wrong wilh the suggestion. I cannot understand why
Senator Sim should complain about the attitude taken by Senator Cavanagh.
I would be prepared to support any move at all for this Senate - if it is the only body that can do it - to investigate the position in relation to the journalists who were killed recently in Saigon. I agree that Press reporters ought to be protected in the way that members of other international organisations are protected, but according to newspaper reports most of these men were in ordinary civilian dress. They were not equipped with the ordinary identification of Press reporters, and it seems to me that they ought to have been. Let us find out whether in fact they were properly identified as Press reporters. They were reputable Press reporters from the Australian Government’s point of view. If we find that these were in fact atrocities, let us condemn the Vietcong for committing them. In substance, I say that if this Senate is the body to investigate this sort of problem let us do it and let us give the greatest support we can to the identification of atrocities, irrespective of whether they are committed by the Vietcong or by the South Vietnam Government.
– The eminent British writer Macaulay once said that there was nothing more ridiculous than the British people in a state of indignant morality. I think that was the expression used. What he referred to was the fact that on one occasion they were quite indignant about one particular set of circumstances but were prepared conveniently to shut their eyes to another equally blameworthy set of circumstances. This debate tonight has achieved something, in my belief, in that it has brought, for the first time in my knowledge, from the Australian Labor Party an admission that the Vietcong have committed atrocities. I have listened to members of the ALP day in and day out for years faithfully reporting every allegation of an atrocity against the people of North Vietnam and I have heard a deafening silence on the question of the atrocities committed against the people of South Vietnam. That has always been my complaint against the ALP on this issue. I acknowledge that the Party can at times show a burning sense of resentment against injustice but what I object to is that that burning feeling of resentment is so often a selective feeling. Members of the ALP find out the particular complexion of the country concerned before they decide whether they will condemn injustice in that country. If the ALP stands for consistency on both sides, as Senator Cavanagh has suggested, I welcome this and 1 will join with him in condemning injustice on both sides. But after all the ALP has a long way to go if it is to be consistent in these matters. Last year it accepted an invitation to send three delegates to a conference of parliaments in Moscow. Now, the ALP knows that there is not a parliament in Moscow. There is a body which is supposed to be some sort of representative body but everybody knows that it is not a parliament. If the ALP is so anxious for democratic institutions in South Vietnam why not make a stand by saying: ‘We refuse to go to Moscow because there is only a travesty of a parliament there’.
– Did the Government send representatives?
– The Government can look after itself. Labor senators are the people who are tonight beating their breasts in a holier than thou attitude, suggesting that they are the sole repositories of righteous indignation. The leader of the ALP has accepted an invitation to the International Conference on Human Rights in Teheran. To me that is inexpressibly humorous. What human rights are there in Teheran? Would one of the trade union leaders here tell me the state of the trade union movement in Teheran?
– You would know if the Democratic Labour Party had sent a delegate to the conference.
– If we had got an invitation I hope we would have been honourable enough to say that we would not go there because there are no human rights in Iran; and if we had not been so honourable, there was the opportunity for you to set us the example. I realise that Senator Cavanagh and Senator Mulvihill have ranged over a wide area, and I regret that they do not concede me the same liberty. All I want to say to them is that when they give it they are in a very happy mood, but whenever they are asked to take it they always intervene and try to put forward their point of view. I have endeavoured to find out the amount of assistance we have been giving to South Korea, and I have here a survey. Senator Mulvihill probably has one, too, though it may not be the same one. I have the one that we were given today. I know that we contribute to all sorts of general organisations, and some assistance to Korea may be included in those amounts, but the only specific assistance that I see here marked with South Korea’s name is as follows: 1958-59, nothing; 1959-60, nothing; 1960-61. $16,000; 1961-62, S46.000; 1962-63, $48,000; 1963-64, nothing; 1964-65, nothing; 1965-66, nothing; and 1966-67, nothing. It is possible that there were some other amounts, but all I am saying is that those are the only specific sums that I can find listed. I should not think that the people of South Korea are going to live in luxury on the kind of assistance that we give to them.
– Would you condone the opportunity to provide assistance for them?
– I let the honourable senator develop his case in absolute silence and I was extremely well behaved while he spoke, and T request that he give me the same assistance in what I have to say. Let us look at the facts about South Korea. It is menaced by internal subversion because, as we read the other day, agents of North Korea have entered the country, have attempted to assassinate the country’s leaders, and are engaged at the moment in promoting internal subversion. Then again, it is menaced by external aggression, because large forces from North Korea are on its borders and, as we have been told, there are a number of instances which have led the South Koreans to believe that an invasion may be in the offing.
Let us consider our circumstances. Suppose we had a line, say from Perth to Sydney, beyond which was a North Australian Government under Communist auspices. Suppose that Government was threatening us with attack, and suppose that inside our own South Australian area we had a very strong and powerful subversive force menacing and threatening our liberty. Can any honourable senator give me an instance of any country in the history of the world that has been able to maintain a completely democratic system in those circumstances? The first thing that happens in countries that are in those circumstances is that some measure like a Defence of the Realm Act comes into operation, under which the people are called upon to sacrifice some of their liberties for’ the period of the crisis. 1 deprecate what happened in the case that has been put forward by Senator Mulvihill. If it occurred, I think it would be extremely wrong, but as one who remembers some years ago an occasion when the Australian Labor Party took the strongest exception to Catholic priests mixing themselves up in trade union affairs, I am interested to see that its members are in favour of Catholic priests interesting themselves in trade union affairs in South Korea provided their fellow priests keep their noses out of such affairs inside Australia. I am interested to see their point of view.
There is a legitimate claim for assistance in the case of South Korea. Here is a country which is threatened. Surely nobody could say that a country which has China and North Korea on its borders is not threatened, lt has to provide a very great part of its budget’ for war material and therefore it is not in a position to devote what if would like to devote to the welfare and development of its people.
– And it has troops in Vietnam.
– And- it has troops in Vietnam. 1 realise that Senator Cavanagh will hold against the South- Koreans the fact that they have sent troops to help the Australian .troops. When one lives in a country where democratic institutions are accepted it is very easy to criticise an eastern, country which is trying, under the worst possible conditions, to establish democratic institutions and some form of freedom. Until 1960 there was the dictatorship of Syngman Rhee in South Korea; but the people were able to get rid of that dictatorship and set up a constitution which provided for an elected Parliament. Unfortunately, like many countries which have not had experience in running a democratic parliament, South Korea ran into trouble. Factionalism made it impossible for the different parties to work together. As often happens in a country which is threatened with attack, there was a military coup and the present government took over. At least this Government allows an Opposition to exist.
In elections recently held in South Korea the Government received 60.6% of the votes and the Opposition received 32.8%. In many countries which Opposition senators never criticise there is no Opposition; at least in South Korea the existence of an Opposition is allowed. There are allegations that the Government used its influence to give itself an advantage in the elections. Governments do that in this country. I have pointed out the advantages that this Government gives in elections to candidates of the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Labor Party. At any rate this much can be said: In South Korea there is an Opposition and there is no Opposition in. North Vietnam, North Korea or in many other countries which are never criticised by Opposition senators.
The people of South Korea have had a dreadful time trying to rehabilitate their country. I have heard members of this chamber say that they do not give a damn for the military forces in South Vietnam; all they are interested in are the civilians. Let us be interested in the civilians of South Korea. There was a civil war in South Korea from 1950 to 1953 which completely disrupted the country and almost reduced it to anarchy. Two-and-one-half million people were driven from their homes in the north and the South Koreans had to find some way of accommodating them. The United States of America has given South Korea help towards financing its trade deficits ever since; but in the past 5 years by hard work South Korea has almost doubled its manufacturing production and has now set up a new 5-year plan aimed at an annual growth rate of 7%, self-sufficiency in food and a reduction in unemployment from the present high figure of 14% to 10%. Those people, whether they are living under the kind of government that our friends on the Opposition disagree with, are entitled to a place in the sun. Bearing in mind all the difficulties that they face, bearing in mind that they have lived under threat of war for nearly 20 years, bearing in mind that their country’s economy and administration were reduced virtually to a state of anarchy from which the people are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, is it unreasonable to suggest that Australia should let them have a miserable few thousand dollars in assistance?
– 1 was rather surprised to hear Senator McManus try to cloud the issue raised by my colleague, Senator Cavanagh. I have been in the Labor movement as long as Senator McManus has.
– He is. not in it.
– He was in it at one time and I will remind him of that shortly.
– You do not have to remind me; I remember it.
– So do 1.
Senator McManus said that we do not protest against these governments. I remind him and his colleague, Senator Gair, that atrocities are committed in all conflicts. 1 also remind him that in 1941 we took a very active part in moving to take away from dictators and other people who did not believe in democracy the rights that they demanded. I want to know .where Senator McManus and Senator Gair stood. Senator Gair was not a general and 1 do not think Senator McManus was a colonel. I do not know . anything of .their military record or their ability to defend this country in time of crisis.
– I was in the same regiment as 90% of your parliamentary colleagues were.
– Never mind about 90% of my parliamentary colleagues; you were not in the same regiment as I was. At least I have a record that is unimpeachable in this Parliament and anywhere else.
– Arthur Calwell and I were in the same regiment. I was in B company.
– You were in B company. You would be here when we went away and be here when we came back. When Fascism threatened this country, who was the man who took up the cudgels on behalf of the Australian people?
– Was it Joe?
– 1 do riot know where Senator Henty was, either. I do not think he was taking a very active part. It was the late John Curtin. I remember very well and truly the statements that were made about him by people of the same ilk as Senator McManus. They said he was not a fit and proper person even to be in the Parliament. Would anybody in this Parliament today say that the late John Curtin was not one of the greatest Australians that this country has ever known?
– I do not reckon Senator MacManus is loo bad either.
– That is your opinion of him, and I am not sure that you are not right. I want to refer to the matter that was raised by Senator Cavanagh tonight. 1 did not believe it was possible for a man of Senator Greenwood’s qualifications to raise such a matter before this Parliament. Of course, Senator Greenwood would not mind. He is now giggling and laughing with the senator who sits behind him.
– They are discussing air pollution; that is all.
– Senator Henty is in the same class. There are people who are very “ concerned tonight about the unfortunate incident in Saigon some days ago. This is not a matter that should be juggled about in this Parliament for political purposes.. It ill becomes a man- of the qualities I thought Senator Greenwood had - I am now doubtful that he has these qualities - to bring this matter before the Parliament. Last night I had the privilege and pleasure of watching television in Melbourne and I heard one of these people, who was fortunate enough to escape from this terrible occurrence in Saigon, make the statement that they had been .advised by the Australian Army authorities to carry guns. Does any honourable senator want to deny that statement? As I said by way of interjection when the question was asked earlier today: If you play with fire you will get burnt. I say that with all -sincerity.
– The honourable senator is rather keen about that.
– Senator Henty would not have any sincerity. at all. I say with all sincerity that any person who carries arms when he goes into a war area has to put up with the consequences.
– Were they carrying arms?
- Senator Sim would not know and I was not there. 1 do not know. The gentleman I have mentioned said on television last night that they were advised by the Australian Army authorities to carry guns. Any man who carries arms is a combatant and if he is a combatant he must put up with the consequences. It ill became Senator Greenwood to raise the matter in the chamber today. I believe that the people of Australia should be acquainted with the events that occur wherever our boys are engaged in warfare, or whatever it may be called, in Vietnam. I was a soldier in the First World War. On occasions I received newspapers from home, sometimes 3 or 4 months old. In them I read stories to the effect that the Australians were doing well on the Armentieres front. We were never on the Armentieres front, we were down at Pozieres. Such were the reports that we received. I say to the Government or to anybody else in authority that if they want authentic information to be given to the people, it should be given by the Army authorities. I regret very much the question that was asked in the chamber today by my colleague from Victoria, for political propaganda purposes, regarding the tragedy in Saigon 2 or 3 days ago.
– I was disappointed to hear what Senator Hendrickson said and the interpretation which he placed upon my motives in asking the question. I am a little surprised at the vigour which the honourable senator has put into his protestations. One may ask why he did so. Over the weekend an event, which was callous in all its circumstances, occurred in Vietnam. Three people were murdered in the presence of an eye witness who has given an account of what happened, in terms which have shocked Australia. That event is an atrocity. I believe that its relevance for the Australian people is that it should emphasise what we have been endeavouring to say for many years regarding our position, namely, that the South Vietnamese people over the last 13 years have been decimated and terrorised by a concentrated campaign from North Vietnam. Today they are in a position where they cannot stand up for themselves as effectively as they might have in the past. That was the case which the Government recognised. I am sure that it is the basis of the allied assist ance in South Vietnam. We have heard, and there has been much publicity over many years, of the alleged atrocities perpetrated by the South Vietnamese and their allies.
– The honourable senator should be concerned about that.
– What I am concerned about is that when this publicity is given circulation in Australia and supported by certain people, there is not a due weighing of what is happening on the other side. The purpose of my question was to ask the Government whether, in the light of this incident which was brought home to the Australian people with a striking vividness, there were not other incidents which could be collated and concerning which information could be made available so that we could have a better appreciation of what the South Vietnamese people have been suffering. Unless in the peace negotiations that are about to take place the United States of America - and Australia to the extent that she is able - can effectively assert a voice to say that this sort of thing should not continue afterwards, then we will be subjecting the South Vietnamese people to a period similar to that from which we have tried to rescue them. This is a vital matter about which we should be concerned. My reason for asking the question was simply to bring home to honourable senators, and I hope to a wider audience, the fact that these things have happened in the past and should be condemned.
– in reply - The adjournment debate was commenced by Senator Mulvihill raising the question of economic aid to lesser developed countries and South Korea. Basing his argument on a weekly publication that was printed seven or eight weeks ago, he put the proposition that, because some procedures were occurring in South Korea, the Government should investigate the continuance of economic aid to that country. I do not propose to speak at any great length on this matter because I believe that Senator Sim and Senator McManus answered this proposition very effectively. What Senator Mulvihill was putting to the Senate was that in his judgment, based on a Press report, certain procedures did not meet his criteria for democracy, and that therefore economic aid should not be given. If one applied those criteria to any undeveloped country that was moving progressively towards democracy, one could find an argument to support the withdrawal of economic aid from that country. In terms of democracy Australia has had the blessing of the influence of the Mother of Parliaments in the United Kingdom and the parliaments of the free world, which over hundreds of years have trained people in their progression towards democracy. As Senator McManus pointed out, until about 1960 South Korea was completely racked by invasion and domestic problems, as well as other problems. To suggest that South Korea could produce a form of democracy that would be fully acceptable to any parliamentarian in any parliament is quite unreal. 1 am sorry that Senator Mulvihill has raised this matter, for until now I have always felt that. Australia’s contribution to economic aid did not involve party politics. Legislation in this sphere that has passed through this Parliament has always received the acclaim of all parties in this House and in another place. To raise the matter and to place it under review in these circumstances is very disappointing indeed. When I replied to Senator Mulvihill on 1st May I stated on behalf of the Acting Minister for External Affairs:
Australia’s economic aid to the Republic of Korea during the 3 years ended 30th June 1967. comprisedthe training of Koreans in Australia, the provision of Australian expert services in Korea and the provision of Australian technical equipment to a vocational high school in Seoul. The cost of this aid in each of the years referred to was as follows:
1964-65 1965-66 1966-67
$148,600 $270,200 $223,171
Australia . has led the world in giving economic aid to underdeveloped and less developed countries. We have spent money to help them become more efficient and to enable them to enjoy democracy but Senator Mulvihill criticises the Government and suggests that because he read in a weekly publication about 8 weeks ago an allegation that has not been denied we should seriously consider whether we should continue to give economic aid to such countries. I have a tremendous respect for Senator Mulvihill but I think that on this occasion he has got right off the beam.
– Surely he is entitled to be concerned.
– He is entitled to be concerned andI am entitled to say that in my judgment he is right off the beam. If that is his criterion in making a judgment of economic aid, it certainly is not the Government’s criterion. The Republic of Korea is constitutionally a parliamentary democracy. Its presidential and parliamentary elections have been open to the scrutiny and comments of observers from the free Press of the world and have been observed by the United Nations Commission for the Re-unification arid Rehabilitation of Korea upon which Australia is represented. The Commission was’ itself established as the result of United Nations action in support of the independence and freedom of the Republic of Korea which has shown itself to be a staunch friend and ally of Australia. I do not think Senator Mulvihill has made any case’ in relation to this matter.
As to the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh and Senator. Hendrickson I repeat what 1 said this morning: What happened to journalists in. Saigon at the weekend was cold blooded murder and in no circumstances should anyone suggest, as was suggested here tonight, that; if a person plays with guns he must expect to be met with guns. There was no suggestion of the journalists being armed. They were going about their job of trying, as Senator Cavanagh said, to provide news to the world, and they were shot down in cold blood, ft was a callous action. It was an atrocity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680507_senate_26_s37/>.