26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– Prior to the appointment of the Minister for Supply to that portfolio, the Department of Supply criticised the standard of Australian manufactured sunglasses following the seeking of a contract by the United States armed forces. Can the Minister indicate whether there was any follow up action to ensure improvement in the standard of Australian manufactured sunglasses?
– I cannot give a reply to the honourable senator off the cuff but 1 will seek some information today and convey it to him. If it is appropriate, I will arrange for the question to be treated as being on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the AttorneyGeneral an authentic report of a meeting held in December 1966 by leaders of the Sydney Vietnam Action Committee and attended by representatives of the antiVietnam and anti-conscription groups in Australia? Did the meeting discuss and plan for the involvement and organisation of students, secondary and tertiary, jb demonstrations and civil disobedience? If the Attorney-General has the report, will the Minister lay it on the table of the Senate and allow time for a debate so that the people of Australia may be permitted to judge the extent to which the demonstrations of students, current and projected, are the organised outcome of decisions made at the meeting, and also the purpose of the demonstrations?
– The AttorneyGeneral made a statement on this matter in another place on 14th May. That was a considered statement which had behind it a proper balanced assessment of documents and information that he had within his responsibility. It was quite clear from the statement that the involvement of students in anti-Vietnam demonstrations stems from the deliberate purpose of the conference to which Senator Greenwood has referred. I shall consult with the Attorney-General on whether, in his opinion, it is proper to lay the report of the conference on the table of the Senate. I expect that it will be.
The Attorney-General’s statement directed the attention of all sections of the community to the synthesis between these demonstrations and plans which originated from Communist international conferences. At the same time the Attorney-General in another place emphasised, and 1 in this place emphasise, the Government’s absolute insistence upon the right of peaceful association so long as it is not unlawful. Surely it is proper that those matters should be brought before the people of a country engaged in a conflict such as that which is going on in Vietnam now.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence in regard to VIP aircraft. Have rules or regulations yet been promulgated concerning these aircraft? If so, would it be possible for members of the Senate and of the other House to have copies? ls it one of the rules that these aircraft may be used for strictly political purposes?
– Administration of the VIP flight is in the jurisdiction of the Minister for Air, as I understand it. lt is also my understanding that a question was put down in this place in regard to the totality of flights and that the Minister representing the Minister for Air has an answer which will be given at a later hour this day. I should think that it would be more appropriate to let the answer flow and if the honourable senator seeks any further information he may use the forms of the Senate to obtain it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to a Press report which appeared in the ‘Herald* of Colac, Victoria, about a month ago that a Colac farmer alleged that he had purchased from New South Wales recently hay which he subsequently learned had been donated by him some 3 years previously to drought stricken farmers in that State? Will the Minister investigate this matter in an endeavour to ascertain how such gift hay could be sold back to generous Victorian donors when they themselves were suffering from their worst drought in history?
-I have no knowledge at all of the incident referred to by the honourable senator. I shall convey the question to the Minister for Primary Industry in an endeavour to have the position clarified.
– I direct to the Minister for Immigration a question which may also have implications affecting the Minister for External Affairs. Is it true that students from Hong Kong who are British subjects are not eligible for assistance under the Colombo Plan? Is it true that many Asian students from Hong Kong who are trained in Australia are compelled under our immigration laws to return to Hong Kong and. because of the shortage of opportunities there, are compelled to place their services at the disposal of Communist China?
– I cannot give a reply on the details of the honourable senator’s question. As he suggests, parts of the question may require an answer by the Minister for External Affairs. If the honourable senator will place the question on the notice paper I shall see that the relevant parts go to the Ministers concerned.
(Question No. 136)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 186)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 191)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: 1.I have seen the report which appeared in the British Medical Journal’ and am aware of the work which is being done in Australia on the use of calcium sucrose phosphate in the prevention of dental decay.
(Question No. 212)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What safeguards apply when oil tankers are engaged in tank cleaning:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers:
Federal Republic of Germany
United States of America
United Arab Republic
(Question No. 224)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 234)
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
In view of the fact that established country television stations have effective radiated power of 100 kilowatts, why has the Australian Broadcasting Control Board determined that the proposed Geraldton television station is to have effective radiated power of 10 kilowatts?
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following reply:
The power of 10 Kw e.r.p. to be used by the national television station to be established in the Geraldton area was determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board after a very careful investigation. The cost will be approximately $250,000. With 10 Kw e.r.p. power the station will provide a service to 17,000 of the 19,000 people within a 60-mile radius of Geraldton. Use of high power by the Geraldton station would involve an increased capital expenditure of approximately $500,000 and could not be justified by the small additional population which would receive a service. Many areas from which 1 have received representations in this matter are at considerable distances from Geraldton and could not receive a service from a station there no matter what operating conditions were allocated.
(Question No. 258)
Senator DITTMER (through Senator
Poke) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Since 1st January 1968, how many flights have been made by VIP aircraft?
By whom were they authorised?
By whom were they requested?
What was the type of aircraft for each flight?
Who were the passengers?
From which airports did they take off and where did they land?
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answers:
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - I have to inform the Senate that, the President has received a letter from Senator Wood requesting his discharge from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Wood be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have to inform the Senate that the President has received a- letter from Senator Anderson appointing Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
– by leave -I feel that we should not allow this occasion to pass without making some reference, brief though it may be, to the service that Senator Wood has rendered on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. I am speaking from my own experience as a member of the Committee over a relatively brief period, but I know that I speak for my colleague, Senator Toohey, in making these remarks. I believe that the time is now opportune to place on record our appreciation of the service that Senator Wood has rendered during his term of office on the Committee. He has been a great help to the junior members, and also the senior members, of the Committee. His wise counsel, helpful guidance and warm friendliness have always been available. He has always been ready to give whatever help he could, drawing upon his vast knowledge of local government gained over very many years.
In fuel, I suggest that his very close relationship with local government activities in his own city of Mackay in Queensland has probably necessitated his resignation from the A.C.T. Committee, which is going through a very active period, lt is necessary for the Committee to sit on Fridays and Mondays. I think Senator Wood has found it a rather heavy load to discharge his responsibilities in the local government of Mackay and his responsibilities to the Committee, at the same time. We all know how conscientious he is about his work. I have no’ doubt that he feels he is unable to discharge his obligations in these two fields at the one time and so Has decided to withdraw from the Committee.
Senator Wood and the Mackay City Council are pioneers in the field of town planning in Australia. As. the Australian Capital Territory is going through a period of intense activity in town, planning because of the tremendous growth in its population, with the consequent problems, we members of the Committee have found a great deal of value in the observations that Senator Wood has been able to make about town planning. In fact’, it will be seen in the report that tha Committee presented recently on the question of the future of freehold lands in the A.C.T. that the wisdom and counsel of Senator Wood have prevailed in relation to the necessity for the preparation of a proper development plan for the city of Canberra. As a person who has spent very many years in local government I have been rather fascinated by the observations that Senator Wood has made from time to time at meetings of the A.C.T. Committee and other Committees. He has always brought wise judgment to the deliberations of the committees with which he has been associated. I believe that the A.C.T. Committee has benefited from his experience and that the city of Canberra will be better planned because of what he has been able to do. I very much regret that circumstances that have arisen have caused him to sever his connection with the Committee. On behalf of members of the Opposition.. I place on record our very sincere thanks for the contribution he has made and the help he has always given to us quite unstintingly
– toy leave - First of all’, I wish to be associated with the remarks that Senator Devitt has just made. I had the privilege of serving on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory from its inception until last year. I know the worth of Senator Wood’s work over the many years that he has been associated with the Committee. At this time I also wish to place on record a tribute to the man who was the instigator of the Committee and who really brought it into being. I do not think very much credit for this was given to him when he retired from the Senate. I refer to former Senator Mccallum. He did a very good job in getting the Committee created. His interest in Canberra and in developing it as the National Capital awoke the consciousness of the Senate to the many problems that confronted the founders ‘ and planners of the city. He did excellent work on the Committee.
As has been stated, when Senator Wood joined the Committee he brought to bear his great experience as a civic administrator and as a person who knew a great’ deal about the problems of planning for the future. All of us who worked with him on the Committee are indebted to him for the enthusiasm and energy that he put. into its work. Therefore, in view of my impending retirement from the Senate, I take this opportunity to thank Senator Wood and former Senator Mccallum for their work for which 1 believe future generations will be able to say ‘thank you’ in a much better way.
– by leave - The Government has had under consideration for some time representations made both by the elected and non-official members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and by the member for the Northern Territory in another place that the three nominated non-official members in the Legislative Council should be replaced by elected members. In informing the Senate on 9th May 1967 of the results of discussions- between Ministers and representatives of the Legislative Council, the Minister representing the Minister for Territories said:
The general altitude of the Commonwealth Government is that the Legislative Council and (he Administrator’s Council arc intended to provide the means by which the representatives of the Northern Territory community have the greatest possible opportunity to participate in the government of the Territory. At the same time, because of the dependence of the Northern Territory on financial provisions made by the Commonwealth Parliament: because of the smallness of the population: and because of its importance in the future development of Australia, matters would arise from time to time on which, in order to discharge the responsibilities resting upon it, the Commonwealth Government needed to retain the right of final decision.
In respect of the representations for the replacement, of the non-official members by elected members the Ministers had pointed out in the discussions that the present structure of the Legislative Council provides a careful balance between the eight elected members, the six official members and the three non-official members and that any change which disturbed that balance would need to provide means by which there would be reasonable opportunity for the Executive to secure passage of necessary official legislation. The legislative, councillors had made the point that they did not accept that the removal of the nonofficial members should be accompanied by any subtraction from the present authority of the Legislative Council.
The Government has now decided, after full consideration, to agree to the replacement of the non-official members of the Legislative Council by three elected’ members. lt is not proposed that there will be other changes in the constitutional arrangements for the Northern Territory at this stage, other than the inclusion of a provision enabling the Governor-General to withhold assent from part as well as the whole of an ordinance. The decision to remove the provision for non-official members gives effect to and does not alter the Government’s general attitude to the Legislative Council and the Administrator’s Council which I quoted above. In the present circumstances of the Northern Territory there must remain subjects which are of special concern to the Commonwealth as affecting the responsibilities it retains.
The decision to introduce the new arrangements has been made in the expectation that there will be a reasonable recognition of the Government’s responsibilities by the elected majority of the Legislative Council and that the arrangements will work on a basis of give and take which will enable the Government to take major decisions and conduct important development negotiations with a reasonable prospect of securing passage of necessary ordinances. 1 believe this is a reasonable expectation. If there is not in practice a proper balance between the responsibility for making decisions of government on the one hand and the exercise of the legislative power associated with the implementation of those decisions on the other, the arrangements will not. be satisfactory to anyone. If the expectation is not in fact realised then the Government will have no alternative but to reconsider the arrangements so as to find ways of discharging its responsibilities.
As I have said, ( am confident, that such a situation will no1, arise. In seeking the change, the elected members stressed that their approach to’ the governing of the Northern Territory is a responsible one. The decision I am now announcing will put them in the position to demonstrate i h is responsibility. Mr President, this decision is an important one. The necessary Bill is expected to be introduced into the Parliament at an early date. An election must be held for the Legislative Council about October next. It has consequently been necessary to appoint a distribution committee immediately to commence preparations to determine the boundaries of eleven electorates for the Territory instead of the present eight electorates. This is why 1 have considered it desirable to inform the Senate of the Government’s decision in advance of introducing the legislative proposal.
– I move:
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - The Australian Tourist Commission will open an office in Tokyo today. Mr J. D. Bates, Chairman of the Australian Tourist Commission, is in Tokyo for the official opening ceremony, which will be performed by the Australian Ambassador in Japan, Sir Allen Brown. The office will be under the management of Mr J. Vesper an Australian with 17 years of experience of the travel industry in Japan. This is the Commission’s fifth overseas office. Others already are operating in Auckland, San Francisco, New York and London.
The Australian Tourist Commission was set up in July 1967 by the Government for the purpose of promoting Australia overseas as a tourist destination. It commenced operating with an initial budget of$1. 55m. In undertaking this responsibility for overseas promotion the Commission has worked closely with all sections of the tourist industry. Figures recently released by the Commonwealth Statistician indicate that the Government’s decision to become directly involved in overseas tourist promotion is already having encouraging results. In 1967 visitors from overseas numbered 222,000 excluding passengers on cruise ships, as against 187,000 for the previous 12 months. Visitor spending reached $76m in 1967; the comparable figure for the previous year was $64m. In each case this represents an increase of about 18%. This compares with the growth rate of about 11% per annum for world tourism.
The Australian Tourist Commission seeks to attract 600,000 visitors per annum spending $200m by 1975 and to achieve these objectives, the Commission plans intensifying its exploration of new market possibilities. The establishment of an office in Tokyo is a part of this plan. Initially its efforts will be concentrated in Japan, which in 1967 provided about 5000 visitors. By 1968 this figure is expected to reach about 7,500.
The Commission’s initial efforts will be directed towards close collaboration with, and assistance of, those elements of the travel industry interested in Australia. In some cases travel agents will be brought to Australia for familiarisation with tourist attractions here. The Commission has plans to spend about $95,000 in 1968-69, including about$27,000 in matching support from Australian travel interests.
– I move:
I would like to make a few comments on this matter. The purpose of the rearrangement of business is to deal with Appropriation Bill (No. 3), Appropriation Bill (No. 4), Supply Bill (No. 1), Supply Bill (No. 2) and the Papua and New Guinea Bill. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has indicated the desire of the Treasury to have the Appropriation Bills and Supply Bills passed by the Parliament before Parliament rises tonight. I have also received a communication from the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) indicating to me that it is desirable to have the Papua and New Guinea Bill passed today.I point out to honourable senators that we are rising tonight at about 10.30, subject to any debate on the adjournment of the Senate. Parliament will not be sitting next week.
It is always appropriate at this time to deal with Appropriation and Supply Bills and the Senate has a definite responsibility to ensure that they are passed. It is not necessary for me to make a speech now pointing out that, in a sense, supply is the fundamental factor of government. The
Papua and New Guinea Bill, following . its passage in another place, is the subject of a series of conferences that have been called in Papua and New Guinea for preliminary discussions with members of the House of Assembly there. The time factor is involved. If the Bill were delayed until the Senate sits again in the week after next, it would be inconvenient and would necessitate a complete readjustment of the programme for the conferences in the Territory .
I should make it clear that if it is the will of the Senate that we are not to debate these Bills today I would have to express a view to the Senate as to the timing to be adopted. I would need to discuss that matter with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. However, I would certainly be in a position to move a motion that the Senate sit either tomorrow or next week to deal with these particular Bills. I am appreciative of the strain placed on Ministers and on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I am not unmindful of that point, but it is a tradition that Supply Bills are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. We always have regard to the stated requirements of the Government and the Treasury in this matter. As to the Papua and New Guinea Bill, certain preliminary arrangements have been made in the Territory to discuss the generality of it. In view of the passage it received in the other place I think we should try also to accommodate that debate.
– I want to be heard on. this motion. I have listened to what the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) has said to justify the re-arrangment of business in order to get through the Senate today two Appropriation Bills and two Supply Bills which, between them, involve an expenditure .of some S 1 , 500m, and an important Bill relating to constitutional development and new constitutional arrangements in Papua and New Guinea. The Opposition, does not want to adopt an obstructive attitude, and I do not accuse the Minister of any personal discourtesy in this matter; but I do -want to protest most emphatically about the way in which the Government arranges its business. When we talk of the responsibility of the Government to get supply, we have to remember that it is getting supply from the Parliament. That means it is getting supply from both Houses of the Parliament. I do not willingly want to co-operate In any procedure which would treat the Senate as a rubber stamp.
We are dealing with huge sums of money and these Appropriation and Supply Bills were introduced into the Senate only yesterday. It has not been suggested that they are urgent. We are told that the Treasury wants them; but we also have a duty to scrutinise them. We do not have the power to amend money Bills, although we have certain constitutional powers, but we have a responsibility and a duty to give them such scrutiny as we can. The Opposition has prepared for debates on the business of the Senate on the assumption that Bills will be treated generally in the order in which they have been introduced. There is plenty of business on the business paper. We commenced last night consideration of the first of three important Bills dealing with the Post Office. There are other matters which, presumably, are important, and on which Opposition senators are prepared to speak when the Bills relating to them come before the Senate for consideration. The Papua and New Guinea Bill is well down the list.
I must say frankly with regard to the Papua and New Guinea Bill that, the Government apparently has dithered on this question of Papua and New Guinea. The Bill we are to be asked to consider deals in substance with the recommendations made by a select committee on constitutional development in Papua and New Guinea which gave its report in June of last year.- Mr Barnes, who was then Minister for Territories, made a statement on 26th October last year indicating what the Government was proposing to do. Now we are told that the New Guinea House of Assembly is to meet on 4th June, and we are being asked to put through a Bill which, although we will not be opposing it, we would want to have properly discussed. And we are being asked to put through this Bill at very short notice.
What has been happening in the meantime in connection with this matter? Why have we not had this legislation before? I suggest that the Government has been inefficient and dilatory in preparing the legislation, and . it now expects a cooperative Senate and a co-operative Opposition to rescue it from difficulties of its own making. I make this protest. It seems to me that the matters are important. If the Bills are genuinely urgent, we do not want to be unco-operative about them. But we will not willingly allow the Senate to be treated as a rubber stamp or to be treated with contempt by the Government.
– Does the honourable senator accept my assurance that they are urgent?
– The Minister is the Leader of the Government and I have to assume that there is an element of urgency about them. I accept that with regard to the New Guinea matter, although, frankly, the Bill was introduced only last Tuesday and I would still like to know why it has taken all this time for the legislation to be prepared and introduced. Why are we always confronted with an eleventh hour situation in which something has to go through as a matter of urgency? In this instance, if we do not agree we may be accused of holding up either the important business of supply or a matter of great constitutional importance in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Such matters should not be handled in that way, and this is my protest. If the Government insists upon these matters being treated as urgent, then of course we will debate them. I will accept that challenge. We will not decline to debate them, but I draw attention to the fact that doing business in this way places the Opposition in the difficult position of having to say: How can we properly discharge our responsibilities to the Parliament and the people if we do not get reasonable notice of Bills that we are to be asked to discuss?’
– I want to protest about this matter. I. think the Government is making a complete farce of the functions of the Parliament. If we are going to be threatened-
– This is not a novel situation.
– -No. It happens at the end of every sessional period. At this time in every sessional period we are asked to pass Bills one- after the other like a churning mill and we are told that if we do not we must come back. So far this session the Senate has sat for only 7 weeks and in each of those 7 weeks 2 of the sitting days have been only half days. In fact, we have sat on only 21 days in 6 months.
– You- are not here very often.
-You are not here sometimes, either, and that helps the Parliament. The fact is that we have sal on only 21 days in 6 months. I do not mind the order of batting, but if it was so important’-
– That is all that is before us - only the order.
– But the Minister threatened us that if this legislation was not passed today we would have to - -
– 1 object to thai. I threatened no man. 1 object to the honourable senator’s accusing me of threatening anybody.
-] withdraw the remark that the Minister threatened us but he did say that if we do not pass these Bills today we will have to sit tomorrow.
– That is a fact of life.’
– It is not a fact of life. The normal procedure would be to come back next week.
– We will come back next week if you like.
– Then let us do that. Let us sit then instead of- coming back tomorrow just at the whim, of the Government. Many of us, probably even the Minister, have commitments, yet we are told that if we do not pass these Bills today we .must sit tomorrow.
– Yes. If we do not finish the Bills tonight we must come back tomorrow and most honourable senators already have arranged to go’ home tomorrow. On how many Thursday nights have we sat in’ this .chamber during this session? We have sat on only one. This is the seventh week of our sitting, and if we sit tonight we shall have sat on only two Thursday nights out of seven. If these Bills’ are so urgent, why were they not brought on before the Post and Telegraph Bill? I- have ho time for this method of dealing’ with our work. I want to speak to both these Bills which are said lo be so important, lt is very difficult for an independent to get on the list of speakers at. any time, and the desire to get the Bills through today means that the Minister will be wanting us to cut our remarks short so that this may be done. I object strongly to this method of doing business.
– I want to say one or two words on this motion in the general context. There is no doubt that the Government has a vested interest in this business of bringing down legislation towards the end of a period of sittings. This is an old technique. The debate we are having today is not new. I have said many times that if we are to be asked to discuss a measure of some importance affecting senior people in the Public Service one can wager that it will be brought before us late in the sessional period. This practice is adopted because not only the senior members of the Public Service but also the Minister have a vested interest in getting the legislation through. The Government knows that, human nature being what it is, if 20 or 30 Bills are introduced at 1 o’clock or 2 o’clock in the morning at the end of a sessional period they cannot be debated or scrutinised properly. The same position applies to Bills brought down in this way at the end of a section of a sessional period. Everybody knows the general dates on which the Senate will sit. The legislation could be in the hands of the Minister on 1st January each year if the Ministers told their Departments that unless the Bills were in their hands in plenty of time to be debated and scrutinised properly by Parliament they would just have to wait until the next session for them to be dealt with. But this is not done because, I repeat, (here is a vested interest in Departments and Ministers alike not to bring these matters before the Parliament in plenty of time.
I wish that some Ministers who were so trenchant in their criticisms before joining the Ministry would see that this comes about. I refuse to believe that legislation cannot be ready earlier than this. It could be stacked up on the first day that we come into the Senate and it could be brought down in an orderly manner. Instead of that the Government uses this technique of keeping legislation until the last minute. I repeat that it has a vested interest and one which has paid ofl in the past. Unless there’ is protest such as this it will pay ofl: again in the future.
– I also wish to enter a strong protest about the way in which the Government has suddenly asked the Senate to accept a rearrangement of the business paper to allow the appropriation and supply legislation to be debated forthwith. 1 consider that the material in these measures is of such importance that the Senate should have ample, time to consider them. As Senator Cohen has said, they involve an expenditure of: § 1,500m. They concern matters of state importance, salaries of public servants arising from arbitration determinations and reclassifications, defence services, business undertakings, the advance to the Treasurer and the like. These are very important matters which should receive a proper scrutiny by the Senate.
I had thought that the old custom that we have fought against for so long of making the Senate a rubber stamp was a thing of the past and that with the assistance of people like Senator Wright, who is now the Minister for Works, and Senator Wood the importance of the Senate would be realised and this practice would cease. I believe that it is our duty to resist any move towards returning to that state of affairs where the Senate is looked upon as just a channel through which the Government can automatically get a stamp of approval for legislation at its will or whim.
Another matter to be dealt with is the Papua and New Guinea Bill 1968. We realise that this is an important matter but that the time element is involved. This Bill should be given very full consideration because it concerns our relations with a rather delicate situation. The eyes of the world are on New Guinea and they will walch its future and our future relationships with that Territory. That measure should not be treated as just another piece of machinery legislation.
I join in the protest at the rearrangment of business. We have plenty of matters to go on with. We have yet to deal with the post and telegraph legislation for which Opposition speakers are prepared. Yet at short notice the Bills relating to appropriation and supply were introduced into the chamber yesterday and .we are supposed to complete our debate on them today. We were supposed to have completed the debate on the Papua and New Guinea Bill on Tuesday, yet there was no urgency at the time the measure was introduced. But now we have all these matters thrust upon us. Consequently, I voice my very strong protest.
– I want to say only a word or two on this subject. Having been a senator for 18 years and having experienced the techniques which were referred to by Senator Willesee, I realise that this is the method which has been adopted by the Government for many years. Legislation is introduced in this way in every Parliament by every government. When the Party to whichI belong was in Opposition we voiced the same protests which are now being voiced by the Opposition. This protest is a mere formality because there will always be Bills which require urgent consideration. There will always arise situations which need legislation to be passed urgently. With the greatest of respect, I say that no-one knows better than honourable senators opposite that this situation does occur. When it does occur they voice their opposition to it in a formal manner. I refer the Senate to the debates which took place in this chamber prior to 1949. It will be seen from the reports of those debates that for the 8 years that we were in Opposition we did exactly the same thing when emergencies arose and legislation was introduced for urgent consideration. After 18 years I can say only that I regard the protest voiced by the Opposition as a mere formality.
– I want to make it perfectly clear thatI appreciate fully the points that have been raised. I want to make it clear also that it is my hope, and the hope of all Government supporters, that we keep to an absolute minimum sittings extending beyond the normal adjournment time at night. I understand that the Whips intend to discuss this subject within the next week to see whether we can gain some extra time during the day for the remaining weeks of this session. Certainly, if we can, we intend to avoid silting into extended periods at night.I should like to assure Senator Cohen, who is at present leading for the Opposition -I hope he accepts my assurance - that, as I said at the outset, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Treasury have indicated that they want supply before we rise this week and that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), through the Secretary of his Department, has’ sent a communication to me which suggests that it is very desirable that the legislation should be passed through the Parliament as quickly as possible and certainly before June. Senator Cohen has said that whereas it is not intended to oppose the legislation nor to move amendments to it the Senate should have the right to debate it.
– It has a duty to do so.
– It has a duty and we will do it. I give my assurance as Leader of the Government in the Senate that these matters are urgent. I thank the Opposition for its co-operation on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Defence (Re-establishment) Bill 1968.
Northern Territory Representation Bill 1968.
States Grants (Science Laboratories) Bill 1968.
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1968.
Debate resumed from 15 May (vide page 1003), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill, together with Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1967-68, Supply Bill (No. 1) 1968- 69 and Supply Bill (No. 2) 1968-69, deal with appropriations and supply for the 5 month period to take us over the Budget session of the new financial year. This is an annual practice and at this time of the year we expect these measures to come before us. However, I should like to refer again to my previous remarks about the inadequacy of thetime between the introduction of these measures and the time when honourable senators are expected to make constructive contributions in debating them. The range covered by the measures is very wide and not only concerns matters of national and international importance but affects the States of Australia. It is the duty of honourable senators, whilst being national in their outlook, to fulfil the functions for which they were elected to this chamber and to scrutinise carefully legislation which affects . their respective States. These measures also give us an opportunity to make a wide sweep of all matters relating to the general economic and financial position of the Commonwealth.
One of the matters that I would like to touch on during the course of this debate is the very unsatisfactory position that exists betwen the Commonwealth and the States regarding the functions of the Australian Loan Council.. CommonwealthSlates agreements, the National Debt Sinking Fund and matters of that nature. In the near future there must be a complete reappraisal of the increasing impoverishment of the Slates and the ever expanding expenditure of the Commonwealth. Very often Commonwealth expenditure is at the expense of the States. On 26th October 1966 the then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Mckenna, made a very brilliant survey of this vexed position that exists between the Commonwealth and the Stales. On that occasion he was speaking on the National Debt Sinking Fund Bill and his speech is recorded in Hansard at page 1486. Senator McKenna referred to the Budget Speech of Sir Henry Bolte in Victoria on 14th September 1966 wherein he criticised the Commonwealth-States arrangements. Sir Henry Bolte said: . . the States are responsible for major and costly services, with education the key example . . Al the same time we are involved in a system of finance which continues to load the burden of interest and other debt charges ‘ on Government loans almost exclusively on the States, so that the public debt of the States continues to soar white that of the Commonwealth continues to decline . . . Much of the increase in iiic debt of the States, in fact $ 1,600m for all States and $400ni for Victoria, is money that has been provided by the people from taxation to the Commonwealth Government and lent by it to the States at market rales of interest. Every dollar of this must be repaid to the Commonwealth by the Stales, and with interest added we repay from State taxation some %2 for every 51 lent. The whole system is so patently crazy and loaded against the States that it is beyond comprehension how anyone can be found to defend it.
– What was the honour-: able senator quoting from?-
– From the Budget Speech of Sir Henry Bolte on 14th September 1966, which was used by Senator McKenna during a very illuminating contribution that he made on 26th October 1966 when the Senate was debating the National Debt Sinking Fund Bill. J draw attention to those remarks because in the light of Slate responsibilities, the present balance between Commonwealth and Slate revenues is, to say the least, most unsatisfactory.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I commenced my remarks by drawing attention lo the fact that the present balance of finances and of functions between the Commonwealth and the States was most unsatisfactory. I omitted to indicate that I intended to deal wilh the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1967-68. the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1967-68. the Supply Bill (No. I) 1968-69 and the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1968-69 together during the course of my remarks.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Senator O’Byrne. are you asking for leave lo do so?
– r ask leave to discuss the four Bills together.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As I mentioned earlier, there must be some reappraisal of the role of the Commonwealth and the Stales in relation to the great difficulties that are confronting the Slates in financing their activities. The fact that the States arc given the responsibility to develop natural resources means that they have to provide housing, educational facilities and so many of the other needs of a growing population. The Slates are on the receiving end of our immigration policy. They are concerned with the grass roots -aspects of ii. Overall the States are finding that they are not obtaining sufficient Commonwealth assistance and they are trying to meet the situation by introducing State taxes. We have the rather unjust situation where, on top of the Commonwealth taxation levels (hal are imposed, more and more the individuals, who already have contributed through income tax and a host of indirect taxes, are finding themselves subjected to a quite high and growing rate of State taxation. 1 mentioned that the balance between Federal and State finances is much less in favour of the States than it is in other countries. The Constitution provides for redressing the balance of finance as between the States. While the States have power to refer functions to the Commonwealth, the States must accept financial assistance on such terms and conditions as the Commonwealth Government thinks fit.
The important point, and the one 1 want to stress, is that it is a matter not of whether the Commonwealth or the States should discharge a particular government function - someone has to do it - but of who is best suited to perform it. That is a matter of compromise. The important thing is that the functions should be properly discharged. lt is in this area that I feel there is a breakdown of quite serious proportions. There should be some way of improving the machinery by which governmental functions are to be discharged in the future. The States will continue to be fobbed off with the contention that it is their responsibility to provide education, health services, housing and transport on a growing scale when because of rising costs, through the Commonwealth Government’s policy of allowing prices to rise, there will be an increasing lag between costs and the availability of funds to the States to meet those costs.
Recently we had the wrangle between the State Government of Victoria, under Sir Henry Bolte, and the Federal Treasury. The Government of Victoria has introduced a. new stamp tax. which more or less has been under pressure from a section of the Treasury. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has failed to take steps to carry out the policy enunciated by his predecessor of having a special Premiers Conference to deal wilh the matter of the imposition of additional taxes in Victoria, of how they affect Commonwealth public servants and of the interstate implications of them.
I pass from the matter of State taxes to the difficulties that the States are facing in providing the fundamentals that are usual in a civilised community. I suppose I should start with adequate education. No nation of Australia’s stature should bc complacent about the increasing need to give the fullest scope to all those in the community who are capable of absorbing a full education. We have the ever recurring problems of the provision of accommodation in the schools, the need for more classrooms, additional teachers and teachers colleges. All the way through the State education system we find the same problems being faced in regard to financing the great needs of education.
On the matter of housing we bear the figures that are produced periodically by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), indicating great expansion. Behind those figures we find that the availability of finance is such that people have to go to institutions in the higher interest rate field, outside those that are assisted by the Commonwealth. Even though the number of houses being built appears to be quite satisfactory, a tremendous burden is placed on the individual home owner because of the growing interest rate. There is a great disparity between the figures produced to show the growing rate of home building in Australia and the burdens placed on the individual home owner, mainly as a result of Government policy in allowing the economy to inflate and to expand at a rate that is a great disadvantage to the ordinary citizens of the country.
The other matter for which the States are responsible relates to transport. In this field we see the most buoyant sector of the economy. T refer to the sale of motor vehicles. There is no doubt that, those who are engaged in the motor industry in Australia are creating quite a measure of employment. In most cases the terms and conditions of employment in the industry are meeting the requirements of the employees. We realise that it is a most profitable industry for those who have funds invested in it and that the great bulk of the profits flow rapidly overseas. Then the hire purchase set up - the fringe banking system - encourages people to become involved in considerable debt through hire purchase and time payment. That in turn plays its part in contributing towards the inflationary process.
Over and above all that, there is the resultant burden that is being placed oh the shoulders of the States in providing roads and transport and other facilities necessary to carry the ever .increasing traffic. That takes us right into the field of road safety. police forces and so many other factors that are placing an increasingly heavy burden on the States. In my view, the Commonwealth does not have a proper realisation and appreciation of the burdens that the States have to bear.
While we talk of the difficulties confronting Thc Slates we must not lose sight of the difficulties confronting local government. The very fundamentals of justice in the mailer of taxation come into this. 1 suppose every member of Parliament knows that local government authorities are most closely in touch with individual citizens yet they are the least equipped financially to respond to the growing needs of (he community. The criticism that is directed towards local government is often exaggerated. Members of councils, shires and the like - well-meaning public spirited men - are finding the burden too heavy to bear. They try to carry out what they believe to be their task of citizenship but find that local government has insufficient funds to meet the growing demands that arc being placed upon it. As a result, local government is getting into a chaotic state. ] have some figures here which give some idea of the inability of local government to carry out the tasks that it should carry out. In the past 20 years the percentage of homes in Melbourne served by sewerage fell from 95.3% to 76.8%. In Perth th: percentage fell from 76.4% to 43.3%.
– Over what period?
– These figures cover the 20-year period from 1946 to 1966. They are not right up to the minute but they are an indictment of the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. An ever increasing burden has been placed on the States. Local government authorities, in turn, have found il practically impossible to meet the demands being made on them. There does not seem to be any concerted or co-ordinated move from any source to resolve the great problems confronting local government, the grass root level of administration.
By comparison, Sydney and Brisbane have improved their position. In the period I have mentioned the percentage of sewered homes in Sydney rose by 1.4% and in Brisbane by .3%. I suppose a modern community can be judged on its level of hygiene, although that is a pretty funda mental basis of judgment. However it is a matter of grave importance I hat the very highest level of hygiene should bc maintained. The figures I have cited prove that we are neglecting the basic requirements of modern growing communities in comparison with other parts of the world which claim, as we do, lo be scrambling out of the darkness into the light. When we consider figures like those .1 have mentioned we wonder how slow the advancement is.
There is a great discrepancy in the resources available to various local government authorities. As we know, the Commonwealth, under the Constitution and by reason of the uniform taxation agreement, has complete control of taxing powers. When the agreement was made it was considered that the avoidance of duplication in the collection of taxes would become in the long term an advantage, and it was expected that the savings achieved through the unified and co-ordinated gathering of taxes would flow back to the Stales. But that has not happened. In fact the position is deteriorating. Local government authorities, finding that the flow through to them is almost negligible, are now practically totally dependent for finances on rates based on property valuations. Home owners in quite humble circumstances arc asked to pay rates to finance, in some cases, the activities of developers- the . people who are taking advantage of the rapidly increasing population by engaging in the construction of new. housing projects. Those projects require water, lighting, sewerage, kerbing and guttering and similar facilities which have to be provided by the local government authorities. As a result, land values have become inflated but the profit made out of the inflated land values is not being used to assist the ratepayers.
Many citizens are finding that the rates they have to meet are becoming too heavy. At one time local councils in my area of Tasmania tried to assist people who received social service benefits by allowing concessions in the rates they were required to pay but in the last few years nearly every council has found it expedient to cut out that concession. The people concerned now either have to find the cash to put on the counter or sign an agreement that if their rates accumulate until they die the councils can claim on their estate. That seems to be a very unjust state of affairs. If people have the good fortune to live long enough (o build up an equity in their home during their active life their equity runs away during their declining years, lt is a grave injustice that this form of taxation has been allowed to grow. 1 consider that the payment of rates is as much a lax as income tax but income tax is paid on a graduated scale according to income. Rates are a tax that local authorities are forced to place on rateable properties, lt is well accepted that as a result of servicing loans and meeting other accumulating charges councils are reaching the stage where many of them are on the verge of bankruptcy, yet there does not seem to be any concerted move by the Commonwealth or the States towards assisting local authorities with the great job that they have to do. The States are finding it difficult enough to meet the added responsibilities that the Commonwealth is thrusting upon them.. It is very nice to be able to present to this Parliament a document showing annually the increase in immigration, housing and the length of roads sealed, but these figures really reflect the work that the States and local authorities are doing. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon), admitted that between 1950 and 1965 the indebtedness of the Commonwealth fell from $3,730.9m to $3, 134m, which is a reduction of $600m. But at the same time the indebtedness of the States rose from $2. 367m to $7,090.5m, which amounted to an extra burden on the States of nearly $5.000m. I have already pointed out that over the same period the indebtedness of local councils rose from $189m to $820m. This is a tremendous extra burden. Indebtedness of local government authorities rose from S593m to $4,532m.
– A 900% increase.
– Yes. Much of this indebtedness arises from the provision from Commonwealth sources of money raised from taxpayers within the States and local government areas. The Commonwealth lends the money lo the States, which have to meet an accumulation of public debt plus interest. Local government is at the end of the track. The morale of local authorities is low. When one speaks with representatives of local authorities one finds that they cannot see how this state of affairs can continue. Yet budgets arc presented in this Parliament each year, there are discussions with the Premiers on Commonwealth and State financial matters and meetings, of the Loan Council are held. Normal procedures are continued and, with an application of theories, State finances are adjusted from year to year, but there is no frontal basic attack on this very serious problem that confronts local government particularly. My view, which is shared by many others, is that agreements between the Commonwealth and States ought to be extended to cover local government. From my experience 1 have come to the conclusion that local’ authorities can spend money more efficiently than either the Commonwealth or the States.
– More effectively.
– Yes. Local authorities are on the level of immediate living needs - food, clothing, shelter, roads, sewerage and all of those other things that are part of our way of life. The local authorities are trying to meet the responsibility to provide these things.
– This is particularly so in Launceston, is it not?
– This matter is a long way away from the handle of the parish pump. 1 would rather go to the thermo-nuclear or hydro-electric power plant than 10 the parish pump for my source of energy and ideas. Over 23% of total housing finance is provided by the Commonwealth through State housing authorities and the War Service Homes Division. In addition, we have an arrangement for finance that flows directly from the Commonwealth to building societies. Banks, through private arrangements, provide 50% of housing finance and life assurance offices provide 7%. The Commonwealth can regulate both bank finance and insurance finance by the exercise of its own constitutional powers. So it is really in a position to regulate 90% of housing finance. In this way the Commonwealth should take a much closer interest in some of the factors that go to make local1 government so expensive. We see ribbon development - haphazard private enterprise development on the outskirts of towns. A large amount of Commonwealth funds is involved in the buildings that are eventually erected on subdivisions, but the main beneficiary often is the land speculator. He skims the cream from the increase in value that results from the community’s efforts, and the community has to pay the bills.
Another matter that is of great importance is Commonwealth responsibility for water conservation. The drought that has scourged one part or another of the country for several years is of sufficient severity to shake Commonwealth authorities into a realisation of the great need for water conservation on a large scale, it is an indictment of the Government that at the same time as we see the economy being disturbed as a result of drought there is a greater need for proper use of agricultural lands by irrigation and for greater water reserves to meet the requirements of townships and industry. Many people are not aware of the vast demands that modern industry makes on water supplies. At the same time the Commonwealth Government has allowed the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which has built up a skilled work force and tas developed expert techniques, to disperse gradually. I can envisage it becoming more or less a little back office in some department. I think the people of Australia, if they had the opportunity, would voice a strong protest against this sort of thing. We must learn by experience. This great body, the Snowy Mountains Authority, with its impressive technical knowledge and creditable background, is being dispersed at a time when Australia needs more water conservation projects. The Snowy Mountains Authority should be set to work, either in consultation with the States or purely as a Commonwealth authority, to tackle the great problems of water conservation that confront this nation. Although the Commonwealth has boasted about its great water conservation programme, so far as I can see .all it has done so far has been to legislate for the construction of a dam in Queensland and to get plans under way for the Ord River scheme. If honourable senators look at a map of Australia they will see that these two works will merely scratch the surface.
– You must concede that, they are costly.
– I suppose so, but costs are relative, if you look back through the story of costs, you will find that what was impossible 20 years ago because of cost is now imperative, though it might now cost 5, 6 or 10 times more in terms of money. It is a matter of priorities. I hope the preoccupation of the Government parties with defence expenditure will quickly be dissipated and that they will give more attention to expenditure on construction works of national importance. At present they are putting too much emphasis on defence expenditure. They have their noses in other people’s business. It is high time they started to direct some of the funds now allocated for defence into the realm of major public works in this new era of: development for Australia. 1 hope they will find much worthier repositories for such vast sums of -money. Let us look after our own business in Australia and spend more money on development projects, at the same time defending this country of ours, which we have a right to hold. Let us do this rather than dissipate our strength and resources in every little dog fight that starts around the world. Our foreign affairs representatives appear to want to be in on everything in case they lose face through not doing so.
– That is a ridiculous statement.
– I make the point that we must show that we are making the best use of this nation. We must bc an example to bur neighbours. We must give them an incentive in many ways. This is a critical stage in the development of Australia. Though we need a lot of money for development, we must be careful that foreign capital does not adversely affect Australian investment opportunities. After the pioneering, risk taking, and alf the other spade work that has been done over the last. 100 years, oversea investors are now taking a keen interest in Australia and are skimming the cream off, at the’ expense of all those people who have put so much effort into our development. We in Australia must, in the interests of our own survival, plough back every dollar at our disposal into the development of our own resources in the form of water conservation projects, decentralisation schemes, and other vital development plans. The measures before the Senate deal with matters that are infinite in their scope of government activity. A sum of more than $l,500m is involved in what appears to be merely a provisional appropriation to carry on some of the Commonwealth services until the Budget is brought down. This is a lot of money in anybody’s language, and it should receive the Senate’s full consideration. I hope that some of the matters I have raised today relating to the deterioration of State government and local government finance will not fall on deaf ears, and that some of the expenditure priorities which have developed for reasons of propaganda or through hysteria, or for some other reason actuating the Government, will be speedily changed. I ask the Government to have another look al these priorities and to ensure that (he most effective and efficient use is made of the taxpayers’ money in the field of Commonwealth expenditure.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales) 12.51 1 - Before we rose for lunch honourable senators spoke to each other about the value of time and remarked how it presses upon us all. I think it is fair to say that we have this problem at this stage of every session in every year, lt usually arises because at the beginning of the session we talk at length on things that maybe we could speak less. about. I am not being critical; I imagine that we all offend in this regard. It seems to me that this afternoon is an excellent time for us to begin putting into effect some of the things that we said to each other this morning. I agree with Senator O’Byrne when he says that it is appropriate to debate these four Bills together.’ This is not a full scale Budget debate or Estimates debate. In my judgment, arguments about the economy, the way it is running, and the problems of ils various’ sectors, should be properly reserved for the main debate on the Estimates. That is the proper time for a review of the year’s operations.
We are dealing here with two Appropriation Bills and two Supply Bills. The Appropriation , Bills, between them, cover expenditure in excess of that foreshadowed by the Budget. The purpose of the Supply Bills is lo provide the Government with resources to carry the administration forward for the first 5 months of the financial year ending in June 1969. In the first two Bills the expenditure referred lo can be clearly seen by reference to the schedules, which appear on page 2. The various items are shown. The Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, requires an appropriation to cover emergencies and a loans shortfall amounting to S 10Om. The extra defence charges will approximate $22. 1m, and wages and salaries, so far as one’ can get the figures, will account for about $2.1 m. No-one will dispute that an appropriation must be made to meet increased wages and salaries under awards determined by the courts. As 1 have said, of the total appropriation of S.155m in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) extra defence expenditure will account for approximately S22.ini. It is noted that the total expenditure on defence services from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund, including drawings on defence credits, will not exceed the original appropriation. These are what might be termed self-balancing items for the purpose of accounting. There is to be an appropriation of $100m, as I indicated earlier, to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve- to cover an internal bookkeeping matter. So I do not think we are really dealing with a matter of tremendous consequence when we are dealing wilh Appropriation Bill (No. 3).
In dealing with Appropriation Bill (No. 4) we are dealing wilh capital works and services, payments to or for the Slates and certain other services. In regard to capital works and services, we have to allow for price escalations caused by escalations in wages and other factors. In regard to payments to and for the States, in the past we all have sat in this chamber and listened with approval to proposals for helping the States in various ways in respect of droughts and other disasters. That is the reason for some of the appropriations in this Bill. Appropriation Bills deal in simple terms with covering the increases in expenditure as a result of increases in wages and salaries, the balancing of the Loan Fund and the internal transactions between the various departments. But the supply Bills deal with another, matter. These appropriation Bills deal with the period up to 30th June 1968. They, make the adjustments that it is necessary to make in respect of the period between the time of estimating, Which was about August last year, and the time of expenditure up to 30th June 1968.
When we are talking about the supply Bills we are talking about the future and the wish of the Government to obtain the approval of the Parliament for the necessary carry-on finance for the period from 1st July until the Budget and the Estimates have been brought down and debated. Without this approval, of course, the country will stop operating: and people, including public servants and, regrettably, ourselves, will not receive any wages. The money that is sought for the first 5 months of the next financial year under the supply Bills is at the same rate as was budgeted for in the current financial year. So no-one is being asked to approve anything that is improper, extravagant or unwise. I suggest to the Senate that, in view of the other work which ]’>?* before us and which is very considerable, if it were possible to view this matter in the light of reality and what we are really seeking to do. that might help us all.
– I am afraid that I cannot, agree with Senator Cotton, because the debate on the Appropriation Bill is the only chance that the backbenchers, including independents, have to raise matters concerning the whole of the administration of the Commonwealth. Apparently, because somebody wants to gel away in a hurry we must act like lame little mice and pass these Bills without any comment whatsoever. 1 do not propose to do that, I propose to speak on several matters. The first relates to Ministers. I have raised this matter before, and I raise it again now. When we have a debate on an Appropriation Bill - a Bill which deals with all sorts of matters concerning the administration of nearly every Commonwealth department - every Minister, not just the Minister on duty, should be in the chamber to listen to the debate.
This afternoon I intended to praise Senator Wright. He is a man with the capacity to absorb details of his own Department and of every other department. He has consistently sat in the chamber during these debates. But this afternoon he happens to be absent, just when I want to praise him. So this is the wrong time to praise him. He is a Minister with brainpower that enables him to absorb details of nol only his own Department but also the departments of the Ministers whom he represents, and yet to sit in this chamber nearly all the time. The other Ministers are never here. I do not blame a Minister for not being present during a debate that does not concern his department. But during this debate, which concerns every department, every Minister should be in the chamber to listen to what we have to say. The excuse that they are too busy on departmental business is so much eyewash, especially to anyone who. .has ever held ministerial office. It is wrong that they should not be present. Unfortunately the lion of Holt has become the mouse of Gorton. Nevertheless, he has- the capacity to look after his Department and to remain in the chamber.
The first specific matter that I wish lo raise relates to New Guinea. I do not propose to refer to the Bill that will come before us later. I wish to refer to the whole question of the administration of Papua and New Guinea. -When a person visits that country he goes there as an outcast. He has to have a special form. When he asks: ‘Why do I have to have this special form?’, he is told: ‘We want to keep people out and this is the only way to keep them out’. When he says: ‘I have a passport that enables me to visit other countries; why cannot you stamp that passport?’, he is told that that is loo simple. So every person going in and out of New Guinea fills in a form which. as I have said in this chamber before, is a stupid form. It. has no relation to fact. I do not know the value of the information that has to be put on it. In my case I have to say that I have two sons .and a daughter and I have to give their Christian names, their occupations and their dates of birth. What, has that to do with my entry into New Guinea? No-one will take any notice of what. I am saying because the Minister in charge of this aspect of administration is not in the chamber. Of course, being a true departmental man, he will say: ‘The Department wants it; so I have to support it’. When I raised the matter with him his reply was: M have to have that form, too’. Does that make it right?
About 3 years ago I raised in this chamber the absurdity of the customs declaration that Australians had to make as they came back into Australia. Senator Anderson, who was the Minister for Customs and Excise at the ‘ time, stood up, slated me and said that the system just could not be changed; that it had to be as it was.. But 9 months later he abolished it. When I pointed out that he had abolished it he said: ‘We had this under way all the time’. Well, why did he stand up and slate me for suggesting something that he was proposing to do anyhow?
– The honourable senator should claim the credit for it.
– Senator Anderson tried to get the credit for it, but he had not really done anything about it. The same applies to entry permits for New Guinea. Will the Minister tell me what purpose they serve and how they stop anyone getting into New Guinea? A person should be able to get into New Guinea if he is an Australian. What right has the Government to stop an Australian going there? No matter, who the person is - whether he is a Communist or not - he is entitled to go to the country which his money is paying to keep. If the Government wants to keep foreigners out, there is the passport system. People have to have a passport to get into Australia. They should just have to have a passport to get into New Guinea. The Government should not say to Australians: ‘We think yon might stir up trouble there. We will not let you into New Guinea’. Who pays for New Guinea? Australians do.
– How would Mr Barnes ever get in if anyone who might cause trouble could not get in?
– Of course, the Minister gives himself permission. We have this nonsensical entry permit system, which the Government does nothing about. I will continue to raise this matter twice a year. We have supply debates twice a year. One day a Minister will have enough courage to knock back his departmental head. Then we will find that the system is abolished and he will say that he planned to do it all the time.
When at last a person is allowed into New Guinea, he will find that there are many embittered people there. There are two groups of them. One is those who are embittered about the way they are being treated by the Administration. The natives have preference over the whites on all occasions. I do not want to enter into an argument on indigenes and expatriates. That is just so much nonsense. Let us face it; a person is either a native of New Guinea or he is not. The natives are natives. People may call them indigenes if they want to. The other group consists of white people who are embittered by social status and who support the natives. I will come to them in a minute. First of all there are the people who have lived in New Guinea for years. They know it. They have even walked over it - something that we have never been able to do. These people have explored the country, have found the gold and other minerals and probably would find oil if they were allowed to. They have settled there and have made their homes there. They believe in New Guinea. But the Government does nothing about them, except to try to give the work that they have brought about back to the native people.
About 5 years ago 1 suggested that there should be compensation insurance for the settlers. I think Mr Hasluck was the Minister for Territories at the time. He said that it could not be done because it would show a lack of faith in the native population or that we had no confidence that they would keep the white people there when eventually they achieved home rule. But apparently that does not concern the civil servants. In New Guinea it is called the golden handshake. These people who do not have any equity whatsoever in the country - they are there for only 1 or 2 years and could not. care less what happened to the country - are now guaranteed cash and/or a job if anything happens and they have to leave New Guinea. But what happens to the. settlers who are the backbone of the country? Why does not the Government do something positive? It does not want to do anything because it has let down and proposes to continue letting down the people who have settled in New Guinea and have made it what it is. Its present stage of development is not due to the work of the civil servants but to the white men - the plantation keepers and everyone else - who have settled in New Guinea and have aided its development. The Government is prepared to give cash or jobs or both to civil servants but is not prepared to recommend any form of insurance or compensation for the settlers who have been there for years and may at any time be kicked out, with the coming of independence.
The Government is scared stiff of the United Nations and gives in to it. It does not try to find out what is best for the native population. It is a case of rush, rush, rush. Overseas visitors to New Guinea are told: ‘We have done such and such. We have given them a university.’ A visiting mission from the United Nations was told: ‘We have set up a university for the native people’. And what a university it is. We cannot afford a university of that nature even in Australia, but with Australian money we provide it in New Guinea.
In addition to the university we have provided schools of higher technology. The medical profession has been denigrated in New Guinea because people who have never had proper training and have never matriculated have had to be called ‘doctors’, according to a former Director of Public Health, Dr Gunther. It was provided by ordinance - not by university degree - that those men should be called ‘doctors’. They are second class doctors. That sort of practice is prevalent in New Guinea. Government supporters talk about the number of graduates but, in fact, how many are there? I was told that in the law school there are two brilliant students. Out of how many? All this is done in New Guinea while we cannot, afford money for our universities here in Australia.
The schools of higher technology are another sop to the United Nations. The Government claims that people are being trained in those schools as architects, engineers and surveyors. I asked why those students were not trained in the university, as is the practice in Australia. I was told: Well, we have not the money for the university so we have set up new schools with new administration and new services and have called them schools of higher technology’. Those are the institutions on which we are spending our money and in doing so are denigrating the people who want to enter the architectural, engineering or surveying professions, as well as other people. In one year alone it has cost $800,000 in this field and it is proposed to spend another $1.5m on the only school that they have so far set up. They propose to establish more, with our money. The school that has been established has a staff of 15 for 100 students. For the different faculties there must be different readers. They are not called professors at present, but I suppose that next year they will be so called.
We cannot afford to spend money in that fashion in Australia but we can afford to do it in New Guinea. If any member of this Parliament were to conduct a poll of Australians to find out how many are aware of the sums we spend in New Guinea, about .00001%’ might have that knowledge. Last year we spent about $75m in Papua and New Guinea and at about this time every year the sum so spent rises by about $5m. I do not mind that that money is spent, so long as something is done for the Australians in New Guinea. The Government tries all the time to lower their status and does nothing for them. It does not give them one iota of help.
Speaking generally, when there are only two good students out of . eighteen in the law school, it is clear that the scheme is half-baked. None of those students could matriculate at an Australian college. They do not have to, because there is a brilliant scheme in New Guinea that the first year of university training shall be called a general first year, and that this will be matriculation standard. The idea is that if the students can pass that first year, they are fit to continue at university irrespective of whether they have had 2, 3 or 4 years schooling.
– Would that not be the equivalent of : our .. matriculation standard?
– No. It happens that by chance Dr Gunther admitted that it is not the equivalent of the Australian matriculation. It is just the level established as the matriculation standard in New Guinea. Of the people who attain that’ standard in New Guinea, I would say that less than 50% would matriculate at an Australian school; allowing for language difficulties.
– What, about the indigenous doctors, so. called? .
– I’ have just mentioned them. They are second class doctors who do not have proper training. They do not matriculate. They would not be allowed -to practise- medicine in Australia. But in respect of these people Government supporters say to the United Nations: ‘Look what We have done. We have doctors all over the country’; They are half-baked second class’ doctors. It is not the Administration that keeps New Guinea going. The drive comes’ from’ the settlers, the people on the land who grow coffee, tea, cocoa or coconuts, or graze cattle. They are not offered any form of compensation. If they want to improve or increase the size of - their properties they just cannot do it, because the natives come first with the Administration. The white settlers just cannot take over any. more land.
Why is not an unimproved land tax imposed? Land which is not at present being used would then be cultivated. We would soon see action. At present if a white settler tries to take over land there are at least twenty to thirty claims from natives in the clan who say that it belongs to them. If an unimproved land tax were imposed, 1 doubt that any of them would claim the land because they would not want to pay the taxes. At least somebody would cultivate the land and make it profitable and worth while. At present we cannot do a thing about it. I suggest that the Government examine that problem. 1 am not sure which Minister is concerned or that any Minister is ever concerned about. New Guinea.
Something should be done to offer compensation to the settlers and to impose an unimproved land tax. There is not one settler in Papua and New Guinea who is not convinced that the Administration does not understand the position. That is true. They are civil servants who have never worked with the natives ‘ on’ the land and they do not understand the problems. Every single decision to be made on the Territory must be referred to . Canberra. The Administrator is a nice .enough fellow but he is not strong enough and does not have the power to carry out. decisions. I do not blame him for referring everything to Canberra. So there is one department in the Territory and one in Canberra. Neither can do the work completely.
I have suggested in Papua and New Guinea and again - suggest now that the white civil service there should be abolished and the Department of External Territories should be transferred to New Guinea. Then the details of the needs of the settlers could be studied and a decision given, instead of everything being referred to Canberra. That seems to me to be the answer. 1 have pleaded before for the setting up of a permanent select committee on Papua and New Guinea. There is such a committee on defence, and there are others of that nature. Members of this Parliament make individual visits to the Territory. We do not correlate the information we gain. The Government should set up a permanent select committee, or a jointcommittee, on the Territory. One should hear the opinion of the people there about the Minister. A lot of us attack Ministers, but in the Territory there is a perpetual attack against the Minister, irrespective of who he is, because he does not understand the position. The Department does not understand. It does not even follow the advice of its commissioners there. If a permanent joint committee were established at least we would know where we are going in New Guinea and what we are doing there. A Bill is to come up for consideration tonight which, in effect, will enable home rule to be given to the people of the Territory. Later on, as soon as the natives have home rule, they will want independence. But it is our money that is being spent there. Twothirds of the Budget of the Territory is our money; one-third is theirs. If the people’ there want home rule and ministerial responsibility, let them pay higher taxes. Let them pay for their own responsibilities instead of our meeting the cost. We can spend that money much more wisely and with much more benefit to Australia by spending it in countries in South East Asia. When one goes to Papua and New Guinea one finds groups of white men who support home rule and independence and when one looks into the history of these groups one finds that the individual member has a chip on his shoulder. I have said that they are embittered men. They are. They are bitter not against the Administration but against” their social status. Some of them have been hurt because, of their marriages to indigines and so on. There are others who are thinking of nothing but their. jobs. They avidly, support the move for independence so that they may continue in their jobs. They could not get a job in any State of the Common-‘ wealth. If they are not in with the local people when the people, of the Territory., are given increased responsibilities, they may! lose their jobs, so they support the native population in its demand for independence.’ That is all T want to say about New Guinea.
I want- now to talk about VIP aircraft. I have not had much time to go through the marathon brochure that was read out in the Senate earlier today, but the whole point of my complaint is that the VIP system is being abused. That cannot be denied after perusing the document to which 1 have referred. A quick look through the list of flights discloses there is an abuse of the system, and it is being abused because the Government will not lay down basic rules and regulations concerning the use of VIP aircraft. I asked a question this morning and I was told by Senator Anderson that 1 would be getting the answer when the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) who represents the Minister for Air, read the answer to another question on the subject.
– You were not told anything of the sort. It was suggested that you defer your question until this answer was presented.
– Because Senator Anderson thought I might get the answer then. Bui 1 did not get the answer.
– Then ask the question.
– I will ask it again, and I ask the Minister to get up and reply to it. I ask: Are there any rules and regulations laid down for the use of VIP aircraft? If so, what are they? Everyone wants to know what they are, because there is the possibility that abuse will take place if no rules are laid down.
– At one stage there was a rule that no senator could travel on VIP aircraft.
– There is no such rule now.
– That has been broken through now.
– There was a compassionate reason for that. I turn to page 7 of the prepared answer that the Minister read this morning. I shall refer to One entry. I. do not want to name the Minister concerned, but apparently what applied in this case is standard practice for Ministers. It was read out that this Minister took a VIP aircraft: ‘Canberra - Sydney - Canberra’, but it was not read out that the first ‘Canberra’ was not in italics. In other words, it was not explained that the aircraft left Canberra empty to go to Sydney to pick up a Minister and two officers and bring them back to Canberra. There are innumerable commercial planes travelling from Sydney to Canberra. There is no excuse whatsoever for a Minister to use those VIP aircraft on that journey. I know Ministers work hard, but they do not work so hard that they cannot knock off at 6 o’clock and catch a plane to Sydney. They do not work so hard that they must have a VIP aircraft in order to rest while on the journey. There is no need for a Minister and female secretary to travel by VIP aircraft time and again when they can travel on a commercial airline. But this is done, and it is done because there are no regulations.
We find also that these VIP aircraft are still being used for political purposes. Noone objects to the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, or the Leader of the Opposition using VIP aircraft, but none of them has any right to use the aircraft for political purposes. Unfortunately, the document with which we have been presented does not state the purposes for which the aircraft were used. On 20th February, a Minister travelled from Sydney to Canberra. But the plane had to fly from Canberra first. Of course this was solely for training purposes. It went from Canberra to Sydney to bring back to Canberra two people - the Minister and his secretary. Was that reasonable?
– You might find there were special circumstances.
– It was a junior Minister. There are no special circumstances for him. It would not matter if it took a week for him to come here with the amount of work he has to do. On page 9 it is recorded that a Minister, one officer and one female secretary were the passengers. A plane had to fly to Melbourne, pick them up, go to Williamtown, then to Brisbane, drop them and fly back to Canberra. I repeat that this was for only three people. Is it suggested that they could not travel by commercial aircraft? Time and time again this type of entry is recorded. But I am pleased to notice that ‘Joe’ and ‘Bill’ no longer appear. They have now been eliminated.
Here is another entry. I do not know where Tamworth is. Probably there is an excuse for the use of a VIP aircraft
In this case. 1 do not know whether a commercial airline operates to Tamworth. This entry appears on page 1 1 . This is the case of a Minister travelling on his own. A plane flew from Canberra to Tamworth to pick him up and bring him back here. One can go through the list of flights and see instance after instance of abuse. The Minister may not think it is abuse, but the members of the public do. After the spectacle we had last year we thought that at last truth had triumphed, but the Government is starting to hide things again now.
We thought after the debacle last year that at last something honest would be done about the matter but we now have a figure thrown at us out of the hat as to the cost of a VIP aircraft. And what a nonsensical figure it is. lt is completely out of relation to all the facts because the Government forgets that the people operating these aircraft have to be paid. We are told that these men are defence officers. What an Air Force we must have today if the personnel have to fly VIP aircraft to get their training. Once again the Government hides, the facts relating to costs. I think the figure we were given was $150,000.
– lt was $304,000.
– The figure we are given is $304,000 for 165 trips. Everyone knows that is not the true cost because if Air Force personnel were not flying these aircraft other people would have to be paid to do it. At the moment we see Air Force personnel wasting their time flying around in VIP aircraft. Again, nowhere in this document are we told the purposes for which the flights are made. Many of them could be made for purely political purposes. Nor does it tell us whether the persons concerned went to the places mentioned and returned the same day or whether they spent the night at the point of destination. The whole position is unsatisfactory and until rules and regulations concerning the use of VIP aircraft are promulgated no-one in Australia is going to be happy.
The Minister should not attempt to laugh it off as the late Prime Minister tried to do by saying it is nothing, that, we are making a mountain out of a molehill. To the public, it is not a question of making a mountain out of a molehill. We may be doing so, but we do not know, lt is also true that almost every country in the world has a
VIP flight, but the public does not agree wilh the Government’s attitude. Honourable senators have only to ask anyone in the street about it. Of course, if one says: ‘I am a Minister’ and then asks about the VIP flight, the members of the public will agree that it is necessary, but if one just walked up to a person in the street and asked: What do you think of the VIP flight?’ that person would say exactly what I am saying. He would say that there should be some definite rules and regulations laid down about the use of these aircraft. 1 hope the Minister, when replying, will tell us that these things are going to be put right.
I come now to the FI IIA aircraft. I thought the man who wrote in the ‘Australian’ made the best comment of all when he said: ‘As the price goes up the planes come down’. 1 know that is cynical, but nevertheless it is a fact. Every one of us has to cut his cloth to suit his purse. But the Government does not do this. It is very nice on seeing a lovely motor car to say: “1 want that!’ But every person cannot have it. If a person has not got the money he cannot buy it. Certainly it may be the best motor car. Most people would like to have a Rolls-Royce but cannot because they cannot afford it even though it might be the car most suitable for their purposes.
The same thing applies to the F111A aircraft, lt may be the best. It is certainly the newest in the world today. But is it what we want? If we ask the Air Force people it is only natural that they will want the best and brightest toy on the market and therefore will want this aircraft. But could we not have done with Phantoms? Would we not then have a bit more money to spend on the development of this country about which the Government talks so much? Every month $8m goes out to pay for these planes which may or may not fly. They certainly will not fly the way we want them to fly. We have paid out $75m already and every month for the next 2 or 3 years we are going to pay out $8m more if the price remains stationary. And we do not believe for one moment that the price will remain stationary. All that money is being spent on a plane that we do not need. Tt is all very well for the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) to say that this is a sophisticated - aircraft and a complex weapons system, but why do we want a complex weapon system? Against whom do we need it? The Phantom bombers would have been just as effective for Australia’s defence as those aeroplanes that will not fly. If we had bought the Phantoms at least we would have had some money to spend on other aspects of defence.
I have supported expenditure on defence because I believe that we have never spent enough. But at the moment I find that we are spending 5% of our gross national product on defence because we are paying in advance for the FI IIA. I presume that if we exclude the F111A from our considerations the most we are spending on defence is 3% or perhaps 4% of our gross national product. As against this Great Britain is spending 9% or 10% and the United States of America between 10% and 11% of its gross national product on defence. Yet the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said that we must have enough money to develop this country. What is the use of developing this country if we cannot defend it? How yellow can we be if we say that we are not going to try to defend it? Of course the Government has to toe returned to power electorally and so it cannot spend money on defence because that expenditure will not buy .it one vote. If we are really Australians, if we think of. Australia and believe in Australia we will believe that there should be a defence system in this country which is worthwhile and with .which we can defend ourselves. If Israel could do it and still develop an arid country, we should be able to do it. If Israel has been able to develop and at the same time defend itself we can do it also, but we do not even try.
– -Would the honourable senator be good enough to tell us how much money Israel gets from other countries? I have seen its development, so T would like him to tell me how much money is brought into Israel from outside.
– How much is being poured into Australia?
– I should like the honourable senator to tell me how much is going into Israel.
– I cannot answer for Israel.
– No, the honourable senator would not know, and yet he makes this stupid statement.
– I could not care less how many millions are poured into Israel1; at least in that country they are using the money for two purposes, development and defence, whereas in Australia it is a matter of development or defence. In Australia we must provide expenditure for both, just as they do in Israel. Again I ask: Does the honourable senator really believe that we should not develop this country? I ask him to answer yes or no.
– The honourable senator knows the answer.
– I do. So Why try to suggest that Israel is the one country that can do that? The honourable senator believes just as we do that we should defend this country. He has fought for it before and would do so again if it were necessary, but many Government supporters are prepared to sacrifice Australia and to -.ay that we should not be prepared to defend Australia - let America do it for us. That is a pretty weak state of affairs. Members of the Democratic Labor Party and I have been attacked because we have suggested that we should have the atom bomb, yet the FI 1 1 A is being purchased solely so that we will have an aircraft that can carry a missile with a nuclear warhead. If we. are going to have nuclear- warheads, let us admit it and say that that is why we want that aircraft. We have been told that we will be a party to the treaty on the non-proliferation of atomic weapons and we have been told that being a signatory to the treaty will not hinder our scientific development. But I am not quite happy about this whole proposition.
Here is an aircraft on which we are spending millions of dollars, an aircraft designed to carry a nuclear warhead, and yet the Government will not state that we should develop nuclear power in this country. I think even the Prime Minister this morning pointed out that many things which are used for scientific purposes ultimately can be used for war. In that case we should be doing something about nuclear power. We should have nuclear power stations everywhere so that we can develop techniques in managing nuclear materials. I do not want to continue to talk about defence because we will debate later what is supposed to be a statement on defence. In my view it is an apologia on defence which shows that nothing is being done. The Royal Australian Navy needs two aircraft carriers. We could afford to buy those vessels if we did not proceed, with the purchase of the FI I IA. One aircraft carrier will not satisfy our requirements. We need two. We could have a decent Air Force or a decent Army if we were to cancel the orders for the Fill A.
– VIP aircraft are equally cheap- only $150,000.
– And they do not cost much to run.
– Yes. They are a miracle of economy.
– That is why we can afford them, I suppose, ls it not time that the Government took a realistic view of defence? The theory of forward defence for Australia is gone. We hear about the domino theory. I read recently that one of the chiefs of staff - I forget whether he was an Army or Air Force man - said that the domino theory no longer held. Yet it is on this that the Government has based its false premise with regard to defence. The Government has held the view that because of the domino theory we have to fill1 a vacuum in Malaysia or somewhere else. But this Government’s principles are not real principles. Government supporters say that we are fighting in Vietnam for principles - that we are there to defend Australia. We are defending Australia on. someone else’s soil. That is very useful because it does not affect us. Government supporters say that we are in Vietnam to stop aggression and to stop Communism but the moment the Americans say that they are pulling out of Vietnam we will pull out also. Then it will’, be to hell with the defence of Australia. The situation in Vietnam will not mean a thing then because someone .else .will not be carrying the burden for us.
– I have heard the honourable senator say in this House that there was no need for any defence and that n,o-one was going, to attack Australia.
-No. I said that, it would not happen in the next 20 or 30 years. It is a premise of the Government that’- China might come down to attack us, but China has neither the navy nor the merchant fleet to be able to do so. It would be possible for the Japanese who are not Communists to come here and to swallow us economically. Alternatively, if Japan wanted to do so, she could invade this country much more quickly than Communist forces from China. She is capable of it and has attempted it before. She might not have been successful last time, but at least she was able to frighten our Government out of office. Perhaps I should withdraw that remark because the Japanese were not threatening Australia at the time that the people of Australia threw the Government out of office in 1941.
There are other matters to which I propose to refer in regard to the Appropriation Bill. One is the Department of External Affairs. 1 do not know whether there is present in the chamber a Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs or whether any officers of the Department are here, but wherever one goes - and in the last 3 years I. have done a fair bit of travelling - one finds complaints about the Department. I should like to know how many people have entered and left the Department of External Affairs in the last 5 years. There is gross dissatisfaction in the Department and one cause of this dissatisfaction is the lack of advance knowledge among officers of their postings. I know that it is not simply a matter of saying that someone is to be moved from Taiwan to New York because it is then necessary to move someone from New York and so on. First there is a movement, of the senior officer and then a movement of the other officers. It should not take the. officer responsible more than a week or at the most 2 weeks, if he is fully occupied, to solve this problem and to determine what moves are to be made. Officers of the Department are told that their term of duty at a certain posting is just about to expire, but they are not’ told anything abour where they are going.
The Department does not worry about the private affairs of its officers. These people are of no concern to the Department. All these officers have ‘ houses in ‘Australia or children to think about. But that does not worry the Department. It takes the attitude that it is much too busy and has too much to do to think about ordinary officers of the Department who may be affected by a move from Bahrein to New York’. An officer is told that he will be required to move within 3 weeks, and sometimes even less notice is given. 1 know that there is no office of the Department in Bahrein - only a trade mission - but honourable senators will understand what 1 mean. Officers are given very short notice and are expected to settle all their private affairs in that short interval, despite the fact that it has been known for at least 3 or 4 months that they are to be moved. Even officers as high as ambassadors are not told. I appreciate that there is good reason for this. If an ambassador is told 6 months ahead that he is to leave a country he takes less interest in that country and begins to take an interest in the country to which he is going. But I think it would be reasonable to give an officer 3 months notice. 1 cannot understand why these officers cannot be given more notice of where they are going. Do not tell me that the Department is so full of deadheads that this cannot be worked out quicker. If the Department hired a man for a day he would be able to work out the transfers according to seniority. This is a matter that is causing grave concern among the officers of the Department.
The final point that I wish to raise is overseas investment in Australia and the lack of equity for Australian citizens. I have raised this matter previously but I have not received a reply. I do not suppose I will get a reply now but at least it gives me a bit of satisfaction to keep honourable senators here a little longer while I tell the Government that it has no right whatsoever to give Australia away. It has no right to allow foreign companies to borrow on our loan market without insisting that Australians have some equity in those companies. This is a preposterous situation which should never be allowed, yet the Government has allowed it to occur time and time again.
– Holden’s started it.
– Originally Australians were allowed to hold shares in General Motor-Holden’s Pty Ltd. Now the Government has granted Esso the right to raise a loan. This company does not need to operate on our loan market. This means that Australian companies will not be able to borrow as much and that less money will be available for Commonwealth loans.
How many shares in Esso are Australians allowed to buy? Not one.
– Esso transferred its advertising account from an Australian company to an American company.
– I understand that is true, but I do not know enough about the position to make any comments. I do know that we in this chamber made a sorry spectacle of ourselves by selling out Australia’s off-shore oil resources. Any firm worth its salt knows that if it starts an operation - the $60m Savage River mine would be a good example - it can get its money back within 10 years. Overseas companies would be happy to get a mining lease for 10 years if that was all they could get. Yet the Government has given mining rights for the whole of the submerged lands of Australia to foreign companies for life. The Government should have limited (he leases to 10, 15 or 20 years.
– I know that the honourable senator would not wish that statement to be wrong but it is wrong. Under the existing legislation those who have leases have to give half back at the end of a 6-year period.
– But they have an option. If I am wrong then I will withdraw my remark. However, that is not the way I read the legislation. What I object to, and I hope my objection is noted, is that Australians are not allowed to have equity in some companies that borrow on our loan market. As I said earlier, this is a preposterous proposition and should not be allowed by any government.
– The Opposition has been criticising the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) for rearranging the business of the Senate so that these four Bills, which provide finance for the ensuing months, can be debated and passed as quickly as possible. Senator Turnbull said that the Government is treating honourable senators like little boys. I think that is a particularly unfair statement. I believe Senator Turnbull will agree that he was certainly not confined in any way in his speech on these measures. No senator is prevented from addressing himself to any topic that he wishes to debate.
– Senator Cotton asked us not to debate the measures at length.
– If we were to record the requests that are made by various senators not to do certain things in this chamber the list would be voluminous. The fact is that no attempt was made to prevent Senator Turnbull from speaking or to limit his remarks. Although his speech contained some elements of financial Wisdom, most of it was taken up in debating Papua and New Guinea. His attention might well1 have been directed to the fact that a Bill on papua and New Guinea is to be debated later today. So, the first 20 minutes that he spent on this subject would have been used to better advantage if he had waited for that Bill to be debated.
Senator O’Byrne entered into a lengthy discussion about the rearrangement of the business of the Senate but his comments were not true in some respects. The Government is not restricting discussion. The Senate may be interested to recall that on 1 1 th May last year similar legislation was brought into this chamber and read a first and second time on that day and passed on the next day. So really there is no real ground for criticism of the Government in this matter. The Opposition is only seeking to make some political capital1. It was said - I believe by Senator Willesee - that these Bills should have been introduced many weeks ago.
– 1 did not say thai.
– The interjection came from the honourable senator’s corner of the chamber. 1 think Senator Willesee will agree when I say that it would be impossible for the Treasury to present these figures earlier. The individual departments first have to compile their figures and then the figures have to be forwarded to the Treasury for examination. There the requests for finance must be checked and the figures put into the proper form for the scrutiny of the Parliament. This is an enormous task and the first thing that 1 wish to do is to pay a tribute to the Treasury officials who are able to produce the accounts in such a lucid form. The specific measure now before us contains over 800 items of expenditure in the minutest detail. Certainly I would not join Opposition senators who ridicule the pre sentation of an enormous account like this for our scrutiny.
In my view the most interesting item in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) which did not appear in earlier corresponding measures is the allocation of finance for the establishment of the Department of the Cabinet Office. I congratulate the Government for not being bound by an established system thai was most inappropriate to the administration of this country. I am sure that only benefit will derive from the establishment of this Office.
Senator Turnbull mentioned the great expenditure involved in our defence. I recall the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) commenting that this was an area in which he feared spending would get out of hand. But we are reassured that the Government is watching it closely. I would not agree to decisions about expenditure on various items of defence equipment being taken lightly or inadvisedly. I believe that intelligence has been used in deciding the type of equipment best suited to Australian conditions.
– The honourable senator is not saying that about the Fill, is he?
– I am not saying it about the method of contracting for the Fill. If I went into a discourse on that I would have a lot to say. 1 believe that the best brains in Australia have been put to the task of deciding the best types of aircraft or equipment that should be purchased.
It is interesting to note the course of events over a series of years. In 1960 the total Commonwealth expenditure on defence was $387m or 11.9% of the Commonwealth Budget. The percentage of defence expenditure in relation to the total Commonwealth Budget increased progressively and in 1963 it was 10.7%; in 1964, 11.9%; in 1965, 12.7%; in 1966, 13.9%; in 1967, 16%; and in 1968 it is estimated that it will be 17.2%. I believe that there has been ready recognition of the proportion of our financial resources that must be applied to the defence effort of the country. I should appreciate it if the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) would comment on the altered layout of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1967-68. The Minister may care to comment, when he replies, on the reorganisation of the Schedule and on .the changed wording in the first two pages of the Bill, compared with the wording in the Bill in the previous year. A number of offsetting amounts have not been shown. I would be interested to know what brought about the change in layout.
I believe we face a very serious time. It is opportune for us to recall that when the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1967-68 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1 967-68 were introduced the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said, to my delight, that it was the Government’s wish that the private sector of the community-
– The honourable senator had better not tell Mr McEwen that he was delighted wilh Mr McMahon or the honourable senator will be in trouble with Mr McEwen.
– All supporters of the Government were delighted willi this com ment. Whether it is the view of the Socialist Opposition, I do not know, lt was hoped that the private sector would be encouraged to grow. It was the wish of the Government that the amounts spent within the public sector would not bc greater than the amounts spent in the past few years. It was hoped that’ the increase in expenditure would be damped, comparatively speaking. Honourable senators may recall the Treasurer’s words, with which 1 fully agreed at the time. I make the point that the Treasurers Comments’ relating to the private sector were quite correct. Over the last 12 months the community has experienced sizeable disasters which have reduced Commonwealth income and . finance. - We have to look at the problems that we have had in relation to devaluation and the problems, which are not readily evident at the present time, in relation to the effects on our finance of the drought. I believe that, because of the- year through which we have passed, credit’ should be given tothe Government for the position in which we find ourselves at the moment. The private sector was allowed’ to grow. But I am afraid the -Government has not been able to control the expenditure within the public sector, as it had wished. The Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1967-68, which is before us. deals with - the- appropriation of public moneys. We find that the expenditure is continuing to grow at the present time.- 1 issue a serious -warning. The results of the drought, experienced in the eastern Stales over the past year and preceding years, are yet to be fully felt in the community and the effect on our income from reduced export earnings will be extremely serious. To seek to say that we are balancing our Budget is altogether unrealistic. The fact is that in the September and December quarters of 1967-68 public expenditure rose by 8.8% and 8.9% respectively above the corresponding quarters of the previous year. That is a timely warning, T believe, that the Government must be alerted to strive for savings wherever it can within the public sector.
– Is the honourable senator referring to the Treasury Bulletin’ for those figures?
– No. I am not. The figures may come from there, but 1 am relying on research service figures that I have obtained.
– It would be helpful to know the context in which the honourable senator puts those figures so that I may understand them.
– The Minister may have sonic other figures. I believe that on percentages, the Minister will find ‘that the increase is more than the increase for the corresponding quarters in the previous year.
– Can the honourable senator tell me whether those figures include social service, defence, capital works and all other expenditure?
– The figures include all expenditure. They refer to total public expenditure over that period. 1 believe the Minister would agree with me that it is quite a serious matter and one which the Government has not controlled sufficiently. I put it to the Government that something needs to be done. I ask the Minister to spend a minute or two on my comments to see whether there is any way in which he can ease my thoughts on the problem that is handed back to the private sect olof the economy. The private sector has to find- the income lo run this country. Unless the Government, in saying what it intends to do at the beginning of a period, can hold adequately to those intentions, it is due for criticism if the position gels away from its grasp.
I am particularly concerned, as I have mentioned, about the drought position. I believe that the falls in export income to be experienced over the next period will mean that the Government will have to do something quite significant to encourage the rural sector of the community to produce more than it has done in the past years. Certainly its production has been curtailed because of natural disasters.
– Its productivity is falling, too. I think the honourable senator should draw a distinction between production and productivity.
– The honourable senator says that productivity is falling.
– That is my opinion.
– I would be very pleased to hear the Minister comment on that and say how it applies in this particular field because 1 would not readily agree that that is so. I would readily agree that the return from the increased productivity of a particular line of production certainly has fallen, but I am not willing to agree, unless it can be pointed out to me, that the industries - whether they be primary or secondary - over recent years have not tended to increase their productivity to a most marked extent. Productivity in the wool industry has increased, but income has dropped considerably. I think one could follow that statement through into the dairying industry and many other industries, including secondary industries.
– The fruit industry is another one.
– That is so. 1 believe productivity has increased. I would have thought that more concern would have been expressed by members of the Opposition - certainly 1 have heard members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party express great concern at the fact that productivity in some areas of primary production has increased beyond What they believe we can handle adequately within this country. I certainly do not believe that to be the case but I have heard the view expressed here before today.
Let us consider certain statistics. I believe, on estimated figures, that export receipts for 1967-68 will be approximately $2,920m. That is some $104m less than total exports for the previous year. An export income of some $2,920m during the present financial year will be insufficient to meet the demands of an increasing import bill which is estimated at about $3, 200m. A deficit of over $3S0m on our trading account will occur. How will that deficit be met? In other years we have been unconcerned because there has been a ‘ large capital inflow. In normal business administration that state of affairs would not be allowed to continue. We must balance our budget on exports and imports. If the figures I have cited are correct and there will be a trading deficit of some $350m this year, and if our deficit continues to run at that level, our overseas reserves - at the end of March I think they stood at $l,117m - will provide trade credit for only about 4 months.
Conditions in Australia make it essential that this position be corrected. We have no guarantee there will be no drought; we have no guarantee as to growth or production in the rural sector. The increase in our standard of living, the wonderful way in which we tend to live and the demands that are being put on the community all the time for higher wage rates will make our attempts to export secondary and manufactured goods most difficult. I stand firmly by the fact that every Australian industry needs the greatest evidence Of the community’s support in establishing a growing home market for our secondary goods.
One could refer al length to the protection that must be given not only in the primary field but also in the secondary field. One of pur greatest hopes for the future lies in our mineral exports. I have grave doubts about the ‘wisdom of signing the contracts that have been entered into in relation to our minerals. In the early stages - and I take it the position still applies - the Government had some say in the price and the limits of volume of our major, mineral exports. However, the Senate and the Government should reflect on the fact that we are signing forward contracts for tip to 20 years and specifying fixed rates. In business one must do that at times otherwise one will nol get a . contract, but if the experience of past years is any guide and our money continues, to depreciate bv 3% or 4% per annum, as T believe it is. not many years will elapse before what was originally a fine contract providing a good price for our mineral exports will prove to be most unsatisfactory. Our profits will be eroded entirely. Only by increasing the volume of our exports and by making the means of production of our minerals more efficient will the industry and this export income be saved. The Minister may care to comment on the Government’s thinking in relation to its control over the contract prices for our mineral exports.
– Is the honourable senator saying that we need a Country Party Treasurer and not a Liberal Treasurer?
– This is the responsibility of both parties. I do not think it wise to say, as we hear it said, that one Minister is responsible for this or for any other single matter. I have heard some people say that Mr McEwen is responsible entirely for the Tariff Board setup. Everyone should know that the Government as a whole is responsible for policy. If the Government is at fault on occasions - I have referred to some at times - then my Party and our partners are equally responsible. Be assured that a great deal of credit must be given to this Government for the excellent position in which this country finds itself at the present time, but let us be cautious. Last year our deficit was something over$100m. If my figures are correct, our trading deficit this year will be$350m. On that basis we have only 4 months’ reserves in hand.
What light is there on the horizon in the form of increased prices, increased production or wider market’s? Let us be very cautious. There is a need for encouragement in both primary and secondary industry. There is a need for this Government to consider immediately what it can do to eliminate the effects of drought. Why have we not been presented with propositions for the production and reserve of fodder? What will be done to allow double taxation deductions to primary producers who set aside fodder and provide for the time of drought? Primary producers do that. Indeed, many of them got through the recent bad seasons particularly well. But there must be financial encouragement for industries, both primary and secondary, to produce that which will earn income for this country.
I congratulate the Treasury officials on presenting us with a sizeable document which lists over 800 divisions under which finance is allocated. 1 hope the Minister will convey to the Government my warning relating to the stability of the economy, as I see it, in the ensuing period and I hope he will be able to enlighten us with some words of wisdom on how the Government sees this matter in relation to the proposed appropriation of $155m.
– The Bill before us, as Senator Webster has mentioned, is one on which any subject may be debated but as it has been brought on rather suddenly we have not had much opportunity to prepare speeches. Senator Webster accused me, innocently I am sure, of saying that these Bills should have been introduced many weeks ago. Of course I did not say that but I know he would not deliberately misrepresent me. I have taken out of the waste paper basket the proofs of my speech to which Senator Webster referred. My opening remarks were: ‘I want to say one or two words on this motion in the general context*. I said that the Government or the departments knew that certain legislation had to be presented during the year and that they deliberately held it back because it pays off to do so.
The notice paper for today lists on the front page thirteen matters of Government business and, on the second page, four matters, three of them statements. There is the Post and Telegraph Bill, the Overseas Telecommunications Bill, the Post and Telegraph Bill (No. 2), the Queensland Grant (Maraboon Dam) Bill, the States Grants (Drought Assistance) Bill, the States Grants (Drought Reimbursement) Bill, the Victoria Grant (River Murray Salinity) Biil - do not tell me the Government did not know there was salinity in the river before today - and the Papua and New Guinea Bill. These relate to aspects of Government policy for which departments are responsible and which were announced many months ago. The Bills could have been in the hands of Ministers long before the last couple of weeks. If that sort of thing were done and we had a group of Ministers who would stand up to the departments we would not have the situation - not so much at a stage like this but towards the end of a session - in which dozens of Bills are shovelled through in the early hours of the morning. The Government and the Public Service have a vested interest in doing that sort of thing because it is quite impossible to make correct analyses of Bills under those conditions. The ones that we have before us seek appropriation of finance and obviously cannot be presented months before the end of a sessional period such as this.
I want to mention just one or two things on which the Government seems to be particularly stubborn. We are indebted to Senator Dittmer for bringing up to date the VIP scandals. He asked a question - not to rake up all the ashes of the past - on particulars of VIP nights in 1968, of which we have not yet completed the fifth, month. We find that 185 VIP flights have been made already. At the time of the VIP scandals of last year, when the Government did everything to hide information to which this Parliament was entitled, there came out of the discussion a general understanding that any reasonable person would not object if Ministers and other important people in government - heads of departments and others - used these aircraft to save time in travelling to parts of Australia which are difficult of access. The complaint at the time was very much against the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) who was using VIP aircraft to fly from Canberra to Sydney and back again. Very obviously there was no good reason for this while there were 8 or 10 flights by TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-ANA every day between these places. It is pretty hard to put an argument that one has to use a VIP aircraft to make that short journey. It is said that Ministers want to discuss matters with officers, which they cannot do in commercial aircraft. How much business will be discussed in a flight of about 40 minutes? I notice that Mr McMahon is still travelling to and from Sydney and Canberra in this manner.
Mr McEwen is travelling quite consistently to Melbourne by VIP aircraft. Other Ministers are obviously using these aircraft to fly to their homes, going over one day and coming back the next. While any reasonable person would not object to the proper use of the aircraft, he would object to this. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) could do two things. He could ban the use of VIP aircraft between Canberra and Melbourne and Canberra and Sydney. Over these routes they are just about being pushed out of the air by normal commercial flights. Perhaps it might be too much for him to ask Mr McEwen and Mr McMahon to fly in the same aircraft. I suppose that would be beyond the realms of practical politics because of the continuing dogfight in which they have engaged during the last few years.
I do not want to go over the details, as Senator Turnbull did. Obviously somebody is flown to his home one day, the aircraft has to return empty to Canberra, and the next day he gets a plane to fly down, pick him up, and bring him back to Canberra. One part of this operation is not in strict terms a VIP flight. Mr Wentworth, a new Minister, is also getting into the act, having himself flown to and from Sydney and Canberra. I do not want to harp on this. It is not the type of thing on which I like harping. Surely it shows sloppy administration at least. If the Government, humiliated as it was, has any sense of shame at all it ought to be doing something about it.
I shall deal briefly with the Fill aircraft. Senator Webster said that he was certain that the best brains had been applied to defence measures in Australia. I only wish that we had used some English brains when we were buying the Fill. I have on the notice paper a very simple question; I do not expect to have a reply for quite a time. I should like to know how it came about that the British were able to negotiate with the Americans a deal to buy exactly the same type of plane at a fixed price but when we negotiated with the Americans, it had to be on a cost plus system. If this was the work of the great brains that Senator Webster has been talking about, all that I can say is that the brains are not good enough and the next time we are negotiating a purchase with the Americans we had* better get Mr Wilson to send out the brains he has in the British Civil Service.
– Will you read my words tomorrow?
– I heard the honourable senator say that he did not agree with the negotiations on price. He had a reservation about the negotiated’ price. On that we agree. I merely say in extension of his remarks that it is a pity we did not have the same brains as the British have. Again, we get this shillyshallying. I sympathise with the Government. It is stuck with ever-increasing cost and it looks as if the plane is falling out of the sky every time it is sent up. It is of no use to say that the plane is proving itself. The numbers that have fallen out of the sky in Vietnam and in other parts of the world put a very great question mark over the efficacy and efficiency of the Fill.
– Did you read that the incidence of accidents had been lower than with any other aircraft?
– I did not see that written. I have seen and heard people on television making what were, as far as I was concerned, complete apologies for it. With me, when a plane falls out of the sky it is serious. The Government is tied to the cost - goodness knows what this will be - and is not very certain about what the functions of the aircraft will be when we finally get it. It is time the Government came honestly before the people and gave us its thinking on the subject. If the Government has made a mistake, it should say so. Nobody will hold it responsible for that. It will make mistakes; God knows it has made enough. Everybody who makes anything will make mistakes. We have a serious situation. I object to the shilly-shallying and trying to minimise the extent of the Fill problem. The Government keeps saying that whatever the price is the aircraft will be a good buy. We have been told a dozen different things. We have been told that at this price it was a great deal and that we are putting it all over the Americans with the low price. At each stage we have had some story such as this. Finally, we have to accept that whatever price we pay for the aircraft it will be a good buy, but we are not very certain whether it will fly when it gets here. I mention these two matters briefly because in one case the Government is showing sloppy administration and in the other case it is showing a lack of honesty which should not be in any Australian Government.
– One can speak at considerable length on a number of subjects on these Appropriation Bills. I wish to raise only one or two aspects because at this late state of the debate much of the ground swell of criticism to be levelled against the Government has been effectively put by my colleagues. First, I wish to refer to the failure of Ministers to answer within a reasonable time questions placed on the notice paper by honourable senators from all sides of the chamber. Some 126 questions put on the notice paper since 12th March, the day on which Parliament reassembled, remain unanswered. Of these, 25 were placed there in the first week of the session, well over two months ago. I suggest to Ministers both in this chamber and in another place that it is about time they realised that Parliament is the voice of the people and that the representatives of the people are entitled not only to ask questions but also to receive replies within a reasonable time. The number of questions on the notice paper that still remain unanswered, reveals a shocking state of affairs. The main culprits are the Department of the Interior, the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Attorney-General’s Department. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in this place, should take note of this. Those departments in particular must be hurried up. It is disgraceful that information sought by parliamentarians should be treated in such a cavalier fashion by Ministers and their departments, and it is about time the new broom of the new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) started to sweep clean in this regard.
One could speak at considerable length about many other subjects that have been raised in this debate, such as the situation in regard to Fill aircraft, the use of VIP aircraft, and the deterioration in Commonwealth and State financial relationships. However, I take this opportunity to raise a matter which should be investigated by the Department of the Treasury because of its effect on the price structure of the economy generally, and by the Attorney-General’s Department on the score of legality. I refer to what might be termed the lucky dip prizes being offered by way of coupons distributed by manufacturers to the purchasers of goods that are sold by the large chain stores. The costs of administration of these contests and the purchase of the prizes undoubtedly must be met eventually by the consumer, by way of an increase in the price of the goods, and by the Australian taxpayer. They must foot the bill for these Payola schemes, for want of a better term.
– How can this sort of contest be brought under the supervision of the Federal Attorney-General?
– I shall mention one aspect to make the matter clearer.
These contests are going on throughout the length and breadth of Australia - not only in the States but also in the Australian Capital Territory. The Federal AttorneyGeneral should certainly be made aware of this problem and at the very least he should have consultations and discussions on it with the State Attorneys-General, lt certainly should be examined by Treasury officials. To say the least, it should be raised by the Attorney-General at the level of Commonwealth and State departmental discussions.
I refer in particular to one of the schemes that offers as prizes a Torana car, a transistor radio, and some other benefits. The competition to which 1 refer is run by Lever and Kitchen Pty Ltd, the largest manufacturers of soap in Australia. It invites competitors to ‘Win a Torana.’ The idea is that each packet of soap is guaranteed to contain at least one complete token, and once a purchaser obtains four tokens of a different colour - red, green, yellow and blue - and sends them in to the Company, he will, if the coupons are in order, win the Torana car, the transistor radio or whatever the prize might be. Some people have told me that their wives have bought enough soap to fill a garage, in the hope of winning a Torana car. They can now only hope that sooner or later, instead of having a garage filled with packets of soap, good fortune will come their way and help them to win a Holden Torana motor car for the garage.
These competitions are regarded by Treasury officials and taxation officers as part of the costs of production for these manufacturers. The costs involved in administering them and in buying the prizes are undoubtedly written off for the purposes of taxation. When these competitions are run, the public are entitled to an assurance that, they are being run in a fair and proper manner. If they are not, the Government should take some action. It can do so by way of discussion with the State AttorneysGeneral, by way of legislation controlling these matters in the Australian Capital Territory, which is under its control, or by withdrawing this taxation concession to manufacturers. At all events, the Government must afford protection to the public.
Let me return to the particular competition. As I said, Lever and Kitchen Pty Ltd have been running this ‘Win a Torana’ competition which, I understand, will close on 30th June next. That firm says that four matching tokens can win a Torana. The coupon says:
HERE’S HOW TO PLAY: Just collect one red, one yellow, one green and one blue token from packets of Lux Toilet Soap, Lifebuoy, Rinso, Omo, Surf and Persil - showing the same prize on each - and the prize is automatically yours. Win a Holden Torana SL (Super Luxury), a Holden Torana sedan, an Astor transistor radio or a lottery ticket. Over 20,000 prizes.
This card is guaranteed lo contain at least one complete token. You may be lucky enough to get two complete tokens, but if not, incomplete tokens (which do not have the black Une all round) cannot be accepted.
Full details and entry forms on special packs of Rinso, Omo, Surf and Persil. All entries must be received by 30th June 1968.
Honourable senators will see that nothing is said in the rules to the effect that the colour of the token must correspond with the word appearing on it. One person from New South Wales whose wife has virtually filled the garage with washing soaps and detergents, told me that having collected a red, a green, a yellow and a blue token, he sent them in to the company in the fond hope of winning the Torana. However, the company told him that as the blue token submitted by him had the word ‘red’ printed at the bottom of it, it was not a blue token but was in fact meant to be a red one. and therefore he was not eligible to receive the prize. This gentleman pointed out further that the card is guaranteed to contain at least one complete token. The situation is that when a purchaser submits what he believes to be a winning entry, the Company may write back to the effect that it is not prepared to stand behind its guarantee. The Company says, in effect, that there are no complete tokens on this particular card. In the particular case to which I have referred the Company wrote to the purchaser and said it was prepared to stand behind its guarantee. However, it did not send him a green or a blue token. Instead, it sent him a red token, because the word ‘Red’ is printed on the blue coloured token, and a yellow token because the word ‘yellow’ is printed on the green coloured token.
– It is a racket.
– lt is wrong indeed. As Senator Branson said, it is a racket for these Australian companies to fleece the Australian consumer, to take from his pocket and that of the Australian taxpayer generally the costs of conducting these competitions and buying the prizes. lt is wrong indeed that this sort of practice can bc indulged in and is allowed to be indulged in by a company which is regarded generally by the Australian public as being very large, wealthy and, until now, reputable. 1 believe it is dishonest, lt is a racket. I hope that Lever and Kitchen Pty Ltd will see that this sort of thing does not. happen again, and I hope also that the Government will take steps to discontinue these competitions which benefit very few people in the community and add considerably to the costs of the Australian housewife whose pockets are already heavily drained.
– I take this opportunity to raise a matter of the utmost importance to me and other people. I refer to the frequent isolation of Alice Springs during periods of flooding. Almost every year the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner mentions in his report the interruptions to railway traffic caused by either floods or sand drifts. This is a construction matter, but it also imposes a very considerable hardship on the Alice Springs community, on people who are marooned in trains between Adelaide and Alice Springs and on tourists and school children such as those who were isolated during the recent flood.
This matter has been drawn to the attention of the Government on several occasions. Unfortunately, only when there are floods does it receive fairly urgent consideration or criticism in the Press. Honourable senators may remember that on the last occasion it was raised many suggestions were made. For example, it was suggested from this chamber that the Royal Australian Air Force might be commissioned to set up a special unit to cope with floods and other disasters. This is an almost annual situation. The results of these floods are that both road and rail communications are interrupted and nearly always great distress and inconvenience are caused to the Alice Springs community. Recent reports from Alice Springs indicate that on the recent occasion there was a great shortage of food and perishables in the community and that train travellers who were marooned on the South Australian side of Alice Springs had to have food dropped to them from air craft. That is not uncommon. On 13th May the ‘Northern Territory Times’, which is published in Darwin, reported that in the southern part of the Territory all the airstrips, including the one that is used by the Flying Doctor Service, were out of commission. That is the general position.
On each occasion an emergency situation is created. Intermediate suggestions have been made for meeting the situation. One that I have raised in this chamber by way of a question was made by one of the locomotive enginemen’s unions. The union said that except in a very great flood it is possible to traverse much of the section between Port Augusta and Alice Springs even under flood conditions, provided the track is in good condition. It said that the diesel electric locomotives cannot traverse the Finke River when it is under water, but that steam locomotives could do so. It said that under fairly stable conditions as to earthworks and track and sound maintenance conditions it would be possible to use steam locomotives to traverse flooded sections. That has been done before and it could be done at the present time.
One of the objections, which is recognised by people who know railways, to the use of steam locomotives on this track in order to maintain the connection in times of flood is that it may impose some difficulties. For example, if we go back to steam locomotives we will have to have in the running sheds special staff who are equipped to handle them and we will have to bring back engine drivers who are used to operating them. The special and urgent adoption of a system using steam locomotives might be more difficult and expensive than alternative suggestions. One alternative suggestion is that the Commonwealth Railways could use the ordinary diesel units, but with mechanical drive. Some such units are in use in Australia already. The electrical generating devices are usually located near the traction wheels. That is not the case on these units. In fact, these units could be used for shunting in Alice Springs and under flood conditions. I admit that they would have a restricted use, but it is obvious that in some circumstances they could mean the maintenance of the connection between Port Augusta and Alice Springs, so obviating the situation that now exists under flood conditions. The situation is very bad. Although these are emergency suggestions,
I suggest that what is required is that the Government have discussions immediately with the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to see whether something like this can be done in respect of the railway link.
We know that the road link can be attended to. No doubt Senator Wright is interested in the tourist aspect of this matter. He has given the tourist aspect quite a bit of interest and support, as we have noticed from the answers and information that he has given the Senate. Perhaps special attention should be given to making sure that the earthworks of the road between Port Augusta and Alice Springs are really consolidated, if the site of the road, which is not as bad as that of the railway, needs some temporary or emergency alteration, it should be altered. But the main point is that the road should be consolidated in order to provide the all weather track that is needed to take people into and out of the Territory at almost any time of the year.
At the present time the Government is making an examination of the railway route. The Railways Commissioner, Mr Smith, who is a very competent engineer, was commissioned by the Government to make a survey of the railway between Port Augusta and Alice Springs. His report was submitted about 12 months ago. He and his officers have made proper surveys, which have been put to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). I remind the Government that it has received that report from the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner and that in his report he says what he thinks is the situation and sets out some alternatives. They show that if we spent enough money we could have a permanent connection between Adelaide and Alice Springs, which would mean that there would be regular rail services all the time under all conditions and there would not be the frequent isolation of Alice Springs, with the resultant complaints from the community. I am told that in recent weeks members of the Alice Springs community have been most upset and critical of the matters to which I have referred, including the lack of communications in a situation which could have been overcome by the railways using some other type of locomotive.
I draw attention to an answer that I was given recently in regard to the construction of a railway track that would not be subject to flooding. The answer, which was supplied by the Minister for Shipping and Transport, was:
The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has submitted to the Minister for Shipping and Transport a report on this matter. This submits alternative costs for -
upgrading the existing narrow gauge line from Marree to Alice Springs,
building a new standard gauge line from Marree to Alice Springs substantially along the existing route,
constructing a new standard gauge line from Tarcoola to Alice Springs, a new route avoiding the worst flood areas.
All of these alternatives would involve very extensive expenditures, which preliminary estimates indicate would be in excess of $50m, and would require periods estimated between 5 and 10 years to complete. All aspects of the proposals are being examined but I am unable to indicate when a decision will be reached. 1 say to the Government, firstly, that an early decision should be made on a permanent railway link between Adelaide and Alice Springs. A decision should be made to do one thing or the other. In the meantime one of the suggestions that have been made could be implemented. The matter could well be discussed with the locomotive enginemen s unions to see whether the ideas that they have put forward are practicable, as they seem to be. Secondly, urgent consideration should be given to the report in the ‘Northern Territory Times’ about no airstrips being available during flood conditions. That situation should be corrected. Surely in the southern part of the Territory the situation now should be the same as it was during the Second World War. when airstrips were available under all conditions, not only to meet national needs but also to meet emergency needs that are presented by crises such as the present one in the Northern Territory.
– I have listened with real interest to the greater part of the debate on these Bills. Senator Bishop referred to the problem of communications between South Australia and the Northern Territory, and to an answer given by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) which indicates that the Minister and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner have the matter under consideration. Yesterday in response to a question by my colleague Senator Laught I indicated that from the tourist angle 1 will give that matter consideration. In that regard I am sure that
I shall be indebted to the submissions made by Senator Bishop.
Senator McClelland referred to lucky dip bargaining. I think it is rather unreal to raise a matter of that sort in a general budgetary debate such as we are having today. 1 do not reject it out of hand, but it is not four square - it is only very indirectly, if at all - within the sphere of responsibility of the Federal AttorneyGeneral. Whilst everybody is concerned about integrity of trade, it is not really the sort of give and take that I expect in the Senate from a senator who comes from New South Wales where State governments have for years in an extravagant way avalanched betting and gambling in clubs.
I also wish to use the bluntest terms about the reproach that fell from Senator McClelland as to the failure to obtain answers to questions in the Senate. I think that Ministers in the Senate have made resolute endeavours to answer questions, having regard firstly to respect for the accuracy required in answers to questions on notice and secondly, to the widespread areas of the Commonwealth from which information has to be collected to compile expeditiously full and complete answers. Not only has the Opposition been treated with unfailing courtesy and unsparing attention in respect of questions without notice, but also I point out that the statistics show that since the beginning of this sessional period 280 questions have been put on notice; 117 are still unanswered and 2 have been withdrawn, which means that 161 have been answered. As to the 117 unanswered questions, some are similar in nature to that which I answered yesterday on behalf of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), which asked me to go back to 1900 and examine the statistics for 67 years in respect of the number of patents applications registered each year and to dissect that number into those that had been examined and those that had been finally dealt with. When questions involve extensive inquiries, I ask honourable senators to understand that as a matter of accuracy, respect for questions means that care has be be taken to compile the answers.
Senator Willesee allowed himself to deliver some observations on the accumulation of legislation towards the end of a sessional period. It is regrettable that the tendency is that in the first weeks of a sessional period there is a lack of pressure in business, and that during the last weeks of the sessional period it intensifies. However, it should also be recognised that the far flung activities of Ministers while Parliament is not sitting and the Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs and other important units of the Ministry are abroad, preclude the continuity of Cabinet consultation that would be necessary to follow the programme suggested by the honourable senator. When the Senate rises at the end of this sessional period, I think it would bc an ungenerous outlook that would not recognise that every endeavour has been made to distribute over the latter half of this sessional period the legislative proposals of the Government. In this respect, that comment does not apply to a money Bill that is debated here, not in the last, second last or even third last week of the sessional period, but 4 weeks before Parliament is to rise. 1 wish to express my great appreciation of what 1 consider was a most thoughtful contribution to the debate by my colleague, Senator Webster. It would be altogether an undue recognition of the content of that speech if I were to endeavour to discuss it, and I admit that I am not prepared to do so or capable of doing so at this instant. I would show an indue appreciation of the content of that speech if I entered upon a discussion of what I thought was a very thoughtful point of view. As the honourable senator suggested, he can rest assured that specific attention will be invited to his remarks from the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and his officers. It was a most throught provoking viewpoint to which 1 think we should hearken concerning the drift in the export income upon which we rely to finance our imports and the possibility of a general deficit.
Senator Turnbull came into the chamber, fluttered his feathers - some of which moulted on the floor of the chamber - and did not really address one serious argument to the Senate. However, as he commented for the third time in the last 3 weeks on the raising of a loan at the instance of the Esso organistion, I think T should make a statement about that. The comment no doubt arises from the fact that a large amount is involved, but the implication of the senator’s remarks seems to be that it will result in Australian companies going short on the loan market. This line of argument is not supported by the evidence of the current state of the capital market. It has been particularly liquid in the last few months. Most local companies and semi-governmental authorites appear to be able to obtain their full requirements without difficulty. The recent debenture issue of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd closed with applications of $100m. The new Resources Development Bank issue of $20m transferable certificates of deposit and the Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Pty Ltd recent debenture issue were also instant successes. In those circumstances it is completely fatuous for the independent senator to complain that the Australian lending public has suppled part of the capital requirements of the Esso organisation through debenture loans, to be used for Australia’s development.
– Do the Minister’s remarks apply to the loans that the Government is seeking?
– The position in relation to Government loans can be taken to be generally parallel to the position of loans for private borrowers, as I have stated it.
– Are they as much over-subscribed as the Minister has said?
– I will take the opportunity to get precise information for the honourable senator because, so far as this Government is concerned, I will be giving the facts. I am not here for any debating point. I am not in a position to answer the question with the responsibility that it deserves. If I may, I prefer to take the course of letting the honourable senator have next week a brief but complete statement on that matter. I only wish to add that I realise that what has fallen from me has fallen from a person with no responsibilities in the field of Treasury matters and that such comments as I have been able to make were directed towards indicating that the debate has been noted. I acknowledge that my reply is quite inadequate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from15 May (vide page 1003), on motion by Senator Anderson:
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 from15 May (vide page 1007), on motion by Senator McKellar:
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 requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from15 May (vide page 1007), on motion by Senator McKellar:
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 4.53 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - On behalf of the Australian Government I have today concluded an arrangement with the United Kingdom for the continued operation of the Joint United Kingdom-Australia Project for the next 4 years. Mr John Stonehouse, Minister of State, Technology, represented the United Kingdom Government at the negotiations. The Australian Government welcomes the continuation of our close association with the United Kingdom Government in this very important and worthwhile defence and space research activity. The formal negotiations concluded today were based on detailed and intensive joint planning carried out during (he past 12 months.
Since the establishment of the Joint Project in 1946 the prime objective has been to develop the range at Woomera and the support facilities at Salisbury in South Australia, for the testing and development of guided weapons and for other research projects. During this period a significant first class Australian scientific and technological staff has been assembled at the Weapons Research Establishment. The basis of the negotiation of future arrangements included two important: objectives. Firstly, it is the aim of the Australian Government to reorganise the scientific and technical organisation at the Weapons Research Establishment to enable us to deploy valuable technological resources to important tasks for the Australian Services. Secondly, it is the aim of both Governments to retain a viable range at Woomera to meet the weapons testing and space requirements.
The arrangement concluded today provides for the development of two organisations, one to meet the requirement for important support to the Australian Services, and the other to operate the range resources. The former will be brought under the policy direction of Australia while the latter will continue to be operated and maintained in accordance with the agreed joint United Kingdom-Australia requirements. The new Australian organisation will undertake tasks for the Australian Services using many skills in modern technology. These skills include the whole field of electronics, micro-circuitry techniques, data transmission, radar, and computer techniques. Increased emphasis will be devoted to what is commonly referred to as software which includes such scientific investigations as the preliminary studies of military environments leading to the specification of military equipment requirements and the subsequent studies of the equipment to ensure its most effective operational use and exploitation. The programme of work at the Woomera range is quite high for the next 2 to 3 years. Major projects currently being tested at the range include the British developed Sea Dart surface-to-air shipborne weapon, the British developed Rapier low level anti-aircraft system and the Australian developed Ikara anti-submarine weapon system. Firings of Skylark and other upper atmosphere research rockets will continue as will the bomb research programme. Firings on behalf of the European Launcher Development Organisation extended to early 1970, and early next year the first of a series of firings of the British Black Arrow rocket for the purpose of developing satellite technology is planned to take place.
The agreed financial arrangements provide that the cost of the Joint Project operation will be shared equally by the two Governments. In addition, the United Kingdom has agreed to make contributions towards the cost of the Australian organisation phased to reflect its progressive redeployment over the next few years to Australian requirements. Whereas the Australian organisation will be engaged primarily on scientific and technical tasks for our own Services, the new arrangement with the United Kingdom provides for projects to be undertaken in co-operation with the United Kingdom where there is a mutual defence interest. These projects will be considered jointly as they arise. This new arrangement not only provides, therefore, for the continuation of an important and intimate tie with Britain, but also for the deployment of first class scientific and technical resources developed under this joint enterprise in the past, to meet increasing important requirements of the Australian Services.
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14 May (vide page 9S4), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
today sent a message to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) requesting that this measure be put through as soon as possible because it was urgent and so that the House of Assembly in New Guinea, the Administrator and the Minister could go ahead and implement the legislation.
If the legislation is so urgent it must be perfectly obvious to everybody that it should have been introduced a month ago so that it could be properly debated, so that we could point out the weaknesses that we believe are present in the legislation and so that the right thing could be done not only by the Government and people of Australia but, more importantly, by the Government and people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I remind the Senate that the House of Assembly does not meet in Port Moresby until 4th June. So even if the Senate does not meet next week there would still bc plenty of time to discuss this measure in detail in the week that the session resumes. I submit that this is a poor way for the Government to handle legislation of a nature so important as this. It should not be rushed through at a time when only a few hours of debating time remains. This does not allow a proper examination of its provisions. I remind honourable senators also that it is only a few days since the Bill was introduced in this place. I hope that that criticism will be taken in the spirit in which it is offered. I hope that in future when important legislation of this type is introduced the Opposition will have a proper period in which to examine amendments and to make any submissions that it may wish to present.
I propose now to discuss some of the history associated with this aspect of the legislation. I point out that the Papua and New Guinea Act was amended in 1966 to increase the elected membership of the House of Assembly to 84 and to increase the membership representing open electorates to 25. The former provision that 10 seats be reserved for non-indigenes was replaced by the provision that 15 seats be restricted to candidates with a specified minimum educational qualification. The number of official members still remains at 10. The Bill which is now before us provides for an Administrator’s Executive Council which, as I mentioned a moment ago, will replace the present Administrator’s Council. In the new Council there will be 7 ministerial members and 3 official members, making a total of 10 in addition to the Administrator. The Administrator may also nominate to the Minister for External Territories for appointment to the Council an additional elected member of the House of Assembly who is not a ministerial member. In matters of Budget policy and planning the Council will have the final responsibility within the Territory for advising the Administrator. Under the system that operated following the 1964 general elections in the Territory the under secretaries were dominated in many if not all instances, by senior public servants and when they returned to the areas which they represented they were often able to have a grave influence.
The Australian Labor Party welcomes anything at all that is a step towards independence in the Territory and therefore, with all its shortcomings, we welcome this Bill because we have long compaigned for a proper administrative body with fully ministerial responsibility. This legislation is a step in the right direction but it does not go far enough. The Minister said:
Should it become necessary for the appointment of a ministerial or assistant ministerial member to be terminated other than by resignation, a similar procedure would normally be employed.
That refers to an earlier part of the statement. He continued:
To meet possible contingencies the Bill would also authorise the Governor-General to terminate an appointment if after report by the Administrator to the Minister the Governor-General were satisfied that this was in the public interest. These arrangements for the appointment of ministerial members and assistant ministerial members are designed on the one hand to give the House of Assembly a full voice in these appointments and on the other hand to recognise the essential responsibilities of the Administrator and the Minister.
I believe that this point has many weaknesses. The Minister for External Territories has made many public statements wherein he has indicated that he would like to sack not only a member of the House of Assembly but also the people who organised political parties in the Territory. Honourable senators will recall that some months ago the Minister indirectly gave considerable encouragement to a conservative organisation that was establishing a political party. Needless to say - I am delighted to point this out - the organisation that the Minister gave so much backing to was annihilated when the election was held. The Pangu Pati, which is the progressive party of the Territory, was able to win 12 seats and when the House assembles it may be able to influence anything from another 8 to 12 seats. It will be the largest single party in the Assembly.I will quote from the Bill so that I may elaborate on the statement that I made a moment ago when reading from the Minister’s speech. Proposed section 20 of the Act provides: (1.) Subject to this Section, the Council shall consist of:
That isthe kernel of the point that I am making. The section continues: (4.) A person appointed under pargraph (b) of sub-section (1.) of this section ceases to be a member of the Council if he ceases to be an official member of the House of Assembly. (5.) A person appointed under sub-section (2.) of this section ceases to be a member of the Council if he ceases to be an elected member of the House of Assembly.
The Labor Party does not quarrel with that section. The point that I wish to emphasise is the weakness in the next proposed section. Section 22 states: (I.) The Administrator shall preside at all meetings of the Council at which he is present. (2.) In the absence of the Administrator from a meeting of the Council, a member ofthe Council appointed by the Administrator to preside in such absences shall preside. (3.) At a meeting of the Council, a quorum consists of the Administrator, or a member appointed in accordance with the last preceding sub-section, and three other members.
As the Council is to consist of 10 members, 3 of which are to be appointed, we could conceivably reach the situation where the Administrator, in collusion with the three appointees, could form a quorum and carry out measures of a very sweeping nature. I do not say that this will happen, and 1 hope that if I am wrong the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) will, in his reply, show me where 1 am wrong. I know that there are certain other protections in that certain things have to go before the House and so on. but I emphasise that safety precautions must be preserved in the ultimate. We are endeavouring to build up on our standards a system of parliamentary democracy in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and if we misguide or mislead anybody, particularly the members of the House of Assembly, then we shall be doing a disservice to ourselves as well as to the people we purport to be assisting.
It is obvious that the report of the Select Committee which, as 1 said earlier, was tabled in the parliament many months ago, has been relied on by the Government to a large extent. Nevertheless the Government has ignored, glossed over or taken very little notice of many of the recommendations. 1 suppose this is typical of the Government in a number of ways. I recall asking many months ago what had happened to the sum of $50,000 which had been withheld from the Budget in the House of Assembly. I am still waiting for an answer. It is significant, too, that when the Opposition wishes to obtain important information - I will have more to say about this later in the debate - in many instances weeks pass before the Minister supplies the answers. This probably highlights the fact that when the Minister is dealing with matters concering Papua and New Guinea he moves with the speed of a stone-age administrator. Not only will this legislation probably be shelved at the first meeting of the House of Assembly because Ministers and officials will say that it is not ready for implementation, but we will be able to look back on it as we have on so many other pieces of legislation that pass through this chamber and say: ‘Look: all these weaknesses were there’. I will not pursue that matter, but in previous years there have been a number of examples of this that 1 could point to with great accuracy.
The Government is obviously planning on the basis that independence will come to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in perhaps 50 years. The Minister has made several statements. On one occasion he i* reported to have said that it will be in 20 years and on another occasion that it may be in 30 years. Nobody knows when independence will come to the Territory but the responsibility of every Australian in a position of power in this country, and I refer particularly to Government members, is to see that independence comes as soon as possible. There is a definite responsibility resting on this Government and it should do something. 1 know that Government members in another place have been very critical of candidates representing the Pangu Pati who did not disclose that they were in fact members or supporters of that party. 1 know some members of the Liberal Party who go into some areas and do noi admit that they are members of the Liberal Party. Apparently this was a political campaigning method used in the Papua and New Guinea elections by people who obviously are not used to party organisation and do not know the implications of their actions. However, they have a right to organise their party in the way they want. I do not think that the Government should criticise the Pangu Pati on this score. Honourable members should remember that the members of the Pangu Pati were elected on a basic policy of self-government, lt is true that they wanted certain precautions to be taken but that was their policy and we should be fully aware of it.
The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is Australia’s nearest large land mass. In other words the Territory is the closest country to Australia. Its population now is well in excess of 2 million people. The Queensland State laws extend to the islands within 5 miles of the southern portion of Papua. I think it is very profitable for us to look at the Territory from time to time to realise just how close we are to it. The islands administered by Queensland extend for some 50 or 60 miles along the southern coast of the Territory. We are as close as that to the Territory, and it is necessary that we remain on friendly terms with its people.
There is a limited admission of Papuans to Australia. I have noticed that Australia in these circumstances, has a habit of maintaining the colour bar. The Government says that it has relaxed the white Australia policy, but if 300 Papuans wanted to come to Australia tomorrow the Government would not let them do so. If twenty Papuans wanted to come here the Government would not permit it.
– How does the honourable senator know that?
– Because the Government already has stopped them from coming here.
– When did the Government do that?
– There have been a number of cases of permission being refused. There was a case of an Australian who was married to a Papuan girl not being able to get a permit. I suggest that Senator Greenwood reads the history of this matter. If he does, he will find ‘hat what I have said is true.
– ls it true, as I have heard it said, that a great number of Papuans wanted to come to Australia to become stevedores?
– I suppose that position has changed since the honourable senator applied for admission to the Waterside Workers Federation. Free and compulsory education is part of the policy of the Australian Labor Party in relation to Papua and New Guinea. The university in the Territory, which took so many years to establish, was blocked in every way by the Minister in its original planning and then finally in its implementation. This year the university refused admission to thirty-five students. I will quote in detail more of these facts at a later stage. 1 want to emphasise that thirty-five students were refused admission this year.
– Because the Government was too lousy to give the university enough money to enable it to admit those students. That is why. The external studies course cannot be organised for students in the Territory. For the benefit of Senator Prowse the reason is that the Government is too lousy to make funds available to the university. Commerce and industry and the organisation of the Territory generally require a secondary and tertiary education for many more people than are getting them now. Again the onus is on the Government. It is all very well for the Government to say that we are in Opposition and we can afford to criticise. But our policy, that we have set out, goes far beyond anything that the Government can produce. There are strong pressures on the Administration.
– There are not too many people in Australia who think of your policy in that light.
– They do not grow wheat in New Guinea, so Senator Webster’s chances of migrating there for the purpose of getting wheat to sell to China are nil.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Order! Senator Keeffe will address the Chair.
– I will be delighted to address the Chair if you, Madam Acting Deputy President, can stop the nitwit on the other side of the chamber from interjecting.
– I rise to a point of order. ] ask that that remark be withdrawn. Senator Webster is not a nitwit.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Keeffe will withdraw the statement that he made.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, I direct your attention to the state of the Senate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Ring the bells. [Quorum formed.]
– I am grateful to my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, for having drawn attention lo the state of the Senate.
Iiic ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - -Order! Senator Keeffe, before the bells were rung you were asked by the Chair to withdraw the statement that you made.
– What did I say that was offensive?
– Senator Keeffe referred to Senator Webster as a nitwit. I took excep tion and asked that the statement be withdrawn. It is most unparliamentary.
– I will withdraw the term ‘nitwit’ if it is personally offensive. But I thought that Senator Webster, with his lower intellectual capacity, would not have worried about it. The Papua and New Guinea Development Bank has done a fair amount of good work, but I point out that it is not the indigenes who are getting the real benefit of the operations of this bank. The greatest loans so far have gone to expatriates and. companies owned and organised by expatriates. This is in a field where the Government could operate effectively. When the legislation was introduced originally to set up the bank, the Government said that the bank would be established to help in the development of the Territory, but it has not helped the people whom it was designed to help. It has helped big business in many regards. A majority of the finance that was available by way of loans went to expatriates. This can be proved by reference to statistics.
– What about proving it?
– My friend Senator Webster is not annoying me. He never says anything that is very annoying. If he wants to have a look at the statistics, he should read the latest annual report on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and also the latest Papua and New Guinea Development Bank report. He will find there all the figures available. If he cannot understand them he should get one of his colleagues to explain them to him.
The legislation providing for one salary scale for every job in the Public Service, which was introduced in the House of Assembly in Port Moresby, has been passed but to date has not been implemented. There were recent arbitration cases in which there is no right of appeal. Senator Cohen very ably put a case here almost a year ago for the right of appeal in those instances in which there were no real rights of appeal. But there were no real rights in that regard. The cost amounted to $500,000. Expatriates are becoming difficult to obtain for employment in the Territory. In many cases they come in on a contract basis. People with the best brains are not likely to stay there for more than 4 years because they lose touch with their professions. But the Territory needs them to help it. If such people cannot get a guarantee of continuity of employment, of long service leave and of reinstatement on a comparable basis on return to Australia, how can people of knowledge and ability be expected to go to the Territory to assist in its journey towards independence? Some of the people who go there are virtually tourists. They stay for the minimum period of a couple of years and then leave. So their contribution is not very great. There is a need for the Public Service to keep in touch with the professions. If a person with high qualifications and ability goes there he loses touch with his profession. There is no encouragement for him to remain.
I would like to point out that the policy of the Labor Party in relation to the Territory, as consistently advocated over a long period of time, briefly is this:
Australia’s administration of Papua and New Guinea must be to work to bring about independence and an economically viable nationhood as early as possible.
Development of a ministerial system of Government, responsible to the Parliament.
That is not the ad hoc, half developed plan that the Government is suggesting now. While the present proposal goes some of the way, it does not go far enough. Our policy continues:
Arrangements with the States for skilled officers to be loaned to the New Guinea Public Service without loss of emoluments and opportunities.
Some States are co-operating, others are not. Again this needs government supervision at the Federal level. An efficient education system is needed too. I. realise, because of the geography of the country, that health and education are two of the fields in which many handicaps have to be overcome. But they can be overcome. Our policy continues:
No alienation of land in the Territories from indigenes, except to or for indigenes.
That means that in certain instances tribal lands have been taken from the people and, although the law has repaired some of the damage, there are still many examples of the way in which they have been ruthlessly exploited. We claim that a housing and town planning programme should be established by the Commonwealth, such programme, if necessary, to be carried out in co-operation with private enterprise.
The prohibition of all forms of economic, social or political discrimination is another plank of our platform. The Government knows that this is not being practised.
May I. be rather critical and say that if the Minister is not careful and if the Government does not put some life into the Minister the area will become a second Congo? The Government is providing very fertile ground in which clashes between indigenes and expatriates, or perhaps between one group of indigenes and another, can flourish. Some 3 years ago the Administration took this matter in hand by obtaining equipment for and establishing a riot squad. When we asked a question about it I must say that the vagueness of the answer we received was absolutely delightful. The Government did not tell us what the riot squad was to bc used for but every thinking person would know that because there was some industrial upheaval there was a chance that a riot squad might have to be used. There is a consistent attitude in favour of establishing a very small group of army elite. That is nol in the best interests of democracy.
Nothing has been done to raise the living standards of tens of thousands of these people above the subsistence level. If any member of this Senate tells me that he can live adequately on $3 or $4 a week he should be in Papua and New Guinea helping the Administration and not collecting his parliamentary salary. Exploitation of the economy by 2 or 3 large firms has been consistent over a long period. Anyone who knows anything of the Territory can nominate the firms engaged in this exploitation. Huge sums of money have been made from alcohol. When the licensing laws were relaxed to enable the indigenes to drink alcohol it was significant that one of the larger trading firms tried to set up taverns and, in fact, was successful. About the only service rendered was the supply of alcohol and a limited amount of food. No accommodation was provided. In any case, it would be impossible for any indigene to pay for the accommodation available in the hotels in the larger centres.
This does not mean that we are opposed to the licensing of taverns, but it does not necessarily mean either that because a large firm has the capital1 to invest in things of that kind they should be developed at the expense of real development in the Territory. We of the Opposition are not wowsers who do not believe in the supply of alcohol. We believe in the equal right of every person regardless of colour, creed or politics to enjoy himself in whatever country he may live.
A further example of exploitation can be seen in the copper mines in that portion of the Solomons which comes under the administration of this country. Honourable senators will1 recall that for a long time the local people claimed that the land was being taken from them and that they were not being given a proper return. Let us consider also the timber leases. Wholesale exploitation is going on in the export of timber from all parts of the Territory. Valuable stands of timber are returning very little to the local people but a lot to those who are exploiting them.
The dumping of goods is wholesale. The other day 1 asked a question about the extent of the dumping of goods in New Guinea. The question was referred to the Minister for External Territories but I have not yet received a reply. Probably a reply is not necessary because it is a well-known fact that the rate at which Japanese cars have been dumped in Australia can be multiplied 10 times in the Territory - and not only cars but other goods as well.
Another thing about which I am very annoyed is that when we want to obtain some information from the Department we are told that we first must get permission from the Minister. That is a shocking state of affairs. Why can 1 not go to an official of the Department and ask for a certain piece of information about the administration of the Territory? Why must it be vetted by the Minister? Why is there a secret service running through the Department? ls it because the Government is afraid that if we get certain information we will use it for political reasons? If that is the reason why the Minister vets the information first, he is dead right because we will use it for political reasons and for the development of the people in the Territory.
– Then the honourable senator admits that they are two separate things - political reasons and the development of the Territory?
– They go hand in hand, and if the Party to which the honour able senator belongs does not believe in that, he should be an independent. One of the arguments put up by the Minister is that there can be no proper development towards independence because of the problems associated with the fact that there are many tribes and there are likely to be clashes between them. Over a very lengthy period - in fact right back to the time of the last war - members of different tribes have mixed very well together in sport. The establishment of the Pacific Islands Regiment, and other military organisations in the Territory, has proved that members of different tribes can work together well. I recall a recent visit to Rabaul where a member of a tribe from the southern portion of Papua said to me: ‘I am a foreigner amongst the Tolais but 1 am enjoying myself and they are my friends.’ That may not have been possible 40 or SO years ago but today there is a real desire among many members of the various tribes, particularly the more sophisticated ones, to work together and not against each other. The Minister fears tribal clashes apparently because he is living in the Stone Age himself.
Labor policy seeks one. vote with one value with a common roll and adult suffrage for all resident citizens. There has been criticism that certain boundaries of electorates have been drawn unfairly. One excuse given for that is that the people in the coastal areas are more sophisticated than those living in the highlands and consequently the electorates may be weighted. That is unfair. Those honourable senators who come from South Australia will know the parallel that 1 am trying to draw.
– The honourable senator came from Queensland.
– Yes, but the Country Party in Queensland is just as good as the Country Party in South Australia.
– Let us go back a little further.
– Well, let us go back a little further. Even if the boundaries are a little bit out, a Party can still win with less than 50% of the votes in Queensland but the Country Party still cannot get sufficient votes. Education, which I mentioned earlier, is a matter of great importance. My friend opposite from the Country Party wanted to know the reason for the lack of development in the Territory. I would like now, for his benefit at least, to have recorded in Hansard the reason why this development has not taken place. Two days ago I asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories to inform the Senate:
Whether it is the intention of the Government to make available to the University of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea the sum of $4.5m for the financial year 1968-69 as requested by the University’s Interim Council. Has the Government reduced this grant? If so, by what amount has it been reduced7
In reply the Minister said:
It is very difficult for me to remember the precise figure that has been allocated to the University for this specific year. I have slated it on two occasions in recent weeks in the Senate. I am aware that a small minority viewpoint-
Remember that - a small minority viewpoint - because I will present some information to the Senate in a moment to show that it is a majority viewpoint - is being expressed that the sum is inadequate. However, the Senate can bc assured that, when it is considered in relation to the other requirements and the other educational institutions in the Territory, the sum provided by the Government ensures the maintenance of the University and its growth during this year.
We turned away 35 students this year because we had no money. The Minister continued:
The numbers of undergraduates enrolling for the three or four faculties provided by the University are showing a very significant increase.
I then interjected to say: ‘Why not tell me the amount?’ The Minister said: T do not have the precise figure.’ That was more than 48 hours ago. I should have thought that as a matter of courtesy he would have produced the figure but I have not seen it. The Minister said that he had stated the figure on two previous occasions. I have looked through a mass of detail and in fact it has not been clearly stated or, if it has, I cannot find it. I hope that when the Minister speaks in this debate tonight he will enlighten me.
I should like to read a letter written to the ‘Australian’ only a few days ago, signed - 1 want honourable senators to. remember this in relation to what I have just read - by R. H. N. Bulmer, Professor of Social Anthropology; D. P. Drover, Professor of Chemistry; K. S. Inglis, Professor of History; K. P. Lamb. Professor of Biology,
We would like to elaborate on certain points in the recent statement by the secretary of the Academic Section of the Staff Association of the University of Papua and New Guinea, concerning the unsatisfactory nature of the financial provision for the university now being made by the Australian Government.
Whereas the University’s Interim Council made requests for $4,500,000 for the financial year 1968-69, indications are that only $3,500,000 will be allocated.
Forewarning of financial restrictions has already led the university to turn away 35 eligible students from its preliminary year intake in 1968 and to expect to turn away greater numbers from the enlarged secondary school output available for 1969. lt has also reduced drastically the number of new academic appointments planned for 1969.
Equally serious is the cumulative postponement of our capital works programme.
In short, there is already a considerable backlog of necessary development. An allocation of $3,500,000 for 1968-69 will not merely prevent reduction of this backlog, but will jeopardise the standards of this university for many years to come.
This is a disastrous policy. The Currie Commission calculated, conservatively, that 2,600 university graduates would be required in Papua-New Guinea by 1973, of whom 2,000 would be employed in the public service.
The country has four indigenous graduates at present.
That is, four persons out of an indigenous population of 2,300,000 have a university degree. The letter continues:
Without the threatened restrictions this university could expect to produce not more than 150 graduates by the end of 1973; the effect of the restrictions will be to reduce this already very small figure, and very substantially to reduce the flow of graduates in the years immediately following that.
This letter is signed by all the professors ot this university who are at present on the campus. All of us accepted appointments here in the belief that the Australian Government, in accepting the recommendation of the Currie Commission that the university should be set up, would honor its commitment to finance it adequately.
Australia is a very prosperous nation and there is no conceivable excuse for failure to support
UPNG in such a way that it can become a firstclass institution, contributing its maximum to the future development of Papua and New Guinea.
The Minister, in his reply to me, after saying that he had stated the financial allocation on two occasions, said:
I am aware that a small minority viewpoint is being expressed that the sum is inadequate.
The minority viewpoint is represented by every professor on the campus of that university. As further fortification for my argument I refer to parts of an editorial in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 2nd May 1968. I shall not read the whole of it. The first extract reads:
When the Administrator of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Mr Hay, arrives with his colleagues in Canberra tomorrow to talk with the Government about the Territory’s budget for 1968-69, they will bring with them more than enough subjects for discussion. A country as large, as geographically and ethnically diverse as the Territory presents a great variety of opportunities for development; unavoidably, what is done will be limited by the resources available. There is talk of a five-year development plan . . .
In relation to the Government’s excuses, the editorial states:
The reason, they say, is shortage of funds: indications are that $3.5m will bc provided during the year, about Sim less than was sought from the Administration. Their stand echoes that of their Vice-Chancellor, Dr J. J. Gunther, and of his deputy, Professor K. Inglis, who first exposed the situation in February.
Both of these gentlemen have put up a valiant argument for more funds for the development of this university. The editorial continues:
At that time Professor Inglis said that instead of the 82S students the university had intended to cater for by 1970, it had been instructed to plan for not more than 575. It is extraordinary for university officials in their position to speak out in such a way on this subject; to do so they would require strong reasons.
To summarise. I believe that whilst this legislation goes part of the way its importance is being reduced by the Government’s failure to move in other directions. If education is one of the essential foundations on which a country can be brought to independence, I do not know what the Government can substitute for it. When these Ministers, who will be able to play a greater role in the Territory, are appointed, will they be restricted? Perhaps there is an explanation for this. If there is. I want to hear it. WiM the Government use the restrictive clause in the legislation in order to dismiss an appointed man if he decides that there are things that he wants for the Territory? It is our responsibility to take a good, hard, long look to ensure that advances are made in every direction, and that the Territory is helped in every way possible to reach independence not in 20, 30 or 40 years but in the shortest possible time.
– When I began listening to Senator Keeffe I started to make a few notes of the essential points but I abandoned this after about 5 minutes because a rather fanciful picture crossed my mind of a characteristic of Papua and New Guinea - a brawling mountain stream, sweeping forward over the lips of waterfalls into pools, swirling around, carrying logs, branches, broken baskets, banana skins and all the rest of the things that sweep off the watershed. That is what I thought of Senator Keeffe’s speech tonight. I begin by picking up the last point that he made, that is, the desire of the Australian Labor Party to see that Papua and New Guinea reaches independence not in 20, 30 or 40 years but - 1 listened intently, hoping that he had a plan in mind, but he ended with the rather intangible words - as soon as possible’. This, of course, is the problem.-
The Parliament is united, I think, as are the people of Austrafia, in a desire to see that the Territory of Papua and the Trust Territory of New Guinea obtain independence. This is the object of all that is being done and all that is attempted in Papua and New Guinea at the present time. What are the requirements of independence? The simplest possible thing to do, which is perfectly within the capacity of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, would be to give independence to Papua because it is a Territory of Australia. But a great part of New Guinea is a Trust Territory which Australia holds in trust by mandate from the United Nations. It is not possible for Australia to give independence to the Trust Territory of New Guinea. Let us suppose that the reverse obtained and the rather febrile people who comprise a sub.stantial element of the United Nations said: We will cancel the mandate, the trust responsibilities which we have handed over to Australia, and will declare this area to be independent’. 1 refer to that end of New Guinea where sovereignty is embedded in the United Nations. I make these observations to illustrate that the problem of independence in Papua and New Guinea has two parts. In relation to one we have a direct responsibility and interest. On the other hand we are responsible to the United Nations for the administration of that area of New Guinea, with its associated and offlying islands, that is the responsibility of the United Nations.
One supposes that Australia must, because of these circumstances, try to get as large an area of even development as possible between Papua, which Australia undoubtedly holds in sovereignty, and the area which is held under mandate or trust from the United Nations.
This evenness of development is the first object of the Australian Government in assuming responsibility. The second part of the responsibility that any government of Australia would have in relation to Papua and New Guinea would be to establish, to use the modern jargon, an infrastructure that will enable Papua and New Guinea to survive politically because it has developed in its administrative resources the means by which a nation that is politically viable is able to maintain itself. It is of no use giving this area political independence and nothing else. This would be an empty gesture. Political independence is not a practical proposition unless there is also economic independence. Economic independence means that basically an area must have the capacity to produce enough wealth which can be taxed to provide revenues with which the political administration can be sustained. So the second thing to do is to ensure a degree of development in Papua and New Guinea which will make it possible for the country to sustain the onerous responsibilities of independence. The third part of the responsibility is that the area not only must be economically viable, as Senator Keeffe said, and politically viable but must have a capacity to defend itself. I do not mean a capacity to defend itself from people who wish to come down and seize the place. I am thinking more in terms of a capacity to protect itself from poaching by crews of fishing junks from Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan that are often seen in the waters adjacent to Papua and New Guinea.
Thus, there are three major components. What must finally cause concern to the Government and its administrators is the recent horrifying experience in underdeveloped, primitive countries in Africa which, as a result of pressure from outside powers, were granted independence. I should not be required to go through a catalogue of happenings in Africa in the last 20 years as they affect countries even with a great historical background, high cultural levels and great traditions, a unified character and substantial quality, and the benefit of measures of training over a great number of years. As well, some of these countries were started off on their careers of independence with the assistance of vast sums of money and other forms of aid from the United Kingdom, France and other colonial powers.
The most tragic illustration of all, of course, is Nigeria, a country that was regarded as the great African hope. It was the country that was expected to march into the future with great success. It was well developed, it had great resources, it was economically viable and politically secure. Now it lies in chaos. Oddly enough, this chaos was partly induced by the very things that Senator Keeffe so quickly covered in his speech. The tragedy of Nigeria is the incompatibility of the people of northern Nigeria. Five hundred or six hundred years ago the northern Nigerians had continuous contact with the incoming Arabs and the people of the low-lying coast along the Bight of Benin - the Ibo people. These two groups of people had different historical and cultural approaches to the organisation of society. This is the very thing that the present war is about in Nigeria. It has an application in Papua and New Guinea. Take the people of New Britain, for example. Ethnically and culturally they cannot be compared with the Papuan people in the coastal regions of western Papua. The coastal people of New Guinea have little in common ethnically and culturally with the people living in the mountains, the highlanders.
– We mixed them up. They were separated before we went up there.
– 1 was trying to point out the vast diversity, ethnically or racially, anthropologically and culturally, of the people in the area. They lack the homogeneity that is found in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. They are diverse people in the most fundamental of all things. They have no kinship, common language or understanding. Added to that, the territory has an almost total lack of the resources that are needed to maintain a politically and economically viable society. The problem is to resist the reproduction in New Guinea of the circumstances that have arisen in Africa. This is a difficult task. The people in Papua and New Guinea are of a much lower level of civilisation than people in the African countries, and we must do everything possible to prevent in Papua and New Guinea the trouble that occurred in Africa when independence was granted. We are involved in trying to resist the entirely illogical behaviour of the twenty-two members of the United Nations Trusteeship Council’ in New York. We have to stand up each year and be criticised by the Trusteeship Council. In the last few years we have had the experience of dealing with Mr Samuel Salamanca of Bolivia, who has made himself an expert on colonial problems. Mr Eastman from Liberia has taken up this role in the past 3 years, but I am glad to say that he has now worn out the welcome mat at the United Nations and this year has not appeared in Papua and New Guinea. The people of Papua and New Guinea saw through Mr Eastman and eventually he did not turn up there.
A team from the United Nations went to Papua and New Guinea this year. The question of independence was openly’ discussed among the people of Papua and New Guinea, who constantly said that they did not want independence at this juncture, though they wanted it at some time in the future. In their demands to the Australian Government, and to the United Nations Visiting Mission, they have shown a great deal’ of wisdom. They live in the area; Senator Keeffe does not. They understand in some imperfect way that they will not be able to create the structure of administration. The highlanders are fearful of what will happen if the Sepik people get power, and the people of New Britain fear what will happen to them if the highland people, who arc more numerous, get power.
So at some time or other we have to attempt to give independence to the people of Papua and New Guinea in circumstances in which they will be able to continue on their own and not fall into a situation similar to the chaotic situation that has overtaken the people of Africa. It is not a question of the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) dragging his feet or of the Commonwealth Government dragging its feet. What is involved in this question is a fundamental understanding by the Government of Australia and the people of Papua and New Guinea that they do not want independence forced upon them.
In 1963, about half a dozen of my colleagues, including Senator Bull who is not in the chamber al the moment, and I made a pretty exhaustive survey of the area as politicians. One of the disturbing opinions that we formed was that it would take at least 25 years for the juridical system of Papua and New Guinea to assume the colour and quality of an indigenous juridical system. On the other hand, there has been a great deal of speed in the development of a literate community al the primary level. We have been slow in establishing tertiary education, but by Australian standards the number of people who - are qualified to undertake tertiary education is pretty low.
That leads me back to another African story. Constantly in Senator Keeffe’s speeches and those of other honourable senators and honourable ‘ members in another place I hear reference to an elite. There is growing up in our society today a belief that no-one is able to be an effective element in government unless he belongs to an elite. 1 take the word ‘elite’ to encompass technicians, scientists, doctors and all the other intellectual elements thai are required to create and maintain a society. But what has happened in the African situation is rather alarming. I have a fear not only that that will happen in Papua and New Guinea but also that it is happening in Australia today. There is a growing apartness or indigenous apartheid system in which the members of the socalled elite despise the primary literacy of their brethren.
It is quite clear that in Africa the growing gap that is alleged to exist between the developing countries and the developed countries is, to a substantial degree, not a gap between the great number of people who compose nation A in Africa and the great number of people who compose nation X in Europe but a gap between the domestic elite and the people of nation A in Africa. The members of the new elite that is supposed to be governing Africa, in fact, involve themselves in the exploitation of the quivering mass that is down below them. That is a situation that could easily develop in Papua and New Guinea. The members of the so-called developed elite in Papua and New Guinea, demanding the same level of living that you, Mr Acting Deputy President, would regard as normal for a Australian senator, will not be able to find that level of living when their country gains its independence and will then proceed in exactly the same way as the members of the elites in Africa proceeded, namely, to exploit the people in order to maintain their standard of living. it is this problem, which can be clearly discerned by people who pause on the path of progress to stop and think for a moment, that we in Australia seek to avoid. Slowly, step by step, we have to try to correct the conditions and to achieve an acknowledgment of responsibility by an organic group in Papua and New Guinea. It is for that reason that the Government has not rushed into the establishment of a full parliamentary system. There may be arguments about whether the establishment of a parliamentary system should be attempted in thai country. There are people who believe that the Westminster system is not a suitable system for primitive or developing people. They believe that a presidential system may be the answer. If a presidential system is adopted, there has to be a check power - call it a congress if you like - that can check the power of the president. All these factors being borne in mind, the Government. I believe wisely, has refused to hand over complete power to the House of Assembly, lt has gone as far as it is entitled to go at the present time.
What is a parliamentary system, whether it be the presidential system of the United Slates of America or the Westminster system under which we operate? It is a system of government in which the Parliament rules but does not govern. It is a system of government under which there can be no taxation without representation and, let me add, under which there can be no effective representation unless it depends on domestic taxation. Australia is pumping - there is no other word for it - into the area, under agreements with the world authorities, an amount of $750m in the decade from 1963 onwards. That is a lot of money. Australia provides the great bulk of the revenue for the maintenance of the administration and the present and future development of Papua and New Guinea. Yet involved in Senator Keeffe’s remarks is the suggestion that this money should be voted by the House of Assembly.
Surely, if Australia is to provide these subventions, is to assume, as it does, the responsibility for the development of that country and is to remain responsible for bringing it to independence, then Australia is entitled to supervise the way in which the money is spent. That is central to the whole problem. I have argued this matter without very much success. I have said that I would be willing to concede complete responsibility for the levying of taxation and the spending of money to the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea, provided that it was levying its own taxation and spending only the money that it raised itself. Only 25% of the money required to run the Territory is derived from domestic taxation. So it is quite unreal to suggest that a full parliamentary system be put on Papua and New Guinea at this juncture.
I tend to become a little warm when I hear the cascade of vituperation falling from the mouth of Senator Keeffe. It was manifest in the speech that he made tonight that he has given no consideration whatsoever to these problems. Let me close my remarks with this observation to which 1 call the attention of the Government: We are slowly, and I think almost unconsciously, being forced to speed up the coming of independence to Papua and New Guinea, and I fear that independence will come to the Territory, whether we like it or not, before it is time. I am bound to say that when that happens circumstances of great sadness will occur.
I have set myself the task of attempting to find out at what stage Australia’s capacity to influence the bringing of independence to Papua and New Guinea will diminish. What is the time factor involved in this question? I have fixed the years 1975 and 1976 as the time slot in which Australia’s influence in bringing Papua and New Guinea and its people safely to independence will begin to be represented as a descending curve. This may be argued. It could be the subject of a separate debase. But in a private written submission - not a parliamentary document - that some of my Senate colleagues and I made some years ago we came to the clear conclusion that Australia’s ability to fully control the development of Papua and New Guinea and to bring it to independence will diminish from 1975 and 1976 onwards.
Five years ago we forecast the growing radicalism of the House of Assembly. We have no objection whatsoever to that. It is natural. But radicals are curious people. They are always in a hurry and they leave behind them, unless they are controlled, the rubbish of chaos. Senator Keeffe has been advocating an uncontrolled radicalism for Papua and New Guinea and 1 do not subscribe to it.
- Senator Cormack has made an extremely interesting contribution to this very important discussion. In the last few minutes of his speech 1 believe he crystallised the issue facing the Parliament in respect of this legislation. The honourable senator said that by the time another 7 of 8 years had passed-
– No, no.
– 1 hope the honourable senator will listen carefully. 1 do not want to misrepresent him. He said that by about 1975-76 Australia’s influence in Papua and New Guinea will commence a descending curve; that is the extent to which we can help to shape the course of events there. The honourable senator is entitled to his opinion. For all I know, he may be right. What is important is what emerges from that judgment. In my opinion it underlines the basic difference in the attitude expressed on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Keeffe - a radicalism which Senator Cormack distrusts, at any rate in some of its aspects - and the conservatism which has been expressed on behalf of the Government by Senator Cormack, which we for our part distrust, at any rate in part. I am trying to put the position in a balanced way so that the differences between the two outlooks can become more obvious. To my mind, if we have only about 7 or 8 years before our influence on the development of Papua and New Guinea begins to wane, we ought to be putting a lot more effort into those coming 7 or 8 years. We ought to be moving much more rapidly than we have been moving in recent times.
I acknowledge, as Senator Keeffe did, that this Bill represents progress, lt would be idle to deny that this legislation is an advance on the present position. There has been a relaxation and a liberalisation of attitude. There is provision for an increased participation by indigenous members, particularly in the business of government of the Territory. But has this progress been rapid enough? Does what has been done measure up to what is needed, if one accepts such assumptions as made by Senator Cormack that in 7 or 8 years our influence will be on the wane?
I believe that the difference between us is that the Opposition believes that we should not fear that independence may come too soon. We fear that what will be given to the Territory may be given too late. In other words, it is a question of judgment whether the process and the end result ought to be developed and achieved sooner rather than later.
– That is the issue.
– That is the issue and I do not think I have stated unfairly Senator Cormack’s view or the view put on behalf of the Opposition. I think that this Bill raises some significant questions. To what extent is there any real transfer or shift of power or authority in the government of the Territory? Does this Bill and the new system which it is to inaugurate represent any substantial handing over of authority or influence to the people of the Territory? However much it may be an advance on the status quo, is it not merely conferring the appearance of authority and very little of the reality of authority?
The second area of doubt raised by a discussion of this legislation is this: Are the assessments of the Minister for Externa) Territories (Mr Barnes) of the rate of progress which he thinks is desirable or practicable to be accepted? In other words, listening to Senator Cormack and the Minister, one feels oppressed by the conservative approach of the inevitability or the desirability of gradualism. I am reminded of the celebrated jibe of a famous man of not long ago. He said that when one speaks of the inevitability of gradualism one has to reckon also with the gradualness of inevitability. The Minister seems to be saying that if self-government is inevitable in the end, or if independence - the next step - is inevitable in the end, it should nevertheless be pursued gradually rather than rapidly.
The third problem posed in this debate is the Minister’s statement that it is not possible realistically to have political development unless it is accompanied by economic development. In our view that must involve social development in the fields of education, health, housing and industrial conditions including wage levels. In considering whether substantial political progress can be made without economic progress, I think it is fair to ask: since the present responsibility is on the Government, what is the Government’s plan for economic development? If it is wrong to set political targets for political selfdetermination, for ultimate independence - the Minister sets only distant targets 20 or 30 years away - does he also think it is wrong to set economic targets? If the two are related, one cannot talk sensibly about the need to defer political self-government unless one considers the urgency of economic development.
I know that moves are afoot. The eyes of the world are . on Australia when we deal with this problem, and as a result of this fact and of the visits of United Nations missions, projects are moving forward on the economic front. I do not dispute that that is also progress. But I and my colleagues on this side of the chamber are entitled to question whether there is in the Government’s approach to this problem any overall economic plan for the development of the Territory which would run side by side with a plan for political democracy.
It is, of course, a very good thing to see in this Bill opportunities for elected members - one would hope largely for indigenous members - to take an active part in the government of the Territory. But the difference in terminology between ministerial member’ and ‘Minister’ is itself significant. The Select Committee thought of those people who were to do this work as ‘Ministers’. The Government thinks of these people as ministerial members. The difference in language is, I think, important because, if one studies the provisions of the Bill, it is obvious enough that the powers and authority entrusted to the ministerial members and to the assistant ministerial members are restricted and limited. Looking at proposed section 25, one sees that the functions of a ministerial member or assistant ministerial member are, ‘in relation to the. matters determined for his office, and to the extent and in the manner provided by arrangements approved by the Minister and applicable to his office, to assist in the administration of the government of the Territory and in particular to take part in the formulation of policies and plans, and of proposals for expenditure’, and so on. In other words, on the face of it, and by definition the functions are limited to participation in the activities of the particular department to which he is appointed. He has, of course, a seat on the Administrator’s Executive Council, but, in relation to his own work, he seems to me to be substantially circumscribed.
I am saying this only to draw attention to the realities. I am dealing now with the question that I raised as to the extent to which there is any real transfer of power or shift of authority contemplated by the Bill, [f one examines these provisions one sees a reservation of certain matters for the Governor-General’s assent, although it is modified to some extent in that the Governor-General is now in a position to withhold his consent to part only of an ordinance instead of withholding his consent to the whole of the ordinance; and when one looks at the powers of ministerial members and assistant ministerial members, one must reach the conclusion that they are not being entrusted with real authority. They are being given an opportunity to participate much more actively than in the past in the business of administration of a department and in the relationship between that department and the House of Assembly, so that what they will get for themselves, and, one would hope, for the Territory, is of substantial value. But this is not to be confused with real political power or real political authority. It is qualitatively very different, and it should be recognised as such.
The next question is: Are the Minister’s assessments of the rate of progress to be accepted? Should we agree or disagree with the fundamental philosophy and approach which characterises the Bill and which characterises the Minister’s approach to the matter? 1 believe it is regrettable that, on so many occasions, the Minister should have been the spokesman for policies of conservatism - 1 will not say policies of moderation because I am not opposed to moderation - and for policies which continually put a rein on those who want to see the Territory develop with a sense of urgency. To some extent, it has been very unfortunate that the responsibility for bringing the Territory as soon as possible to the stage where it can have self-government or independence should have been entrusted to a Minister whose statements have made it so plain that his horizons are distant and his perspectives narrow.
We of the Opposition find ourselves unable to go along with the proposition that the only thing that matters is that, when they are ready, the people themselves should tell us that they want selfgovernment or independence. I accept the fact that self-government should not be forced on the people, but I do think that the Australian Government itself should be creating a greater sense of urgency about the need to get there. In other words, the Australian Government is failing to give the lead in these matters because it is conservative, because it is narrow and because it is looking in too leisurely a way towards the future.
We can lest the kind of outlook by what has happened in a number of spheres. One of the most important matters, in my opinion, is the one that was referred to by Senator Keeffe. I speak of education. I was one of those who were extremely enthusiastic when the concept of a university for Papua and New Guinea and another institute of higher education was recommended by the Currie Commission. I am still enthusiastic because I believe that education is one of the important keys to the development of the Territory, lt must go hand in hand with economic development and political development. I certainly do nol want to say anything which would in any way hamper the rapid development of the university there, lt has a very distinguished vice-chancellor. I have every confidence in those devoted academics who showed their quality by accepting appointments to (hal university in its earliest days. 1 believe there are people of wisdom and integrity associated with its teaching staff. One can only be disconcerted by the fact that many of these people have chosen, through their staff association, and in a letter which has been made public, and which was referred to by Senator Keeffe, firstly to express their disappointment at the fact that the Government’s financial allocation to the university has fallen short by $lm from the $4.5m which was expected in this year and secondly, to state that they, the members of the academic staff, accepted their appointments on the clear understanding that the Australian Government proposed to develop the university to acceptable international standards. If this is the atmosphere which prevails in the university after only a year or two, then there must be some anxiety about the future. I hope that we will get past this difficult period.
I know there are growing problems in any academic institution. I am sufficiently sensitive of the problems of institutions of learning in our own country to know that they must: be much more acute in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but I do want to see the Government realise that it has to help this institution over the stile, that it has to act urgently not only to provide the physical funds which will get’ the university over its financial embarrassment, if it exists, as it appears to do, but also to help it to overcome that feeling of frustration and disappointment that appears to exist, if the university is to have a future, it has to be based on the feeling that it is getting the backing of the Australian Government and that it is going to make it’s own contribution to leading the people to higher education.
I do not propose to make a lengthy speech on this Bill. I think that public airing of distant dates does a disservice to this country and to the Territory. We can all have our own personal opinions as to when it is that independence or selfgovernment will come. Senator Cormack is entitled to his opinion. He believes that after 1975 or 1976 the influence of Australia on the development of Papua and New Guinea will begin to decline. If his assessment is correct - this is where 1 began and this is where 1 would like to conclude - it underlines the need for cramming everything possible into this short period when we still have substantial influence on the development of the Territory. I have had the privilege of going there on two occasions and seeing something different on each occasion. When I was there in 1965 to attend a seminar on the International Commission of Jurists I was embarrassed, to have to confess that there was not a single trained indigenous lawyer in the Territory. The conference of international lawyers, concerned with the development of law and legal institutions in communities of that kind, noted that fact with very keen disappointment.
We need to make up to some extent for the fact that we have not reached the stage of having these specialists, and if we are going to wait for generations until we have an elite, as Senator Cormack called it, we are going to wait too long, lt may not be necessary for a community to have this all laid out when it is ready for selfgovernment or to have all the specialists that it requires; but our clear responsibility as the country which provides the finance, or the great bulk of it, is to ensure that everything possible is done to help the people of the Territory to develop their institutions and to train the people to govern themselves when the right time comes. 1 think there has to be a sense of urgency about it. We missed that sense of urgency in the speech of the Minister when introducing this Bill. I do not want to withhold a fair share of credit for what has been done. I know that there has been substantial progress and I know that this Bill represents further progress, but it is not enough and it is not fast enough.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) 19.32] - This Bill is an important one because it involves us in our discussion and thought, probably, in what has been one of the most extraordinary and most outstanding Australian involvements in its history, ft has involved Australia in a sense of responsibility and a contribution to maintenance and to leadership, the like of which 1 imagine few countries of our size have had to undertake in recent historic times. Therefore, any measure which is regarded, as we regard this, as a progressive step is one that assumes considerable importance and is worthy of our thought and contribution.
I have listened with pleasurable interest to Senator Cohen’s speech. I cannot agree with everything that he has said. I certainly do nol agree with him when he says that the Government’s attitude to Papua and New Guinea lacks a sense of urgency. He complains that the Government’s attitude is slow and unrealistic, but 1 do not agree with him on this. 1 noted with interest his general approval of the Bill, although he begged to differ with certain elements of it. 1 noted with interest the complete difference of approach to the Bill put forward by him compared with that put forward earlier by his colleague Senator Keeffe. Obviously he has given the matter thought and is aware that the Government over the years has been making a great contribution to all facets of life in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Truly he might not have agreed that everything has been done as he would have liked it to be done, but it was interesting to hear him speak to the Senate in this way in the light of the earlier contribution.
I want to say a word or two about the Bill. The main purpose of it is to make provision in the Papua and New Guinea Act for further steps in the constitutional development in the Territory. I want to underline the word ‘further’ because it ail points to the fact that in the Government’s involvement in the Territory there has been this element of progress. Whether it has been in- the matter of legislation, whether it has been in the matter of education or territorial development of many kinds, there has been this element of strong progress, at times moving faster than at other times and moving probably faster now than it ever has. In this Bill again we see that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) has outlined that the main purpose is to provide for further steps. I suggest that here again is an element of progress. This is in line and in harmony with the recommendation of the third report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development set up by the House of Assembly in the Territory. Honourable senators will probably recall that that report was tabled and was the subject of a ministerial statement last October. In brief, it proposed to provide for increased participation by elected members and to provide for the establishment of a system of ministerial members.
I mention this as a progressive step because the second report - the Bill we are now considering is the result of the third report - led to the Papua and New Guinea
Act being amended by this Parliament in 1966. At that point there was an increase in the elected membership of the House of Assembly to 84 and the number of open electorates was increased to 25. The provision for 10 seats to be reserved for nonindigenous candidates was replaced by the requirement that there be 15 seats restricted to candidates with a specified minimum educational qualification. The number of official members was left unchanged at 10. This third report, which was tabled last October and which has been the basis for the legislation which is before the Senate tonight, revealed some interesting points which I am convinced are part of the Government’s progressive association with the Territory. May I refer to the report?
This select committee was appointed by resolution of the Territory House of Assembly in 1965 and its terms of reference were to consider ways and means of preparing and presenting, and to draft for the consideration of the House, a set of constitutional proposals to serve as a guide for future constitutional development. Here again is this constant thinking of further progress. Two interim reports have been presented. In the report the committee expressed the belief that the pace of constitutional change should be dictated by the people of the Territory and that no changes should be proposed without the people’s support. The committee therefore took upon itself the task of visiting all district headquarters where it sought the views of a variety of people on the next steps that might be undertaken. In its report it pointed out that it had received many varying views. It stated that a large sector of the community was against any change. Another group put forward some far reaching recommendations amounting to what could be described as limited selfgovernment. However, the committee asserted that the majority maintained an intermediate position; they desired a further step forward so that the members of the House could participate more in government. I want to underline this because 1 believe it refutes any suggestion that the Government is moving slowly. It is to be refuted and denied that the Government is unaware of the steps that are required. The Minister pointed out in no uncertain terms that the Government through this measure is taking what I shall describe as correct steps. We cannot move too quickly, but we cannot move too slowly. The Bill which is now before the Senate is Ye another of the correct steps forward.
May we look back for a moment to the establishment of the House in J 964 which brought into being a representative legislature for the Territory? J have referred already to changes in 1966 and to the proposals that we now have which represent an important advance. As I implied earlier, and as has been said by others, the Bill provides for elected members to assume certain responsibilities in the administration of the Territory. This applies both in day to day activities and in the framing of policies. It is an element of strong importance. Seven elected members of the House will be appointed as Ministerial members. They will have administrative responsibilities in relation to specified functions and will represent their departments in the House. There is provision for the establishment of an organisation to be known as the Administrator’s Executive Council which will replace the organisation known as the Administrator’s Council. This new Council will phty an increasingly important role not only in administration but in the development of policy in the Territory as well as carrying out major decisions. The Minister in his second reading speech, referred to a statement made in the Senate last October on behalf of the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes). I take a moment of time to refer to one or two things which the Minister said on that occasion. He said:
It is not suggested that formal powers of the new Council should be enlarged. At present the Administrator is required to consult with his Council where this is required by ordinance and he is authorised to consult with his Council in his discretion in other cases. . . . The new Council would comprise the Administrator, three official members and seven holders of ministerial office … the Government accepts the scheme of administration proposed by the Select Committee. It considers the proposed arrangements appropriate for the present stage of development of the Territory. The changes in the form of executive government represent an important step towards self-government. All the recommendations of the Select Committee are acceptable to the Government with a single exception which is a matter of terminology, not of substance.
He then went on to point out the basic policy of the Government towards political development in Papua and New Guinea, emphasising the matter of self determination. I want to restate some elements of the Government’s policy for Papua and New Guinea and relate them to the measure which is now before the Senate. The Government is seeking the social, economic and political advancement of the people of Papua and New Guinea to a stage where they will be ready to choose their own form of Government. I will detail that a little further because what I have just said is a fairly general observation. Firstly, I say, as has been said tonight on more than one occasion, that the choice of the future form of government of the Territory is a matter for people of the Territory. Secondly, I point out that the Government has stated again and again that changes which the majority of the people in the Territory do not want will not be imposed upon them. Thirdly., I emphasise that it is the prerogative of the Territory people to terminate the present’ territory status and take independent status if they wish to do so. Fourthly, I say that a decision on the nature of the Territory’s association with Australia after self-determination certainly cannot be made now; it can be made only at an appropriate time and in the light of the circumstances that then exist. lt is important to emphasise, as other speakers have done, that it is very difficult to lay down in any firm pattern at all what will be the relationship when there is selfdetermination. Changes which are not foreseeable can take place in attitudes not only in Australia, not only in Papua and New Guinea but in the world. There are plenty of examples of world events which have changed attitudes and thinking in a very short time. Therefore, I think that any legislation or any circumstances that will keep the relationships between Australia and Papua and New Guinea in an open condition is to be prized. When we are dealing with the legislature of the Territory it is essential that we move forward step by step, giving the people of the Territory increasing and appropriate authority, giving them a better and more effective area of administration, but moving at such a rate that they can acclimatise themselves and assume the responsibilities not only with effectiveness, but also with satisfaction and the kind of pleasure which goes with achievement. Therefore, I see in this legislation a step which will keep our relationship open, and keeping it open is the key to the Territory’s progress.
For all that, the progress that has been made - I have used the word ‘progress’ on a number of occasions - since the war has been quite spectacular. I think it is significant that I should refer to some aspects of progress at this point of time. Accusations have been levelled against the. Government tonight to the effect that it does not care about Papua and New Guinea or about the people of the Territory. This is not so. At all times there has been concern for the progress and well being of the people. They have been encouraged to undertake an element of responsibility in their developing structures. The Bill underlines this fact.
The needs in Papua and New Guinea are great. Much has been done in every field but all of us know that more could be done. I think we all have an appreciation of the dilemma that faces those who want to do more and have to make the decisions. Australia’s grant has risen in the last 10 years from about $20m to $80m. This is a fourfold increase. Direct spending by Commonwealth departments this year, including the defence grant, totals over $32m. At no stage in the last 20 years has the figure been static; every year it has risen. There has been great emphasis tonight on education. Over the last 6 years the number of children in schools in Papua and New Guinea has increased from 112,000 to 213,000, which means that it has nearly doubled. And this has happened in an area which has had to be developed quickly. This expansion, I submit, is not narrow, not conservative and not slow, despite claims by Opposition speakers tonight. The numbers of school children at secondary level are also building up. There were just over 2,000 students in 1961 and this figure increased more than fivefold to over 11,000 in 1967. There has also been a development of technical education. There are agricultural colleges, some of which I have visited, a forestry school, a teacher training college, a police training college and the Papuan Medical College. We must look at all this against the background that Papua and New Guinea was a primitive country at the end of the Second World War. It is a Territory made up of a wide variety of people with different cultures, languages, dialects, outlooks and interests. Surely everyone appreciates the very great difficulties that have to be met when attempting to bring the Territory people up to u level where they can even talk about self-government and independence. Of course, the Commonwealth Government is under pressure all the time from United Nations interests and organisations. 1 have referred to primary and secondary education and the various layers of technical education. May I now refer to what is probably the most difficult layer of. education to establish and that is tertiary education? Tertiary education has been established along with academic and vocational training institutions. The University of Papua and New Guinea has called forth unstinted praise tonight. True it has been criticised on occasions. Every one of us here would like to see it develop quicker and provide a greater number of opportunities. But a university at this level and operating under the present circumstances can only move forward at a certain rate. Not only does it have to be backed up financially but its progress has to related to that of other facets of education. What is more, its progress is related not only to the other layers of education but also to what goes on in the rest, of the Territory, including the whole system of professional futures and employment opportunities.
Even as we refer to these matters, the very progress that is being made creates further demands and makes progress with a wider and more expensive front something which has to be undertaken with a greater deal of care and employing greater skills. This measure, I assert with full confidence, follows in the steps of progress, some of which I have outlined and some of which are well known to honourable senators. This is a step towards a greater identification, a greater measure of responsibility and a greater measure of self-government. I question in my own mind the wisdom of enormous, sudden changes. The year 1975 has been mentioned and questioned in relation to self-government. It has been asserted that if that is the year in which there may be some form of independence, a great deal more ought to be done. How does one do this? Does one build great masses of schools? Does one organise great industries? Does one put into the hands of these people units which they are unable to use, from which they are unable to benefit and which could pull them down rather than build them up? I suggest that the steps that have been taken - and taken after constant review and with flexibility and an increasing expenditure of funds all the time - are those by means of which, in the present circumstances, a territory such as Papua-New Guinea should be developed.
I was intrigued to hear Senator Cormack raise a query as to whether the Westminster system was the most useful one for this kind of society. Strangely enough I had made an observation on that. I, too, wondered about this. I have nothing definite in my mind as to whether the Westminster system fits the New Guinea position or not. It fits my line of thinking as far as government is concerned, but whether it is the most suitable system for a territory of this kind is a matter which could be discussed at some time. The very diversity of people, of languages and of traditions, to which I have referred already, raise in my mind the point whether something with a greater degree of direction, provided it had a proper balance, might not be employed usefully in these circumstances.
I was intrigued and interested by a comment made by an adviser to the Australian mission to the United Nations, Mr McKeon, who said, according to a newspaper report, that he believed that very few native people were demanding early independence. The Australian mission spent some 6 weeks in the Territory, at the invitation of the Australian Government, and then subsequently came to Canberra and had talks with representatives of the Department and the Minister. The adviser to the Australian mission to the United Nations made the observation that political education - which is one of the basic steps in the leap forward to self-government, self-determination or independence - was starting in the right place in local government and in councils which were fully elected and which made their own decisions arid raised their own taxes. One does not set up legislation and expect people to make their own decisions and raise their own taxes overnight. One does not do that in a very short period of time. In my view one does it step by step, item by item and legislative enactment by legislative enactment, so that a territory is guided along, cared for and taken to the point at which it reaches the stage of having its own sense of responsibility and its own sense of being. Therefore I think the measure before us is a good one and I support it.
– During the course of his remarks Senator Davidson accepted the importance of the legislation relating to the political development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I think that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), in his second reading speech, summed up the whole purpose of the legislation when he stated:
The proposed arrangements are an important advance in the constitutional development of the Territory. Through those elected members who are appointed to ministerial office, they will bring the House of Assembly closely into the business of administration and into the making of policy. The new arrangements will provide experience in the responsibilities of government both of a day to day character and of an overall policy nature. It must be borne in mind that these arrangements are essentially transitional in character and. as I have noted, they leave the final responsibility of administeringthe Territory with the Administrator, acting on behalf of the Australian Government.
Whatever else has been said during the course of the debate, that statement illustrates that the Australian Government has taken a paternalistic attitude towards this ethnic group of people.
It was expedient for Australia to assume the mandate over the area, mainly for strategic purposes. For many years between World War I and World War II the Territory was developed from an anthropological point of view, from the point of view of a moderate amount of economic development or opportunity and from the point of view of the contribution we could make to assist underprivileged people, in the sense in which we use that term in that their standard of living is not to be equated with ours. But the situation has changed considerably since the early days of our mandate. The Territory has become very much in the focus of world opinion. Whatever the various members of the Government say about the United Nations General Assembly, it still is one of the meeting points where the conflicting views and opinions of the nations of the world are aired. Perhaps the United Nations has not been able to provide the teeth that could bring about a final decision aimed at the ultimate objective of self-government for the Territory. Perhaps the clash of the great powers and the postures that have been adopted by them have overshadowed the grand concept of the United Nations. Nevertheless the spirit of the United Nations is still a strong influence in the thinking of people throughout the world.It is because the United Nations acts as a watchdog of the present and the future welfare of the people of Papua and New Guinea - particularly New Guinea - that we have to show in substantive form what we are doing to give these people, over whom we have a responsibility, the right to participate in world events.
There is no doubt that the native people of New Guinea have lived their lives, over the tens of thousands of years of their history, in peace and in war. They have been a virile people. They have been able to survive in a land that perhaps has posed many problems of survival. They have developed their own community way of living. They are a methodical people in their own tribal way andI often wonder whether we, the so-called herrenvolk - the white people - have not disturbed, by our association with them, perhaps a more placid and peaceful way of life that they have enjoyed over the centuries than we will ever know. However, we must face the facts as they exist. It is our responsibility to measure up to the standards that the rest of the world expects us to meet in that area.
Senator Cormack referred to the elite with a certain tone of contempt indicating that the word ‘elite’ was not acceptable - that it was a non-U word. There is no doubt that the setting up of an elite in New Guinea is part and parcel of government policy. This legislation expands and consolidates the concept of an elite. I am certain that the people of the Territory do not understand fully the Westminster system. After all. the Westminster system is a very sophisticated system of government and of people with common interests living together. But the Westminster system has also created groups of people in the world who, throughout their history, have engaged in the fiercest conflicts and the most avaricious form of conquest that I suppose the world has yet known. Nevertheless it is a system that seems to be viable. It has spread throughout parts of the Western world and perhaps, with good will, eventually it can be made to work.
The great problem confronting us is whether the Westminster system can be transplanted among the people of New Guinea. They are not given the formal type of education necessary to enable them to understand the basic principles or concept of the Westminster form of government. They are basically a communal people. Their whole tribal background in their own individual units rests on a nonprofit basis. They had small areas of land. When there was a good season, and an abundance, everyone shared in the abundance. When there was poverty through lack of rainfall, disease or any of the other hazards that beset them, they all shared in that adversity. But at least they survived, not only within their own tribal groups but as a species of the human race.
By our legislative actions here we are trying to impose on them something that suits us. The various steps that we are taking are designed to implement our long range policy of making them think and act as we do and to implant within the elite - I refer to it again despite the fact that Senator Cormack objects to it - the same attitude towards their fellow men as persists in government policy here in Canberra. Of course that policy is not accepted generally throughout the world. I think it is a negative policy which, historically, is on the way out. I believe that the luxury of teaching national groups to exploit their fellow men has had its hey-day and now is being challenged, not only from without but also from within. Yet at this stage of the twentieth century, in 1968, we are trying methodically, by legislative process, to impose on these people this so-called sophisticated Westminster system so that they will run their affairs along lines that will suit us here in Australia.
– Is the honourable senator opposing this legislation?
– I have to go along with it because there is no alternative to it. The people themselves really do not understand what we mean by selfgovernment because they are a tribal people. We are trying to skip thousands of years of the evolutionary process in a matter of a few years. Why? Because of the pressure that is being directed at us from outside to bring about that state of affairs. Not only is there pressure from the United Nations. I have heard it mentioned that it is quite possible that ethnically the people of New Guinea would be more amenable to uniting with the people of West Irian and of Indonesia then they would be to uniting with their white brothers in Australia.
Senator Davidson referred to the expenditure of $80m a year towards the cost of administration. He mentioned the way in which that expenditure had increased and the increase in school attendance over a period from 112,000 to 213,000 children. They are all valuable contributions, but whether they will be effective in the long run in coping with the basic contradiction between our way of life, as we would like them to live it, and their own natural evolutionary process, remains to be seen.
I wanted to voice that opinion because although I have been in the Territory only two or three times, I have travelled through the various tribal areas from Goroka to Wabag, Nondugl, Kainantu, Finintegu, Lae and Rabaul and have had a good look at the people and the country. I believe we are being a little too ambitious in thinking that we will be able to bridge the gap between their way of living, which has gone on for so many hundreds of centuries, and our way of life. After all, we have been in this part of the world for only 150 years and have inherited our political system from Europe. We are conducting a tremendous human experiment. At present sufficient members of the New Guinea community are participating in the parliamentary system as we know it. I still maintain that we are participating in an exercise of creating an elite. It could be a viable experiment. In that way we can be certain that New Guinea will become to all intents and purposes a part of the Commonwealth and we can extend with certainty our own activities in developing - some people might say exploiting - its resources for our benefit, giving its people a proportion of the return. Whether or not the Parliament that is being set up in New Guinea will ever have ultimate authority is a matter of government policy.
The Minister thinks that it might be 20, 30 or 40 years before the people get selfgovernment and have control of their own country and resources. Apparently it is thought that if the members who are given a small amount of ministerial authority are lifted from the normal run of affairs - we all know what ego can do to a man - we will be satisfying those who are placed in positions of responsibility and they can influence other people to our advantage. Our whole policy in New Guinea will be under continuous pressure and scrutiny, and often criticism, from other parts of the world which do not share our view and which have not been conditioned to thinking along the same lines as we do about property and the acquisition for ourselves of whatever is to be acquired. It is, perhaps, basic that people like to have about them the means of existence or survival. There is a great gulf between the historic attitude towards property of the people of Papua and New Guinea and our attitude, yet we are trying to develop their Parliament and them to think along our lines. I am prepared to go along with the experiment. This Government believes it can make the experiment succeed. If it does succeed I hope the end result for the people will be a lot better than it has been for some of our own Australian people. This Government’s policy has been very unfair to many of them.
– lt has kept the Government in power for a long time.
– Yes, the same propaganda machine has kept it in power. You can brainwash and you can fool the people most of the time and this Government has been able to do it. We have not any other authority to which to appeal. We can appeal only to Caesar and Caesar is the Press, television and radio - all the forms of communication, and even the education system, which practically forbids teaching the youngsters in schools anything that might be a little away from government policy or the accepted thing.
– Now, now.
– ft is true. I know that school teachers who have started to teach their children the truth have been transferred away because the local Parents and Friends Association or the Country Women’s Association has had a petition and said: ‘This teacher is teaching things which are different from what we were taught when we were young and that is not right. They are disturbing the children’s outlook.’ This happens amongst our children because they are made to conform,
– Does this happen in Tasmania under a Labor government?
– Under any government. This is the attitude of people towards making others conform to the accepted present system. This is exactly the same sort of thing as the Government wants to perpetuate in New Guinea. It wants to get the first crack at the primitive or innocent minds of the people and teach them not ‘Do unto others as you would they should do unto you’, but ‘Do others before they do you’. That is the policy of our society. Self aggrandisement and acquisitiveness are the main incentives of our society and they are the things that are destroying it. We are setting up an instrument of government to teach these people. I shall never forget an experience I had in the highlands of New Guinea. When they are celebrating they look most ferocious with all of their decorations and ceremonial dress but basically they are like children - lovable, friendly, co-operative human beings. Of course, we have to go in and train them now to think the way that we think. If a man in our community is like a child - friendly and co-operative - he is the object of the first man who can come along and take something away from him. The more you can take away from your fellow man the higher your status is. That is the hallmark of success. The greater your position in the community the more you can exploit your fellow man. I believe that inherent in this legislation is the implanting in the people of New Guinea of the seed for the same sort of racketeering problem as we have in Australia. This is an experiment and the Government asks us to bear with it. We shall do this. We shall string along with the Government, with reservations. If the system works it will be a miracle.
– We are discussing a Bill which is to provide for one step forward in the advancement of tha constitution under which the conjoint Territory of Papua and New Guinea should be governed. It is well to remind ourselves that at the opening of the Parliament this year the Government announced that its basic policy for the Territory was to develop it for self determination. There have been discussions here tonight about matters which are not the subject of the Bill, but so that we shall have before us what self determination might reach it is well to remind ourselves that the Governor-General’s Speech stated:
My Government believes that the development of Papua and New Guinea as a seventh State of Australia is fraught with difficulties, and that statehood, as against self government, is not likely to be the outcome of development.
So self determination is the objective. We have in recent years provided for a legislature for which elections were conducted in recent months. That legislature will assemble on 4th June, constituted of eightyfour elected members and ten official members. The legislature of last year set up its own select committee which produced a report. This Bill simply gives expression in the form of a statute of the Australian Parliament to all the recommendations of the House of Assembly Select Committee. Therefore, it is somewhat presumptuous in some cases, and it is very fatuous in other obvious cases, to preach about the future development of the system of government because that Select Committee points out very strongly in its report that its proposal was confined to the stage of executive government with which this Bill deals. The Committee expressly reserved for future consideration by the legislature of the Territory, not by us, the form of parliamentary government that it would adopt, the affinity that Papua and New Guinea would have with other nations, and so forth.
Therefore, 1 think it is well to remind ourselves that the Bill before us deals solely with the adoption of the Select Committee’s report in the interests of advancing the structure of executive government in the Territory. The first thing that the Select Committee pointed out was that ultimate responsibility for executive government in Papua and New Guinea must remain with the Australian Government as expressed through the Administrator appointed by it. There is sufficient wisdom in that recommendation to make us realise that executive government is not simply a theory or a reality. It consists of practical administration, and that means money. In view of the figures to which Senator Davidson graphically referred, the Select Committee knew quite well that the Territory could not become a viable political entity without the support of a vote in the Australian Budget. The Committee knew also that Papua and New Guinea can, under the Administrator, develop a form of responsible government. Members of its own House of Assembly will be nominated by a committee which, in the absence of party structure, the House of Assembly will set up. Seven nominees will be submitted for approval by that body as members of the Administrator’s Executive Council. Those 7 members, with 3 other nominated members and 1 special member, will constitute the Executive Council. It is really pitiful to hear suggestions in this chamber that a quorum of that Council may be subject to collusion. Indeed, it is shameful.
Let us consider the ministerial members. The members of the Executive Council will be the people who really evolve the administrative policy for the Administrator. They will be assigned to departments and given administrative functions. They will share with the head of the department the actual direction of the department. Any dispute between a ministerial member and the head of a department on an administrative matter will be determined by the Administrator. In the circumstances, honourable senators will recognise that this measure is a substantial step towards self government as we know it. Added to that, the Bill provides for a system of assistant ministerial members who will be selected by the House of Assembly to assist in the administration of departments without specific ministerial members. The Bill does not stop there. It provides also for the establishment of a Budget committee of the House of Assembly that will make recommendations to the Administrator on the Budget itself.
Those are the substantial matters of the Bill. They are the product of the recommendations of the New Guinea Select Committee. This Government announced its approval of them within 3 months of the recommendations being made public: it was the subject of a ministerial statement last October both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, and since then every member of the Federal Parliament has had an opportunity to consider the advantages or disadvantages of the recommendations. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Bill has received earnest support from this side. It received somewhat reluctant support from Senator Keeffe and Senator O’Byrne but reasoned support from Senator Cohen. There was no substance whatever in some of Senator Keeffe’s submissions, which I feel bound to deny. I have no doubt that he made them for some purpose other than merely to put them before the Senate. There has been no delay in bringing this proposal before the Parliament and there has been no restriction of the debate. This Bill does not ignore many recommendations of the Committee. Indeed, it adopts entirely the
Committee’s main recommendations. With regard to Senator Keeffe’s reference to the Pangu Pati, which secured about 10% of the votes at the last election, let me say that it can develop as it persuades the New Guinea people. It has its own future before it.
The University has been established and is growing in stature. Its functions are expanding. Considering its functions in conjunction with the colleges to which my colleague Senator Davidson referred, one can see there is no substance whatever in the disparagement indulged in by Senator Keeffe when speaking of the university situation. 1 positively deny Senator Keeffe’s comparison of the New Guinea situation with the Congo situation and Senator O’Byrne’s extraordinary reference to the avaricious system imposed on New Guinea by Australia. I have purposely abridged my reference to those statements to meet the convenience of the House, which will adjourn in a few minutes, and I now ask honourable senators to vote the Bill into effect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 28 May 1968, at 3 p.m.
– I move:
I wish to refer to a matter that was raised by Senator Mulvihill in the adjournment debate last night. Some days ago he asked me a question about the ownership of some land in the former Flemington saleyards area in Sydney. I give him a written reply that was supplied to me by my Department. Last night he spoke in the adjournment debate. Being conscious of the fact that I was not present, he merely canvassed the point that he wanted to make and did not develop it. The substance of what he said was that a report from W. D. Scott and Co. Pty Ltd stated that the land in fact was owned by the Department of Supply and that he had spoken to an alderman of the council in whose area the land is. Senator Mulvihill did not make it clear whether the councillor had said that in the council records the title to the land was in the name of the Department of Supply. However, I have checked the matter out with my Department again today. I am told that the Department of Supply does not own land in the region of the former Flemington saleyards.
An element of confusion may have arisen because a statement made in the W. D. Scott and Co. report was not factual. As I stated previously in the written reply, the Department is discussing with the Department of the Navy the possibility of taking over part of the Naval Armaments. Depot area at Newington for a stores and transport depot. I believe that one of the sites referred to in the W. D. Scott and Co. report may be part of the Department of the Navy area that we are considering. So, in fact, the land is still in the name of the Department of the Navy, but we are discussing the possible acquisition of part of the 110 acres to which the honourable senator referred.If the W. D. Scott and Co. report on the proposed site for a new Sydney city market states that the Department of Supply is the owner of the land in the Newington area, then to that extent that report is not correct.
-I raise a matter that is the subject of a complaint which I received during the afternoon and which I regard as serious. It concerns the Army. I had hoped that Senator McKellar, the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, would be in the chamber. I sought him out a few minutes ago, but discovered that he had urgent commitments elsewhere. I wanted to apprise him of the fact that I would be raising a matter that concerned him in that capacity. The substance of the matter is this: Honourable senators will be aware that there were in Canberra yesterday and, as I understand the position, early today a number of trade unionists who were participating in-
– . . . lobbying activity - I accept that word - to end the war in
Vietnam. I understand that a number of them remained overnight. This morning they were on a sightseeing tour of Canberra. They were in a bus. The -party included men, women and children. On each side of the bus was a banner sign that read: Trade union lobby to Canberra to end Vietnam war’. I am told that no other signs or slogans appeared on any part of the bus.
Having seen some of the sights that Canberra has to offer, the last place at which they stopped on their tour was the Australian War Memorial. Most of them alighted and went in to inspect the Memorial. I am informed that at about 11.20 a.m., while the passengers were inspecting the Memorial, a group of approximately nine young men - four in mufti and five in the uniform of the Royal Australian Regiment, two of whom were noncommissioned officers - left an Army bus, approached the other bus and immediately ripped from both sides of the bus the signs which, as 1 have indicated, read: ‘Trade union lobby to Canberra to end Vietnam war’. They were approached by the bus driver and one other person who had remained with him. 1 understand that they adopted an aggressive attitude and said, in substance, that the signs were offensive and that they proposed to tear them down and added: ‘And you can put them back if you have the guts’.
At that stage a number of other unionists who were in cars came up and the young mcn withdrew but reappeared a few minutes later with- about twenty more men, most of whom were in uniform, but some of whom were in mufti and some of whom were, by their uniform, apparently noncommissioned officers. They surrounded the bus. There were other sightseers, including a group of young girls sponsored by Ampol Petroleum Limited on a bus trip from Adelaide. Having surrounded the bus, the men proceeded to abuse the trade unionists, the women and the children, calling them offensive names. Apparently, at that stage the party boarded the bus to prevent any further trouble. Some of the soldiers boarded their own bus. At that stage the party drove off.
I have sought confirmation in writing of the complaint that was made to me and have received it in writing. I should say that 1 indicated that I would need to have any complaint of this sort put in writing before I was prepared to take it up. 1 have been given the number of the Army bus. Because there is some doubt about one of the numerals, it may be sufficient if I hand to the Minister the note of the number. I regard this as an extremely serious matter. If these facts be correct and if these young men were on duty and came from an Army bus, then either they acted with the authority of somebody or they acted without authority. I would regard what they did as reprehensible. On what I have been told, there were nothing in the conduct of any person present which could have led them to do what they did. I ask that the matter be investigated. I believe that we are entitled to hear a proper explanation of the incident from the point of view of the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) as soon as it is to hand.
– 1 present the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject:
Essential oils and other substances.
I present also the following reports by the Tariff Board which do not call for any legislative action:
Glazed ceramic wall tiles (Dumping and Subsidies Act) and
Pneumatic rubber tyres (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
– Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) a question about aid to Indonesia. Does he now have information on the amount of Australian aid to Indonesia for .1967-68 and 1968-69?
– ls this in order in the adjournment debate?
– It is as much in order as Senator Scott’s remarks were.
– That is what 1 thought, too.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman’ - Order! It is in order.
– in reply - I have the information requested by Senator Keeffe and I will give the details in a moment. In the absence of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) who represents the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) in this chamber I can only say that Senator Cohen has raised a matter concerning information given to him in good faith. I suggest that the proper action for me to take is to refer the matter to the Minister for the Army so that he may seek information from Army personnel. I have no doubt that he will take the matter up from that point and will discuss it then with Senator Cohen.
– I have raised the matter publicly.
– 1 will make that point clear to the Minister for the Army.
asked about aid to Indonesia. The estimated expenditure on aid to Indonesia for 1967-68 is $5.8m. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) announced on 3rd March that Cabinet had approved aid to Indonesia for 1968-69 up to a level of $12.7m. Details of the manner in which this sum is to be expended are still being worked out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.42 p.m., till Tuesday, 28 May at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 May 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680516_senate_26_s37/>.