27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Auster McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MURPHY- My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Does the Minister recall the resolution of the Senate last year that it was of the opinion that the Government had mishandled the purchase of Fill aircraft? Will the Minister tell us what is the latest position in this grossly mishandled affair?
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - 1 would like to begin where the Leader of the Opposition finished and say that I do not think that the affair is grossly mishandled. There have been some problems with the project, but we hope they will be ironed out. On 22nd December last, when an PI IIA crashed near the Nellis field of the United States Air Force during a rocketry exercise, all FI 11 aircraft were grounded. The United States Air Force immediately began a detailed investigation into the cause of the crash. In conjunction with the manufacturers of the aircraft and scientists the United States Air Force has been conducting a most thorough investigation. Our own scientists and members of the Royal Australian Air Force are in continuous consultation with the United States Air Force. I can assure the Senate that we are being kept informed of developments by our project manager in the United States and by our scientists.
We are aware that the United States Air Force has certain proposals for the recovery of FIJI aircraft from their present grounded state, but we are not in possession of complete details of those proposals at this stage. We hope that very shortly the full details will be put before us. Until I know those complete details I fee) that it would be unwise for me to comment any further.
– Can the Minister for Supply give me any information about the report in South Australia that there has been a launching of a Black Arrow space vehicle? Can the Minister say if and when the launching took place and whether it was successful?
– I am bound to admit that I encouraged Senator Davidson to ask this question because it concerns special information of current, importance. It is true that a United Kingdom Black Arrow satellite launch vehicle was successfully flight tested today from the Department of Supply’s Weapons Research Establishment range at Woomera. Today’s was the second of three developmental firings aimed at proving the rocket’s ability to inject satellites into the close earth orbit. The present trial proved the structure of the three stage vehicle and demonstrated satisfactory performance of the liquid rocket motors in the first and second stages. The performance of all third stage systems was also tested, except for the propulsion system which will be used in subsequent launchings to inject the satellite accurately into orbit. The first launch took place on 28th June last when the vehicle had to be destroyed after 1 minute due to a technical failure. The next launch, which is planned for about mid-1970, will use a live third stage motor and will attempt to put a test satellite into the near polar orbit. The Black Arrow project is managed by the British Ministry of Technology.
– Is the Minister for Air aware thai a 58,000-ton oil tanker was grounded after striking a reef in Torres Strait on Tuesday, 3rd March? Can the Minister advise the Parliament whether Royal Australian Air Force surveys are being carried out on the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef to ensure that speedy action may be taken if oil from the damaged tanker reaches this area? If the surveys are noi being carried out, why are they not, in view of the fact that an RAAF base is situated at Townsville?
– 1 can do better than advise the honourable senator whether or not surveys are being carried out. The Royal Australian Air Force has taken action already. At the request of the Department of Shipping and Transport, a Hercules aircraft was despatched from Eagle Farm last night It carried 10 tons of detergent and spraying equipment. It went to Horn Island which, 1 understand, is close to Thursday Island and which is the landing strip for Thursday Island. A second Hercules is scheduled to take off from East Sale this afternoon. It will call at Fairbairn to pick up 9 pressmen and then will go to Townsville to refuel and then across to Horn Island.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the great potential hazard posed by the passage of big oil tankers in Great Barrier Reef and other coastal waters, as shown by yesterday’s incident off Cape York, will the Government investigate the possibility of introducing legislation requiring the owners of tankers trading to Australian ports to lodge a substantial bond to cover possible damage to Australian coastal industries, to seaside resorts and to marine life off the Australian coast?
– One does not read of such incidents without becoming concerned. Since this happened, I have tried to obtain information that I thought might aid me in answering questions asked by honourable senators. I have what I think is a fairly well considered statement in relation to the question posed by Senator Lawrie. A number of tanker owners have entered into a voluntary arrangement known as TOVALOP under which they agreed to compensate governments for oil spillage damage which their vessels cause. This does not cover all tankers. The Australian Government recently participated in the drawing up of an international convention known as the Convention for Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage. This Convention will impose more substantial liability on tanker owners than applies at present and, in particular, will include a requirement that tankers carrying 2,000 tons of oil in bulk as cargo are to have appropriate insurance or other financial security to cover any potential damage. Under this scheme a certificate, indicating that the cover exists, will be issued by the State in which the tanker is registered and participating States will not allow a tanker without such cover to enter their ports. It is thought that such a scheme will be more practical and satisfactory than a system of bonds. Until a sufficient number of countries ratify the Convention it will not be operative. Probably it will be 2 or 3 years before it becomes effective. However, various States, under separate pollution legislation, can claim the cost of cleaning operations from tanker owners. I will direct the honourable senator’s question to the Minister in the other place and ask him for any additional information which he might have which would aid in giving the honourable senator an answer more satisfactory than mine. I assure the honourable senator that the information will be provided to him as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent report that the storage of Australia’s twentyfour F111 aircraft in the United States is costing Australia $1,700 a day in addition to the actual purchase price? Is this report correct? If not, what is the amount per day that Australia is paying for the storage of these aircraft? Is it also correct that scientists examining the cracks that have occurred in the vital parts of the aircraft cannot agree on whether or not the metal structure will stand up to the stresses of fatigue involved? In view of the enormous cost to Australia and the long delay that obviously is taking place in securing delivery of the aircraft, will the Government be prepared to re-examine its present attitude towards securing delivery of these aircraft from the United States?
– The first part of the honourable senator’s question refers to storage. This is a matter concerning which Senator Toohey asked me a question in the 1 day sessional period on 25th November last year. I told Senator Toohey then that we were having discussions with America on this subject and that no firm decision had been arrived at and that I could not go any further than that.
– That was last November. What is the position today?
– That is still the position. In regard to the second part of the question, there are two proposals that have been put forward for proving the D6AC metal. It is true that the scientists differ on this matter, and this is why I said to Senator Murphy a minute ago that we have had no firm proposals to date. Until such time as we do have firm proposals and know about the two methods involved I cannot go further. We would want to know the engineering reasons behind the two proposals for proving these aircraft to get them ungrounded, and we would want to know their impact on the scheduled delivery date. Until we do know those answers we cannot do anything further.
– 1 ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he is aware of a new scheme which has been introduced by Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia which affects passengers needing to travel from one capital city through a second to reach a third? Is he aware that in such a case, if the passenger decides to break his journey at the intermediate point before proceeding to his final destination he is compelled to pay extra? By way of explanation, may I point out that a passenger going from Canberra through Sydney to Adelaide has to pay $12 more to break his journey at Sydney. As residents of South Australia wishing to reach Sydney or parts beyond are already grossly disadvantaged by the scarcity of scheduled flights from Adelaide as compared with residents of Melbourne and Sydney, who have at least two flights every hour between those two cities, will the Minister take urgent action to have this discriminator)’ penalty charge eliminated forthwith?
– 1 thank the honourable senator for that question. I was not aware of this new arrangement. I shall make urgent and immediate inquiries to see what I can find out and what 1 can do to remedy the situation.
– 1 would like to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Are the people of Australia being made the victims of a hoax in South Vietnam? Is the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and the proposed withdrawal of Australian troops a Trojan horse operation to deceive those who strongly oppose and protest against the war? Is it not a fact that contrary to the impression created by the withdrawal, military operations in Vietnam have been intensified - including the activities of Australian troops, resulting in the tragic increase in casualties which has just been announced?
– The assumptions made by the honourable senator are quite inconsistent with the facts as I know them and indeed as stated by His Excellency the Governor-General in his Speech from the Throne in this place yesterday. His Excellency quite clearly pointed out that to the extent that there will be future withdrawals of troops from Vietnam by the United States consideration will be given to the withdrawal of Australian forces. It is quite unreal, indeed it shows a lack of appreciation of the problems of war, to pick out in isolation a very sad incident in a war which we all regret is costing lives.
As I understand it, the tragedy which occurred a few days ago was an isolated incident which did regrettably cost lives; but to try to bring that into the main argument as to future planning of the war, I repeat, is quite unreal and, with great respect, shows a complete lack of understanding of the problems of the Vietnam conflict. The answer to the honourable senator’s question as to the Government’s intention in this matter is contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question which stems from the great dissatisfaction of King Island residents with television services. Is the Minister in a position to say when the proposed relay station for King Island will be established?
– The honourable senator has spoken to me about this matter before and I have been able to get him some information from the Postmaster-General. Firstly, all technical planning for the television transmitting station on Gentle Annie and for the microwave radio relay system from Smithtown via Three Hummocks Island to King Island has been completed.
The next piece of information I have is that following receipt of offers for the microwave radio equipment, a contract will be issued over the next week. This will require delivery of the equipment from the overseas factory during April 19711 This is the best delivery offer that has been received, and with air freighting of the equipment it will be possible to commence installation during June 1971. The remaining equipment for the television transmitting station, and the aerials and towers, are expected to be delivered and installed before June 1971. At the present rate of progress we expect the new service to be completed between July and September 1971, but this target will be reviewed early in 1971 in the light of the progress of delivery of materials and installation work. If I can get any further information I will puss it on to the honourable senator.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. The Postmaster-General has given an undertaking that pastoralists in Western Australia connected to the Carnarvon telephone exchange will be connected, without cost to them, to the Geraldton exchange, 300 miles away, when the Carnarvon exchange is converted to the automatic system. Will this concession be extended to farmers generally who will be faced with heavy expense when their manual exchanges are converted to the automatic system?
– I think the honourable senator will understand that I cannot give him a definite answer to the question he has asked, but I will certainly take the matter up with the Postmaster-General and get a reply as soon as possible.
– My question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, refers to the situation in Laos. Will the Minister advise as to the activities of the International Control Commission in the present Laotian situation and as to whether any report has been made by the Commission? Is the Minister aware whether a report has been made by a delegation of South East Asian parliamentarians who visited Laos recently to study the situation? Is the Minister aware of the protests by Australian Labor Party so called peace groups and others to the act of naked North Vietnamese aggression against Laos? Does the evidence suggest that, in the eyes of these people, a war becomes an immoral war only when Communist aggression is opposed?
– Very properly, I have some information in relation to the situation in Laos but, at the same time-
– is this a question without notice?
– Let me finish.
– 1 do not think you should buy into such a filthy thing.
– Order! 1 call the Minister.
– 1 repeat that, very properly, as the Senate would want me to do, 1 have some information from the Department of External Affairs in relation to the position in Laos. 1 was going to add, when I was so rudely interrupted, that I of course cannot make answer to certain aspects of the question that Senator Sim has posed. With regard to those aspects, I would invite the honourable senator to put that part of his question on notice and 1 will get a reply for him. In relation to the generality of the position in Laos, I can say-
– 1 desire to raise a point of order. My point of order is that the Minister is not answering the question as posed by Senator Sim. If the Minister desires to make a statement, I suggest that he may do so within the rules of the Senate. I ask the Minister to observe the rules that he would wish every other honourable senator to observe.
– May I speak to the point of order?
– Part of the reply that I give will be the information sought by Senator Sim, but there would be other parts of the question that I could not answer. I want those parts to be put on notice.
– The point of order is not upheld. I have pointed out on many occasions that the way in which a Minister answers a question is his responsibility. It does not come within my jurisdiction.
– The Australian Government views with concern North Vietnam’s persistent violation of the 1962 Geneva Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos and the failure of the Pathet Lao to abide by the tripartite agreement which formed its base. The Australian Government regrets the failure of the Pathet Lao and the North Vietnamese to accept the various proposals for negotiations put by the neutralist Prime Minister of Laos and hopes that North Vietnam, which was a signatory to the 1962 Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos will yet be persuaded to honour the obligation it then assumed.
On 26th September last, President Nixon stated that the ‘United States is concerned at the presence in Laos of 50.000 North Vietnamese soldiers’ and that the ‘United States has been providing logistic support and some training for the Government in order to avoid Laos falling under Communist domination’. Such support and training, he said, were at the request of the Royal Laotian Government. Both President Nixon and Defence Secretary Laird have stated already that there are no American ground combat troops in Laos.
As to the remainder of the question, which, apparently, excites the Opposition and causes its members some embarrassment, 1 suggest that the honourable senator put it on the notice paper.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Air. Are discussions now proceeding between United States authorities and the Australian Government about cancellation of the contract for the purchase of the Fill aircraft and the non-use of this aircraft after June 1971?
– No discussions are proceeding at this time in regard to the cancellation of the contract for the purchase of the Fill aircraft.
– Have they been proceeding?
– A great deal of discussion is proceeding at the present time between our project manager together with Royal Australian Air Force officers and scientists from the Aeronautical Research Laboratories of the Department of Supply and the manufacturers and scientists from the United States of America together with officers of the United States Air Force. The information which is coming back to us in Australia is not yet complete, but 1 believe the Government now has sufficient information to enable it to look at the present situation. The matter is now before the Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply, ls it a fact, as reported in today’s Melbourne Age’, that talks have been held between executives of the Boeing Company and representatives of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Government Aircraft Factories and Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd? ls it also a fact that these talks have been concerned with the possibility of these Australian companies taking part in the manufacturing programme for certain parts and accessories of the Boeing 747 jumbo jets? If that is so, is the Minister able to give the Senate any indication of the outcome of those talks? If the outcome is favourable to Australia, what sort of advantages will this mean for the Australian aircraft industry?
– Dealing first with the last part of the honourable senator’s question, I would say that the outcome, if successful in the long term, could provide a tremendous fillip to the Australian aircraft industry. It is true that a team of executives from the Boeing company has been and is in Australia. It is true also (hat members of the team have visited the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Government Aircraft Factories and, I understand, Hawker de Havilland in Sydney. ft is equally true that my Department has been in close collaboration with them during these visits. All this began through the collaboration of the Department of Supply with the Department of Trade and Industry and had its genesis really in an Australian delegation which went to the United States for the purpose of looking generally at the situation and then looking in particular at some specialised areas where we could get an offset in relation to our defence activities.
As a result of the collaboration which has taken place between my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry we have been able to get the necessary information from members of the United States team and to put them in touch with a series of Australian industries which may be in a position to tender for certain equipment. This process is a long hard haul. I do not want to stand in this place and suggest that we can press a button and automatically gain offset orders. The present process is within the pattern which was established so firmly by the former Minister for Defence, Sir Allen Fairhall, some years ago and within the pattern which has been developed, within our capabilities, within my own Department and within the Department of Trade and Industry to get orders as we can and wherever we can. I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to the question because I believe that Australians have the capability and that our Australian industry is becoming more and more capable in terms of technology. I am hopeful that as a result of this visit good will come which will be to the distinct advantage ultimately of the Australian aircraft industry.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Army aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission television news recently showed an elderly Vietnamese villager being tortured by allied troops with a rag being tied about his face and a sense of suffocation being induced by the pouring of water over this rag? Does the Government condone this behaviour by either Australian troops or our allies in Vietnam? Have any Australian soldiers been involved in this kind of treatment of Vietnamese civilians even if such civilians are regarded as Vietcong suspects? Will further orders be given to Australian troops to the effect that they must avoid any association with the torture of Vietnamese captives?
– I am not aware of the situation that the honourable senator has raised. It requires a great amount of detailed research so I ask him to put the question on notice and I will obtain an answer for him from the Minister for the Army.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government who in this place represents the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the current difficulties in finding markets for much of our primary produce will investigation be made into the possibilities of entering into barter arrangements with underdeveloped countries which require various of our surplus primary products but which have not the financial capability to purchase them under normal trading practice?
– It is my understanding that consequent upon legislation which passed through this place special tariff concessions are granted to what we call, I think - I am groping for the word - garden industries; in other words, very small industries in underdeveloped countries. Australia provides quite a definite tariff concession for underdeveloped countries. The honourable senator used the word barter’. That word can have a very wide variety of applications. It is true to say that Australia is very aware of the need for trade with underdeveloped countries, and it is equally true to say that we are doing probably more than any other country in the world in that regard. If I remember the debate at the time, I was able to inform the Senate that we were leading the world in our efforts to make trading arrangements with the kind of countries to which the honourable senator has referred.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I do not know whether I need remind the Minister that the passenger terminal at Western Junction which serves Launceston and the northern area of Tasmania equals anything in the Commonwealth in design and appearance but lacks equality in respect of facilities provided in the dining room. Has the Department of Civil Aviation placed restrictions on the services available to air travellers using the Launceston airport dining room concession? If so, will the Minister have an inquiry made into this anomaly with a view to permitting full dining room service being made available at the airport at any time when aircraft are arriving or departing?
– It has been brought to my notice by many people in Australia that Launceston is extremely fortunate in having the Western Junction terminal. It has been said to me also that Launceston is far more fortunately placed than are many other parts of Australia which come under less favourable notice in relation to development in this field. I am not aware of the problem relating to the dining room which the honourable senator has raised but I can assure him that I will have inquiries made and will do what I can to see that the situation is rectified, because I would bc most upset if the honourable senator could not have a meal when he should have a meal.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science say whether any scientific studies will be made into the possible effects of the present oil spill from the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’?
– An incident such as this gives emphasis to the decision made a month ago to have an expert inquiry into the possibility of pollution from oil spills affecting the Great Barrier Reef. It also gives added point to the decision to set up an institute of marine science as was announced in the Prime Minister’s policy speech in October last year. One of the first fields to which that institute will be expected to direct its research will relate to the preservation of the Reef in the face of everything, including oil.
– I address to the Minister for Air a question relating to a slim volume entitled ‘Tasty Recipes for West Australian Housewives’ which is being distributed at present in Western Australia and which bears on the front cover the inscription ‘With the compliments of Senator Tom Drake-Brockman’.
– Are they his recipes?
– It states that the recipes have been collected by the Country Party Women’s Auxiliary. Is it not a fact that among the recipes within this book there is one for ‘Meg’s Biscuits’ which calls for i lb of melted margarine, another for Flo’s Cheesies’ which calls for 4 oz of margarine softened, another for ‘Pam’s Caramel Slice’ which calls for 8 oz of margarine or butter and another for ‘Em’s Salad Dressing’ which calls for 6 oz of melted margarine? As the senior member of the Australian Country Party within this chamber will the Minister inform the Senate whether this indicates a change of policy on the part of the Country Party so that now it is supporting margarine interests and not the dairying industry of Western Australia?
– When the honourable senator sent around for a copy of the book I thought that he wanted to taste some of the tasties. I will see that he docs not get any more copies.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Has the Federal Government been advised of a proposed demonstration march by people from rural areas in Victoria and southern New South Wales to be held in Melbourne later this month? The purpose of the demonstration is to draw the attention of the Australian public to the economic problems which at present confront some primary industries. Whilst I realise that senior Ministers cannot be expected to attend every march of protest which may be conducted throughout Australia, will the Government give an assurance that consideration will be given to having a Federal Minister available to hear the case for greater assistance for primary industry which will be put forward by those attending?
– 1 am not aware whether the Commonwealth has been informed officially of a proposed demonstration nor would I imagine that it would be necessary for any Australian Minister, any Government senator or any Government member on the back bench of the House of Representatives to attend a demonstration to become aware of the affairs of the rural industries in Australia. All I can say is that if certain rural groups are to have a demonstration in Melbourne or anywhere else I am sure it will be an orderly demonstration. Such a demonstration is their inherent right.
– Has the Minister for Air any information which confirms or denies reports emanating from the United States of America that have stated that the Fill A version of this aircraft which is being purchased by Australia is now obsolete or will be so within 2 years? If so. what benefit will these planes be to Australia’s defence when they finally come into commission some time in the near or distant future?
– 1 have no information from the United States of America or elsewhere that the F111C, the model which we are getting, is obsolescent. As modifications have been made to the latest United States Fills our Australian planes have been modified accordingly.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral and as a preface I point out that yesterday I asked the Minister whether it was not a fact that the Secretary of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia in Adelaide had written letters to union members informing them of successful negotiations for the cessation of the postal workers’ strike and instructing them not to work overtime to help reduce the backlog of undistributed mail. I also asked if, finding those letters undelivered, as were millions of others, he then asked if these letters could be specially located in order to have them speedily delivered ahead of other urgently needed letters. I now ask the Minister: Can she give the Senate any information concerning such infamous discriminatory behaviour on the part of a union responsible for causing such inconvenience to the general public yet not above asking favours for itself?
– When Senator Buttfield asked me this question yesterday I assured her that I would approach the Postmaster-General and get a reply for her. I have done this. The information 1 have is that the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, South Australian Division, posted about fifty letters in the ordinary way in the City Branch Post Office, telling its union representatives what they should do about the overtime ban. Then it found out about the congestion in the mail. The Secretary-Treasurer of the APWU rang the Union liaison officer in the mail exchange and asked whether there was any chance of getting the letters out of the heap and getting priority. He was told that there was ‘not a hope in the world’. The matter was then dropped and no priority was given. The attempt was made on an inter-union basis but no approach was made to the Department.
– My question flows from the statement made recently by the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask the Minister: Since Ampol Petroleum Ltd has not shown any enthusiasm to join TOVALOP or any other organisation aimed at providing indemnities for oil tanker mishaps, can the Minister assure the Senate that any detergents or dispersants used to combat the current disaster in Torres Strait will be those deemed least likely to destroy marine life and not necessarily what Ampol wants to use? In effect, can the Minister assure the Senate that the cleaning up operations will be solely under the control of the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Queensland Department of Harbours and Marine?
– The honourable senator was good enough to tell me that he would ask a question along these lines. The question, as honourable senators will realise, contains two parts. It contains an assumption that Ampol Petroleum Ltd will not do a particular thing. I cannot answer that. My experience of Ampol is that it is an Australian company that has done a very good job for Australia. I do not want any part of a suggestion which indicates Ampol is not doing what it ought to do.
The second part of the question is a direct query which in due course, in a moment of silence, I will endeavour to answer. From my information the answer to all the points raised by Senator Mulvihill in the second query is yes.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport and also relates to the oil tanker, ‘Ocean Grandeur’. My question relates to the structure of this vessel and similar vessels. I ask whether he has received any confirmation of a newspaper report that this vessel has been holed in 5 of its 15 tanks? Also, can the Minister indicate whether or not any additional precautions or requirements have been instituted recently in regard to the structure of tankers In order to reduce the risk of pollution of the sea? Does the Department of Shipping and Transport propose any programme of study in this matter to ensure improved quality in construction of oil tankers and thereby lessen the danger of ocean pollution and the destruction of marine life along the entire Australian coastline?
– The honourable senator was also good enough to give me an indication that this might be something he would like to know about. This demonstrates the great equality we have in this chamber. My answer is that the Department of Shipping and Transport has had a number of reports that relate to the incident concerning the vessel. The reports, as honourable senators would expect, are conflicting in some cases. The most reliable appears to indicate that the vessel was holed in 3 of its 1 1 cargo tanks but that no further oil is leaking from the vessel at this stage. This information would apply up to a little before lunch time today. In answer to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, the Department of Shipping and Transport participates actively in the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation, which has a sub-committee on ship design and equipment. This sub-committee is examining the construction and equipment of ships carrying oil, from the point of view of preventing pollution of the sea by such cargoes. These matters are also being studied within Australia. I shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the Department of Shipping and Transport to see whether there is available any other information which would aid the honourable senator and other honourable senators.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Supply, refers to the Australian aircraft industry. Does the Minister recall that on 25th November last year he promised to obtain information on the progress of arrangements for offset orders for the Austraiian aircraft industry in relation to defence and other overseas procurement then being made? Am I to take it that the sketchy information that the Minister has given in reply to a question by Senator Greenwood is the only information he has on this subject at this stage, or does the Minister propose at a later stage to give a progress report, as previously promised, on arrangements for offset orders? I also ask the Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a recent statement that the Douglas Corporation was surprised that no requests for offset orders were made at the time of the purchase of DC9 aircraft for Australia’s domestic airlines.
– Dealing first with the second question asked by the honourable senator, the situation of offset orders for the commercial side of the Australian aircraft industry is not within my direct ministerial responsibility. However, I believe that if we can promote the climate we are striving to achieve it will be a natural follow-on in the broad approach to offset procurement. The answer to the honourable senator’s first question is that I did say I would make a statement on the matter. It is also true that the answer I gave to Senator Greenwood is part of the story of proceedings. A very high level delegation led, as I recall, by Sir Ian McLennan, went te the United States of America. A number of captains of industry in this field were members of the delegation. I would be the first to agree with Senator Bishop that it would be far more appropriate for a comprehensive statement to be made in the Senate on this issue. An honourable senator could move that the Senate take note of the statement, which could be made the subject of an informative debate so that we could all be better advised on what is happening in this field. I have some information on a piece of paper but I do not think it provides the answer sought in the broad terms of Senator Bishop’s question. 1 have taken on board what the honourable senator has asked and I will have my people prepare a comprehensive and up to date report of the position of the Austraiian aircraft industry and the general position in respect of defence procurement.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Was the tanker involved in yesterday’s incident off Cape York carrying a Torres Strait pilot at the time of striking a submerged object?
– I have made inquiries on this point. Yes, it was carrying a pilot of the Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot Service.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. As the economy air fare from Adelaide to Melbourne is $21.90 and that from Melbourne to Sydney is $23.50, making a total of $45.40, and the fare for the direct flight from Adelaide to Sydney is also $45.40, why do not the people of South Australia get the benefit of the reduced costs of the direct flight? lt is obviously cheaper to operate on the shorter and more direct route. The first class fare on the direct route from Adelaide to Sydney is $2.90 cheaper than that payable to travel via Melbourne, but 1 suggest that both the economy and first class fares for the direct flight from Adelaide to Sydney should be substantially cheaper than they are at present.
– It is a fair question. 1 will have inquiries made and inform the honourable senator of the reasons for the situation.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. By way of preface I refer to the fact that for some months past references have appeared in the Press to what has been described as the unprecedented and unduly long adjournment of the sittings of this Parliament. Can the Minister indicate whether in fact this has been an unprecedented or unduly long adjournment, bearing in mind the history of sittings of this Parliament?
– J have made inquiries into this matter and I find that in the twenty-six parliaments that have been held since federation there have been periods of recess of from 4 to 7 months on no fewer than thirteen occasions and on one occasion the recess was no less than 11 months. So any statement about want of precedents for tie duration of the last vacation is the product of very shallow knowledge on the part of those writers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Government set up an all party joint parliamentary committee or a Senate select committee to investigate and report upon the extent of poverty in Australia, which is believed to affect over 10% of our population, for the purpose of abolishing poverty in what is so often claimed to be an affluent society?
– Matters relating to poverty are within the responsibility of a number of portfolios, including Social Services, Health and Education and Science. The Government intends to introduce in the forthcoming session a series of proposals which will deal in many ways with what might be regarded as pockets of poverty or of less affluence. I believe that the history of this Government shows that it has directed its attention to the need for ameliorating the conditions of the less fortunate people in the community. I do not believe that there is a need for a governmental inquiry. I understand that various groups, all with good intentions, have set up bodies and have made a study of this problem. We have access to their reports. As I recall it, these reports have been the subject of debate in this chamber. I do not believe that there is a need for the type of inquiry that the honourable senator proposes. . That is not to say that the Government will cease to be vigilant in what it regards as the necessary action to be taken in any given situation.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that Wilfred Burchett has applied for an Australian passport? In the light of the notorious facts of his un-Australian conduct over a number of years, has the Government given consideration to whether or not he should be granted an Australian passport? If so, is the Minister able to inform the Senate as to the decision and the grounds for the decision?
– When question time commenced this afternoon in another place I listened to a reply given by the Prime Minister on this very subject. I think his reply should be read by everyone here. He said that he believed that the background of this case was sufficient reason for the Government to say that it does not believe that the man should be provided with a passport.
– My question directed to the Minister for Air 35 minutes ago was not answered in the terms in which I thought it ought to be answered, so I now repeat the question in different phraseology. Can the Minister advise whether Royal Australian Air Force planes are patrolling the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef to ensure that oil drifts from the grounded tanker in Torres Strait do not reach this area before preventive action is taken? If such action has not been taken, will the Minister take immediate steps to ensure that such patrols are commenced and are maintained until the possibility of oil from the damaged tanker reaching the Reef area has passed?
– I informed the honourable senator earlier that two Hercules aircraft had left. They are chasing the . oil slick at the present time. They have been instructed to do so. On those aircraft are two oil men as well as a man from the Department of Shipping and Transport in Canberra. They are directing operations and, up to the time I came into the Senate, it was believed that the measures taken are sufficient at the present time.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Is over the border trading in wheat taking place? Is this type of trading endangering the whole principle of wheat stabilisation and orderly marketing? In this regard, does the Australian Wheat Board control export licences for flour? Does the Board have the power to cancel a flour export licence held by a flour miller and/pr merchant who has purchased wheat outside the Australian Wheat Board?
– This matter calls for a great deal of research and legal interpretation, so I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice. I will direct it to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry for a reply.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Did the Government pay the fares of those persons who were invited to attend the 1970 Australian Citizenship Convention held in Canberra? If the Government did pay these fares, which Government department made the bookings with the airlines? What instructions were given to the department making the bookings with respect to which airline should be used. Were the bookings for persons invited from Western Australia to attend the Convention made only with Ansett Airlines of Australia? If bookings were made only with Ansett Airlines, can the Minister give any reason for the bias shown against TransAustralia Airlines? Did the same practice apply to persons invited from other States to attend the convention?
– I think we all recognise the very excellent
Convention which is held’-
– We are not concerned with that. We are worried about the bookings.
– I suggest that the honourable senator let me finish. In my years of service here I have attended more of these Conventions, I think, than have many people in this chamber; so I think I can claim to speak with some knowledge about what I believe has always been a most excellent service by the Department of Immigration in connection with this particular Convention. My understanding is - I am saying it is an understanding - that bookings are made on both airlines. I have always believed this to be so.
– It was not so for those from South Australia.
– Senator Cavanagh has said that this was not so from South Australia, and Senator Cant says that it was not so from Perth. I have no definite proof of this except what I am told now. I would be pleased to make further inquiries of the Minister for Immigration. If there was a reason for booking by one airline I think it most probably was to fit in with the timetable. One must remember that people who come to these conventions come not only from the capital cities. They come from very many parts of ihe States, which is one of the great advantages of the conventions. Their arrangements have to fit in with the timetables. This is particularly so when people come from distant areas. Arrangements also have to fit in with the working or business programmes of people attending the conventions, and must also fit in with the accommodation available on aircraft. I believe the Department of Immigration at all times does the best it can with the bookings. If I can obtain any further information-
– I will put the question on the notice paper. 1 will get an answer then.
– You do not have to put it on notice. Either way, on notice or without notice, you will get the best, answer 1 can give you.
– Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister institute inquiries into the reason why security police officers recently visited the offices of all Queensland members of the Commonwealth Parliament situated in Brisbane, without first having the courtesy to advise such members of the proposed visit?
– I will make inquiries and let the honourable senator have an answer.
– 1 address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. If it is wrong, as has been implied by an Australian Labor Party senator, for an Australian owned oil company to use the services of an overseas controlled advertising and public relations company, will the Minister state whether it is a fact that for some years the Australian Labor Party has followed the practice of employing an overseas controlled public relations and advertising company? If it is a fact, is it to be taken that the Labor Party realises that it is not an Australian owned political party?
– I also must admit that I heard the interjection when the previous question was asked. It implied that an Australian owned oil company was very remiss because it employed some overseas organisation in relation to advertising. I think that Senator Marriott’s question demonstrated the folly of the interjection.
– Will the Minister for Works inform me whether an additional floor is to be added to the Commonwealth building in the city of Geelong in Victoria? If a floor is to be added, will he ensure that adequate air conditioning is installed not only in the new floor but throughout the whole of the present building?
– The honourable senator will be aware of the conditions under which air conditioning is installed in Commonwealth buildings. It is installed generally in the torrid zone, and is installed in office buildings situated on the southern coastline only if it can be shown that the absence of it would impede efficiency or where special equipment requires the presence of air conditioning for the efficient working of such equipment. 1 shall get a specific answer for the honourable senator with regard to its application to Geelong.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. From his earlier comment on my query about the serious economic difficulties which face primary industry I fully understand that the Government is aware of the problems at this time. J seek to prompt the Government into taking some action to relieve some of the existing problems. The Minister will recall that 1 had previously put to him in this place a suggestion that bank interest rates on bans and overdrafts applicable to primary producers should be lowered to assist -such people to cope more quickly with the everincreasing costs. I now ask him: Was this proposition for a lower interest rate considered by the Government? When trading bank interest rates were last raised by direction of the Department of the Treasury was that not an opportune time to maintain the category of a lower interest rate for primary producers? Will the Minister request that this step, so quickly available to the Government to assist producers, be given serious consideration?
– The honourable senator has asked me to express an opinion on a matter of policy, which of course it would be quite wrong for me to do. I think it is sufficient to say that over a long period of years the Australian Government has consistently had regard to the special problems of primary industry. It has had regard to the problems of various primary industries - the dairy industry, the wheat industry, the wool industry, the dried fruit industry and any other industry that one cares to name. On the statute book there are various forms of legislation which is calculated to give special assistance to the man on the land. Indeed in the legislative programme for the present sittings special consideration will be given to primary producers in relation to probate duties, lt would be quite wrong for me to give any encouragement in any suggestion or comment that. I might make in relation to the possibility of a special lower interest rate for primary industry. This is a matter of fiscal policy. I will refer it to the Treasurer. I can do no more than that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister for Health or Cabinet given any consideration to the suggestion from the National Health and Medical Research Council that all forms of advertising of cigarettes, especially on radio and television, be restricted? If not, will either the Minister or Cabinet do so? If they have considered this matter already, when might one expect a decision to be made public?
– I recall answering questions previously concerning this matter and saying that it had been discussed by State Ministers for Health and the Federal Minister for Health. The honourable senator asks, as I understand him, as to the time when a decision concerning this matter will be announced–
– The National Health and Medical Research Council has made a recommendation to the Government.
– This matter has been discussed. I will get the details for which the honourable senator asks from my colleague, the Minister for Health. I do know that discussions have taken place. I do not know whether a decision has been made. I will get the information the honourable senator seeks.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister assure the Senate that every effort will be made to protect the cultured pearl industry in and around the Thursday Island area from damage by oil or detergent as a result of yesterday’s incident in this area?
– I think I could give that assurance. The first aircraft went out to drop the detergent on the slick-
– Detergent or dispersant?
– ‘Detergent’, my note says. The second aircraft has gone out now with a further 10 tons. The passenger list includes two experts, one from the Department of Primary Industry and one from the Department of Shipping and Transport. No doubt, they will assess the position and, on return, will consider the action to be taken in the light of that assessment.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Air by thanking him for the full reply that he gave to my previous question on whether discussions were taking place between the United States of America and Australia on the cancellation of the Fill contract. The Minister in reply to my question, after giving full details of the authorities involved in the discussions between the two countries, stated: ‘We have sufficient information for the Government to look now at the situation’. As my question was on the subject of cancellation, did the term ‘look now at the situation* refer to whether there should be any suggestion of cancelling the contract for the Fill?
– I said No’, when I answered the honourable senator before. I say ‘No’ again.
– You are not going to cancel it?
– What I am saying at the present time is that the Americans have proposed several methods to get these aircraft back into full flying state. But, as far as we know, a lot of questions are to be answered yet in regard to the engineering aspects involved and the impact on the delivery of our aircraft.
– Before you accept them?
– No, before they can be released for flying again. There are a number of questions concerning the impact of the engineering problems that will affect the scheduled delivery date of our own aircraft.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has. the Government instituted an inquiry into the sinking of the ‘Sedco Helen’ in the area adjacent to the Northern Territory, when nine lives were lost? If an inquiry has been instituted, who is to conduct it? Will the Minister advise the Senate of the terms of reference of the inquiry?
– I am in no position to answer that question.I shall get an answer for the honourable senator as soon asI can.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. By way of preface I mention that there is a widespread interest throughout Australia, particularly in the northern area of Tasmania, in the future of the wood chip industry and that evidently there has been a dispute between the Japanese traders in this commodity and the Department of National Development over the price for wood chips. In view of the growing importance of this export industry, will the Government consider setting up under the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act an industry of our own in Australia to absorb our forest products, many of which we have to import, and to provide for the full development and manufacture of the end products of wood chips, thus promoting primary industry and decentralisation?
– A great part of this question ought properly to go on notice because a detailed reply would certainly be useful. The honourable senator asked about the export of wood chips from northern Tasmania, the price that would be attracted, and a reported argument about the level of price. I think one ought to say that the Australian Government endeavours, whenever it possibly can, to maximise the return for any Australian export, no matter what its character may be, and I think we all would share the view that this is what it should try to do. The honourable senator also expressed the view, with which 1 agree, that there is something to be said for trying, as far as possible, to encourage the manufacture of products of this type. For my own part, I know that written into the arrangement for the export of wood chips from the south coast of New South Wales was a final plan for the conversion of those wood chips into a higher stage product. More than that I cannot say, but I shall endeavour to find out more for the honourable senator and will let him know as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister for Works investigate the possibility of reducing the incidence of noise occurring as a result of the rebuilding programme at the Commonwealth offices in Brisbane and thus permit public servants and Commonwealth court proceedings in the existing building to function in some degree of quietness while the programme is in progress?
– I shall certainly bring this question to the notice of my Department which, I am sure, will be most desirous of using every effort to reduce the noise referred to.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. With regard to the agreement between Group Engineering and its subsidiary, Security Parking Pty Ltd, and the Department of
Civil Aviation involving the KingsfordSmith Airport car park, what is the percentage amount of revenue that the Commonwealth is to receive over and above the $2,000 monthly rental?
– That is a question which should properly be placed on the notice paper. If the honourable senator does so I shall endeavour to get the details for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Can the Minister inform the Parliament of the trade name of the detergent being used in the Torres Strait area? Can he state also whether the detergent so used has been scientifically proved to be less damaging to the pear] culture beds and other marine life than the oil itself?
– I have not that information with me but I shall get it and let the honourable senator have it as soon as possible.
– 1 refer the Minister for Air to a question 1 asked him on 25th November - he might recall it - in relation to whether the mission to the United States headed by Sir Henry Bland which investigated the faults in the Fill aircraft and, in fact, the whole project, was widely reported in Australia as having been adverse to the project. The question was taken up by Senator Anderson who said that some information would be given to the Senate at a later stage when the opportunity presented itself. Does the Government intend to give to the Senate any information about the views of the mission, following its investigations, which could be assessed by the Senate?
Bland mission, as it is called, was a committee made up of officials of the Department of Defence and the Department of Air. It was sent to America at the request of the Minister for Defence and it was to report to him. The mission has now returned and has reported to the Minister for Defence, lt is a matter for him whether he releases the report.
– My question to the Minister for Air also relates to the Fill aircraft. Apart altogether from the question of whether the aircraft would fly, is it correct that the United States considered that it was not suitable for some of the purposes for which it was originally intended and that after a certain period it was not used in the Vietnam conflict? Irrespective of the problems related to its flying, and assuming that the problems that the aircraft is experiencing at present are overcome will the Minister tell us briefly what purpose it is intended that the aircraft will fulfil? Will he tell us briefly how what it is intended the aircraft will do differs from the original purpose for which it was acquired? Within a short time will be make a full statement on the progress of the FU 1 dealing, in particular, with the question of what Australia intends to do with the aircraft if it acquires them and what the United States now intends to do with any of the aircraft that it acquires, so far as that matter is one of public knowledge or can be given here?
Royal Australian Air Force had a requirement for the Fill, lt still has a requirement for the FI 11.
– In what way?
– As a strike aircraft. I do not know the full details of what the United States Air Force has in the way of requirements for its FI 1 1 aircraft. I shall speak to the Minister for Defence about the suggestions that the honourable senator has made, and it will be up to the Minister for Defence whether he will make a statement now or at a later date.
– I ask the Minister for Air: If and when the Fill is delivered to the Australian Government will it he possible to land or service the plane at any base other than that situated at Amberley? What was the amount overspent on original estimates in extending the Amberley runway and facilities for servicing the Fill at that hase?
F1 1 1 will be able to land at all operational bases throughout Australia. 1 ask the honourable senator to put on notice that portion of his question which relates to the amount overspent, underspent or whatever he was asking.
– How does the Minister for Civil Aviation rationalise the demand for larger planes on interstate services, with resultant enlargement of local aerodromes, with his department’s policy of seeking to convince country councils that they should undertake complete operational responsibility for local airports?
– I should like that question to be put on notice because it is something in which I have an interest and 1 should like to give the honourable senator an extremely detailed reply.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. What were the reasons for the action taken by Cabinet in disregarding the decision of the Senate against lifting the ban on the export of merino rams and permitting their export?
– Following the discussions in the Senate last year, which I believe could have affected the fact that the ban was not lifted in time for the Sydney sheep sale last year, it was decided to allow those people who were against the partial lifting of the ban a period of time in which they could make representations to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. After 10 months the executive of the Conference approached the Government and said that it would not review its initial decision that there should be a partial lifting of the ban. It wrote a letter to this effect to the Minister for Primary Industry.
– Earlier in question time Senator Laucke asked me a question about barter arrangements to which I gave an answer in part. I now have some further information and I can tell him that the Government takes every opportunity to obtain improved access for our primary products in markets around the world. In addition, the statutory marketing authorities for primary products are themselves making strenuous efforts to expand and develop market opportunities. The Government’s attitude is that as a major trading nation Australia gains more from multilateral trading arrangements. The Commonwealth Government itself does not engage, in overseas trading activities and would not itself enter into barter arrangements. That is the point I want to bring out. However, this does not mean that barter arrangements between private trading organisations are not permitted. There are no regulations which preclude barter arrangements between private trading organisations provided that they comply with the requirements laid down by the exchange control authorities of the Reserve Bank.
– Yesterday in response to a question by, I think. Senator McManus, I spoke about the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. Senator Murphy, the Leader of the Opposition, invited me to table the accompanying document. I agreed that it would be desirable to incorporate in Hansard the statement made by the Government on the occasion of the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate the statement. It is as follows:
STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA ON THE OCCASION OF THE SIGNING OF THE NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION TREATY
The Government of Australia:
Supports effective international measures to counter the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. In April 1968 when the treaty to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons was introduced in the United Nations General Assembly Australia supported the resolution commending the treaty for the consideration of governments.
Is conscious of the fact that in the long run the security of the world as a whole will depend upon effective measures to control the nuclear arms race and to bring about general and complete disarmament. The Government therefore welcomes the call in Article VI of the treaty for negotiations to achieve these ends.
Hopes [hat the treaty will be effective in its operation and will lead to improved relationships and enhanced co-operation between the nations of the world, and in particular between the nations of the Asian and Pacific region.
Believes that a condition of an effective treaty is that it should attract a necessary degree of support. Some progress in this direction has been made but the Government will nevertheless want to be assured that there is a sufficient degree of support for the treaty.
Regards it as essential that the treaty should not affect continuing security commitments under existing treaties of mutual security.
Attaches weight to the statements by the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union declaring their intention to seek immediate Security Council action to provide help to any nonnuclear weapons State party to the treaty that is subject to aggression or the threat of aggression with nuclear weapons. At the same time the Government reaffirms its adherence to the principle, contained in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, of the right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.
Notes that Article 10 of the treaty provides that any party has the right to withdraw in circumstances that jeopardised its supreme interests,
Notes that the treaty will in no way inhibit and is in fact designed to assist non-nuclear weapon States in their research, development and use of nuclear energy and nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes either individually or collectively; nor must it discriminate against any State or States in their peaceful pursuits in nuclear activities.
Considers that the safeguards agreement to be concluded by Australia with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with Treaty ArticleIII must in no way subject Australia to treatmentless favourable than is accorded to other States which, individually or collectively, conclude safeguards agreements with that Agency.
Considers it essential that the inspection and safeguards arrangements should not burden research, development, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes: that they should not constitute an obstacle to a nation’s economic development, commercial interests and trade; and that they should be effective in ensuring that any breaches of the treaty would be detected.
Attaches importance to a review of the I.A.E.A. safeguards system and procedures to clarify those issues of importance to Australia.
Welcomes the fact that the treaty in Articles 4 and 5 provides for international cooperation for the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the peaceful applications of nuclear explosions; notes the assurances that under the treaty the supply of knowledge, materials and equipment would not be denied to any party; and considers it important that no nuclear development should be prohibited except when such activities would have no other purpose than the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Will co-operate closely with other governments in seeking clarifications and understandings in relation to those matters which must be resolved before Australia could proceed to ratification, being convinced that a treaty which was truly effective in preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons would be a major contribution to the security of the world as a whole.
The statement sets out the Government’s basic attitude in regard to the Treaty and indicates its outstanding concerns. It was handed over at the signing ceremonies in London, Washington and Moscow and has been formally communicated by Australian heads of mission to other governments. An important point that I want to bring out is this: It will be noted that the use of the word ‘reservations’ has been avoided. This is a technical term in relation to thelaws of treaties which is applicable to ratification of a treaty rather than signature. At the time of ratification it is sometimes possible for countries to put forward formal reservations in regard to the actual provisions of a treaty. The validity of such reservations depends, however, upon whether they are allowable under the terms of the treaty and have been accepted by the other parties to the treaty. There is no provision under the Non-Proliferation Treaty for such reservations. In short, the Government has made a statement of matters on which it will need to be satisfied before ratification in the light of the knowledge that it will not be possible to make reservations at the time of ratification. Having said that, I now also table the document that I agreed to table yesterday.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport my final question for the day.
– Order! Is it necessary for the honourable senator to preface his remarks by saying that it is his final question? I do not think it is necessary.
– I ask the Minister: In view of the period of time that has elapsed since the massive gas blow-out occurred in the Petrel No. 1 well off the north coast of Australia and the difficulty that is being encountered in trying to control it, has any investigation been made by the Department of Shipping and Transport into the pollution of our northern waters by the blow-out? If so, will the Minister make a statement to the Senate on the current position?
– If the honourable senator will put that question on notice I will get the information for him as soon as possible. When I receive the information I can make a judgment on whether or not it contains enough material to warrant my making a statement.
– I address a question to the Minister for Air. What changes have been made by the Government in the rule formerly effective that Ministers and party leaders could not be accompanied in VIP planes by private members of Parliament?
– I presently have a submission before the Prime Minister on this matter. I put certain proposals to the Prime Minister and these are being considered. So I will defer replying to the honourable senator’s question until a later date.
(Question No. 50)
asked the Min ister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Has the Government any present intention of prosecuting Wilfred Burchett in respect of any conduct in which he engaged while he was associating with the North Korean and Chinese captors of Australian servicemen?
-The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer: No.
– Pursuant to standing order 28A, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators Byrne, Cant, Sir Magnus Cormack, Davidson, Fitzgerald, Kennelly, Laucke, Lawrie, Poke, Ridley, Dame Ivy Wedgwood and Wood to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when required to do so by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to standing order 38I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators Kennelly, Drury, Lillico, Rae, Ridley, Sim and Webster to be members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications.
– I seek leave to give notice of motion.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the following regulations be disallowed:
Regulation 1 of the amendments of the Military Financial Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1969 No.112, and made under the Defence Act 1903-1966;
Regulation 1 of the amendments of the Naval Financial Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1969 No. 113, and made under the Naval Defence Act 1910-1968; and
Regulation 5 of the amendments of the Air Force Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1969 No. 117, and made under the Air Force Act 1923-1965.
I ask leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In giving this notice of motion I think I should indicate to the Senate what is intended in this motion. These amendments to the Military, Naval and Air Force Regulations grant an allowance of $1,000 a year to the heads of the Services and these allowances are tax free. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee has considered this matter and as Chairman of that Committee I shall move this motion. When heads of government departments are granted tax free allowances, the allowances are provided by means of legislation passed through the Parliament. The Committee looks upon this as an important aspect. The control of the expenditure of the nation’s finances should remain, as far as possible, within the hands of the Parliament. In these circumstances we think that these allowances should be considered by the Parliament and debated so that Parliament knows just what is being done with the money of this nation. That,I think, puts in a nutshell what the Committee is trying to do. The
Committee believes that as allowances for departmental heads must be covered by parliamentary enactment so should these allowances.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
High Schools at Casuarina (Darwin) and Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
– byleave - In May 1966 the Commonwealth Department of Works commenced site preparation works for the development of the new international terminal building complex at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, based on requirements specified by the Department of Civil Aviation as part of further development of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to cope with requirements of civil aviation in the 1970’s.
After almost four consecutive years of construction work it is with pleasure that I am able to inform honourable senators that my Department has completed all the building and associated engineering works. Final bandingover of theremainingcompleted components of the project to the Department of Civil Aviation is now being arranged.
The complex included the following works:
In early 1967 when the first building contract was let my Department forecast that the completion date for the whole complex would be early in1970 which was regarded as the earliest possible time to complete the work. This target has been achieved and within the moneys approved by the Government of $31,150,000, plus rise and fall payments.
The project reached its final stage when on 28th February 1970, the principal contractor completed the main terminal building. This $14. 3m contract was let on 15th March1968 with a completion date of 16th January 1970. The internal work to the building was completed on 14th February1970 and as mentioned earlier the whole contract a few days ago. The completion of the main building contract within 2 years required record rates of progress in construction by the contractor and on some occasions payments for work completed exceeded $lm per month.
Apart from the principal contractor and his fifteen nominated sub-contractors, there were at least twenty further direct contracts with the Department of Works covering all the major and minor aspects of this project. All have made a significant contribution to the successful completion of this the Government’s largest single aviation building to date.. The project has been a unique one combining most types of building and engineering techniques. To complete all of the individual works within the time-frame has necessitated the use of modern planning and management methods through the design and construction phases of the work, so as to integrate the varied and numerous components.
In order to give honourable senators some idea of this massive structure I would like to say that the terminal building is 680 feet long and 255 feet wide and three storeys high, and the Australia Square Tower building in Sydney laid on its side could fit into it. Some other points of interest are: (1.) Some 2,400 steel foundation piles for the building were driven into the earth to depths of between 60 feet and 130 feet. The piles weighed 9,500 tons. Laid end to end the piles would have stretched for 45 miles. (2.) Almost 1,500 pre-stressed pre-cast units, some weighing up to 26 tons, were used in the frame of the building. (3.) More than 30,000 cubic yards of concrete, weighing approximately 50,000 tons were used in the construction of 700,000 square feet of concrete floors and in and around the complex. (4.) Approximately 2.2 million bricks were used. (5.) Sheeting of the roof covered 145,000 square feet. (6.) Heat absorbent glass covers 40,000 square feet. (7.) Approximately 170,000 floor tiles were required.
To complete this major project within the time-frame and within the cost estimate of the project, has only been possible because of the outstanding co-operation between the Department of Works and Department of Civil Aviation from preliminary concept through the unavoidable changes to meet the demands of the fast growing industry. 1 must also pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of the principal contractor, and other contractors, subcontractors and departmental staff and the liaison and amicable relationships which existed between all concerned during the construction years. I would also like to pay a tribute to the excellent work performance of the workmen employed on the project. When honourable senators see the building as finally completed and furnished I am sure they will agree.
Finally I would now like to pay a special tribute to a large number of dedicated staff of the New South Wales Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Works, and many officers of the Central Administration of the Department of Works, especially the Director-General, and Department of Civil Aviation who over a number of years, both through the design and construction phases, have devoted so much official and private time to the advancement and successful completion of the Government’s largest civil aviation building project to date, that is - the international terminal building complex at the Sydney Airport.
Motion (by Senator Cotton) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to a convention on offences and certain other acts committed on board aircraft.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The primary purpose of this Bill is to approve the accession by Australia to the Tokyo Convention on offences and other acts committed on board aircraft, and to give effect to the Convention.
This Convention was drawn up at a diplomatic conference held in Tokyo in 1963 under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. It first came into force in December 1969, as between the twelve contracting countries who had ratified the Convention at that date.
The Tokyo Convention applies only to civil aircraft engaged in international flights. A copy is attached to the Bill, but its main provisions may be summarised as follows: (I) it requires contracting states to provide for their criminal law to apply aboard their aircraft - for example a flag law - on international flights and it specifies when contracting states may exercise jurisdiction over offences committed on board aircraft; (II) it defines the powers and responsibilities of the aircraft commander who finds that a person has committed, or is about to commit, a serious offence against the flag law of the aircraft, or an act on board likely to endanger the safety of other persons on the aircraft; (III) it also defines the powers and duties of contracting states in relation to offenders on board aircraft - including taking them into custody, making preliminary enquiries, deportation etc; and (IV) contracting states are required in cases of illegal seizure of aircraft to take all appropriate steps to restore control of the aircraft by its lawful commander.
There is already Australian legislation dealing with many aspects of crimes committed on board aircraft. I refer particularly to the Crimes (Aircraft) Act 1963, which contains a number of provisions which have already given effect to some of the requirements of the Tokyo Convention, especially those relating to flag law for Australian aircraft and the aircraft commander’s powers. This Act applies to Australian registered aircraft engaged in flights within Australia - other than intra-state nights - and international flights, and to foreign aircraft operating in Australia or on the first leg of an
Overseas flight commencing in Australia, or the last leg of an overseas flight to Australia. In all Australian states except South Australia, there is comparable legislation regarding offences committed on aircraft engaged in intrastate operations.
If Australia becomes a party to the Convention, the provisions of the Crimes (Aircraft) Act in relation to Australian aircraft are not affected. The application of the Act will, however, be modified to the extent that the Commonwealth will not be entitled to interfere with a foreign aircraft in flight in order to exercise its criminal jurisdiction, except in certain specified circumstances, such as if an offence committed on board affects an Australian citizen, Australian territory, or the national security, or there is an offence against the Air Navigation Regulations. The provisions of the Convention regarding powers and duties of the aircraft commander are wider than those in the Act, and these would become effective as between the parties to the Convention for foreign aircraft in Australia and for Australian aircraft operating overseas. The duties and powers of Commonwealth authorities in relation to offenders disembarked from foreign aircraft would also be expanded to those specified in the Convention.
While the Crimes (Aircraft) Act makes it an offence to seize illegally an aircraft, i.e. hijack an aircraft, it does not provide for the restoration of the aircraft to its lawful commander. Accession to the Convention would impose an obligation on the Commonwealth to take all appropriate measures to restore control of the aircraft to its lawful commander in the case of aircraft engaged in international flights to, from or within Australia. Such steps are, of course, of great importance where foreign carriers are concerned, and they are only what any responsible government would be expected to adopt. As well as improving the Commonwealth’s own legal position to deal with offences on aircraft in this country, participation in the Convention will give greater protection to our national carrier, Qantas, in its operations to other countries which ratify it. These already include the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Philippines and Mexico, and other countries on its routes are expected to follow suit shortly.
The Bill also contains provisions designed to facilitate implementation of certain parts of the Convention. These refer, in the main, to procedures laid down by the Convention for dealing with offenders, and cover such matters as the detention of offenders, ihe conducting of enquiries, reporting to governments concerned, and the application, for purposes of deportation, of our immigration laws to offenders. The extradition of offenders will be governed by the provisions of the Extradition Acts of 1966, which make offences aboard aircraft extraditable crimes. Other provisions of the Bill deal with incidental matters, including the powers of magistrates in relation to the remanding of offenders and their release from custody, evidence, application of stare laws and territory laws in respect of persons in custody, arrangements with the States for the services of magistrates, the making of regulations to give effect to the Act, and the publication of notices as to the contracting states which have ratified or denounced the Convention.
Australia shares the concern of most countries at the prevalence of unlawful seizure or hijacking of aircraft in recent years. Although the Tokyo Convention of 1963 made considerable progress in respect of hijacking, further measures are currently under consideration by the International Civil Aviation Organisation which may lead to a new convention dealing specifically wilh this problem. Australia has taken an active part in these recent endeavours to combat this menace to the safety and convenience of air travel. For the present, however, so far as Australia is concerned, the provisions of the Crimes (Aircraft) Act making it an offence to hijack an aircraft, taken with the provisions of the Tokyo Convention which will be given effect to by this Bill, constitute effective measures to deal with offenders who come within the reach of these Commonwealth laws. With the passing of the present Bill, Australia will remain in the forefront among those nations who have taken all possible legislative steps to preserve safety in air transportation.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McManus) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be granted to Senator Gair on account of absence overseas.
Motions (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - proposed:
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week: and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and 1 1 o’clock in the forenoon of Thursday.
That, on all sitting days of the Senate during the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, Government Business shall take precedence of all other business on the Notice Paper, except Questions and Formal Motions, and except that General Business lake precedence of Government Business on Thursdays, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, General Orders of the Day take precedence of General Notices of Motion on alternate Thursdays.
That, during the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the Whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
That, during the present Session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast, and at 11 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put the Question - that the Senate do now adjourn - which Question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the Question - That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the Question- That the Senate do now adjourn - which Question shall be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate or the Committee be in Division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the Question referred to until the result of such Division has been declared; and if the Business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the Notice Paper for the next sitting day.
As I understand that Senator Murphy wishes to speak to the motions I have moved, I will simply say that they are consistent with what we have done in the past, with the exception that the second motion provides for general business to be dealt with after 8 p.m. on a Thursday evening, whereas in preceding sittings it has been dealt with after 8 p.m. on Tuesday evenings.
– I should hope that this would be treated as a nonpartisan matter, lt concerns the days and hours we should sit in order to dispose of our business. 1 think all honourable senators want to ensure that the time available to us is spent in the most effective manner, in recent years the Senate has engaged in a great deal of committee work, and probably this will increase. More and more important matters are coming before the Senate. A great deal of time is spent on international matters and matters of domestic concern. With the increasing demands on the Parliament the work of the Senate is bound to increase. Nevertheless it seems to many honourable senators that the hours of sitting are not conducive to efficient work or to our good health. The hours are not so set out because of the laws of the Medes and the Persians. They are there apparently because they have been there for a long time and, for the most part, we have carried on with the same days and times of sitting.
I respectfully suggest to the Senate that these times should be reconsidered and that we ought amongst ourselves to effect a better arrangement. I suggest that we should work substantially on the basis of a S-day week; that instead of travelling to Canberra on Monday night or Tuesday morning and leaving Canberra on Friday, we should work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If we were to adopt that system for 2 consecutive weeks it might then be possible for honourable senators in the following week to attend to matters in their electorates or to attend meetings of the committees on which most honourable senators are serving.
Let us examine how the proposed scheme would work, taking for the purpose a 12- week period. At present we sit on 3 days a week for 3 weeks and then have a week off. Under the present system, in a 12-week period there are 9 weeks of sitting, each of 3 days, making 27 sitting days. There are only 3 weeks off because in 12 weeks the Senate sits for 9 weeks. Honourable senators have to make 18 journeys - 9 here and 9 back to wherever they came from. If the system were changed in the manner in which I suggest - and I am not at all dogmatic about the precise manner of change - we would sit for 2 weeks and then have 1 week off. In 12 weeks that would mean 8 weeks here, sitting 5 days a week. That would be 40 days sitting instead of 27. We would have 4 full weeks off, instead of 3, to attend to the other commitments of the electorate and so on. Honourable senators would make only 8 journeys - that is, 4 here and 4 back - instead of 18 journeys. In other words, we would be sitting and doing our work instead of travelling. One would think that the present arrangements were designed by an airline operator to ensure the maximum of travel back and forth. Because of the condensation of time at present, we work very long hours here. I think every one would agree that the arrangements are not as efficient as they could be.
That is the suggestion that I make. It may not be possible to implement it immediately. Before we commit ourselves to another whole session we should look at this proposal. I know that the times of sitting are subject to re-arrangement. The practical fact of life is that if we pass these motions without considering them the rot will set in and we will proceed in the same manner. It may be that somebody may seek to make some modification - say 4 days’ sitting in 1 week and 5 days’ sitting in the other - but something along the lines that I have suggested would give us more sitting time. We could arrange to sit sensible hours - perhaps sit more during the day. That would give us time to do the things we should do at night. I think that my suggestion would be a more efficient manner of working and certainly would be more conducive to the good health of honourable senators. In order that the matter might be considered by honourable senators before a decision is made or perhaps alternative suggestions are made - the Senate may wish to adhere to what is its present practice- I suggest that the matter be considered on another day. I therefore ask for leave to continue my remarks later. I do not want to prevent anybody who would want to speak on the matter from speaking on it.
– I certainly would want to reply.
– Could the honourable senator do that by leave? I would want to put specific times and so forth on another occasion.
– Perhaps we should just discuss it in the normal way without in any way inhibiting Senator Murphy if he wants to speak again on the matter. Others, too, might want to speak. I would want to reply.
THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Murphy can move the adjournment of the debate or can ask for leave to speak again at a later hour.
– I would have to oppose the adjournment of the debate because I do not want it to be adjourned at this point of time. I do not want to get into this kind of climate at present. I think it would be best if the honourable senator asked for leave to speak again at a later hour.
– I have put forward my suggestion with a view to perhaps moving an amendment. Without prejudice to what the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) is intending, I would like honourable senators to be given the opportunity to consider the matter overnight. I do not think there is any rush to agree to these proposals today. In order to facilitate the making of any contribution that may be made by others, I ask for leave to speak later in the debate notwithstanding that I have already spoken.
THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Will this inhibit any other member from discussing the matter?
THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– by leave - I want to make it perfectly clear that at present we do not have any procedure for sittings and therefore it will be necessary for us to come to a decision reasonably soon for the good management and conduct of the Senate proceedings. Nevertheless, I do not see any objection to standing these motions over until tomorrow. There is one critical matter in relation to General Business and Government Business but since, under the Standing Orders, we cannot have General Business until the Address-in-Reply debate has been completed there is no immediate urgency in relation to the resolution of that matter. Speaking as Leader of the Government in the Senate, I would be perfectly happy to agree that we stand these matters over and I will bring them on after question time tomorrow. That will give an opportunity for consultation and for views to be expressed in the normal way by Leaders, Whips and members of the Senate generally.
I would like to make some contributions in relation to the broad canvas of the points outlined by Senator Murphy. We have to remember that primarily we have a bicameral system of government; we have two Houses of Parliament. Even with the best will in the world and the freedom which we choose to assert as honourable senators, I do not think we can ignore the fact that we need to work in conjunction with another place. Therefore, whilst we very properly reserve the right unto ourselves to talk in terms of the hours that we work, we must have regard to the situation as it relates to another place. Under our democratic processes we have a procedure for dealing with messages, Bills, amendments and the like. Even with the best will in the world we cannot act completely in isolation from the set of procedures that exist in another place and the times at which that place works.
– On many occasions the Senate did not sit when the other place did.
– That is so. To this point of time Senator Murphy has not put bis full point of view. On the broad canvas, we must have regard to the fact that we are linked with the procedures and times of the other place. The second point that we have to realise is that we have an executive system of government and therefore we must have regard to Cabinet considerations. Senator Murphy suggests that we work a 5-day week for 2 weeks with 1 week off instead of working a 3-day week for 3 weeks with 1 week off. As I see the honourable senator’s suggestion, we would have a concentrated dose of sittings and then, necessarily, a break period. I wonder whether that would be more damaging to the ultimate health and happiness of honourable senators than the system which we operate at present. After all, bear in mind that the Senate has itself set its heart against these long sittings after 11 p.m. lt is only under the exigencies of special Government requirements that we have had long sittings. I think that that gentleman’s agreement has worked reasonably well. Most of that old government by exhaustion process which was complained of in the bad old days has vanished. I was just wondering whether, in a huge continent like Australia, where honourable senators need to leave home possibly the. day before the Senate meets to get to Canberra and in some instances need a day or a day and a half to get home when the Senate rises, the proposition of having a 5-day sitting week is really practicable and whether, in fact, it has proper regard for our constituency commitments. It has always been my understanding that we are able to see constituents on Monday and Friday and possibly do the things which are an integral part of our responsibility. Those are my reactions to what Senator Murphy has put to us. I am perfectly willing to adjourn this matter after some debate today and bring it on again tomorrow so that honourable senators can have a look at it overnight and reflect upon it.
– I am in complete sympathy with Senator Murphy’s suggestion that we have a look at the sitting hours. I am not quite sure whether we are in a position to do this as rapidly as he suggests. The ideal way, of course, would be for this to be done in co-operation with people from the other House. I think all of us who have been here for any length of time - I have been here 101 years - will know that on a number of occasions people have expressed the wish that we could order our sitting hours much better than we do. I have heard many people complaining about the hours, but it seems to me that we have gone on because it is the custom, it has been happening for years, and nobody has really felt inclined to bell the cat properly on this. I think it would be an excellent thing if action were taken. I would like action to be taken in collaboration with the other House.
If the Senate could not get the other House to co-operate, well, this is an independent Senate and is qualified to make decisions for itself. I am not too sure about our final attitude to a 5-day sitting week, because I have not had a chance to consult the other members of my Party, but it seems to me that a 5-day week might be a bit rough. I would be in complete sympathy with a proposal for 4 days, but I would like to think over the 5-day proposition. I do think that Senator Murphy has done a service in raising this matter, and I hope that it will be carried further.
– As a West Australian I am completely in sympathy with the suggestion made by Senator Murphy. It is true, as Senator McManus said, that this has been talked about for a long time. I remember that on one occasion Senator Wright pointed out the common sense of altering sitting times. I recall that when the amendments to the House of Representatives Standing Orders were going through, Mr Wentworth, a back bencher in those days, moved, if my memory serves me correctly, for a 4-day week. This was very nearly carried. The suggestion was very well supported in our Party rooms but finally, as Senator McManus has said, it drifted away without any action being taken on it.
I just make a comment to Senator Anderson, because it is very difficult for members of Parliament from the bigger States to appreciate fully the problems of those from the smaller and more distant States. 1 have found, after a fairly long experience here, that the hardest day’s work one can possibly do is spent in travelling 6, 7 or 8 hours in an aeroplane. This applies to people like Senator O’Keeffe, who lives in Townsville, and it applies to all Western Australian senators, particularly those who live in country districts. It applies, too, to people like Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, who lives in a country area of Victoria. I find that travelling is by far the toughest and hardest work one can do. Senator Anderson makes the point that constituents may be interviewed on Monday. For the people I have mentioned this is out anyway. We, perforce, have to leave our constituency work to be done in the week the Senate is not sitting, or at weekends if it is of such urgency that one makes arrangements to see people at weekends.
I have roughed out a few figures. The Senate can take some confidence from the fact that I had the figures checked, because I do not claim to be a computer of these things. I suggest working a 4-day week, that is, commencing on Tuesday and working through until 5 o’clock on the Friday. I say 5 o’clock on the Friday because I think the idea would be to try and avoid weekend travel. I do not think we should tie ourselves because emergencies with family, with constituents and with Party work can always arise. If one had to make a tough trip at the weekend it would still be possible to get away, if we rose at 5 p.m. This is amending the hours only very minutely. Instead of getting up for dinner at 5.45 p.m. we would get up at 6 p.m. These are only minor alterations which I am sure nobody would argue with. By sitting an 8-day fortnight we would work exactly the same time as now, or a quarter of an hour more or less.
The sittings would start in a cycle. The sitting rosier would start on the Tuesday afternoon and go through Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and the Senate would sit in the following week on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This would be roughly the same hours we are sitting now. By knocking off at the same hour at night, and amending the lunch and dinner hours slightly, the Senate would be working the same hours. To me this is tremendously attractive. Senator Murphy made it perfectly clear that he was suggesting a 5-day week as a basis for discussion. His words were that he was not dogmatic about it. But this would involve hardship for members and senators who must travel to and from the most distant parts of Australia. As Senator Anderson said, we are in some way tied to the other place, but in my opening remarks I indicated that honourable members of that place have been talking about a change for a long time. I know that some- people will say that man is conservative and resists change. Some honourable senators may say: T can interview people on Mondays in Sydney and I do not want to come to Canberra under this new system on that day1. But as more demands are made on us the travelling gets rougher. For instance, I did not come to Canberra from Western Australia this week. I was in Brisbane at a meeting of the Federal executive of the Australian Labor Party last Wednesday and Thursday and I did not get home last weekend because to do so would have meant travelling two days to be home for one day. That did not seem to me to be common sense.
All these difficulties could be avoided. Everybody has been pretty reasonable about this so far. Perhaps we could be given a night to look at the proposals before discussing them further. Even if we were not dogmatic at that stage we could say: Well, look, this is roughly the type of change we favour.’ It will be a matter of trial and error. If the system had to be amended after the first cycle or a couple of cycles, that certainly could be looked at. I have no doubt that it is high time, as Senator McManus said, that we grasped this nettle and made an honest attempt to decide this matter. To put it in a nutshell, the situation is that in every 5 days 2 days are spent sitting in an aeroplane. Surely
I do not have to argue how inefficient and how tiring on the body that is. I think that just to state that proposition is enough to show that there ought to be a very thorough examination of the matter. In this spirit, I am sure it is not beyond the wit of people sitting in this place and another place to arrive at a far more sensible approach than exists at the present time.
– lt is well that we have the opportunity at the beginning of this session to look at the proposed timetable of work for the Senate. My mind would be that during every session of Parliament with which I have been associated I have had an opportunity of discussing cither within my own Party room, in the Joint Government Party room, or certainly on the floor of the Senate, the timetable that is to be set for parliamentary work. Perhaps some alteration should be done to adjust the timetable. I cannot find myself agreeing with the . proposition- which Senator Murphy put forward, admirable though it may sound. I think the point has perhaps been overlooked that the parliamentary work done in Canberra, that is the direct confrontation, on the floor of the Senate, is only a part - perhaps a major part, but only a part - of the work which honourable senators are required in these days to carry out in Canberra. Although I agree that commencing at 3 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon and sitting till late at night, commencing at 3 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon and sitting until late at night, and commencing again on Thursday morn- ing and sitting until late at night does’ not sound very much like a working week, all honourable senators know that certainly on Wednesday mornings there is no opportunity for us to take part in debate in the Senate. I think all parties would agree that they have a very full morning in deciding their own attitude to legislation and the attitudes they are likely to take in relation to the work that we are doing.
Since coming here in 1964 I have found that every Tuesday morning has been fully occupied from 9.15 a.m. until midday in joint statutory committee work, which includes the Joint Committee of Public Accounts which has met on Tuesdays for the full morning. If I am to do that work within the time that I am in Canberra during sitting periods, there would be no greater opportunity for me to use the hours on Tuesday. There has been a proliferation of Senate committee work and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair), the Deputy Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator McManus) and others have foreshadowed that honourable senators will be further involved in a great variety of committee work. During the next 9 or 8 weeks sitting of the Parliament I imagine that the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, will meet every Monday. I think that the Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources is to sit all day on Fridays and on Thursday nights.
I need to find time during the week to contact my secretary in my own State. A back bench member has not a secretarial service available to him in Canberra. A good deal of my time is taken up in this way dealing with matters which one is unable to attend to at either the beginning or end of the week, even though 1 live in a State which is very close to Canberra. I imagine that it is much worse for honourable senators who live in Queensland or Western Australia. The fact is that the parliamentary week at this stage, in my own instance and perhaps in the case of most honourable senators, is occupied in statutory or non-statutory committee work. This work calls for a five-day week in Canberra.
Though the general idea put forward by Senator Murphy is attractive to me, I have found over a period that it would be unworkable. The present hours, as awkward as they seem when one looks at the present sitting times, are really the only ones that appear acceptable at this lime.
– I would like to make a few comments on the proposal put forward by Senator Willesee. The proposal appeals to me for the simple reason that we would be able to. do the same amount of work in 2 weeks as we now do in 3 weeks inasmuch as there would be a difference of only half an hour in the respective times available to honourable senators to carry out the business of the Senate. I think that honourable senators should look for an opportunity to reduce the amount of travelling they now undertake, ft may be only a theory of mine but it is my opinion that the human frame is just as subject to fatigue as is metal. When a person lives in a big city where the available oxygen in a polluted atmosphere is limited and his oxygen intake is reduced, and he then does quite a bit of flying a degree of fatigue sets in. So on that ground alone the proposal that has been presented has some merit. The proposal is that instead of travelling 4 days in every 2 weeks we should have 2 days of travel. 1 am in favour of the proposal put by Senator Willesee because I feel that we should try to normalise our lives as much as parliamentary life will allow by travelling to Canberra on a Monday and having the remainder of the week from Tuesday to Friday in Canberra for research, relaxation reading or other activity which senators from distant States may wish to pursue. The 4 day week would not prevent honourable senators from the States of Victoria and New South Wales commuting if they wished at the end of each week. As I said, for those honourable senators who reside in the more distant States this is a much more reasonable approach. Having spent the weekend in Canberra and having worked a 4 day week from Monday to Thursday, honourable senators would be able to travel home on the Friday. They would be home for the second weekend for any functions they may wish to attend or appointments they may wish to keep. They would then have a whole week for whatever activities they wished to pursue, such as electoral work or committee work. It would mean a full week’s recess after every two weeks of sitting in the Senate.
The case put by Senator Webster is perhaps one that could be rebutted inasmuch as we can get into habits because of the machinery in an institution such as this. Over the years it has been the practice to start the sitting on a Tuesday afternoon and to rise on Thursday night, but I do not think we should be bound to that practice even though it is a long-standing one. At the end of each session of the Parliament there is a pile-up of work and legislation is not given the attention that it should be given. This has encouraged a certain procedure within the Commonwealth Public Service whereby contentious Bills or Bills that are difficult to draft are held up until the last minute by departmental heads; - sometimes by accident and sometimes by design - because they know very well that because of the rush at the end of a session legislation is often steam-rolled through without proper attention. This is a practice that can creep in and which has crept up on us and which by default we have allowed to happen. I believe that a fresh breeze could blow through these practices following a study of the advantages and the disadvantages of this new proposal.
Month by month and year by year the Senate is gaining status. We should try to improve this image and status, and this is one way of doing it. The adoption of this proposal would give to the Senate more broadcasting time. I think that because of the standard of debate in this chamber our listening public is equal to and at times is greater than that of another place. However this has never been confirmed. I have been in the Senate since 1947 and in that time I have seen most of its moods. The Senate has become a much more purposeful place and a much more interesting place over the last few years compared with what it was in the period when there were only 36 senators, with 3 on one side of the chamber and 33 on the other side. In my view, that condition of affairs brought the Senate into disrepute.
The present circumstances give us the chance to apply ourselves, without personal attitudes and personalities entering too much into the matter, and to have a good look at whether the proposed change would be a much more reasonable way for us to go about our work than having to spend so much dme travelling in aircraft as we do now. We are virtually wasting time that could be better spent either at home in our electorates or here in carrying out the work of the Senate.
Therefore, I agree that this review should take place as soon as possible. I hope that the Senate will see its way clear to readjust sitting times to provide for us in a sitting period of 2 weeks as much time for debate as we have now in 3 weeks. I hope that the Senate will agree to the new rhythm of 2 weeks sitting and 1 week at home in the electorate. Generally speaking, it would be of great advantage overall to the Senate to adopt the proposed sitting times.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) [5.27] - Mr Acting Deputy President, I enter into this debate merely to put another point of view. As the debate develops, it seems to me that a pattern is beginning to emerge, but the pattern itself is indistinct. Senator Willesee, with his usual logic and facility of expression, considered that perhaps the sitting time each day could be extended so as to provide, in the aggregate, the additional time sought by honourable senators. It seems to me, in listening to the debate, that it is not so much a problem of time as a problem of method. it may be an unromantic description of Parliament to say so, but Parliament is certainly a work place. It is certainly, if we like to use a sort of modern jargon, capable of being described as a factory of ideas where ideas are processed. I suggest that if we called in, as is often done in these circumstances, a firm of management consultants to examine the methods by which the processing of ideas takes place, one of the findings that the firm would make immediately would be that the procedures of the Senate that relate to the production and processing of ideas were suitable perhaps 100 years ago but are not suitable in the context of modern ideas or modern concepts.
Might 1 stop for a moment to illustrate this point to the Senate by giving 2 or 3 examples. I happen to be one of those who believe that the practice of having questions without notice needs examination. Each day, nearly an hour and a half is taken up with them. Without wishing to inhibit the rights of senators to question the Government, 1 would say that it seems to me that the attitude adopted by senators was aptly expressed by a notable professor of economics in the University of Singapore when he said that the time is occupied because the time is there to occupy. There is an illustration. I imagine that anyone who sat down to examine the procedures of the Senate in the context of the processing of ideas - this is what the Senate really is - would find that questions without notice is an area where time could be saved and better used for other purposes.
It is true also - this is a performance that incenses me every year - that a great deal of time is taken by us in processing the Estimates. In the Estimates debate, the Senate attempts to involve itself in the consideration of 90% of the estimates which deal with the ordinary annual services of the Government which the Senate has no power to amend. I quote that as an illustration also.
The truth is that the Senate is not coequal with the House of Representatives. It never was, nor was it ever intended to be. The Senate was designed, in my opinion of the Constitution, to perform another role and function altogether. As I have mentioned from time to time, we have bedevilled ourselves in attempting to maintain equality with another place in terms of powers which we have no right to possess. This has led me remorselessly over the last few years to decide that the problem of the handling of business and the processing of ideas must take the Senate into an examination of its methods of processing legislation as it comes into this House. To some extent, the Senate must be bound to the procedures of the House of Representatives because the Senate is a confirming House. But, as Senator Willesee suggested, it is not absolutely.
What appears to me from this is that the methods by which legislation is considered or ideas are expressed and processed through the Parliament must be examined. If the Senate wishes expression to be given to this sort of feeling, which has not been clearly expressed but which exists and can be discerned, I would give my assistance and such ability as 1 have to see it brought to a conclusion.
– Before I move the adjournment of the debate, may I say that it is clearly in the minds of us all that this matter will be raised again tomorrow. I wish to use the forms of the Senate now to point out that as no sitting times have been agreed to up to this point in time, I propose that the sitting be suspended this evening from 5.45 to 8 o’clock and that the Senate rise at 1 1 o’clock. I propose also that we meet at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning and that, if it is the will of the Senate, we rise at 4.30 p.m. If this is not the will of the Senate, we will sit until 10.30 o’clock tomorrow night.
– And we will resume al 8 o’clock tonight.
– Yes, the Senate will sit at 3 o’clock tonight. For the convenience of honourable senators, I point out that it is intended that we should sit at 11 a.m. tomorrow and lift late in the afternoon. If it was the will of the Senate that this should not happen - there would be no opposition on this issue - we would sit then until 10.30 o’clock tomorrow.
Debate (on motion by Senator Anderson) adjourned.
– by leave - In harmony with the Government’s approach indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech the Government intends to introduce some immediate changes within the provisions of the present Papua and New Guinea Act which will give Ministerial Members drawn from the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly increased powers both individually in relation to the functions of their departments and collectively as members of the Administrator’s Executive Council.
During the Parliamentary recess there were Ministerial discussions in Canberra with the Territory Select Committee for Constitutional Development which were helpful to both sides. Following the recommendations of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development set up by the first House of Assembly the Papua and New Guinea Act was amended in May 1968 to provide for further constitutional development in Papua and New Guinea. The main changes made at that time provided for increased participation by elected members in the executive government of the Territory through a system of Ministerial offices and the replacement of the former Administrator’s Council by the Administrator’s Executive Council. It was emphasised that these arrangements were essentially transitional in character. It was stated that under section 25 the role and functions of Ministerial Members and Assistant Ministerial Members could be adapted in the light of experience.
The Act sets out that the functions of ministerial office holders are generally to assist in the administration of the Government of the Territory to the extent and in the manner provided by arrangements approved by the Minister for External Territories under section 25. In 1968, in accordance with the amendments to the Act, 7 Ministerial Members and 8 Assistant Ministerial Members were appointed from c.ecicd members of the House of Assembly. 1 hest ellice holders were selected from elected members of the House jointly by (he Ministerial Nominations Committee of the House and the Administrator before being nominated to the Minister for External Territories for appointment. There are Ministerial Members for Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries. Education, Labour, Posts and Telegraphs, Public Health, Public Works, and Trade and Industry.
At present Ministerial Members share responsibility with the departmental heads for overall departmental activities and for the framing of policy proposals including proposals for expenditure. The Government considers that the time has now come to invite Ministerial Members to assume more responsibility in the administration of the government of the Territory. New arrangements have therefore been approved for Ministerial Members under section 25 of the Act. T table the approved arrangements. These include also the arrangements applying in respect of Assistant Ministerial Members.
Subject to the overall responsibility of the Minister for External Territories, acting through the Administrator, these approved arrangements provide that a Ministerial Member will be fully responsible to the Administrator’s Executive Council for the day to day running of the Department instead of, as at present, acting jointly with the departmental head and sharing the responsibility with him. As set out in the Approved Arrangements a Ministerial Member will, within the framework of broader Government policy, make decisions regarding policy and administration in day to day activities related to the matters for which he is responsible. He will formulate plans and proposals for departmental expenditure including draft departmental estimates. It is the Government’s intention that these changes should come into effect in practice at once and without waiting for amendments to Territory Ordinances which will be necessary. The Government looks to officials who may now hold statutory powers by delegation or otherwise to exercise these with the concurrence of the Ministerial Member in the spirit of these arrangements.
Some changes are also being made in relation to the Administrator’s Executive
Council. Again these changes are within the framework of the existing Papua and New Guinea Act. The Council has been exercising increasing authority over the past 2 years and its scope is now being further enlarged. Under the present arrangements the Council advises the Administrator who is broadly free to accept or disregard the advice. However, the Government has been consulting the Council on a widening range of issues and has increasingly accepted the Council’s views. In future the Council’s authority will be enhanced in three ways. First, it will be consulted on all significant policy issues. Second, it will advise on the more important departmental questions referred to it by a Ministerial Member. Third, it will have a greater voice in the procedures for the framing of the Territory budget, as explained later. Apart from these specific matters the Government has been giving and will continue to give increasing weight to the views and advice of the Administrator’s Executive Council. This increase in the power and influence of the Council is qualitative in character. It is not to be measured in terms of specific powers, individual acts of administration or areas of policy or increased financial delegations but it will be apparent by the degree to which the Administrator’s Executive Council in future influences the Government’s attitude on important issues.
An example of this kind of increasing influence is the recent reference to the Council by the Minister of the question whether the Papuan Medical College should become part of the University of Papua and New Guinea. This is a matter related to the responsibilities of the Ministerial Member for Health. The Council concluded that it was highly desirable for the Medical College to become part of the University, provided arrangements could be made for Government controls to be maintained over costs and the broad direction of the medical course. Such a formula would meet the difficulties previously seen by the Government and the Government has said it accepts the Council’s conclusion so that if the University agrees to the Council’s recommendations they will be put info effect.
Having regard to the changes I have mentioned regulations will be made under the Act to govern some procedural matters including the recording of Council decisions and their transmission to the Commonwealth Government. There will also be changes in the procedures by which the Territory budget is framed so that elected members of the House of Assembly will have a greater say in the budget. The Administrator’s Executive Council will be invited to establish immediately an Estimates Sub-Committee. Officials of the Territory Treasury will keep the Sub-Committee closely in touch with plans and progress in respect of the forthcoming financial year’s estimates. The Sub-Committee will be invited to discuss the draft estimates with the Minister for External Territories before these are finalised. After those discussions no important alterations will be made in the draft estimates without the knowledge of the Estimates Sub-Committee and without their having a full opportunity to comment. Throughout the period during which the budget is being framed it is expected that the Estimates Sub-Committee of the Council will keep in touch with the existing Budget Committee of the House of Assembly - a body made up wholly of elected members - with a view to informing themselves of any points which members of the House may wish to have considered in the “draft estimates for the following year.
Self government will not be forced on the people against their wishes. Nevertheless the Government considers steps should be taken now so that the elected representatives of the people take on additional responsibilities in the government of the Territory.
The Government is satisfied that the changes now proposed accord with the climate of opinion of the House of Assembly and of the Territory generally. The changes I have outlined reflect the Government’s approach of progressively transferring responsibility to elected members of the Territory House of Assembly. The new arrangements are a definite and material step along the road to self government.
Further constitutional changes to be put into effect later this year are now under examination. None of the changes I have outlined requires amendment to the Papua and New Guinea Act. Important or major changes in the constitutional arrangements for Papua and New Guinea of the sort that might be expected to require substantial amendment to the Act should in the Government’s view await consideration by the Territory House of Assembly of the report of the Select Committee on Constitutional Development so that such substantial amendment of the Act would be decided upon in the light of the views of the Territory people.
– I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to that which has just been made by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright).
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The attitude of the Opposition in relation to the general question which has been dealt with by the Minister in his statement is that we believe that 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. We, in the Opposition, endorse the statements made by Mr Whitlam on behalf of the whole Parliamentary Labor Party investigatory group on the timing of selfgovernment and independence for Papua and New Guinea. We believe that the political, educational, social and economic development of Papua and New Guinea involves a heavy burden on Australia and financial and technical assistance should be sought from the United Nations and its agencies. However, we support the undertaking made by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Whitlam, that future Labor governments would continue financial grants and technical and advisory assistance on a generous scale after independence if the independent government wishes, and that a Labor government would be prepared to put this assistance on a treaty basis. We believe that there should be a treaty covering defence and defence assistance to an independent Papua and New Guinea.
We believe that the programme for New Guinea should include a common roll for national legislative and local government elections with adult- suffrage for all resident citizens; a representative national legislature with single member constituencies; one vote one value and open candidature: and gradual elimintion of the right of veto by the Administrator and the GovernorGeneral over ordinances of the national legislature. We believe that the constitution of Papua and New Guinea should provide for the protection and implementation of fundamental human rights and civil liberties along the lines of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We believe also that there should be an extension of the local government system with enlarged powers and increased finance by subvention from public funds and contribution by States, and an expansion of elected municipal councils. I will not deal in further detail with what has been said by the Minister in his statement, but we believe that the rate of progress is far too slow and that it should be quickened, not necessarily along the lines of the Westminster system which are now being followed.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) [5.47] - by leave - I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
I seek leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till11 a.m. tomorrow.
- Mr President, I move:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
It is an honour and a privilege to move this motion. It is a privilege which falls to only one supporter of the Government during each session and I am grateful to have the opportunity on this occasion. I believe it is a significant occasion. We are all taking part in a fine old tradition of Parliament; we are expressing our loyalty to our Queen and therefore to our country.
That we shall shortly have the honour of a visit to this country and to this Parliament by our Queen is well known. But it makes all the more real the ceremony in which we participated yesterday.
To the Governor-General, we are expressing our thanks. It was undoubtedly a most impressive Speech delivered on what is always a most impressive occasion. That the proceedings on the occasion of Speeches are televised and may therefore be seen by a substantial section of the community is, I believe, an excellent opportunity for all Australians to witness that which is both impressive and important to every one of them. I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and his Ministry on the very full programme foreshadowed by his Excellency’s Speech. The Speech contained so many matters, all of great importance, that it is hard to choose those matters on which one wishes to speak. There were something over 60 - approaching 70 - separate matters dealt with in that Speech and no doubt there will be an opportunity for us to discuss and to debate those matters when the actual legislation relating to them is introduced. That being so, I shall select but a few aspects of the Speech.
Whilst again expressing my enthusiasm for the exciting announcements made in the Governor-General’s Speech - announcements which should ensure that we go into the seventies with a vigorous programme of national and social development -I shall select only a relatively small percentage of those items upon which to make some comment. The first matter upon which I wish to comment is the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act. I was pleased to see that the Speech referred to this matter. The Government, it is said, proposes to review the Act in order to prepare a comprehensive and integrated programme to foster Australian industrial creativity and efficiency. This is a most important matter to Australia. I think it is trite to say that we are now one of the great trading nations of the world. I understand that Australia rates thirteenth in the world as a trading nation. It is also trite to say that the world is ever-increasing in respect of the complexity of its technology. We have a situation where the development in industrial technology is vital to any country wishing to expand its share of international trade.
We have a situation where more and more costly is the research and more and more costly is the machinery of industry. Australia must assist its industry to develop its technology and to retain the benefits of that development, lt was therefore pleasing to me to see this matter adverted to in the Government’s programme.
Another matter - a matter which concerns me a great deal - was something J read shortly before I heard and read His Excellency’s Speech. That was the report which recently appeared in the Press of the judgment given in Sydney in what has become known as the Rheem case. In that case an American company brought an action to prevent an Australian company, Rheem Australia Pty Ltd, from continuing to manufacture a certain item. This item was a bung for a 44-gallon drum - a simple thing on the face of it. But the case became the longest and the costliest in Australian legal history. The cost was estimated at over $2m and the case took some 8 years to complete. The disturbing part about this matter was the comment made by the trial judge when he said:
It was an attempt to eliminate a trade rival with which it could not successfully compete.
He went on to say:
That an innocent party should have to make such an effort and at such cost to defend itself must shake public confidence in the administration of law.
Fortunately, the Australian company concerned in the case is one in which Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is a very large shareholder and as a result the company was in a position to defend itself. But what of the prospects of smaller industries in Australia? What of the prospects of smaller industries to withstand the onslaught of foreign companies wishing to eliminate a competitor? Too often do we hear of American and other companies taking over Australian enterprises not to develop them but to eliminate them as competitors.
What of the situation in relation to Australian patents and designs? If a small Australian individual or company is first in a field and likely to give Australia an industrial and trade advantage over the bigger and wealthier nations, could that small company or that individual withstand the weight of money in a legal action, such as that which happened in the Rheem case, in order to defend itself or would such a company be forced to capitulate? I believe that if we are to retain our place in the complex technical world we must protect Australian industry from the piracy of its technology. To do this we may have to provide a system of legal aid to companies to enable them to defend themselves against an abuse of the processes of our courts by actions such as that in the Rheem case. Therefore I hope that, in its review of the programme to foster Australian industrial creativity and efficiency, the Government will also consider the possibility of giving protection from piracy by legal abuse by the weight of money. That is not to be taken as the sort of argument that has been spuriously put forward that any introduction of foreign capital is something that we must avoid. What we must do, I suggest, is simply not allow an abuse of the processes of the court to win where fair competition could not.
The next matter to which I wish to turn is the setting up of a metric conversion board. His Excellency the GovernorGeneral said that legislation will be introduced to set up this board so that a programme can be prepared for conversion to the metric system. The action comes after the recommendations that have been made by a Select Committee of this Senate which, I remind the Senate, comprised honourable senators from each of the parties in the chamber. It conducted a very thorough inquiry and produced a unanimous report. Its recommendations are now being implemented, and I believe that there is some urgency surrounding that action.
The cost of conversion has been estimated by some authorities as increasing by about 8% a year. The Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia and other bodies concerned have wholeheartedly supported the Committee’s report. I do not think it is an overstatement to say that an overwhelming body of opinion favours the adoption in Australia of the metric system. That steps are being taken in this direction by the Government is yet another example of a realistic action by a government which is not afraid to grasp the nettle and to take the necessary steps, even though such action may in some ways be complicacted or expensive. It is surprising to find that some of the opposition which has appeared to the change to the metric system has come from a member of the Federal Opposition and from some branches of the Australian Labor Party which that member has been able to influence. It is also surprising that the socalled new and united Australian Labor Party is divided on an issue on which the general opinion is so overwhelmingly one way. The ALP was represented on the Committee that made the recommendations unanimously in favour of conversion to the metric system. Perhaps the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) in another place is in a better position to judge than the members of the Committee who studied the problem. One does not know.
– If you do not know, why did you refer to it?
– One does not know whether he is in a better position to judge. I simply draw attention to the amazing situation that although almost everyone is in favour of the change, certain sections of the Party that the honourable senator represents apparently are not in favour of it.
I turn now to consider the conflict in Vietnam. This is another matter which excites the emotions of members of the Opposition. The Governor-General referred to Vietnam in his speech and I hope that some honourable senators opposite will listen, for once in their lives, my reading of what he said. It is quite obvious that they have had their ears closed for most of their lives. The Governor-General said:
My Government deplores the continuing threat posed by North Vietnam and strongly supports the continuing efforts which are being made to achieve a hist and lasting peace through negotiation.
Some people have maintained that North Vietnam has displayed no aggressive intentions and that the war in Vietnam is just a civil war. I wonder whether the people of Laos would agree with that at this moment. I wonder whether the people of Laos believe that North Vietnam has never displayed aggressive intentions. If North Vietnam has no aggressive intentions, what are its troops doing in Laos? Can any honourable senator opposite amongst those who so espouse the cause of North Vietnam explain why and how the troops of North Vietnam have any right to be in Laos, let alone explain why those troops are killing Laotian, troops and citizens and taking control of part of that country?
The last thing I wish to see is an extension of the conflict in that area of South East Asia. The United States Government has made it clear that it does not intend to escalate but rather to de-escalate the strength of its assistance in the area. I ask honourable senators opposite who are interjecting just to listen for a moment and to spare a passing thought for the people who have been overrun by North Vietnamese troops, through no fault of their own. Like the South Vietnamese, they did not attack North Vietnam. Does any honourable senator opposite believe that the lessening of our interest in the area will make less likely further invasions by North Vietnam? The leaders of North Vietnam have made it abundantly clear that their intention is to gain military and political control of all the area which was once Indo-China. Perhaps those people who cannot readily supply justification for the actions of North Vietnam should consult with that great spokesman for the Communist countries who is at present visiting Australia. I refer to none other than that so-called Australian, Wilfred Burchett. I have no doubt that he could supply them with the latest Communist’ propaganda so that they could repeat it and thus assist the Communist propaganda war.
Can any supporter of Wilfred Burchett say whether he is correct in his recent denial that he has held Communist Party membership? Is it not correct that for some -time he was employed by the Russian Intourist organisation and in fact opened up its London office? Is it not true that such a position is open only to a member of the Communist Party? Perhaps some of Wilfred Burchett’s supporters or even Wilfred Burchett himself would like to answer that question. However much I would like to go on to discuss that matter at the moment, I hope and trust there will be a better opportunity to debate the position of that so-called Australian than during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
I wish now to discuss another aspect of the conflict in Vietnam and to raise some points on which I hope genuine Australians can constructively think and act. Again I implore honourable senators opposite to open their ears on this subject for just a few minutes. I accept that people have a right to express their concern about Vietnam. Of course they have a right to express their view on any matter, so long as they do not succour the enemy. I ask the socalled hawks and doves to give a thought to the position of the allied prisoners of war held in North Vietnam camps. Apparently this is a matter of some amusement to Senator Wheeldon.
– You are.
– Apparently Senator Wheeldon does not pay any attention to what is being said so one cannot wonder that he finds it so amusing to sit in this chamber without considering for one moment the position of the prisoners of war. Some efforts have been made by an American millionaire. Apart from that, what has been done by people to bring pressure to bear on North Vietnam to observe basic humane requirements in the treatment of fellow human beings? Every report of ex-prisoners of war tells of torture, degradation and starvation. Many honourable senators on both sides of the chamber have good reason to carry strong feelings on this subject. 1 am hopeful that within this country and around the world a pressure of public feeling will grow sufficient to influence the Communists in their search for sympathy and support - a pressure which will make them behave in a more humane way to people who, through no individual fault of their own, find themselves to be prisoners of war. lt is obvious that the Communists are sensitive to public opinion because’ of their concentration upon the propaganda war, which they have waged, unfortunately with such success, to win public sympathy around the world. They have succeeded in misleading people as to the real nature of events in Vietnam. They use their members of Parliament, such as those who may or may not voice themselves here and in the other place, and their fellow travellers like Wilfred Burchett, to try to mould public opinion in their favour. I hope and trust that sufficient numbers of Australians will attempt to reverse that pressure in order to win humane treatment for prisoners of the Communists. It is unfortunate that I have to raise this matter. One can but feel that some of the attention which has been directed by those who are organising the so-called moratorium in May will be not directed towards achieving a greater humanity from the Communists but rather towards achieving a greater support for their propaganda war.
While dealing with Vietnam, I wish to mention the other matter referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech - the civic action programme which, he said, would be continued. 1 believe it is most important. Also, more often than not it is overlooked. We have situations such as that at the Bien Hoa hospital. But not many members opposite, who have been trying to interject, would know anything about it because none of them will dare go there because they are frightened of being converted. Is it not true that the ones who went there did come back a little converted?
– The honourable senator would not know the business end of a bullet.
– There are plenty of uniforms that will fit the honourable senator.
– Listen to the jackals roar. When they have stopped protesting - if I may use the microphone to over-ride them and to continue - I shall point to something such as the Bien Hoa hospital which none of them has visited. It would do them good to visit it because they might see something that might change some of their opinions.
– The honourable senator comes from Tasmania. Listen to him.
– I hear Senator Poyser interjecting. I well recall that I suggested to Senator Poyser, when he had the opportunity to go to Vietnam, that he should go there and see the position. Instead of that, he flew over it or he attempted to fly over it. He did not want to go there to see what was going on.
– He was wounded in action in World War II.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Rae will be heard.
– I am not suggesting that Senator Poyser is anything other than a loyal Australian, but I do think it might have improved his knowledge had he visited the country.
– I rise on a point of order. A reflection has been made by Senator Rae on the courage of Senator Poyser, a wounded ex-serviceman in the Australian .Army. I suggest that you ask
Senator Rae to withdraw the imputations made against Senator Poyser’s courage and character.
– With respect to Senator Wheeldon who raised the point of order, I do not see, that there is any point to be taken. If honourable senators opposite, instead of being so interested in attempting to stop Senator Rae from saying what he is entitled to say, were prepared to listen to what he said, they would know that at no time did Senator Rae reflect on the personal courage or integrity of Senator Poyser. As I recall it, Senator Rae said that Senator Poyser was not prepared to go to see for himself what was being done. If I recall Senator Rae’s words correctly and that is what Senator Rae said, then it could not be said that there was any personal reflection cast upon Senator Poyser’s character or record. I submit that the point of order should not be upheld.
– I was not in the chamber. I heard some of the discussion. I was listening in my room. Would not the sensible thing be for Senator Rae to make quite clear that he is making no imputation against Senator Poyser? Standing order 418 states that no senator shall use offensive words against any member of this chamber. It is quite clear that a number of senators consider that an offensive expression was used. Whether or not there has been a misunderstanding, surely Senator Rae ought to indicate that he will make a clear and unambiguous statement straightaway. That would suit the dignity of the Senate and we could continue.
– I listened very carefully and I do not recall Senator Rae making any remark which could in any way be thought to reflect upon the personal courage or bravery of Senator Poyser. I suggest that the matter is in Senator Rae’s hands. If he wants to be generous, he can choose to do so. In my view he did not reflect on the bravery or integrity of Senator Poyser.
– Mr Deputy President, I rise purely to assist you in the determination of the point of order. I do so in the hope that I will be allowed to say what I wish to say without a constant barrage of interjection and interruption from persons whose sole objective is to prevent others from having their say. With all respect to you Mr Deputy President, I say that Senator Rae did not utter one word that could be regarded as a reflection upon anybody at all. He was speaking against a constant stream of interjections. He was talking about- the Bien Hoa hospital. He said, as I recollect his words, that Senator Poyser had been offered an opportunity to go there and he had not chosen to go. If that is said to constitute a reflection upon anybody, people ought to get a new understanding of what the word really means. I can say only that what we have heard tonight from members of the Opposition is a determined and rather persistent attempt to stop a person from saying what he wants to say because they do not like what he is saying. The matter should be viewed in that light.
– I would like to speak to the point of order, if I may. One or two things ought to be taken into consideration. Firstly, it was very obvious that Senator Rae was reading his speech which, in itself, was out of order. We have been generous.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! That is not the point of order.
– With great respect, Mr Deputy President, you allowed the others a little latitude. I want to make this point and you will see that it is connected with the point of order. He was reading his speech.
– Senator Willesee could not tell whether or not he was reading his notes.
– Senator Greenwood asked to be heard in silence. He does not seem to want to give that privilege to anybody else. This is his idea of fairness. In my opinion, Senator Rae wai reading his speech. Therefore, what he said must have been preconceived. Apart from what he said about Senator Poyser he has made a line of statements. He said that members of the Opposition were not game to go to Vietnam because they might be influenced by what they saw. He said that they would not go to a particular hospital in Vietnam because any Labor man might be influenced by such a visit At the end of this series of statements, after a couple of other statements like that which. I cannot recall, he said that Senator Poyser had the opportunity to go there and that he. Senator Rae, advised him to go there. Senator Poyser denies that. Mr Deputy President, if you look at the genera] attitude and at the works that have been written about the Senate you will agree that it adds to the dignity of the Senate and of the honourable senator in circumstances where there is any doubt, if any suggestion is unequivocally withdrawn, as Senator Murphy suggests.
– I had, before all this-
– I had, before all this shemozzle started - to use the word that has just been suggested to me - made it quite plain, as Hansard will recall, that 1 said that 1 make no imputation against Senator Poyser personally. I have the greatest regard for Senator Poyser’s personal courage. I simply do not agree with some of his political views. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I repeat that I did not nor do 1 make any imputation against Senator Poyser’s personal courage, but 1 do say and I will repeat that certain members of the Opposition had the opportunity, had they chosen to take it. to visit the country of which I was speaking and to see the position for themselves, but they have not chosen to take that opportunity. I wish also to refute a suggestion made by another honourable senator opposite that I was reading my speech and that this was a preconceived attack of some kind upon Senator Poyser. I am quite happy for any honourable senator to look at my notes. He will find no reference to Senator Poyser in the notes which 1 have and on the page from which I am now speaking which is headed: ‘Civil Action programme will continue. Most important, frequently overlooked’. If that is the speech 1 am alleged to be reading, it is certainly in shorthand.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! The honourable senator is going beyond the point of order. I must dispose of the point of order first. Senator Rae has made his explanation which I think is satisfactory. I do not uphold the point of order.
– 1 was referring to the Bien Hoa hospital and some of the work which has been done there. To remind some of those honourable senators who may have lost the track, I was also speaking about the civil action programme. The Bien Hoa hospital is part of that programme. It has been rebuilt. The facilities have been rebuilt.
It has been staffed with a medical team, all of whom have been supplied by Australia. While I was there I had a conversation with a member of the Australian staff - the doctor in charge. As I left 1 asked him whether there was anything further which he considered important and which they needed. His answer made me feel ashamed of some Australians, because he said: “There is nothing we need more than for a few more Australians to know that we exist’. In all the campaign which has been waged in the Press about this matter by way of propaganda, what sort of credit is given by those who oppose our involvement in Vietnam to people such as that doctor who are serving the cause of humanity in a most admirable way?
We have our armed Services there, lt is suggested that we should withdraw our Army. People forget the extent to which the Army is engaged in the civic aid programme. The list of projects which the Army is engaged in in relation to that programme is very long. It is a programme of which we can be and should be proud. Australia spends a considerable amount of money on this type of aid - that is, military civic aid.
– How much?
– 1 am asked how much. 1 am glad to answer, because the cost by way of military labour and equipment alone is over $3m per annum. This is for military civic action alone. In relation to the military civic aid programme - not the civil programme^ - a further $im of SEATO aid funds has been applied each year. I would like to refer to some of the various types of assistance which are given by the Australian military forces towards this programme. I refer to the building of bridges, the building of roads, of which 22 kilometres of sealed two-lane highways has been constructed in the past 6 months and 14 kilometres more are under construction. Extensions to the provincial hospital including a child health and maternity building, kitchen and dining room, toilets and ambulance garage were carried out, and major repairs were effected to sewerage and drainage systems, water and electric reticulation. One could go on through the list of the immense work which has been done by the Australian military forces in Vietnam under the civic aid programme. This is something which has been overlooked by those who say we should withdraw, because the withdrawal of our armed forces would mean the withdrawal of this type of assistance.
The medical civic action provides a scheduled weekly visit to each of the villages outside the capital of the province in which the Australian forces are involved. Some 1,000 medical patients and 150 dental patients are treated each week. Apparently honourable senators have some interest in the type of assistance given by the Australian military forces to the civic aid programme which is included in this long list and, therefore, I will deal with one or two more. In the field of education, the Australian military forces have built schools and provided teachers. They have provided libraries. English is taught to 800 high school students and public servants. Trained agriculturalists who are members of the armed forces are provided. This aid is overlooked repeatedly when people talk about Australia’s military involvement in Vietnam. There are many other aspects which are too long to go through in detail in the short time available to me tonight. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a list of details of military civil action in Vietnam.
– That, no doubt, is a matter of great interest, but if we start to debate that question with all its ramifications we would spend all our time tonight on that. I want to pass on to the more limited subjects. For instance, there is the simple matter of a bridge which has been constructed. Last year, about June, in the province in which Australia is involved, so as to open up a huge area of rice growing country to the farmers our men replaced a bridge that had been out of commission for 15 years, having been repeatedly blown up by the North Vietnamese or the Vietcong. For want of that bridge the people there were prevented from cultivating a large area. I repeat, that bridge was rebuilt by Australian troops. At first it was guarded by Australian troops but in view of what has happened in Vietnam and with the great reorganisation that has taken place there this duty was taken over by the Vietnamese local defence force. The bridge has been in use ever since.
If our forces are to stay there for this valuable work, should they stay there unprotected? Should they be exposed to North Vietnamese attack while they work, or should they be protected by Australian troops? I regard as an example of ignorance or lack of honesty the efforts of so many who urge a withdrawal on terms which would involve a withdrawal of this military civic aid of which I have spoken.
I pass on to another matter which I hope will not receive less reaction from honourable senators who seem to resent anything said which does not entirely agree with their views. I think they might agree with me when I say that it is good to see the increase, from $15,000 to $17,500 in the value of a house which may be obtained with the aid of a homes savings grant. This will be welcomed by the many people who take advantage of this great scheme, which provides such valuable assistance and incentive to young people and enables more of them to build and own their homes. For some time past I have been concerned that credit unions were not included in the scheme. It seems to me that credit unions play a valuable and very real part in the everyday life of many Australians. These unions serve a very useful purpose. Their only drawback is a too close association with one political party, an association which at times leads to a feeling by some members that their funds are being misapplied to expenditure on what amounts to propaganda for the Australian Labor Party. The value of credit unions is undoubted, and I trust the recognition given to them will help them to gain in strength and independence. The subject of light aircraft, mentioned in the defence portion of the Speech, has been a matter of some concern to many Australians for some considerable time. Australia has suffered the loss of the Victa aircraft industry, which was built up in Australia. Moreover, the Australian designed Airtruk Aircraft failed to gain Tariff Board support. The aircraft industry is obviously of the greatest importance to the defence of Australia, to Australian industry and in particular to the Australian aircraft industry which should be as versatile as possible. The promotion of this industry referred to in Hi.*
Excellency’s Speech will be welcomed by all those who have given careful thought to this matter.
In view of the time I shall refer briefly to divorce costs, which were mentioned in the Speech.
– You have lost your page, lt is page 3.
– For those who cannot read - there seem to be some who have trouble in reading - it is page 14. His Excellency said:
My Government also proposes to introduce legislation to reduce delays in the hearing of proceedings for divorce and to reduce the cost to litigants. This will be done by enabling State Courts of intermediate jurisdiction to hear certain undefended divorce cases and to simplify procedures for the enforcement of maintenance orders granted in another State or Territory. 1 believe that this is an improvement and that it is necessary because in some places, perhaps through no fault of those concerned with the system, costs have reached scandalous proportions. There are huge variations from State to State in the cost of administering or operating a scheme which is supposed to be uniform throughout Australia. The cost of undefended divorce cases varies from about $200 to $500 or more. Delay in the hearing of cases varies from perhaps 1 month to 9 months or 1 2 months, or more, depending upon the place and the times of hearings.
Divorce should be available on the most simple, least embarrassing and least costly basis that is possible. I am not at the moment proposing an extension of the grounds for divorce; that is another matter entirely. I simply refer to the procedure which applies to the present grounds for divorce. Within the limits of what is now accepted the procedure could and should be simplified. I am pleased that steps are being taken to ensure this simplification. The law societies are co-operating in this effort, and I know that in my own State, Tasmania, a committee is preparing a report for submission to the AttorneyGeneral on how best these problems can be overcome. 1 might add that Tasmania has the best record in overcoming them and so may be able to give a lead to some of the other States. I trust that the matter will not be left at the reduction of divorce costs and of delays in hearings.
I refer also to the “ provision of legal assistance to parties, whether petitioners or respondents, who wish to take advantage of the opportunity which our legal system provides. At present there is a limitation on the schemes available for the granting of assistance which could be remedied by the intervention of the Commonwealth Government. 1 hope that such intervention will not be long in coming. I refer to the granting of further assistance to the State schemes, which are operating quite well and are a credit to all involved but which do lack funds, particularly in some States. This lack of funds could be overcome by Commonwealth participation in legal aid schemes.
In conclusion I refer only briefly to some of the other matters which I consider to bc of great importance and of great interest to the people of Australia. The income tax relief promised is not a new idea, lt was mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his policy speech last October. I am sure the promise which was made then and the action which has been foreshadowed in His Excellency’s Speech will provide a great deal of encouragement to a section of the community which is in need of encouragement, that is, young men with families. Many of these young men are at a stage of life when their greatest expense is upon them, when their greatest interest in work is with them, and when they have the problem of bringing up a young family and paying a relatively high tax. 1 trust that following the review promised by the Prime Minister and referred to by the Governor-General as being undertaken an increase will be provided in the allowable deduction for children, which is probably the simplest and most effective way of giving assistance to the people most in need of some relief from the effect of income tax.
There are many other matters which i would like to have had an opportunity of mentioning tonight. I am sure the GovernorGeneral’s Speech will give great encouragement to the people of Australia and that we shall go into the 1970s with a Government which has feeling, which is responsible, and which is showing consideration for the general welfare of the community in a way which will bring about the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. This country can be proud of the programme outlined in the Speech. It has been my honour to move the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech.
– 1 am deeply mindful of the honour and privilege afforded to me to second the motion, so ably moved by Senator Rae, for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia. The procedure is synonymous with British parliamentary democracy which we have come to respect and cherish in a world in which many forms of government are practised, in many cases to the detriment of the people concerned. We now have an opportunity to express loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and we are mindful of the fact that in a few weeks time Her Majesty, together with Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne, will be with us to share the occasion when we celebrate the bi-centenary of the discovery of Australia by Captain Cook. It is fitting that our Sovereign will be here for such an occasion. Australia has enjoyed many achievements in the 200 years since its discovery.
The Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, on behalf of Her Majesty, has carried out with distinction the opening of the second session of the Twenty-seventh Parliament and we hope that his term of office will be long and fruitful one. Following upon an election for the House of Representatives and the filling of two vacancies in the Senate the Governed was returned to Office with a greatly reduced majority. I believe that the Prime Minister can be reasonably satisfied with the election result. I say this, firstly, because the Australian elector believes that the best government is obtained when the difference between the numbers of members on the Government side and the Opposition is very small. Therefore, we could expect a sharp reaction to the record majority which the Government had in the twenty-sixth Parliament.
Also, 20 years of continuous rule by one party in government is a great deal more than the general Australian public expects. Normally, well within that period, the public is looking for a change of government. Up to date, the public has not been game to trust the official Opposition. Another factor influencing the election result was the outward appearance of unity that emanated from the Opposition during the election campaign. The projection of the Leader of the Opposition as a man to govern implied that the Australian Labor Party was prepared to leave its policy to those members of the Party who formed the Government and to give its leader more power and had its effect at the ballot box. But the power of the Leader of the Opposition was short lived because a few days before the Parliament met we discovered that three of his supporters had been dropped from the Opposition Executive to be replaced by three left wingers. It will be interesting to see how long this appearance of unity continues.
– Will the honourable senator make clear to whom he is referring?
– In view of these factors, and taking into account the relevant problems associated with them, I believe that the result of the election from the point of view-
– I rise to take a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I ask you to direct the speaker not to use incorrect references in his speech. If he is going to speak about the Leader of the Opposition, he ought to make clear about whom he is speaking. 1 am sure that he did not intend to refer to me, but, apparently, that is the way it will go into the record. If he wants to speak about the Leader of the Opposition in another place or to refer to somebody by name, the honourable senator should make it clear of whom he is speaking, otherwise his remarks may go into the record as referring in some way to me.
– Yes, I was referring to the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, the Leader who took the Opposition to the people in the last election. In view of these factors, and taking into account the relevant problems associated with people in country areas compared with their city brothers, I believe that the result in the last House of Representatives election from the point of view of the Australian Country Party was most gratifying. Although the Australian Country Party lost one seat, it gained another to maintain its numbers. This reflects the confidence of country people in the Australian Country Party. They believe that it will look after their welfare more effectively than will the Australian Labor Party, despite the desperate promises that were made by the Australian Labor Party to capture the votes of country people.
Because of the support that we have received, it is our duly to identify the causes of the problems that are besetting primary industry and, in conjunction with our Liberal Party colleagues, to devise ways and means of combating these problems and ensuring that our farmers enjoy a fair share of the wealth and prosperity in this country towards which they have contributed so much. Successive coalition governments since 1949 provided policies and incentives based on the wishes of primary industries concerned. These have resulted in the expansion of the primary industries of this nation. A terrific export income has been built up. The great record of achievement that has resulted from the actions of these successive governments has assisted, ironically enough, in bringing about the present position with regard to some of our products.
A sizeable export industry has been built up for such items as sugar, wheat and dairy products. The breakdown in the marketing arrangements and price structure in the world has resulted in a large proportion of these products seliing on world markets at prices well below the cost of production. Fortunately, the new International Sugar Agreement which the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr McEwen, and the Premier of Queensland helped negotiate has resulted in prices in world markets which augur well for our sugar industry.
Unfortunately, the position is not so clear with regard to wheat and dairy products. This marketing problem has created a situation in which producers are faced wilh ever increasing costs but are receiving lower prices for their commodities.
– Why does not the honourable senator tell us about-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Keeffe, you will please stop interjecting. Senator Maunsell has the floor; you have not. 1 call Senator Maunsell.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. Of course, Opposition senators do not like to hear this. The Australian community must face the fact that the present buoyant economy and the affluent society in which we live are irrevocably dependent upon the infusion of overseas funds. These overseas funds may be obtained in various ways. They may be obtained by the sale of our primary products, by selling minerals mainly in their raw state, by the export of other products including manufactured products or by the bringing into this country of overseas capital. The value of exports of farm produce today still represents 55% of our total overseas income. During many periods in the early 1960s, the value of the export of farm produce represented over 80% of our overseas income. It is only since the spectacular developments in the mineral field that farm produce has fallen to this lower proportion of the total overseas income. In 1969, it was 55% of that total.
– Coupled with the fall in prices.
– As Senator Prowse has said, together- with the fall in prices. While overseas capital is desirable for our continued growth and while certainly the great expansion in the export of minerals has been very beneficial to this country, it is the export of our own products owned by our own people which is undoubtedly of the greatest benefit to the wealth of this nation. Without this outbalance of payments and, in fact, our whole economy could be in serious trouble. Overseas capital could be cut off overnight and there is nothing that we could do about it. The necessity for continuing and expanding our exports must be of prime importance. Incentive should be given to those engaged in the production of this wealth.
When dealing with assistance to industry, too many people think that the only assistance given to industry is by way of subsidies to so-called inefficient primary producers or farmers. No appreciation at all is said about the help tariff protection affords our home industries from competition on world markets. Tariffs enable these industries to sell at profitable prices, sometimes well above world market prices. If we were to refer to the assistance given to export industries to obtain much needed export income as bonuses or as cost compensation for export production, and if the public were made more aware of the importance of export income to the wealth of this nation, I feel that there would be a greater acceptance of the necessity to help our primary industries.
– Primary industries are not doing too badly out of it.
– No doubt the Opposition and its spokesmen on rural affairs will take every opportunity for political purposes to incite farmers against the Government. Rash promises about support for wheat farmers and wool producers have been made without any appreciation of the real problem, which is the cost-price squeeze. The announced policy of Mr Hawke, who has pressed for substantial increases in wages, shorter hours and the introduction of equal pay without delay, together with the Australian Labor Party’s policy, outlined by Mr Whitlam, of spending huge sums of money in urban areas would send costs spiralling and the effects on the primary industries would be disastrous. Has the Opposition been to the farmers and explained to them the effects of these announced policies and what compensation measures are envisaged? Until this is done all promises made by the Opposition are sheer hypocrisy. 1 refer now to the wool industry, which is still Australia’s greatest export earner but which is the industry which receives the least direct assistance. The wool industry is now in real trouble because of low prices. The situation in the industry is accentuated in many parts of Queensland by a prolonged drought which has extended over several years. I might mention at this stage that many parts of Queensland still suffer from drought. There now appear to be signs in the wool industry that the strong resistance to any form of marketing, other than the auction system, and resistance to any sort of Government control are starting to weaken. It is hoped that the leaders of the many organisations which represent the wool industry will pull together and devise a scheme which will make the industry solvent. What the industry needs more than anything else at the moment is an infusion of money to compensate for low prices until a more satisfactory method of disposing of our wool has been devised and, in particular, until a means of reducing the costs associated with the present wool selling system has been arrived at. Cost compensation, calculated as a percentage of the gross income, in my view is far preferable to a straight out subsidy per pound of wool. The introduction of a system of cost compensation would enable the producers of good wool to receive just compensation and would encourage wool producers to continue producing this type of wool. We have heard much in recent times about retaining our national heritage, the great merino wool industry, but the best way that we can do this is by enabling the producers to grow merino wool more profitably.
At this stage I must draw to the attention of the Senate the serious drought position that has prevailed for number of years in Queensland. As Queensland is mainly a summer rainfall area, we have only March and April left in which we can expect general rain. If rain fails to arrive large areas of northern and Western Queensland will again be in dire circumstances. Not only does the drought affect the primary producers in those areas but also it has a very serious effect on the towns in those regions. The people in these towns are part and parcel of our export industries and they do their job without having the benefit of the amenities available to city dwellers. The fact that this drought and its effects have been felt for so long has made the problem very serious. We have seen headlines at times about the serious problems brought about by bush fires, cyclones and floods. Those problems have received immediate attention and substantial help has been given.
The drought relief which has been given by the Federal Government at the request of the Queensland Government over the years has been substantial, and it will have been noted from the Governor-General’s Speech that relief is expected to reach SI 5m this year. This help is appreciated very much, but it still will not get those affected out of trouble. Rather than have this hand to mouth relief that we see at the moment, the best way to help the producers is to get them back into production as quickly as possible when the drought breaks. There is evidence that it is breaking in certain parts of Queensland already. Not only will assistance of this type help the producers to become solvent as quickly as possible but also, when it is realised that 95% of our wool and more than half the beef produced in Queensland is exported, it will be appreciated that Australia will so much sooner come back into the export field. Adequate finance by way of re-stocking loans and transport subsidies is the best way to help the grazing industry because our stock numbers are depleted in those areas and graziers will have to go into New South Wales to purchase stock.
I was very pleased to see in the Governor-General’s Speech that $100m has been allocated for irrigation and that of that amount $12.8m has already been given for the building of the Monduran Dam on the Kolan River. That area is one of the richest farming districts in Australia, but because of recurring droughts this area particularly has suffered tremendous losses. It has been estimated that the loss of sugar cane alone for 2 drought years will be $32m. The city of Bundaberg derives its water from the underground supply, which in recent years has become alarmingly low and in danger of salination. So it will be seen that the money that the Federal Government has given for the construction of the Monduran Dam is appreciated very much by the people in the area and is coming at a time when it is really needed. While on the subject of water conservation I. should mention that a very acute position has arisen in a small sugar district in north Queensland around the town of Giru, which is 20 miles south of Townsville. In the past this area has been able to draw its water supply from the Haughton River. Although cyclone ‘Ada’ passed within 100 miles of the Haughton River, the area is still dry. It missed out completely and unless there is rain in that area within the next few weeks the whole sugar crop for that district will be lost and the growers will not be able to produce 1 ton of sugar this year. Although the State Government will be able to provide some water for these people. 1 hope that the area will not be forgotten when finally the Burdekin scheme comes under consideration.
I deal next with electricity. We appreciate very much the Federal Government’s offer of a powerhouse in central Queensland. The discovery of large quantities of minerals in Queensland augurs well for the future. Not only will this bring about prosperous communities in our northern and western areas but also, with far-sighted policies on the part of both Federal and State governments, we may see the day when our so- called empty north will have a reasonably large population. The key to populating the north lies in the production of cheap power for the excavation and treatment of our minerals close to the source of origin. The loan from the Commonwealth towards the building of the large powerhouse at Gladstone is most welcome,, but a great deal more must be considered in the near future as new mineral fields are developed. Nickel production from the deposits at Greenvale, north west of Townsville, will require vast quantities of cheap power if the north is to gain the benefit of its own resources.
In dealing with the central Queensland powerhouse at Gladstone, I ask the Federal Government to give serious consideration to extending its present loan agreement to include a high voltage transmission line between Blackwater and Longreach. The estimated cost of this line is $3m. At present power is being generated in western Queensland by the Central Western Regional Electricity Board and generating plants are situated at Longreach and Barcaldine, from which the power is transmitted to other small centres and to the regional community. Although the use of electricity is increasing as the rural electricity schemes are developed, the cost of producing power is far too great. The cost of producing power at Longreach and Barcaldine powerhouses is estimated at 2.42c per unit compared with .63c at Callide, which is far lower than is envisaged at the new power house at Gladstone. The Central Western Regional Electricity Board estimates thar it could purchase bulk power delivered to the central west for 1.3c per unit or nearly half the present cost of generating power in that area. I ask the Commonwealth Government to consider this aspect so that people in the remoter areas may get power at a reasonable price.
Another aspect that concerns me greatly is the growing trend in this country - a trend that 1 feel is a danger to the democracy and freedom that we have won over the years, and a trend that is condoned by many - to buck authority, the laws of the land and our law making institutions under the guise of freedom of speech, the rights of the individual and the rights of minorities. Some young people seem to regard the universities as a sanctuary wherein they can flout the law and be protected against the police and other law enforcing bodies
Irrespective of what- the . majority may desire. In recent times we have had the experience of trade union executives setting themselves up as the final court in the land to pass judgment on, the Government’s policy. This indicates that renewed pressure from the Communists’ and their fellow travellers is being exerted on the most vulnerable section of the community.
The decision by certain unions to place a black ban on the export of merino rams has reached the height of impertinence. This is a matter that does not concern them. This is purely a matter for the wool industry, and the unions have no more right to interfere in the policies of the wool industry . than the graziers have to interfere in the policies of the unions concerned. I wonder what would be the reaction of the unions and their supporters here if the Graziers Association were to give financial support to a minority group in the unions to bring about a change in union policies. Whatever we may feel about the lifting of the embargo, the decision was made by the government of the day constitutionally elected by the people. Under British democracy as we know it the elected representatives of the people have the final say. If it were not so the result would be to destroy the very freedoms and rights that it has taken us so many years to achieve. An ironical twist to the whole sorry business has come from the fact that 12 of the rams were sold to Communist China. To be branded by the Peking bosses as Fascist unions must have hurt considerably some of these union people unless, of course, they belong to the Moscow mob.
Another sorry episode was the resolution in Victoria by a group of trade union leaders recommending to our troops in Vietnam action which can only be described as mutiny. Although there was much ducking for cover by the people concerned when the full implications of the resolution were realised, there can be no doubt about what their thinking and their views were. Every loyal Australian should regard this episode as a sharp reminder of what is in store for the future.
In dealing with the Department of Housing there are a few matters I should like to mention about the homes savings grant. Firstly, the upper limit of $15,000 on the value of a house, which I understand will be raised to $17,500, applies all over the
Commonwealth irrespective of building costs. While 1 appreciate that it would be difficult to have varying amounts in different parts of the country, it does create a problem for the remoter areas where building costs are extremely high. In fact, in some parts of western Queensland building costs are 60% higher than they are in coastal cities. The remoter areas do not have sufficient building contractors and there are many instances where the cost of modest homes far exceeds the limit applying under this scheme. I hope that more elasticity will apply so that people in the remoter areas do not miss out on this form of assistance.
The Department of Housing has an office in Townsville. Although this is much appreciated there is much criticism of its functions, mainly because the office is staffed by only one person who is supposed to answer the telephone, attend to the mail, inspect war service homes and visit other towns in the area. Honourable senators can imagine what happens. Surely in an area like Townsville, which is expanding rapidly, there is need for a secretary-typist to relieve the officer in charge so that he can attend to more important duties.
Many matters of great importance to Australians are referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. We are very happy that the Government has decided to establish the Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. The Institute will study the Barrier Reef and its marine life, about which very little is known at the moment. We hope that in time the Institute will not only aid research in this area but will assist in developing a much improved tourist industry on the northern coastline of Queensland. I could discuss many more topics but my time has expired. I know that other honourable senators will discuss in detail many of the subjects covered in the Governor-General’s Speech. I trust that the Australian public generally will be heartened by what is envisaged in our legislative programme in the next few months. I have much pleasure in seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– Members of the Opposition tonight have been enthralled by the metooism that seems to have been the feature of the speeches of the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I know that the Republican Party in America successfully copies a lot of what the Democrats have proposed. Perhaps I might start my remarks tonight be referring to the opening remarks of Senator Rae who referred to American big business and indicted it for its conduct against Rheem Australia Pty Ltd. This is a subject that members of the Opposition have been referring to for 4 or 5 years. To put it in proper perspective, we have not stopped at the battle that went on between Rheem and its United States rival. We have argued that in far too many instances the injection of American capital into industries that were functioning very successfully often meant the ushering in of excessive mechanisation - almost neo- automation - with little consideration being given to what was going to happen to the work force. 1 link these remarks with a comment in the Governor-General’s Speech when His Excellency said: To this end overseas training techniques are being studied’. Of course, this comment was related to the re-training of employees who are displaced by technological changes. The most effective indictment of this dilatoriness is the fact that my colleagues Senator Bishop and Senator Cavanagh have been requesting information on the results of the extensive studies that the Department of Labour and National Service has undertaken in relation to automation. We have already seen a few danger spots. Frequently we have referred to the Golden Fleece case, and there have been other cases. When there is some change over in industry it creates rather a sombre thought and it is not always news value, lt is one of the many things in this report which is virtually a vindication of what the Australian Labor Party has said, and particularly in various speeches which were made last year in the election campaign, the result of which gave this Government a tremendous shock. There is no question about that. Honourable senators opposite have seen their ranks thinned because the people have responded so definitely to so much of what we have said. 1 think the most significant point is the way in which the Government has seized on many long overdue reforms for immediate attention. In the case of the advance of big business no less a newspaper than the Sydney ‘Daily
Telegraph’ last week referred to the inference that in some parts of the new frontier the Stars and Stripes are virtually flying above the Southern Cross. 1 am not one of those who indulge in jingoism. I believe in the adequate influx of capital, provided those who invest the capital give due respect to the Australian government of the day. Those who had the whines over the Rheem case should remember that it is not going to end there.
I am going to take it a little further and cite one of a number of instances, lt occurred in Western Australia. My colleague, Senator Cant, would be aware of this. The incident took place in a country town. The Amalgamated Engineering Union delegate defended a mess orderly. The next thing we knew was they were both hounded out of the town. My information of this incident was obtained from a report by the Commonwealth Council Secretary of the AEU, Mr John Gartin. Another incident was in the Northern Territory. I believe that on this occasion, which occurred during the last election campaign, Senator Georges was with me. We had the famous case of a strike at Gove which began with a crane operator refusing a command and then being virtually forced to operate a crane and lift a load in excess of what was authorised. There was an accident, followed by an upheaval. A dispute occurred and finally it was conceded that the contractor was at fault. While there are always charges of contempt of court levelled at trade unions which try to exercise the right of labour, nothing was done about that employer. This is the atmosphere. This is the new frontier that is created in some areas. 1 would say that, in the year 1970 when Jack is as good as his master, it is not much good having all these things sacrified on the altar of development.
We take the same attitude in relation to the trade union movement as is taken on the point about justice for Rheem. I want to digress for a moment and comment on what Senator Maunsell said about Mr Hawke. Mr Hawke has made one point crystal clear. At the various meetings and luncheon gatherings he has addressed Mr Hawke has commented on the protracted hearings by the arbitration court to define what industry can pay the labour force. We do not squeal about that - we accept it - but what we do object to is the situation that, if it is stated that 3%, 5% or 6% is what industry can afford to pay on its existing profits, in a matter of months the price of steel manufactured by an organisation such as Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd goes up. Some senators will say: What is the answer? 1 assure them that United States Presidents, whether they were Trueman or Kennedy, from time to time had to exercise their presidential powers to curb big business in the United States. Honourable senators opposite say: ‘Well, we have an arbitration court here and the workers get their rises’, but within 6 months price rises occur.
The Labor Party says that if the arbitration system is to be accorded greater respect then wage rises will have to mean something. The Government has been very reluctant to influence in any way the Associated Chambers of Manufactures to curb any of these big industries. In fact if Senator Maunsell, who talked about trade union bosses and complained about the nonacceptance of the umpire’s decision, will read what Mr Fowler of the Metal Trades Employers Federation said on the equal pay case he will see that this is a classical illustration. We know the term - I do not use it - that the law is an ass. I do not subscribe to that saying but 1 give the Senate a particular case where this kind of criticism was invited. This case concerns members of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association who operate lifting appliances in the metal trades. Everyone else was receiving meal allowance of $1 but the members of this union received only 75c. It does not matter what job a man is doing on the factory floor; they all have much the same appetite. There are some stupid decisions that people will not accept at present.
The other big feature that Senator Rae referred to was Vietnam. Looking back, 1 think that none of us gloats over the matter at all. The Labor Party said that the prerequisite of victory - perhaps the word should not be victory but a stable soiety - in any of these emerging nations is that the government in control has the full confidence of the people. I could not help notice a comparison. This morning I read in the ‘Canberra Times’ an article headed: Several factors have helped foil Communists in Thailand’. The article referred among other things to the Buddhists and all the people who at village level were not ashamed to come down to participate in the various reforms that were taking place. I know that honourable senators opposite can argue and ask: ‘If South Vietnam is menaced by the North Vietnamese how can an effective tempo of reform be maintained?’ It is not merely a question of reform. Honourable senators will notice that I am quoting the opinions of people who cannot be called members of the Australian Labor Party, yet it cannot be said of them that they are not on the bail. Honourable senators opposite question the bona fides of everyone we mention. I refer to two articles on Vietnam which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 30 and 31 December last. The articles were written by Denis Warner. Referring lo events late last year, he said:
Were Australians posted as advisers or even liaison officers in the populated areas in the two provinces and even down to district level Americans not Australians still advised the Vietnamese officials and commanders.
The point I am making is this: There have been a series of governments in South Vietnam and all sorts of promises have been made by them. One of the latest is the nationalisation of prostitution. If that is the sort of society that is being built, I shake my head. 1 am not questioning that any war produces black marketing and has other byproducts. However, a great deal of money has gone into South Vietnam. 1 have never indicted the United States on that. I have said that the United States has been over generous but naive. Any leaders can say they are anti-Communists but they still can be corrupt. We only have to go back to Bao Dai to see this. We seem to get people who are not prepared to take on the merchant class or the landlords in order to do something about the situation. What >.s the next stage? It is obvious that deescalation of the war is inevitable and that at some point there will be a neutralist government in Vietnam.
Even President Kennedy said that the conflict was the war of the Vietnamese. What this means in simple language is the Vietnamisation of the army. We know that the incidence of desertion is high and that there has always been a racket where people can buy themselves out of the army call-ups. This never happened in the Second World War with the resistance movements in Europe. We know that for a fact. The plain fact of the matter is that in Vietnam we started with a situation of fragmentation including a variety of religions. There were so many conflicting things which made it impossible to weld a cohesive force. I do not want any wholesale massacres by the victors of the vanquished to occur, but it is as plain as a pike staff that at some point in time Vietnam will have a neutralist government. I do not say that the Vietcong represent the majority of the people any more than does the present Government in Saigon, but we observe on newsreels the expressions on the people’s faces which show over 60% of them would take any form of government as long as the gunfire ceases. That is the broad situation.
We say that this situation can be reached and that people will have to live with one another. I appreciate the fears and misgivings of some people but we have double standards here. I recall when 1 made my maiden speech 3 or 4 years ago I talked about Eastern Europe and I received a few heckling remarks from a few back benchers. They were entitled to heckle me; and I do it to them. I was heckled because they believed I was soft with Communism. However, the Government has trade agreements with Romania and other eastern European countries. The point I am making on the sophisticated approach is that the United States and Britain, if they can do so at any time, skilfully play off China against the Soviet Union in world politics. We do it. My theme is that the Government is virtually endorsing what the Labor Party said during and prior to the last election campaign. This is so in regard to signing of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. We were told that the Government was not going to have a bar of it. Even when we said that the United States suggested it would be a wise move, we were still scorned. In the final analysis it boils down to this. Nobody knows what will happen in the next decade, but at least we know that there is a better chance in having the existing atomic powers joined in even some loose federation than by drifting out into the unknown while fearing that at any time China might achieve nuclear parity. These are the facts of life, and we are confronted with these kinds of situation.
On the point of anybody’s possessing a treasonable attitude, I have mentioned before that Senator Mansfield and Senator
Fulbright of the United States, as well as many other Americans, are getting sick and tired of Vietnam. They feel that some of America’s best men have been shot there. War does brutalise people, and we have always believed that a corpse either in Saigon or in Hanoi is a tragedy. Many of us argue for the Christian concept as a way of life in preference to that coming down from the north. But the trouble is that, incidents such as those in which an American officer, Lieutenant Calley, was involved tend to show how things have got out of hand and how frustration is rife. We of the Opposition are not gloating. We simply say* that we have offered before certain ideas about accepting the Vietcong at the conference table. It is not necessary to endorse all the domestic policies of North Vietnam in simply trying to gain a cease fire. As each month goes by the pressure will increase on President Nixon. It will come down to our Government and the governments of our allies.
Another interesting point is that at least we have paid our way. That may be a virtue or a vice. Our Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser), our Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and his predecessors, have had discussions with other leaders. A famous conference was held at Honolulu at which President L. B. Johnson attended. It has amazed me that nobody told the Australian people that the Americans were virtually equipping the Thai battalions holus bolus. We have rather fragile allies. I am not talking in a spirit of ‘We know best’. We say that in terms of hard and practical common sense we need adequate defence for Australia proper. We believe in regional treaties with countries with a reasonable chance of success. I include in that category Singapore and Malaya, but I do not include South Vietnam. I direct the attention of honourable senators back to 1945 when a French Socialist Government failed very badly. In that period there was a Labor Government in Australia, the Fraser Government was in office in New Zealand and Clem Attlee led the British Labour Government which ushered in self government for India, Pakistan and other countries. Of course, there were growing pains associated with independence in those countries, but at least the situation was better than in countries where reform was delayed. I do not blame this Australian Government or the present American Government foi mistakes made at that time, but those mistakes should not be perpetuated.
I have a fairly middle of the road approach. We hear a lot of talk in the Senate about student demonstrations, but after all it is the young people in the 18 to 25-years-old group whose bodies may cop the shrapnel. These people have more than a vested interest in the war in Vietnam. The situation in Vietnam is past the emotional stage at which one tries to guess who is a goodie and who is a baddie. It is time to act to ease the tensions. 1 believe that senior Ministers of the Government have acted quite rightly in fraternising with Eastern European leaders. They might do well to read two articles on Vietnam written by Djilas, who at least saw some of the faults of Stalinism. If the articles are read in a sophisticated fashion it is clear that the Russians were not above endeavouring to play the Americans and the British against one another. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If we were to capitalise on any schism between the Soviet Union and China, that would be well and good.
There is a reference in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the question of how fast we can provide self government for Papua-New Guinea. 1 will content myself with referring to a very informative article by Peter Hastings which appeared in the Australian’ on 4th February last. The heading is ‘Santamaria’s Error: New Guinea Cannot be Braked’. We were simply saying that we did not want to keep promising to give a minimum of reform, whether it was appreciated or not. The more education that is given to the indigenous people the less likely they are to drift along in a very slow fashion. One of the best indictments of the Government’s policy was given to my Leader by an officer who, I think, is attached to the staff of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). At a seminar he conceded that we did a service by bringing the question of major reform in Papua and New Guinea to the forefront.
The next subject I will touch on might come under the beading of the best of times or the worst of times. I refer to the dreadful position of the six State Premiers in their huffing and puffing about what they were going to do about our federal system. We were told by Mr Pagan, the Federal President of the Liberal Party, what his views were on the subject. On this remarkable subject of faceless men, nobody knows the views of the Federal Executive of the Liberal Party. I look around here and see my colleagues who have served in very high positions on the Federal Executive of the ALP who were once referred to as faceless men. They were never afraid in the cause of democracy to express their views, but the Liberal Partyapparatus is.
Senator Maunsell referred to handouts to the States. Mr Askin, Premier of my home State of New South Wales, spoke of how harshly he thought the Federal Government was acting. In the Labor Party we would put it another way. At the moment the in word is ‘Canada’. It is said that we have to follow Canada. I think people know my views. I believe in grants to the States, but I believe in tying a label to them so that they will be spent by the State governments for a specific purpose. I have believed over the years that in many ways New South Wales spends more on education and lest on health than Queensland, where the situation is reversed. I do not think that should have happened. I am not criticising either State or speaking from a political angle. It simply means that in one State you may have got a better education, but in your early years you may not have received good health services. I am talking in terms of money spent.
I appreciate that in Queensland there is a free medical system, but in terms of beds per ward I think there were certain inferior provisions. I return to the subject of Canada and the idea of putting labels on grants. Recent figures show that in Canada $66 per head of population goes to specific grants annually. In Australia the figure is $33. To put it another way, the Government has, as I concede, taken the challenge and has made grants available for education. This has been done to a limited degree, as far as Aboriginal advancement is concerned. Many more ways are open in which to act
I do not wish to quarrel with Senator Maunsell about priorities. I can assure him that a Labor government would act to correct the situation in which the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) finds himself. He cannot properly serve three masters. The Australian Water Resources Council should be placed under the control of the Minister for the Interior. Obviously the Minister for National Development has to placate the Atomic Energy Commission. Mineral resources are under his administration. Clearly on occasions there will be a conflict of interests.
I am sorry that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) is not in the chamber at the moment. I do not blame him outright for this situation, but honourable senators will recall that in the last hour of the last session 1 asked him what assurances he could give me as to questions put on the notice paper. He said that he would do all he could. One question related to a survey by Professor Baxter and his friends of the Atomic Energy Commission of the Finness River to find out how much pollution had occurred there. Senator Bull is a cattle man. If he were in the chamber he would appreciate my solicitude in this matter. It is March, but 1 have not received an answer to the question. I do not know what has happened to it, but I believe that the Ministry of National Development has been recreant to its trust in not providing an answer.
The Governor-General’s Speech contains many points on which we have had responsive audiences in the States. I am more than a little concerned about the attitudes of Ministers who are supposed to be looking after the little people. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden), has held other portfolios. He has never been backward in telling trade union secretaries the mode of conduct they should follow. His predecessor, Mr Bury, who is now Treasurer, lectured our Arbitration Commission judges in trying to relate economics to our arbitration system. That is all right with me, providing that the Government will play ball on other occasions. If there was a wage increase and it was found that by pressure, direct or indirect, the prices of basic commodities did not rise, I think the trade union movement might do some of the things honourable senators opposite have talked about, particularly in the Scandinavian system. In Scandanavia the workers get certain stability. Agreement is reached and for 2 or 3 years there are no side issues or disputes. If the Government does it that way - if it gives the trade union movement an assurance that, after a protracted wage hearing when an increase of 5%, 7% or 10% is granted, the price of basic commodities will not rise for 1 year or 2 years - it will get the harmony it wants. But the matter does not end there.
Take this vexed question of health. I can imagine the terrific turmoil that is going on in the Government, both at the Cabinet level and at the party level, about hospital contribution and medical benefit funds. I will not impose on the Senate to the extent of dealing at length with this matter. My colleague, Senator McClelland, and I used some very strong language in letters we exchanged with a gentleman named Mr Turner. It is strange that when the banks decided that various organisations would have to pay for services, the first organisation to say that it would increase premiums was the Hospitals Contribution Fund. I can appreciate the feelings of small organisations such as the sporting bodies and others in that category. 1 waited in vain for Dr Forbes to say: You have S22m salted away; you live off that for a while.’ There has never been a word. This is the kind of attitude we deplore. We will be waiting, with added interest, to see what kind of system the Government introduces.
Reference has been made to certain lower income groups. With all deference, our attitude is that the funds should feed back some of the fat that they have accumulated, by way of better benefits or lower premiums. The Government should not perpetuate this massive confidence trick by saying: ‘We have reached agreement with the Australian Medical Association. We intend to increase the premiums again.’ It is like the war to end all wars; this is the increase to end all increases. When that happens pigs will fly. I can assure honourable senators opposite that we will not accept the Government’s present attitude. If the Government intends to implement the rest of the Nimmo Committee recommendations, particularly its recommendation for a national health commission, well and good. But there have been so many breaches of faith and nothing has happened. I refer to the famous occasion when one medical fund in Sydney bought an aeroplane. The members of the fund were never consulted. Unfortunately, the plane crashed. The fund did not buy another one. If an aircraft was a vital necessity the fund should have bought another. Its failure to do so showed the duplicity of its approach.
I wish to continue on a more temperate tone because I notice Senator Wright looking intently at me from across the chamber. I notice that the Governor-General’s Speech states:
International tourism nowadays is big business.
It mentions how the revenue derived from tourism has galloped up from$1 6m to $120m. Senator Wright knows that I often believe in telegraphing punches.In fairness to him. I must say that during the recess I wrote him a letter about the matter of revenue from tourism. I was prompted by a remark made by Senator McClelland about the British film industry. I think 2d out of every filmgoers payment goes to a fund to help the British film industry. I believe that the age has been reached when big bus companies that do well out of tourism should make some contribution. I do give credit where it is due. Just as the Government is rightly making the airlines pay to a degree for the maintenance of navigation and other facilities associated with aviation, some few cents out of each $1 earned by the bus companies should be paid into a fund from which Senator Wright or perhaps the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) could feed back money to State conservation Ministers who could then acquire the extra acreage that we have been advocating for the protection of our marsupials. I know that my colleague, Senator Poyser, is activating a lot of people in Victoria. There is a growing demand for conservation.
I am prepared to admit this to the Treasury: If it were getting some of the money back from tourism to preserve a lot of our heritage the process would be relatively painless. Treasury would not veto such a suggestion.I have in my possession a letter from a former Treasurer, the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon), who told me in blunt terms about the many commitments that the Treasury has. I leave that point with Senator Wright because I think he will agree with me that when the tourist industry earns $300m a year it is time for the people living on that industry to put back something for the future. The scheme that I mentioned is one of the ways in which that could be done. It is probably not as direct as some ways that I could think of, but sometimes particular levies mean something. None of us is very happy about any type of taxation. If money collected from bridge tolls is used to build new bridges, that money has been spent wisely. We know that at present not all the money collected in petrol tax is used on road construction. A lot of it is, but not all of it.If the Government wishes to be consistent on this point, all the money should be spent on road construction.
I notice that Senator Rae referred to the Australian aircraft industry. For 5 years numerous trade unions in New South Wales have complained about the fate of the Victa aircraft. Obviously Senator Bishop would be far more competent thanI to elaborate on this. On numerous occasions he has bowled up some leg breaks to Senator Anderson who has had difficulty keeping his wicket intact because he knew in his heart that we were letting the industry contract. If there is to be a change in the scene, we are happy. I conclude on this note: In the Governor-General’s Speech and the speeches of Senators Rae and Maunsell there was so much that was advocated by Mr Whitlam, Senator Murphy, Senator Willesee and every man jack of us on the hustings that at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery the Labor Party can be very happy tonight.
-I think that most honourable senators heard the Governor-General’s Speech with a feeling of relief. We have been so much criticised because Parliament has been inactive that we must have felt relief that we were faced with a programme of legislation which probably will keep us going hard until the end of May. That Speech contained quite a number of attractive proposals, but our objection to the Speech is that we do not think it dealt adequately with certain questions of principle on which my Party thinks deeply. For that reason, I move:
Dealing with the first of these proposals, let me say that I was intensely disappointed at the failure of the Governor-General’s Speech to deal adequately with the questions of foreign policy which are particularly close to our hearts. I have heard it said that one of the duties of the Foreign Minister was to keep his opponents, his prospective enemies, guessing. No Australian Government has been more successful than the present one in keeping its potential enemies guessing about its foreign policy, but I would go further and say that no Australian Government has been more effective in keeping everybody guessing about its foreign policy. If I am called upon to give some examples, allow me to quote this gem from the Governor-General’s Speech dealing with the possible withdrawals of American forces from Vietnam:
Should the future situation permit a further substantial withdrawal of troops - beyond those announced by President Nixon on 16th December 1969 - then in consultation with the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the Government of the United States, some Australian troops will be included, at some stage, in the numbers scheduled for such withdrawal.
I do not know if that statement has anybody else in a fog, but it certainly has mc in one. I can remember the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) saying with considerable eloquence during the election campaign that a Labor government would do certain things in regard to foreign policy which would make it most dangerous to elect such a government. If one examines that speech one finds that the Prime Minister said that a Labor government must not be elected because it would sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Prime Minister in his election campaign said this: ‘We shall not sign the Treaty until we are sure that it is an effective treaty, that it provides protection to its signatories and that Australia’s security in the future is not endangered’. The Treaty today is the same Treaty as when the Prime Minister uttered those words.
– But it is not ratified.
– The Prime Minister said ‘signed’. He did not say ‘ratified’. He gave a categorical promise to the Australian people that he would not sign the Treaty until all those effective provisions were included in it. Having made that promise to the Australian people the Government has proceeded to break it. I feel some sympathy with the Prime Minister in this respect. 1 feel he would have preferred not to sign the Treaty, but-
– How would you know that?
– How would you know what happens in your Caucus? The Prime Minister succumbed to pressure from the new Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon), he succumbed to pressure from leading personalities in the Department of External Affairs who mounted their own Press campaign to twist the Government’s arm, he succumbed to pressure from the United States and he succumbed to pressure from certain people who describe themselves as left wing. For years these people have been saying that Australia must not slavishly follow America. They have said that Australia must not go all the way with LBJ, and having said that for years they are now saying that Australia has to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and do away with the national service system because America has done away with it. I feel some sympathy for the Government in this respect.
Foreign policy for a country like Australia, in the times we live in, is not easy. Policies have been enunciated by President Nixon on which differing interpretations are given almost from day to day. The British Government is determined to withdraw from the East. If figures mean anything, that Government faces inevitable defeat and it will be replaced by a government which assures us that Britain will retain a presence in the East. Under those circumstances it is not easy to set out a foreign policy for the future. But surely Australia should be able to decide definitely on whom it is going to rely. It used to rely on Britain - and she may be gone, and she may come back. Australia relies - and the best prospect, I think, is to rely - on the United States. But some people in the Department of External Affairs have said thai Australia ought to rely on the Soviet Union. 1 do not think one will hear much more about that, as a result of the last election. Other individuals are saying that Australia should rely on a rearming Japan.
We are told the Government favours forward defence, and it initiates measures which, if they mean anything, appear to me to mean that they are preparing to get out. The Government has announced that Australia is going to take certain defensive measures in Western Australia, but has it done anything in the direction of collective defence arrangements? Has it done anything in regard to a collective foreign policy with countries around the Indian Ocean? I ask: What about the Pacific islands? The sea routes of the Pacific islands are vital to us. Big things are happening. In the Pacific islands area a number of countries are becoming independent and they are being wooed by other countries. Is Australia doing anything? Has it any policy? The Government has been repeatedly criticised in the Press because it has no policy in regard to that area. Australia seems to be groping all the time. That is one reason for my disappointment with that section of the Governor-General’s Speech.
Now I want to turn to what is going to be a big issue this year - primary industry. Let nobody be mistaken. 1 live in one of the most prosperous and fertile States of the Commonwealth. I have never seen more resentment and more ill will than exists at the present time amongst the primary producers of that State. This has been shown in demonstrations at places like Edenhope, Hamilton and Warrnambool. This unrest has spread to New South Wales. The other day J attended a meeting at Jerilderie which started at 1 o’clock and ended at 6 o’clock. There were between 1,500 and 2,000 farmers there. Farmers would not go to a meeting like that unless they felt pretty strongly about the position in their industry. There are to be other meetings in places like Ballarat. The farmers have organised - something which is foreign to their usual practice - a march on Parliament House for the end of this month. Nobody need be surprised that that can happen when there is a rise of 3% in farm costs and a depression in farm produce prices of 3% within a comparatively short period. The situation exists in Australia where people who know more about primary production than 1 do tell me that the meat and tobacco industries seem to have reasonable prospects but practically all other primary industries are in trouble.
I do not want to speak airily. 1 want to give facts as they are presented to me. The movement of farmers in Victoria began at Edenhope and they have issued figures as to the reason why they have taken action. For a start, let me say that this is an area which suffered considerably in the recent drought. Mr E. G. Garth, the taxation accountant in the town, has been the organiser of the movement He states that the Kowree Shire is the sixth largest shire in Victoria, the second biggest producer of wool in the State, has the second highest number of sheep and lambs in the State - nearly 2 million - and has a total occupied area of I million acres, of which only 92,000 remain unimproved, it also produces 2,600,000 bushels of wheat, oats and barley, plus beef, dairy cattle, small seeds, dried fruits, fodder and fat lambs. Mr Garth gave the results of a survey of thirty farms. This was a random survey and not a choice of hard core cases. He said that the average area of the farms was 892 acres, and the average liability was $28,400, with an average rate of increase of debt over 3 years of $3,645 per annum.
– Was this a random selection?
– So Mr Garth says. The average reduction of debt over the same period was $325 per annum, giving a net debt increase of $3,000 per annum. These amounts did not include indirect finance made available by credit from local traders, private loans and hire purchase. A further selection of 600 farmers showed that nearly 300 had net incomes over the past 3 years of less than the Australian minimum wage. There are 906 farms in the shire, and the survey showed that nearly 50% brought in net incomes of less than the basic wage. Referring to the position of the towns Mr Garth pointed out that, because a shrinkage in farm incomes has disastrous effects in local business, in Horsham there were something like 200 houses for sale, in Casterton 45 and in Coleraine 14. He said that a butter factory, a hotel, and a chemist shop had already closed in Coleraine. In Hamilton only 80 of 450 school leavers were able to be placed in employment locally, and there were twelve vacant shops in the main shopping area. To those who may question his figures let me say that if they are wrong why does Mr Garth obtain the support of hundreds of farmers at such meetings? They would not go there if they were well off. They would not go there if they were not in trouble.
How, if things are all right, could you get between 1,500 and 2,000 farmers to a meeting in the rich Riverina district - one of the richest areas in Australia? I was present at this meeting, where the farmers made immediate demands on the Government to implement a short term plan to effect instant relief in fields most affected by the cost-price squeeze, including land tax, receipts tax, shire rates, consolidation of rural debt, interest rates, freight and transport costs, wool compensation and education. They called for the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the total effect of the cost-price pressures, inflation, tariffs and marketing methods on primary production and the rural community, with emphasis to be placed on the appraisement and assessment of new longterm development programmes to secure the retention of the family farm as a major part of Australian agriculture. As we are aware there are certain people who today say that the only remedy for the position in primary industry is to get rid of the family farm and institute huge collectivetype farms.
I realise that there is an attempt in some quarters to politicalise the situation. I hope that we will deal with this matter on the basis of doing the best we can for what is a very vital industry to Australia. We have to be fair and realise that this is not something that applies only to Australia. This is something which applies also to other parts of the world - to areas where farmers are just as efficient and to areas where production is almost as great as it is in Australia. Wherever Mr Wilson, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, has gone in recent weeks, he has found big demonstrations by farmers protesting at the position of the primary industry. In Canada the Prime Minister, Mr Trudeau, had a very bad time when he visited the western wheat prairies. He was told very bluntly by one of the leaders of the country who apparently did not appreciate Mr
Trudeau’s activities among the ladies that it was felt that Mr Trudeau should devote less attention to dates and more attention to wheat. In France in recent months farmers in certain areas have stood at the side of the road giving away their produce in protest against the position of primary industry in that country. There is trouble in New Zealand and in areas of the United States of America.
I believe that the reason for this trouble is a reason outside our country; it is a general reason. The position roughly is that the system of distribution in the world has broken down. We are told by the United Nations that of every 6 children born in the world today - we think we are progressive - between 3 and 4 children will never have enough to eat, will never have a proper home as we know it, and will never be properly clothed or educated as we know it. There are plenty of mouths for our food and plenty of bodies’ requiring our wool. But the fact is that the ‘have not’ countries today have not got the money to buy what the ‘have’ countries are producing. The position is not improving as we would hope. What is happening in the world today is that the ‘have nots’ are becoming worse off than the ‘haves’, who ip spite of the problems in th rural industry, are becoming better off.
I believe this problem has to be tackled firstly on a world-wide basis. One thing that has to be done is the provision of capital by some international organisation to the ‘have not’ countries for development. I believe the ‘have’ countries should devote more money to aid. For example, I think that we ought to lift our foreign aid to at least 2% of our gross national product. However, that is a long term measure which will not satisfy our own farmers who require short term measures. I note some remedial measures in the Governor-General’s Speech for which the Government has to be given credit, but I think there is a lot more to be done. We have to do a lot more in the provision of long term finance at low interest rates. We have to push our marketing, and to do a lot of other things. I hope that the Senate will decide to grant the second of the demands made at the farmers’ meeting I referred to - the demand for a royal commission which has been placed before the
Parliament by my Party. I repeat what I said before: In my view one of the most serious issues in this country today - an issue which will have a powerful effect on the result of the Senate elections to be held this year - is the situation of the primary industry.
Our third objection to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is that it does not adequately propose any solution to the unsatisfactory situation in Commonwealth-State relations. We know what is happening. The States are getting further and further into the red. They are deeply discontented, and that discontent is expressed to a LiberalCountry Party Government by Liberal and Country Party Premiers in every State of the Commonwealth. For example, we have been told that the Government may legislate to allow the States to collect receipt taxes. I do not think it is a very popular form of taxation. I think it can have snowballing effects which could be strongly inflationary. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) suggested in a broadcast recently that if the States collect a receipt tax they ought to lift the tax considerably. AH I can say about that suggestion is that the Government should be wary about lifting that type of tax in view of its inflationary character. I think that something has to be done to give the States an equitable share of direct income tax. My Party will support that proposal because it is opposed to centralisation and it believes in a proper federal system, which is not possible without effective CommonwealthState financial relations.
I refer next to the position of the family. There are some proposals in the Speech such as the remission of taxation which may have some favourable effect in regard to a family. But I am not terribly keen on small remissions of taxation. I think that it would be better for the Government to retain the tax rates as they are and to provide for those people in the community who are underprivileged and for the family man. I would prefer seeing child endowment increased to seeing taxation reduced. That is something that has to be faced up to in this community where there is a prospect of equal pay being introduced. If and when equal pay is introduced there will be considerably greater spending power in the hands of the single man, and honourable senators know as well as I that the consequences to the married man will be serious. I feel that this Government is falling down on the essential job of helping the family and of helping to populate this country when it again fails to increase child endowment, when it leaves maternity allowances at the miserable rates at which they have been for so many years, and when in regard to education it still has not done all it should, although I must be fair and admit that the Government has done a lot in recent years for education. I think that it has shown commendable interests in education but I feel it could go further. There ought to be measures to encourage a man with a wife and children, particularly those who have large families, because in the present circumstances these families have a very tough job.
Finally, my Party regrets the noninclusion in the Speech of measures for a contributory national insurance scheme. If it was brought in it would- do away with all the pettifogging about the means test and prying into people’s personal affairs. The ordinary worker could pay a reasonable sum out of his wages and be assured of reasonable financial independence as of right in his old age or when in trouble. Such a scheme operates in most progressive countries today. I can never understand why the Government has not taken steps to adopt such a scheme in Australia. I commend the Government for its proposals to provide for those who may be disadvantaged by the technological changes. This matter has been brought up in particular by the Federated Clerks Union of Australia and I think that this is one of the most commendable proposals in the Speech. I am glad that the Government has brought credit unions into the home loans scheme. I recall a tremendous fight over this matter with the Government a couple of years ago. The Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party sought to include credit unions in the relevant legislation but the Government refused to accept the proposal and held up the Bill. However. I am pleased to see that the Government now admits that it was wrong and we were right. The export of merino rams is not mentioned in the Speech for obvious reasons. I am sorry that the Government has decided to do by executive action what the Parliament would reject if it came before us in the form of legislation. I am a little bit perturbed at the increasing tendency to use Executive power - to disregard die will of Parliament on the site of Parliament House; to disregard the will of the Senate, which is part of the legislative process, in the case of the lifting of the ban on the export of merino rams and to disregard the will of the Parliament in the case of the Canberra abattoirs. I hope that we will never have to carry a motion here to the effect that the power of the Executive has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.
Finally, 1 wish to make a brief reference to some remarks by Mr Whitlam at a meeting the other day in which he launched a declaration of war on the Australian Democratic Labor Party. He is not the first Leader of his Party 10 do that. He asserted practically that we had no right to be here. I need only say this: If his desires were accomplished, the situation would be that the Government would have a majority in this House as well as in the other House and the Senate would become a rubber stamp. If the Australian Labor Party obtained a majority in the Senate, we would have a Government majority in the other House and an ALP majority in this House. This could result only in frustration. The present system gives us the Australian Democratic Labor Party which votes for issues on their merits and, whether people like us or not, honourable senators will find that, throughout the community, people will say that since the Australian Democratic Labor Party has been represented here the Senate has never functioned better in its capacity as a House of review. That is my reply to Mr Whitlam. I think that, in the circumstances in which he finds himself he would do much better to concentrate on constructive effort rather than the launching of declarations of war.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - ls the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, we are witnessing an amazing spectacle tonight. We have had a build up in the Press and in other mass media of this new united Australian Labor Party which is going to fight the Government and which is the alternative Government. We have had a build up of the fine young fighting’ men who have come into this Parliament from the Australian Labor Party. We have been told thai the Government will be under the greatest pressure. Well, here was an opportunity tonight. For the first time that 1 can remember in my period in this Parliament, an amendment has not been moved to the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech by the Australian Labor Party. Members of the Opposition are showing a disinclination to debate the AddressinReply. One can assume only either that the build up has gone to their heads: thai they are convinced that the public will believe what the Press is saying and so they need do nothing about it, or that they have not in fact the will to fight. Another alternative. I suppose, is that the far reaching proposals contained in the Governor-General’s Speech have left them dumbfounded. II is extraordinary that the Party which Senator McManus represents . and which Mr Whitlam has said has no right in this Parliament is the only party .which has moved an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– We have always moved the best amendments, though. This is not the first time.
– That is a matter of judgment. I will say this for the honourable senator’s Party: What it says makes more sense and is more constructive than what the Australian Labor Party proposes. It will be interesting to see as this debate develops how many members of this new. untied, fighting, progressive Party stand up and tell us what they believe in.
– The honourable senator lost some of his colleagues in Western Australia.
– Yes, but they will come back. Unless the performance by honourable senators opposite improves considerably on what we have seen in the last two days, my colleagues will be back pretty soon. Do not make any mistake about that. The Governor-General, in outlining the Government’s programme, dealt with a large range of proposals and a considerable amount of legislation. Tonight T wish to deal only with several matters of national importance which were raised by the Governor-General.
His Excellency referred to our commitment to Malaysia and Singapore at the request of the governments of those two countries. This commitment in the past - and we must talk in the past tense in dealing with the Australian Labor Party - has been criticised on many grounds, some philosophical. The Australian Labor Party, of course, as an isolationist party does not believe in the commitment of Australian troops overseas. The Australian Labor Party does not support the forward posture concept which is supported by this Government and by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Members of the Australian Labor Party have also criticised the stationing of Australian troops in Malaysia and Singapore on the ground that the number of troops stationed there was so small as to be farcical and would not deter aggression. This seems to me to show a peculiar misunderstanding of the issues involved.
The forces which are stationed in these countries are there not only for military purposes but also to demonstrate a political will. One of the major problems that confronts the countries of South East Asia in particular in the face of the external threat from Communism is that of confidence. They must be assured that friends are available and willing to provide support should that support be required. Governments of nations that are threatened must know that support will be available when they are threatened and not at some unforseeable time in the future. It is notorious and reasonable that governments in developing areas, particularly in South East Asia and, indeed, in Africa and South America, because of the lack of political and economic stability, are unsure of themselves. They face internal subversion. We as a Government have made it quite clear that our forces are not to be committed in cases of internal subversion or civil war.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his defence statement some considerable time ago made this fact, I think, patently clear. He said that at all times our forces will be under the command of Australian commanders and the Australian Government. They will be available only in the case of external attack or when, in the opinion of the Government, there is a threat of external subversion. The knowledge of this undertaking provides a sense of security in these countries that is essential to their further economic and political development. Without it, instability would continue to be a major problem that would be an impediment to economic and political progress. This seems to me to be the major reason for our commitment in these areas. It is, 1 repeat, to demonstrate a political will.
Having dealt briefly with Malaysia and Singapore, I turn briefly to the situation in Vietnam. The Governor-General has clearly restated the Australian Government’s position on Vietnam. I noted today with some perplexity that, in a question to the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson), Senator Georges referred to the United States withdrawal as some gigantic hoax. I really think that members of this new united - or disunited - Opposition should get together because I heard gloating questions asked by members of the Opposition, particularly by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), referring to the United States withdrawal as a recognition of defeat by the United States in Vietnam. Yet Senator Georges refers to it as some sort of gigantic hoax. Those senators who take great comfort in the United States withdrawal should understand the facts of the situation. It is quite clear - the evidence is conclusive - that the military and political positions in South Vietnam have improved to the extent that fewer troops are now required or are necessary to hold the position. Admittedly there are still very grave economic problems, as one would expect in a country which has been under attack for so long. But because of the military and political positions, and because of the success of the policy of Vietnamisation, fewer United States troops are required than was formerly the case.
I suppose if there can be one criticism of the United States effort in South Vietnam it is that in the past it has placed too little reliance on building up the South Vietnamese forces and has made it a purely American operation. But in the past 12 to 18 months there has been a change of policy and the South Vietnamese have shown themselves to be not only willing but also able to bear a far greater burden in the defence of their own country. They are showing a new confidence in their ability to do so. One fear that I would express is that the withdrawal must not be so precipitous as to destroy confidence, as confidence is the key not only to the problem of Vietnam but also to the problem of South East Asia generally. It is essential that Thailand, which is under threat and which for a considerable time has been suffering from the effects of subversion from inside and outside, should be confident that should a situation arise in which it is unable to handle an attack from outside its borders, forces will be available to defend ils territorial integrity. If this confidence does not exist the domino theory will have much validity, not necessarily through military attack but through the loss of confidence in the governments of South East Asia which will lead to an increasing swing to the left and a destruction of the will to resist, lt seems to me that this is one of the major objectives in South East Asia today, not only in Vietnam but also in other areas. ] remind honourable senators that Lee Kuan Yew, the Socialist, is on record as having said that if South Vietnam falls, all the little fishes in Asia will fall also. In the past Lee Kuan Yew has been hailed by the Labor Party as the great hope of Asia, but we do not hear so much about him today.
The United Stales’ objectives in South East Asia have been questioned, but I believe that the objectives are unchanged. A study of President Nixon’s speeches reveals that he has made it quite clear in the strongest terms that the United States is determined that aggression shall nol succeed and that his country’s objective in South Vietnam remains unchanged. He has stated the objective as being the right of the South Vietnamese people to decide on their own government and system of government without having one forced on them by external aggression. One might even question whether the Truman doctrine does not still hold as the basis of United States policy, although the emphasis has certainly changed. The United States today insists, 1 believe rightly, that the countries of South East Asia should do more to help themselves. The United States is prepared to provide facilities to enable South East Asian countries to build up their own strength so that they are reasonably able to defend themselves, and only as a last resort will United States forces, particularly ground forces, again be committed to serve in South East Asia. There is nothing new in this.
Several years before becoming the President of the United States, in an article which at that time received a great deal of attention, President Nixon stated this policy quite clearly.
Having said this, and having reminded the Senate that the grave danger is a loss of confidence, not only in Vietnam because of a precipitous withdrawal but also in other countries of South East Asia, I suggest that the objective of North Vietnam today is, as it has always been, to destroy the will of the United States people to resist aggression.
– To stop aggression from the United States, and the honourable senator knows it. He is being beaten on it and he is just apologising.
– I would be very happy to engage in a debate on this subject.
– Here or anywhere else. I rely on a statement which Senator Cavanagh would regard as coming from an impeccable source. I refer to the Communists, who have made it crystal clear that the North Vietnamese have engaged in aggression and have ‘ mounted an armed attack on the people of South Vietnam. For the benefit of Senator Cavanagh 1 remind the Senate that in 1954 Ho Chi Minh announced, within 2 days of the signing of the Geneva Agreements, that the objective of North Vietnam was to take over .South Vietnam.
– Why would you not permit a free election?
– 1 do nol want to be led away, but Senator Cavanagh has asked this interesting question: Why would wc not permit a free election? T shall give Senator Cavanagh one reason- there are many others - why one would not agree to a free election. Would Senator Cavanagh guarantee, or could he guarantee, that there could have been free elections in North Vietnam in 1956? Would the Diem regime, or any other political party in South Vietnam, have been granted complete freedom to campaign in North Vietnam? Would they have been granted complete freedom in North Vietnam at a time when the Communist government of North Vietnam was engaged in a massacre of tens of thousands of North Vietnamese whom the Communists regarded as enemies of Communism? As General Giap, the Commander-in-Chief of the North Vietnamese Army, admitted, too many innocent people were murdered and tortured during that period. Yet we hear from Senator Cavanagh that we should have permitted free elections. Would Ho Chi Minh have allowed free elections?
– You are getting mixed up with the tortures at My Lai.
– I am thinking of Don Sak and Hue. I did not hear Senator Cavanagh protest against the terror and torture of South Vietnamese people from 1956 on. There was never one word from him or from one member of the Labor Party about the torture, murder and kidnapping of South Vietnamese people. The Communists concentrated on people with authority or the power to exercise authority. School teachers, village leaders and government administrators were tortured in a deliberate campaign of terror, but there was not one word from the Opposition about this. I repeat this as an answer to all the hypocrisy about free elections in 1956 when everybody knows that in not one country under Communist control have free elections ever been allowed. I challenge Senator Cavanagh to name one Communist country where there have ever been free elections. This exposes the falsity and the stupidity of the argument about free elections. Ho Chi Minh would never have allowed free elections.
– How would you like them to interfere in Australia?
– I ask Senator Hendrickson, who is interjecting and is very sensitive about this, whether he can produce one statement by Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese Communist leader, that would have guaranteed free elections in North Vietnam - one statement at a time when the Communists were murdering their political opponents.
– He asked the French Government to arrange a free election under the United Nations Charter.
– One day we will have a debate on the Geneva Agreements and the part the French Government played. I will be only too happy to do this. Let us get the correct interpretation and not the misrepresentation we hear from the Opposition concerning the Geneva Agreements which were never signed by the Government of South Vietnam and therefore was never bound by the Agreements.
– That is a way of wriggling out of it.
– It is not wriggling out of it; it happens to be a fact of life. May I repeat for Senator Cavanagh’s edification that within 2 days of the signing of the Geneva Agreements Ho Chi Minh announced the armed struggle against South Vietnam. This, of course, raises an interesting point. The objective of the Communists in North Vietnam is to destroy the will to resist, and that objective has been assisted willingly or unwillingly by the Australian Labor Party and its so-called bogus peace groups.
– Why would they want to destroy something that belonged to them?
– What belonged to them?
– Did not Vietnam belong to the Vietnamese and not to the Yanks or us? The sooner we get out the better.
– South Vietnam did not belong to the Communists of North Vietnam. Vietnam was in the same position as Germany and Korea. It was partitioned and there were separate governments in each area. The North Vietnamese believed that South Vietnam would fall like a ripe plum and when it did not they were upset. [Quorum formed]. Having stated this, may I refer, as my authority for saying that a Communist victory in South Vietnam would be against Australia’s interests, to a statement made by the ex-Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Arthur Calwell, in the days before darkness descended upon him. Mr Calwell is quoted in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 19th February 1965. I quoted this once before, and I think it was Senator Mulvihill who interjected and said that it was a good statement. So I hope to hear him interject similarly again tonight. Mr Calwell was quoted as having said:
The demand of the Soviet Government for the immediate departure of all Americans and other foreign forces from South Vietnam would be in the interests neither of the people of South Vietnam nor the people of Australia.
I quote this in support of my statement that a Communist victory in South Vietnam would be against the interests of Australia. Mr Calwell made this statement after a meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Perhaps darkness had not descended on it either. Mr Calwell went on to say:
Its immediate consequences must be a Communist takeover of South Vietnam snuffing out the hope of freedom and of democratic independence in that country and extending the area of Communist control closer to this country.
This was said in 1965. It was the opinion of Mr Calwell expressed after a meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
– He said that the Democratic Labor Party was withering on the vine too.
– He was proven wrong. Members opposite should either denounce what Mr Calwell said or accept it and argue that the situation of 1970 is different from the situation of 1965.
– What did Mr Freeth say?
– You tell me and I will know. I want to refer very briefly to the question of psychological warfare because the Australian Communist Party has had much to say about this in the past and perhaps we will hear some comment from the Opposition. In one of its journals it dealt with the role of the protest movement and said:
The Communist Party has been the driving force in the whole struggle.
– Good luck to them.
– Now we are getting it.
The article continued:
There has been unity of action around the common points in ALP, Communist and ACTU policy in Vietnam.
Yet when we quote these statements and say that the Labor Party - Mr Whitlam has said this, of course - has a good deal of Communist influence we are told that we are smearing. Apparently it is now being smeared by the Communist Party.
I Senator Milliner - And in the church, too.
– Yes, some sections of the church, too, I would agree.
– Which sections?
– The sections which support bogus peace movements and the like. An article in the ‘Communist Review’ complained:
Very seldom are the demonstrators’ placards framed to convey the protest in the most vital fundamental terms, that what the Governments of Australia and the US are doing is wrong because it is morally wrong. The seeds of victory-
That is a Communist victory - are in the solution of the moral question.
I only want to comment finally on this that when I say that the Communists are being assisted willingly or unwillingly by members of the Australian Labor Party they are, in the words of the Communist Party, seeking to destroy the will to resist. This is what the Communist Party wishes them to do. If honourable senators have a quarrel they should not quarrel with me - they should quarrel with the Communist Party. Having dealt with this matter I now turn to another subject.
– Get back to your mates the Corns.
– I am happy at any time to have a full scale debate on this subject, but I would now like to turn to health. I am very pleased that the Government is now taking care of those sections of the community who have found hospital and medical insurance a problem. This proposal was announced in the Governor-General’s Speech.
– What about Communism?
– I am not accusing the honourable senator of Communism. The Communist Party is accusing you of being supporters. I am delighted to know that the Governor-General’s Speech indicates that the Government is now proceeding beyond the minimum wage group and is increasing benefits on a graduated scale to those in the low income groups - groups just above the minimum wage.
I think that evidence given to the Senate select committee which inquired into health insurance benefits brought out that there was a degree of either non-insurance or under insurance which varied between 10% and 15% in the community. Although the committee could not obtain evidence as to the economic position of those who were either not insured or were under insured I think there is no doubt in all of our minds that this group either had considerable problems : in maintaining adequate insurance or were not insured at all. Therefore, it is with satisfaction that 1 note that the Government has extended a free cover to those people not only in their own interests but of course in the interests of the finances of hospitals which incur very heavy debts because of the inability of a section of the community to pay their bills. 1 do regret one . thing. In the statement released by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) a great deal of reference is made to the Nimmo Committee and the recommendations of that Committee but that from a quick reading of the document I could find no reference to the Senate select committee.
I am also delighted that the Government has dealt wilh the question of the management expenses of the funds which in many cases were far too high and also with the question of reserves. Before I conclude, I would like to say that I believe there has been some laxity in the Department of Health in not enforcing greater economies in the past in regard to management expenses. I believe that the Speech delivered by the Governor-General provides us with a great deal of food for thought and that its proposals will be in the interests of the people of Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - I would remind the Senate that this is Senator Cameron’s maiden speech. It is customary for honourable senators to hear a maiden speech without interjecting.
– I feel sure that many thousands of Australian radio listeners, those who watch the television and readers of the national Press will be very disappointed with the contents of the Speech delivered yesterday by the GovernorGeneral. There is no provision in the Speech to take care of many of the vital issues that are affecing Australia at the present time. There is no provision in the Speech to take care of the social problems of health and education, and also social welfare.
Most Australians, I know, are aware - and the Government is also aware - that the present inflow of overseas income to Australia is not working in the best interests of this country. On page 11 of the Speech delivered by the Governor-General we see that the Government intends to introduce legislation during this session of Parliament to establish an industry development corporation. The purpose of establishing this corporation, according to the Government’s proposals, is to allow greater Australian participation in the ownership of our developing nation. Annual bulletins of overseas investment prepared by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics show that over the 10 years preceding 1967-68 the inflow of private investment in companies in Australia had increased by a net $5, 926m, with the last 5 years accounting for $3, 559m of the amount and an estimated increase for 1968-69 of $18m on the previous record inflow during 1967-68.
Direct investment from overseas, excluding undistributed income in 1968-69, amounted to $305m. The main sources of the investment were the United States of America and Canada. These two countries contributed to our investment a total of SI 82m. Statistics show that the main category of investment is mining, oil exploration, manufacturing, oil distribution and agriculture. Figures recently released by the Federal statistics bureau for the year 1966-67 show that foreign interests have an overwhelming control of a number of major Australian industries. The main areas of foreign control are: Motor vehicle manufacturing, 87.8%; non-ferrous metals, rolling and extrusion, 83.6%; and oil processing, 81.6%. Other industries with high levels of overseas control include: Industrial chemicals and acids, 78%; pharmaceutical and toilet preparations, 76.3%; and the paint industry, 69.6%.
Many wealthy individuals and rich American corporations have been grabbing enormous areas of our territory for cattle grazing and agricultural ventures. American millionaires have taken over some large properties in Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Western Australia. Acquisition of Australian land by the Americans during the 1960s showed a considerable increase towards the latter part of that decade. The list of landholders includes those from social and business life - banker David Rockefeller; former Ambassador Claire Booth Luce; oilmen Nelson Bunker Hunt; W. R. Goddard; and entertainer Art
Linklater. The big American corporations include W. R. Grace and Co., Chase Manhattan Bank, Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Corporation, American Metal Climax and Dillingham Corporation. Another wealthy rancher, Robert Justus Kleberg is reported to own more of Australia than anyone else in the world. He boasts that if he has his way he will soon add another 13 million acres to the territory that he already has and there seems no doubt that he will get his way if the Government continues with its present policy. Properties owned in Australia by Mr Kleberg include Risdon Station, Milton Park, New Twin Hills, Elgin Downs, Tully River, Avon and Disney Stations in Queensland, Brunette Downs, Lake Nash, Georgina Downs, Barkly Downs in the Northern Territory and Retford Park, Detroit and Bugilbone in New South Wales. This Government is practically giving away vast areas of our country to American interests. This is land which our soldiers in two world wars fought and lost their lives to defend. It is the very same land that the Aboriginals fought to protect as best they could with spears and boomerangs against guns and other weapons of death used by our early settlers nearly 200 years ago.
Unless immediate controls are implemented by the Government to safeguard Australia for Australians we will find ourselves completely under the domination of foreign countries. Over 400 American companies, including many of the biggest in that nation, are operating in Australia.
Recently discovered mineral riches, including iron, bauxite, nickel and copper, have been a very profitable avenue for these investors. Millions of dollars in profits each year go out of Australia from the motor industry which, as I have said before, is practically owned by overseas investors. The companies concerned very rarely export their own personnel to fill administrative or executive positions in Australia, but on the other hand, Australians are usually trained to implement the policies determined by the directors outside Australia.
The Ford Motor Company disputes last year are an example of how foreign ideas have penetrated our major industries. The plus payment bonus plan introduced by the Ford Motor Company, with its pernicious penalties and fines, was not acceptable to the trade union movement in Victoria. As expected, it led to a prolonged dispute. Some of the penalties included in the plan are a fine of $1 plus time lost for being 1 minute late; a fine of $7.50 which can be imposed for being absent from work for 1 day, in addition to the normal loss of a day’s pay; a fine of up to $20 which can be imposed for a lunch time meeting extending a couple of minutes over the normal meal break. Stoppages of work, irrespective of whether they are justified, for periods of less than a week can mean a loss of tip to $30.
The arrogant attitude of the managing director in provoking the dispute is indicative of the contempt that he and the Ford Motor Company have for trade unionists who are demanding an equitable return for their labour. The Ford Motor Company made a profit of $8,483,727 in Australia for 1968-69 after taxation and allowances for depreciation. No tax is paid in Australia on that profit of over $8 million, but any wage increase gained by the employees would be a direct taxation benefit to the Commonwealth Treasury. During the period of 20 years that this Government has been in office it has shown very little initiative in protecting our industries from foreign control. This has had a significant effect on our economy and has had a decided political influence, particularly in foreign affairs. The Federal Government has encouraged and condoned overseas interests in their exploitation of our resources by allowing special taxation concessions on millions of dollars made in profits every year.
This advantage which is given to foreign investors should be rectified to permit Australian investors to compete more favourably with overseas opposition. The Committee of Economic Inquiry - the Vernon Committee - considered overseas investment in Australia and the double taxation agreements that exist between Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand. After that consideration the Committee said in its report:
These arrangements contrast strongly with the moves hi Canada to discriminate by way of withholding tax and depreciation allowances against companies having less than 25% Canadian equity. We do not think that the problems posed by overseas investment in Australia as yet warrant adoption of the Canadian approach. Moreover, we cannot be sure that the imposition of a differential tax along Canadian lines would not have the effect of reducing capital inflow to an undesirable extent. There may, of course, be grounds for considering the re-negotiation of the double tax agreements from the point of view of the cost to the Commonwealth revenue resulting from the much greater flow of investment income from than to Australia. … As already indicated, there will be for many years a continuing need for overseas investment of the kind that improves national productivity. Some degree ot reliance on capital inflow for balance of payments purposes also seems unavoidable, although we have warned in this chapter and elsewhere in 0U report against the dangers of allowing this process to go loo far. We must ask what the Australian attitude should be if the amount of investment seeking to come to Australia continues to grow as fast as it has in the past.
That report was made in 1965. The figures J cited earlier show that the flow of overseas investment into Australia since 1965 has increased considerably. The report went on:
A continuation of the recent level of new overseas investment of about £150 million a year would not be suffcient to prevent a worsening of the balance of payments position, possibly to an extent that could not be tolerated. On the other band, it would be sufficient to produce a gradual increase iu the proportion of Australian company assets owned overseas, perhaps to something like 46% by 1974-75.
The Government should encourage local investors by following the example of such Socialist countries as Sweden, where government investment in industries has been instrumental in maintaining stability and not in benefiting foreign millionaires. The industrial expansion of West Germany, which has been described by economists as a miracle, is indicative of how government participation and investment in industry can effectively increase a country’s productive achievements. If the Government stubbornly refuses to have equity in Australian industries, at least protection should be given to local investors from the racketeers invading the Stock Exchange. Stockbrokers are giving privileges to companies, and those companies are using all kinds of spurious means to defraud the public. According to figures released by the Commonwealth Bank, over Si 3m is deposited in Australian banks. No doubt many of the depositors would share in the wealth of the mineral boom, if given an opportunity.
The Commonwealth Government should provide the necessary finance to permit industrial research, if we are to compete with the other highly industrialised countries of the world. Instead of paying out millions of dollars every year for patents of technological innovations we should be improving the skill of our own labour force. This can be done by the implementation of Labor’s policy on education. If Australians are given the opportunity there is no doubt that they have the ability and intellect to compete favourably with their counterparts anywhere in the world, and the Government has an obligation not to deny them that right. We are conscious of the fact that some foreign capital is required to stimulate our economy and provide industries, but there should be strict control by the Government on the extent of the capital, with permits granted only after approval by a foreign investment committee. Other countries which have effectively controlled the import of capital investment include France, Japan and the United Kingdom. Experts should be hired from other countries to assist in the techniques necessary to manufacture products which are now being imported or produced in Australia by companies completely owned by overseas investors. Wherever possible, our skilled men should be sent to other countries to learn new techniques which can be put into use in our own industries. A comparison of research and development engineers shows that in Australia there are very few for every 10,000 people - far less than the ratio of 25 for every 10,000 in the United States of America, 22 for every 10,000 in Sweden, 12 for every 10,000 in Japan, 1 1 for every 10,000 in the United Kingdom and 7 for every 10,000 in Canada.
American investments and interests in Australia no doubt were the motivating factor which persuaded the Australian Government to become involved in the iniquitous war in Vietnam. Our participation in the war and our alliance with America have involved Australia as a partner to a country responsible for the brutality and massacres committed at My Lai, even though very few Australians condone such heinous atrocities. I agree with Senator Fulbright’s statement that while the Australian Government professed to see a threat in Vietnam, as did the United States, its response was grudging and minimal and designed to earn American gratitude rather than influence the prosecution of the war. The Australian Government was obviously more concerned with pleasing the United States millionaire investors than with saving the lives and future welfare of thousands of young Australians who have been conscripted to fight in a war condemned by all nations of the world. To ensure that we do not relinquish any more of our heritage and to safeguard our national independence, legislative restrictions should be imposed on the inflow of overseas investment before it is too late.
Debate (on motion by Senator Anderson) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 March 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700304_senate_27_s43/>.