27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– At yesterday’s sitting Senator Devitt gave notice of a motion for the disallowance of a regulation and, by leave, made a statement in connection with the notice of motion. In the course of that statement I questioned the procedure of Senator Devitt speaking on behalf of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I am now satisfied that the procedure followed by Senator Devitt was in order in every respect and I inform Senator Devitt and the Senate accordingly.
– I wish to inform honourable senators that I have spoken on the telephone to Senator Negus and I am sure that honourable senators will regret to learn that the tragic circumstances in which he was involved did him greater injury than was first suspected. Nevertheless, he is not in a clinically dangerous position and I have disposed the Senate resources to enable him to return to bis home in Canberra when his doctor sees fit to allow him to travel. On behalf of honourable senators I have sent a memorial wreath as a mark of our sympathy on the sad occasion of the death of Mrs Negus.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Win the Minister state where the Australian Wool Commission is stockpiling the mountain of wool it is accumulating and especially whether any of this storage space is rented or leased and if so the cost of these leasing or rental arrangements? Can he also give details of how much the Australian Wool Board would earn by renting out the spaces it owns if those spaces were not already occupied by AWC wool stockpiles?
– The honourable senator has asked me a number of questions over recent sitting days about the stockpiling of wool and the Australian Wool Commission in general. Now he has asked for further information which I shall have to obtain from the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of this I will ask him to put his question on notice.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDMy question is directed to the Minister for Health. 1 ask: Has his attention been drawn to Table 32 of his department’s annual report which indicates insofar as general practitioner home visits are concerned that 32 per cent of doctors in New South Wales were charging higher than the most common fee and in Tasmania the figure was as low as SO per cent as at the March quarter? Because there has been an increase in doctors’ fees since last March and no corresponding increase in Commonwealth and fund rebate, will the Minister agree that the number of doctors charging more that the most common fee for home visits is now likely to be even much higher than the figure shown in the annual report? What action can and will the Government take to ensure that the public is better protected and to close the gap in the value of rebates received from medical benefits organisations compared with the amount paid for medical home visits.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry been drawn to an article in today’s ‘Australian’ which states that Japan is likely to require less Australian iron ore and coking coal than it bought last year? Is this likely to affect adversely Australia’s overseas income this year? Will the Government consider mounting a publicity campaign to point out to the Australian public generally, and to those directly interested in particular, the necessity to contain costs and to avoid industrial trouble, such as the strikes now occurring in the export coke and coal industry if Australia is to retain the Japanese market and keep up its export income?
– 1 think the article referred to by the honourable senator was on the front page of the ‘Australian’ today and, if I remember correctly, without having it with me, it predicted a fall in Japanese steel production from about 91.4 million tons to about 89 million tons. This seemed to me to be a not very dramatic fall - a little more than 1 per cent. That is not a very substantial fall. The article did mention that there would be some problem with the supply of iron ore and coking coal from Australia. That would be a matter of great concern to Australia and to the Australian Government. From other articles I have read I do know that Japan has expressed concern over industrial troubles in Australia that have raised the price of these products and have made their delivery less effective. Anything that can be done to keep costs down and to make certain that the buyers of the products get delivery would, I think, be very important to the whole community. For that reason I will commend the honourable senator’s suggestion to the Minister.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the recent sharp decline in the Japanese wool yarn futures market? As this decline can weaken the demand for Australian wool at future auction sales, what initiative does the Government propose to combat the rapidly worsening crisis in the wool industry?
– I understand that when the Minister for Trade and Industry was in Japan recently he had wide ranging discussions with Japanese manufacturers about Australian wool. Twelve months ago he was informed that Japan would be a prime buyer in the wool market this year. However new estimates now being worked out indicated that the purchases would be considerably lower than those previously estimated. That is the only information that I have at present. I would have to seek further information from the Minister for Primary Industry. I will do so and I will give it to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. In answer to a question yesterday he intimated that some time on Monday of this week he inspected Union House. Did he ask or make himself known to any person responsible for the conduct and control of the Union, such as members of the Union Board of Directors, the Secretary-Manager or Union staff? If he did not, why? Was he accompanied by anyone who could have assisted him, as I was earlier that day, to see the damage alleged by the university authorities to have been caused by Commonwealth police?
– I visited Union House at the Melbourne University with a member of the University Union on Monday afternoon. I inspected the areas which I had been informed prior to my visit were the areas in which the police had searched and where damage had been done to doors. I satisfied myself by inspection, which was uninterrupted, of what damage was still there. At the time I inspected there was no apparent damage to the glass doors which I assumed had been repaired. But I did not make myself known to any member of the Union Board because T did not wish to create a situation in which it was known that I was at the university. I am doubly glad that I did not do so because there were difficulties attending my departure from the university even though I was in a private car.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Apropos of the very welcome announcement made yesterday advising increased Commonwealth assistance for nursing home patients, I wish to ask whether pensioner patients cared for in approved public hospitals will receive the same increased benefits.
The pensioner hospital benefit arrangements are completely separate from the nursing home benefits scheme. The cost of public ward treatment of pensioners is a joint Commonwealth-State responsibility and, by agreement with the States, the Commonwealth pays S5 a day towards the cost of a pensioner’s hospitalisation on the understanding that no charge will be made to pensioners for their hospital care. It is a completely separate thing altogether from the nursing home benefits scheme. Under the new Commonwealth-State financial arrangements the States will receive significantly increased revenues - in fact, they do already - and it is considered that they are well placed to meet their financial responsibilities in respect of services such as public hospital treatment of pensioners - with the Commonwealth supplement, as I have indicated, of $5 a day.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that private wool buyers operating in Western Australia are buying wool from growers at prices which are much lower than the auction reserve prices set by the Australian Wool Commission? Are these sales partly responsible for the depressed state of the Australian wool market? If so, does the Minister regard curtailment of private wool sales as being necessary?
– I do not think there is any evidence which shows that private buyers are buying wool at prices below the auction reserve prices. The Minister for Primary Industry said recently on his visit to Western Australia that evidence had been presented to him by a section of the buyers who said that they believed that wool was being bought on the farm by private buyers at lower prices than it was fetching at the auction sales. I believe that the private buyers, who are operating in a big way in Western Australia and have been for many years, are an important part of the buying system in Western Australia. They represent an alternative market. Before we had the operations of the private buyers in that State on the present scale many growers in the Great Southern used to send their wool to the London market through Albany. I think this was what eventually led to the establishment of the Albany wool sales. At this stage there is no definite evidence to prove what the honourable senator is suggesting. I believe that the private buyers in Western Australia play an important part in the marketing of wool.
– My question, which refers to the annual report of the Australian Wool Board, is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. This report states that results of the study with regard to transport of wool to store were submitted to the Victorian Land Transport Inquiry. As the results of this study disclosed that the additional direct and indirect cost to growers of State legislation limiting the use of road transport of wool in 1969-70 was approximately $934,000, will the Minister advise whether the arrangements for assistance to wool growers under the wool scheme will make special provision for additional transport costs which result from State government legislation?
– 1 have seen the portion of the report to which the honourable senator refers. I remind her that Victoria is not the only State where State legislation is a limiting factor on the transport of wool. We have that situation in Western Australia as well. The inquiry carried out by the Board showed the facts as the honourable senator has stated them, namely, (hat direct and indirect costs were borne by the growers because of the limitation on transport by State legislation. No, at this stage the deficiency -payment does not take into account the cost of transporting wool.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, concerns the price of petrol in Tasmania. No doubt, the Minister will know that petrol costs considerably more in Tasmania than in the other States, even more than in Perth. I ask the Minister whether his Department has given thought to reducing the excise on petrol that is sold in Tasmania so that Tasmanians are not at a disadvantage due to that expensive stretch of water known as Bass Strait.
– This is a question that properly belongs to the Minister I represent in this place, the Minister for Customs and Excise. I believe that there would be some constitutional problems in having a differential excise rate operating in Australia as between one State and another.
That could be taken to be a disadvantage for one and an advantage for the other, which would not be proper in the Federal system. That is my understanding of the position. I understand the honourable senator’s, concern, but any disadvantage to Tasmania can be rectified in the total scene by an application to the Commonwealth Grants Commisison to raise the whole living standard situation to one of equality with the other States, and that I think is done.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister has told Sir Frank Packer, the Chairman of Australian Consolidated Press Ltd and the proprietor of TCN9 Sydney and GTV9 Melbourne, that no action will be taken by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board when GTV9 Melbourne is turned into a relay station for TCN 9 Sydney, contrary to the provisions of the licence held by General Television Corporation Pty Ltd for GTV9? !s it also a fact that the Prime Minister has given Sir Frank Packer an undertaking that no action will be taken against GTV9 if that station fails to fulfil the new Australian content quotas set down by the Control Board? Further, is the Prime Minister aware that in the past 9 months 300 people have been dismissed -
– Order! The honourable senator may no! ask a question of the Prime Minister. He is not here. One cannot assume what is in his mind.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that in the past 9 months 300 people have been dismissed from the employment of GTV9 and that because of this fact GTV9 is not physically capable of producing the programmes required by the new quotas set down by the Control Board? Finally, could the Minister, on behalf of the Prime Minister, explain to the Senate in what circumstances Sir Frank Packer acquired the licence for GTV9?
I am not aware of the statements attributed to the Prime Minister by the honourable senator. I think the obvious thing for him to do is to put the question on the notice paper.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, follows upon the question asked by Senator Brown and other questions asked earlier in this session. Is the Minister a former elected president of the Students Representative Council of the University of Melbourne? If he is, has he any understanding of and sympathy for the aims, the ideals and the functions of student representative bodies as a result of the experience which he may have had?
– The factual side of the honourable senator’s question is accurate. Insofar as any appreciation I have of the interests and the aspirations of students is concerned, I assure the honourable senator and the Senate that I have a very warm memory of very politically interesting student days. 1 feel - T sense that this is the point behind the honourable senator’s question - that the student body of this day and age has a responsibility which I think student bodies of previous days always recognised and that is that the activities of students must be subject to those laws of the land which apply equally to everybody.
– ls the Minister for Health now in a position to give me any information on standards of sunglasses in the face of fears expressed by the Australian Standards Association that certain imported sunglasses do not meet the desired standard?
I think the burden of the honourable senator’s question is in relation to the efficacy of imported sunglasses. I have some information. Standards for sunglasses were adopted by the Australian Standards Association earlier this year. Implementation of legislation in relation to standards is a matter for each State to determine. In this field the Commonwealth is responsible only in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. At present my Department is seeking the views of experts on the alleged inferior quality of some imported sunglasses. Should it be considered that certain imported sunglasses are of a dangerous character and a menace to the com- munity the matter will be referred to my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise who will, no doubt, consider the advisability of taking appropriate action.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts aware that Aborigines of Victoria River Downs station in the Northern Territory are still living under appalling conditions? ‘ Is he also aware that the owner of the station is the Hooker corporation? Will the Minister undertake to have an immediate and urgent inquiry instituted into living and working conditions of Aborigines living on Victoria River Downs station?
– I am unaware of the factual basis on which the honourable senator assumes that inquiries should be undertaken. I suggest to the honourable senator that he provide the material upon which he bases his allegation that there are appalling conditions. I am quite sure that the Minister whom I represent will undertake the fullest inquiries.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Following the sanctuary given to the 4 draft resisters at the University of Melbourne last week and the lock-out of police by radical students and others, can the Minister say whether the telephone service was used by those people or was it disconnected?
– As tar as I am aware - following upon my inquiries - there was no interruption of the telephone service to the University Union. I am unaware of any allegation which has been made that the telephone service was interfered with. In any event, representing the Postmaster-General I would think that any interference with the telephonic service in any circumstances - apart from those authorised by an Act passed by this Parliament - would be improper.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. I refer to the estimated 11.3 per ««nt increase in the cost of the Dartmouth Dam, bringing the figure to $64m. Has the Minister seen a reported statement by the Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, in which he said that Victoria could not afford to be involved in extra costs for the project? Is this increase due primarily to the unnecessarily long delay by the South Australian Government in reaching a decision on this matter? Can the Minister tell the Senate what steps are being taken by the Commonwealth Government to secure the extra finance? Will the Commonwealth deal wilh this project urgently, as it is vital to South Australia that the construction of this dam be completed at the earliest possible time?
– I am well aware of the concern in South Australia about this matter. I saw what I think was a quite small article in the newspaper this morning about what was said to be the increase in cost and what was claimed to have been said by Sir Henry Bolte. The remainder of the question was very long. I direct the honourable senator’s attention to page 1841 of the House of Representatives Hansard of yesterday, 5th October, where a long reply was given by Mr Swartz on many of the points raised by the honourable senator in his question. I thought that if I repeated that today, Mr President, you would tear a strip off me, so I decided not to do so.
– My question to the Minister representing, the Minister for Primary Industry relates to the guaranteed price of wool of 36c per lb. How is the difference calculated between the actual price received by the grower and the guaranteed price being paid to him? What types of wool have been excluded from participation in the guaranteed price scheme, and on what grounds?
– The deficiency percentage is arrived at by comparing the average price received for all eligible wools sold at auction throughout Australia in any one auction week with a national average price of 36c per lb. The difference between those 2 figures is calculated as a percentage and added to the auction price received for individual lines of grower’s wool. As to the second part of the question, when I delivered in this place the ministerial statement on the guaranteed price of wool a roneoed copy of the speech was circulated to honourable senators and attached to that copy were details of the inferior type wools that were being excluded from the scheme. A review is taking place at present to see whether additional wools should be excluded and whether some wools already excluded should be brought into the scheme, but so far no announcement has been made.
– I wish to address a question to the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Health.
– Order! The honourable senator may not ask a question of the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Health.
– I also had a question to ask of the Assistant Minister. Am I to understand, Mr President, that you will not recognise him?
– 1 will not allow a question to be addressed to Senator Marriott, who is the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Health.
– That is a pity, Mr President, as I had a beauty for him.
– May I ask, with respect-
– Order! Is the honourable senator taking a point of order?
– I should like the matter to be cleared up.
– The honourable senator will have an opportunity to do so after Senator Devitt has asked the question which he began to ask. Does Senator Devitt wish to ask his question?
– I wish to ask a question of the Assistant Minister because it is a matter appropriate for him.
– Order! When the Assistant Ministers were appointed it was laid down by the Prime Minister that they were not able to answer questions addressed to them in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. That is the first matter of which I inform the Senate. The second is that the forms of the Senate will not allow a question to be addressed to an Assistant Minister. Therefore, I will not allow a question to be addressed to Senator Marriott, who is the only Assistant Minister in this chamber.
– May I address a question to the Minister?
– I ask the Minister for Health: What functions and responsibilities appropriate to the Ministry of Health have been performed by the Assistant Minister since he assumed office which would provide evidence of the need for the establishment of that office?
– 1 do not know that it is quite proper to reply to this question at question time. I would not want to discuss the matter at any length as other honourable senators may wish to ask questions. In fact, the Assistant Minister-
– The Assistant Minister does the head shrinking.
– If that remark represents the quality of the questions coming from the Opposition I do not think I need bother to answer at all. I am surprised, Mr President, that you allowed that remark in view of the fact that it is a reflection on the Assistant Minister. The fact is that the Assistant Minister helps in a whole variety of ways. For instance, he performs certain functions for me associated with mail and correspondence that come through my Department. He represents me at certain functions, possibly to receive a deputation or at a function which it is appropriate for the Minister or the Assistant Minister to attend. Also, as was provided for in the Prime Minister’s announcement, he will assist me in my capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate doing a variety of things which all honourable senators would appreciate are done but which are not in fact operations in this chamber. They are below the line, if I may use that expression.
The Assistant Minister does a whole volume of work. For instance, he visits the Department of Health every morning and oversees, on my behalf, certain sections of the mail. This is important work and it is of tremendous assistance to me. It distresses me to think that when a senator has been appointed to the high office of Executive Councillor - a very high office in this democratic country of ours - there should be some denigration or attempted denigration from the Opposition. I am sure that those responsible people in the Opposition Party do not believe in such denigration.
- Senator Georges, now you may ask a question, but not of the Assistant Minister.
– Obviously not. But certain remarks were made in this place about Assistant Ministers being cuckoos. I was hoping that that was not the position.
– The honourable senator may reflect on Senator Cormack but not on the President.
– Obviously it is in retrospect. I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the Minister take note of the claim by Mr Lang Hancock, a West Australian, that Japan is playing grand scale power politics to get greater control of Australian raw materials? Will the Minister ask the Department of Trade and Industry to give close scrutiny to the various movements relating to trade and finance between Australia and Japan in order to ascertain the true position? In particular, will he investigate claims that Japan has progressively stockpiled raw materials, especially coal and iron ore, and now is in a position to reduce purchases and further depress prices and income losses of Australian mining companies, thus laying them open to takeover by foreign companies?
– This question is based upon a newspaper report attributed to a Mr Lang Hancock who from time to time gives vent to his opinions in the newspapers. lt is a long question which is based on a series of suppositions.. It will have to be directed to the responsible Minister, and that I will do.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that many people, including a great many students, believe that the grounds and buildings of universities have particular immunities from the operations of the civil law authorities? Is it not a fact that universities have no special immunities at all in this regard and are subject to exactly the same conditions of law enforcement as any other institutions or enclosed areas? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the principle of equality before the law for all citizens is fully upheld?
– I am aware that some students have expressed views on this matter and I have read expressions of opinion in student journals to the point that student areas can be made sanctuaries for the protection of persons who have offended against the law. Whether the students who express these opinions in fact believe that they have a right to act in that way or whether they do it as a challenge to authority is a matter on which I cannot express a clear opinion. However, I thank the honourable senator for his question because it is quite clear that universities are not havens or sanctuaries which entitle students or other people who frequent universities to have any greater protection than other citizens have. I am fortified in this view by remarks made by Mr Justice Street of the New South Wales Supreme Court in a university case about 12 months ago. He said:
Universities are not regarded in this community as havens for lawless conduct. The rule of law recognises no distinctions dr privileges in its demand for orderly and peaceful enjoyment of our basic freedoms and for respect for the basic freedoms of others.
But while hoping that there is as wide a recognition as possible of that position, I think we have all recognised that traditionally universities have been places in which there has been a freedom of inquiry and investigation and a breadth of opinion held which is in the interests of a developing community. It would be a great misfortune if, because there was a resistance to authority, those freedoms of universities were sought to be challenged by the mass of the community who felt that students were going too far. I simply make the point that the law must be accepted as applying equally in universities as outside of universities.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Did Senator Turnbull on his return last year from a session of the United Nations condemn Austraiian political representation there as a waste of time and money? Is Senator Turnbull now on his second visit as a government representative to a session of the United Nations? Are his fare and expenses being paid by the Government? Is the Government also paying the cost of the fare for Senator Turnbull’s wife to accompany him?
As to the final part of the question, I am not aware of the circumstances. The hon.ourable senator suggested that Senator Turnbull is a government representative at the United Nations. That is not so; he is a representative of the Parliament in the same way as members of the Opposition represent at the United Nations not the Labor Party but this Parliament. Make no mistake about that. As to the emoluments paid to Senator Turnbull, they would be identical with those paid to other members of the delegation.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation, refers .to the proposed formation of a Qantas subsidiary charter airline in the background of pending retrenchments of certain air crew and other people. To what extent have negotiations for landing rights been finalised and for which countries? On which routes will the first Qantas charter services operate? In view of the current operations of the British Overseas Airways Corporation charter services between Kuala Lumpur and London and the possible early final iSa ion of that airline’s rights between Singapore and London, I ask: What is being done to expedite the arrangements for the Qantas subsidiary charter airline? Is it possible that this circumstance will change the policy in relation to retrenchments?
– I think it has been made clear from time to time that the operating responsibility for Qantas Airways rests with the board and management of that company, and policies affecting the retrenchment and employment of staff are the policies laid down by that board and management. We, as a Government, have tried to provide the vest satisfactory set of conditions in. which the Australian flag carrier can operate in the total context of international flag carriers operating to and from Australia. As all honourable senators know, we have a great interest in Qantas becoming increasingly involved in the charter field and in endeavouring to see that the Australian people, and others, can travel at lower cost. This is well in progress. Negotiations for flying rights for this part of Qantas’ operations’ are being conducted with expedition. I cannot say more than that except that I will look at the detail of the question, and if more information can be supplied to the honourable senator from departmental records it will be supplied.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that the cost of telephone calls and other charges are different in certain sections of the Gold Coast from those applying in Brisbane? If so, will the Postmaster-General review the zoning of the Gold Coast to correct this extremely iniquitous system?
– I am aware that different rates for telephone calls apply in various places throughout the Commonwealth. Without making an examination of the matter I am not able to say whether there is a differential between the Gold Coast and Brisbane although I would not be surprised if there were. However, I shall convey the question to the Postmaster-General and ask him to provide the honourable senator with a reply.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Are stocks of coal purchased by the Japanese from Australia being stored on the sea bed in Japan? If so, what quantity of coal is being stored in that way?
– I do not know but I shall try to find out for the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the heavy losses incurred by hospitals arising from accommodation provided by them for age pensioners? I refer particularly to . district hospitals in country towns where there are no nursing home facilities for the aged. Is consideration being given to increased Commonwealth payments to those hospitals in respect of pensioner patients? Is it not a fact that as an act of acknowledgment of the financial strain being imposed on those hospitals as a result of providing the necessary services to pensioners the South Australian Government has increased its contribution per pensioner? Will the Commonwealth do likewise?
I thought I made is clear when replying to the honourable senator’s original question that he was inadvertently marrying 2 different sets of circumstances. In the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States which result from the annual Premiers Conferences the involvement of the States in providing hospital treatment for pensioners is taken into account. Under the present agreement the Commonwealth gives to each State $5 a day per pensioner in a State hospital provided that the States themselves do not levy a charge on the pensioner. In that context, therefore, the position of the States in this regard is recognised.
Nursing homes are in a different category. Only about 19 per cent of nursing homes in the Commonwealth are government institutions, the balance being run for profit, on the one hand, or, on the other band, by voluntary organisations which have attracted subsidy at another level for capital expenditure. When the Bill to effect increased payments becomes law - and I am hoping that it will pass this place and the other place with expedition - the Commonwealth will increase the allocation by $1.50. Therefore, the rate will go up $1.50 to $3.50 for ordinary patients and from $5 to $6.50 for intensive care patients. This is a straight out Commonwealth responsibility; it is certainly a straight out Commonwealth contribution to the cost of nursing homes.
I am aware that when the South Australian Government operated on a $2 for $5 basis it made a State subvention of $1 a day. What that State will do now that the Commonwealth is to increase its payment by $1.50 is a matter for its own decision.
No doubt that State will make this decision in good faith in the light of the circumstances in which nursing homes are placed in South Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Does the Minister agree that there is considerable concern about the use of aircraft for freight cargo after the curfew period? Is the decision of Ansett Airlines of Australia to convert Electra aircraft for these purposes the thin edge of the wedge? What is the difference between the noise levels of Electra Aircraft and jets in the early hours of the morning? Will the Government reassure the public that it is totally opposed to the use of jet aircraft during the curfew for the transport of air cargo?
– The Government has reiterated from time to time that it is not in favour of jet aircraft operating in the curfew period other than in exceptional circumstances which have been often referred to. Equally, it is agreed, and the Government has been operating such a policy, that propellor aircraft such as the Electra can operate freight services and passenger services in those hours. They do so and they have done so. When the application was received to convert an Electra passenger aircraft into a cargo carrying aircraft the Department of Civil Aviation examined very carefully the noise levels of that aircraft. The Department was able to assure me that there was no problem with which to be concerned. Therefore, in that particular case I approved the decision. However, the honourable senator may rest assured that both now, and in the future as in the past, yes, we are maintaining a policy of keeping jet aircraft operating out of curfew hours other than in the circumstances which are often referred to as being exceptional and which would call for special approvals.
– 1 direct to the Minister for Health a question which follows a question I asked yesterday in which I asked for details pertaining to the purchase of a motel at Alice Springs from Ansett Transport Industries. In reply the Minister referred me to a Press statement which I have now received. However, having read it I am more ‘ confused than ever.
– Order! Just go ahead and ask your question, Senator.
– Mr President, I have to explain the circumstances in order to get to the kernel of the question. Following the Minister’s Press statement that the motel had been purchased, Mr Ralph Cooper, the executive director of the hotel division of Ansett Transport Industries which owns the motel, is reported in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 1st October as saying:
There has been no sale. Nothing has been signed. As far as 1 am concerned somebody is flying a kite.
– Order! 1 will not allow this. The honourable senator should be asking the Minister for Health a question. He should not make a statement. Has the honourable senator a question to ask?
– Yes, I have.
– Well, ask the question.
– I now ask the Minister: Will he inform the Senate as to the full extent of the negotiations regarding this sale and what was the actual price paid to Ansett Transport Industries for this motel?
It is true that I issued a statement on Thursday evening on the proposed acquisition of the Mount Gillen motel following my own visits to the Territory and very significant representations that were made to the Government in relation to problems, notably in the southern part of the Northern Territory and the Alice Springs area, in regard to hospitalisation with particular reference to Aboriginal children. It is true that I made the statement setting the proposed acquisition by the Commonwealth of this motel at a figure of approximately $250,000. It is true, as the honourable senator said, that late on Thursday night I was confronted with a statement that was published the next day in the ‘Age’. It suggested that the Government had done nothing definite about the sale and that it was only one of 4 possible purchasers. If the honourable senator had seen the ‘Age’ of the following day he would have seen that the ‘Age’ apparently was able to get from’ the vendor some further information which made it abundantly clear that the Government was in the process of acquiring the motel.
– You should have told him that.
– Unfortunately there have been some breakdowns in the lines of communication. The Commonwealth is in the process of acquiring the motel. I am very delighted about that. 1 am sure that everybody who knows the problems there would be delighted about that, too. With the acquisition of the motel the Government will be able to take care of the sick, particularly .the sick Aboriginal children, the treatment of whom has caused a lot of problems there. One does not buy a motel in the same way that one buys an apple or a lolly. Certain legal procedures have to be followed. I can assure the honourable senator that the Government has the documentation in respect of the acquisition of the property. It has been valued by the Department of the Interior. It has been examined by the Department of Works. The Government has approved the transaction. It holds an option to purchase at the price I mentioned. In fact legal procedures are now being implemented. If the honourable senator would like any further information I would be happy to make it available to him. 1 am sorry that there was some delay in the distribution of the Press statement. I learned that only today. When J answered the honourable senator yesterday I believed that a copy of the Press statement had been placed in his box. 1 am told that it was not placed in his box until some time this morning. I regret that. It was not my doing. I am sorry that the system did not work and that the message did not reach honourable senators sooner than it did because the story is a wonderful one.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government consider that its carrying on of an undeclared war in Vietnam in supposed support of democratic government can still be justified after the 90 per cent vote in favour of President Thieu in a one man election? Does the Australian Government consider that it is democracy when voters wanting to vote against Thieu had to place their ballot papers in a different box from those voting in his favour and under the eyes of heavily armed soldiers? Does the Australian Government consider that it is democracy when voters are forced to the polls to retrieve their identity cards, which is a sure way of ensuring a high percentage attendance at polling booths?
The Leader of the Opposition has asked me to give an opinion about the process of democracy in South Vietnam. His question had political overtones, as I am sure everyone recognised when he put the question. Democracy has varying shades and degrees. We in the free world, particularly in Australia, have developed a high degree of democracy. That did not happen overnight. As a democracy, Vietnam is a young country. Its people are developing democracy. I do not think that there is a blueprint for democracy which states that circumstances in all countries are the same. That is the first point I make.
The second point 1 make is that it is not unique to have one candidate at an election getting 95 per cent of the vote. I could name certain countries where this happens. Do I need to name them? I refer to Mainland China and Russia. Do I need go any further? In elections in those countries there is only one candidate. 1 do not want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I must say that I have been Leader of the Government in the Senate for a long time now and I never have questions directed to me to elicit criticism of elections held in Mainland China or Russia, behind the Iron Curtain. South Vietnam is a country in which people have chosen to nominate for election and then of their own volition have withdrawn. I have never heard of anybody ever nominating against the cho. sen president in those other countries I mentioned. If honourable senators want to get into the rugged area of politics in relation to this matter, I think there are two sides to the coin. But I come back to what I said at the outset, that democracy is not an absolute thing in its forms. It takes different forms in different countries. I think the free world is delighted to know that Asian countries are developing a process of democracy. The more they do so the more we will find that we have good neighbours and that we will be able to live in peace with those countries.
As regards our troops in South Vietnam, statements have been made by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for the Army that the overwhelming majority of troops will be home from Vietnam by Christmas, lt may well be that some troops will have to remain there after the main withdrawal of our troops. Those of us who have some knowledge of the Army and the other Services know that this is necessary. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of our troops will be home from Vietnam by Christmas. I think we all should be proud of the wonderful job that they have done in Vietnam for the free world and for Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. In view of the recent upsurge in violence by the use of firearms, including the recent tragic deaths of 2 New South Wales policemen, will the Government act urgently to introduce stringent legislation for firearm control? Is it true that a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers last year agreed that uniform legislation controlling firearms was desirable? If so, what is preventing the Commonwealth from moving to avoid a situation such as that which exists in America today where gun control is becoming a major political and social issue?
– Yesterday I answered a question asked in almost identical form by Senator Mulvihill. In my answer I indicated that a meeting was held last year of the relevant Ministers who have control of firearms in each of the States together with the Commonwealth Minister for Customs and Excise. Firearms do not fall within any area of ministerial responsibility of the Attorney-General. I indicated yesterday that a committee had been set up by the meeting last year which was due to meet again in November. I outlined also some of the practical problems which were involved at the present time because it is essentially a matter of State legislation. I am sure that the Senate would not wish me to repeat the answer I gave yesterday.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Is it a fact that civil aviation regulations exist which control the hours within which the test running of jet aircraft engines may be carried out? Is the Minister, aware that residents who live within some miles of Tullamarine jet port have been awakened in the early hours of the morning by the apparent test running of jet engines? Will the Minister inquire as to the facts of the matter and advise the Senate?
– There is strict control over the running of jet engines on test beds and for testing purposes. If this test running is taking place in the vicinity of the Tullamarine Airport at times when the public are inconvenienced and outside the provisions of the regulations, I shall certainly find out. I would like the honourable senator to give me precise details, if he can, of the actual hours and the dates concerned because I want to look into this matter very closely.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware of reports today from Tokyo that Japan’s wool yarn futures market has plunged to its lowest level because of panic selling? Is it true that observers in Tokyo have blamed the market collapse partly on the large stocks of wool accumulated by the Australian Wool Commission and that the collapse could further affect Japanese purchases of Australian wool? In view of this further evidence of approaching disaster for the wool industry, what positive policies has the Government in mind, or is it content merely to let the Australian taxpayer pay more for stockpiling more wool?
Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked me a similar question at the beginning of question time today. I gave him some information and said that I would seek further information from the Minister for Primary Industry. I shall do the same for the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for. Labour arid National Service noticed a report of the proceedings of the recent Queensland Industrial Relations Society convention stating that the Australian Labor Party spokesman on labour and national service, Mr Clyde Cameron, indicated that a possible Australian Labor Party Government would not end all the penal sanctions of the arbitration system? Is he able to say whether this is contrary to the wishes of the Australian Council of Trade Unions? Secondly, has he also noted that a leading Victorian trade union official is reported to have issued the warning that if Mr Clyde Cameron’s views were made mandatory Victorian trade unions would not provide finance for the Australian Labor Party at the next Federal election?
– I rise to order. This question is asking for the Minister’s comments on some report pf a statement by the shadow . Minister for Labour and National Service-
– Order! What is the point of order?
– That the matter is not within the Minister’s province, and further that the question is asking for his comments. No doubt, it is an important topic that has been raised. If desired by Senator Jessop, this matter could be debated in this chamber; but it is not a proper question to put to a Minister to ask: Has he heard that a member, of the House, of Representatives is reported to have said something, and then to ask the Minister to comment on that, on whether it is consistent with the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and on what might flow from that? This is all hypothesis. It is reference to a statement that is supposed to have been made elsewhere - or to a part of it - and it is asking the Minister’s comments. The Standing Orders set out that this is not a proper question.
– I am grateful, Senator Murphy, for your support in my attempt to purge the question system of the Senate. In calling Senator Wright, I refer him to standing order 100, which reads:
In answering any mcn question, a Senator shall not debate the matter to which the same refers.
– I am grateful to you, Mr President, for the reference to that standing order. I am not grateful for the intervention of the Leader of the Opposition-
– I rise to order.
– Order. What is the point of order? To what standing order are you referring, Senator?
– What about - -
– Order! Senator Keeffe, I am listening to the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. I want to hear it. I do not want any adventitious aid from any other senator, wherever he sits.
– Mr President the point of order is this: I took a point of order and you ruled on the matter and dealt with it. Then the Minister, in his answer, referred to that point of order which I had taken. That was not responsive to the question that was asked, and the Minister’s reflection on what had been done was no proper part of his answer to the question. He had no right to make such a reflection in his answer. If he is permitted to answer the question, he should do so, and not reflect on the point of order which had been taken and ruled upon by you.
-I agree with that.
– Not only am I not grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for his intervention, but I now resent his further interruption-
– I rise to order again. A few moments ago, Mr President, I raised a point of order to which you acceded. You ruled that I was correct and that the Minister was in error.. The Minister promptly went ahead and did again exactly what you had ruled he should not do, and aggravated his error. I request that you uphold the point which I made and that you direct the Minister not to repeat the offence.
– I apply standing order 100, which reads:
In answering any such Question, a Senator shall not debate the matter to which the same refers.
– It serves the purpose for which I stand here as a Minister to have my colleague remind me of partial notice which the Press has given to 2 significant statements, one to a convention of the Queensland Industrial Relations Society and the other by a prominent trade union official in Melbourne. The honourable senator’s reference and mine to these matters serve the public interest and the purpose of the Senate in provoking the interest of the whole Senate to obtain an amplified statement of those views. The views enunciated to which Senator Jessop referred relate currently to one of the most important topics in Australia; that is whether it will be found competent for this Parliament to provide sanctions or means of enforcement of industrial rights in the industrial area.
– I rise to order on the basis of the ruling which you, Mr President, used, I suggest, to set a climate for the Minister. I suggest that now the Minister is debating the substance of the question as to whether or not sanctions or agreements should apply in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act . I suggest that it would be appropriate for the Minister to answer directly the question as to the news broadcast and leave the matter at that.
– I think the Minister is entitled to make his preliminary statement in answer to the question and then vacate that position and proceed to answer directly the question asked by Senator Jessop.
– In explanation I add that 1 understand the reference in the Standing Orders that I should not debate the question as not a direction to me that I should be confined to a yes or no in my answer to these long winded interventions repeatedly made by the Opposition. I add the concluding statement to my colleague’s question that I am obliged to him for the reference to these matters and the contrariety that they indicate between those views and the views of a leading member of the Australian Labor Party in this field, Mr Clyde Cameron. I shall treat the question as a vehicle for making pointed reference of the subject matter to the Minister.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. I hope it will not create the same controversial air as the last question did. I preface my question by saying that last evening I endeavoured to ask a question at the end of the debate on the motion that the Senate do now adjourn and you said no, unequivocally. I now ask that question. If my colleague Senator Georges and myself desired to place ourselves on the stairs of Parliament House for the purpose of soliciting donations to relieve the shocking conditions being experienced by refugees in India, would you see fit to grant us permission to adopt this attitude?
– I have no power to prevent you and Senator Georges standing on the steps of Parliament House. Whatever honourable members and honourable senators may say about that action is a matter that I cannot forecast.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDIs the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts aware that at the time the former Prime Minister announced the Government’s decision to establish a national film and television training school the decision was strongly opposed by the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations? Was any pressure brought upon the Government “by the Federation to induce it to make the recent announcement that the establishment of such a school will be delayed for a period of 12 months? Because so many people engaged in the cultural life of Australia, and professional organisations such as the Australian Writers Guild, Actors Equity and the Australian Mass Communications Council, are seriously concerned about the Government’s recent decision is the Minister prepared to review the decision? If not, will he guarantee that the training school will certainly proceed in 12 months time?
– I am unable to say whether any pressure was brought to bear by the body to which the honourable senator has referred, but I would doubt very much whether any such pressure existed. I can assure the honourable senator that the decision to defer this school for a period of 12 months was a decision taken by the Government in the light of the financial stringency which the Government was imposing upon itself. I should stress also, because there appears to be misunderstanding, that the decision which was taken was not a decision to abandon the school; it was a decision to defer the operation of the school for a period of 12 months. Having said that, I shall convey the honourable senator’s question to the Minister. If he feels that he should elaborate on my reply I am sure that he will do so.
– Can the Acting Minister for Immigration give any further information on the visa problems encountered by New Zealand citizen Mr Waishing during his Australian visit? Furthermore, in the light of the current policy outlined in the answer to a question by Senator Willesee, does it not mean that Cook Islanders and other such people, notwithstanding their British Commonwealth membership, are deemed to be second class citizens when they seek entry to Australia?
– I have some information on Mr Waishing which may be useful. I shall have to seek further information about Cook Islanders in order to be accurate in replying on that matter. With regard to Mr Waishing, the note that I have states that anyone can arrive in Australia in transit and stay for 72 hours. In this case there would have been no problem had Mr Waishing wished to extend his stay. If he had wanted to stay here for 3 months, which is the period covered by a visitor’s visa, he could have applied for this and it would have been granted.
– But ordinary New Zealanders do not have to apply.
– This is my understanding of it, without any help from Senator Georges. I shall try to find out for Senator Mulvihill the answer to the balance of the question.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. May I direct the Minister’s attention to the statement of 12 professors, a report of which appears at page 31 of today’s Canberra Times’, pointing out the urgency for the Government to make a decision on the future of the Australian economy? Will the Government share the concern of these eminent economists and make an immediate decision on the matter which is of such grave importance? To put it plainly, are we to revalue? If so, in what way and. in particular, when?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI also saw the statement this morning. It was a quite important statement in which a certain professorial group suggested that there should be a revaluation of the Australian currency in a dual way, as 1 understood it, linking it to the Japanese yen and also to the American dollar. 1 sought to have this matter processed in order to get some information on it. At present I am not in a position to respond to this very important question from Senator Georges, although I would hope to be in a position tomorrow to make some comment on it. All honourable senators will be aware that the Treasurer is overseas at present. The very nature of his overseas visit is related to matters of the Australian currency and Australian trade. Both questions are linked together significantly, having regard to the American decision in relation to duty. I should think that the generality of the honourable senator’s question relates to a policy decision by the Government and that I may not necessarily be able to reply to him, but I should like to get at least some comment from the Treasury in relation to certain elements of the question posed by him. I shall seek to have that information for him tomorrow.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that a futures market for boneless beef has been opened in New York by the New York Mercantile Exchange? Is threequarters of the meat involved in this market from Australia? Is it a fact that futures marketing once affected detrimentally the price received by Australian wheat growers and is currently affecting wool prices? Is it also a fact that the futures market opened in New York for boneless beef will ultimately be detrimental to the price received by Australian beef producers for meat sold in America?
– I do not have any information about the meat futures market in New York but shall seek it. I remind the honourable senator that the futures market for wool has been operating in Australia for some years now and I think that during the course of its operation wool prices have been substantially higher than they are at the present time.
– For some.
– For some, yes. However I shall get the information and give it to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether it is a fact that recently the Australian Government complained to the Government of the United Slates of America about the failure of the United States Administration to keep Australia properly informed on important matters of joint concern. Has the Australian Government been officially advised about the pending visit to Peking of Mr Nixon’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Dr Kissinger, related to Mr Nixon’s visit to that country? If the Government has not been advised does it consider that this is of no concern to Australia?
Here again this is a very important question. In fairness to those asking the questions I think I should refer them to the Prime Minister’s Department. I will do that and will seek to get an answer for Senator Bishop and for the whole of the Senate.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Does the Government expect the People’s Republic of China to be admitted to the United Nations Organisation and to be seated in the Security Council? Will the Government consider the possibility of arranging a parliamentary delegation to China in order to. establish friendly ties with that country, to facilitate trade and to establish normal relations with the most heavily populated country in the world?
The question was directed to me but may more properly be directed to the Department of Foreign Affairs. But again this is a question associated with policy and it is proper that I should put it on notice. I shall do that, if Senator Wright is happy about it, and refer it to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. As would be appreciated, the costs associated with sewerage installation to a private home impose a financial strain when pensioners are required to make the necessary arrangements for the installation. Would the Minister consider making a special payment to age pensioners who have to meet such a requirement by the local authority concerned?
– I appreciate the concern of the honourable senator and shall convey his question to the Minister for Social Services. It should be appreciated however that there must be some limit in this area of assistance which can be rendered so that the assistance will be of benefit to the pensioners. After all, if one goes into the area of sewerage installations, it might be suggested that the next type of allowance might be for the television repair man.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. If the agreement to construct Dartmouth Dam had been signed by the South Australian Government 2 years ago, would the signing of the agreement at that time have prevented any further increase in the estimated cost of construction applying at that time? If not, who would now be held responsible for the payment of the extra costs envisaged?
– I do not think I want to respond to this question in particular detail. The honourable senator is asking me to make a guess as to what might have happened in the past had a certain set of things happened. That is about as unreal as asking me what will happen in the future it certain things happen. I will direct the question to the responsible Minister and if he feels he can answer it and help the honourable senator he will certainly do so.
– I again ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: When may we expect a report on the collision between a Canadian Pacific airliner and a TransAustralia Airlines aircraft at Sydney Airport? Why was it necessary to send investigators to Canada? Have they returned? If so, why the prolonged delay in a matter so vital to public safety?
– For a start the delay, which is not prolonged, is the product of an intense and extremely care; ful investigation of all the factors involved, which is what one would expect of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– So the matter was serious?
– Of course it was serious. What would you expect? You know it was serious. We took the matter seriously. A foreign country was involved and its aircraft was involved. It was necessary to send people to that country to check the manufacture of that aircraft and details of the people concerned. The report ought to be available in the week beginning 12th October for presentation to the Senate.
– I direct this question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In view of the inordinate delays being experienced in respect of the construction of Dartmouth Dam and the precarious position South Australia continually experiences in regard to water supply in time of drought, will the Minister make representations to the Minister for National Development for an early investigation into the possibility of providing a nuclear power station in South Australia so located as to enable that State to have a major water desalination plant and a further power base generally?
– 1 shall direct that query and proposition to the Minister for National Development in the other place.
(Question No. 1259)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
Will recent restrictions imposed by the United States of America on its currency result in any loss or restriction of the export market for Australian canned tropical fruits and fruit juices. Will the Minister make a reply available before the first week’s adjournment of . the present series of sittings.
– I have received the answer from the responsible Minister. It contains some figures which will not make much sense if I read them. The answer contains a sort of statistical analysis. It is not very long but it is a little detailed. I seek leave of the Senate to have the reply incorporated in Hansard, if that is suitable to the honourable senator.
– Is it a complicated set of figures? The Senate proceedings are being broadcast. If it is vital information it ought to be made available to everybody.
– Surely it will be made available to everybody if it appears in Hansard. However, as the honourable senator seems to be concerned that it should be read I shall read it and make the best I can of reading across the tables. The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: it is assumed that the question refers to the import surcharge which the United States recently introduced on specified imports entering the United Slates market. The surcharge is an additional tariff restriction which must be borne by imports into the U.S.A. of canned tropicalfruits from Australia. The surcharge affects the following tropical canned fruits:
There were no exports of tropical tanned fruit juices from Australia to the United States in 1970-71.
The effect the United Statesmeasures will have on our exports of canned tropical fruit to that market are not yet clear. The import surcharge does not apply to canned fruit produced within the United States and unless the surcharge is absorbed by exporters or distributors, imported canned fruit will now be more expensive to consumers than domestically produced fruit.
The burden of the surcharge is also, of course, compounded by the change in parity of the Australian dollar relative to the United States dollar.
These factors must, inevitably, have an adverse effect on Australian exports of canned tropical fruits to the U.S.A.
(Question No. 1298)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Has the Australian Post Office recently adopted the practice that, if a person or company in a city area rents a private mail box, all mail is eventually delivered to the box whether addressed to the box or to the street address; if so, is mail which is addressed to a street number, invariably delayed in reaching the box number.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
From time to time the Post Office checks the mail delivery arrangements for holders of private boxes. A recent examination in Sydney revealed that a small number of GPO box holders (0.3 per cent) were receiving dual deliveries, that is, mail addressed to their street address was being delivered by Postmen and mail addressed to their box was being delivered to the box.
As it has been the general practice over many years to deliver mail to the private box only, the box holders concerned were visited and advised that mail addressed to their street address would, in future, be delivered to their box.
This could mean a slight delay to the mail so addressed because, being addressed to the street address, it will be sorted first to the Postman’s section and redirected from there to the box. This delay can be obviated by box holders arranging to have their mail addressed to the post office box number.
Bulky articles and parcels are an exception to the above arrangements. These are delivered to the street address unless the box holder requires otherwise.
(Question No. 1342)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Did Mr W. S. Bengtsson, a Director of W. D and H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd in a statement made on 8th September 1971, claim that there is no scientific proof that cigarette smoking is a dangerous health hazard, and does the Minister agree that this statement is false.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Mr W. S. Bengtsson, a Director of W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd was reported as having made a statement to a newspaper claiming that there is no scientific proof that cigarette smoking is a dangerous health hazard. The Government, having regard to the medical view which has been clearly expressed that there is a proven relationship between cigarette smoking and medical health, has recognised that smoking is a health problem. This is contrary to the views attributed to Mr Bengtsson.
(Question No. 1346)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1357)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice: (1.) How many bales of wool does the Australian Wool Commission have in storage.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Wool Commission wool held in stores controlled by the Australian Wool Board is stored at a slightly cheaper cost which compensates for added handling charges incurred in removing the wool from brokers’ stores to Wool Board stores.
(Question No. 1358)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1362)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Japanese yacht ‘Akitsushima’ received a clearance at Darwin on 26/8/71. The destination was understood to be Ambon, Indonesia.
As legal proceedings were instituted on 13/9/71 in the High Court claiming damages against the Commonwealth arising out of the clearance and departure of the yacht I consider it would be quite inappropriate for me to comment.
(Question No. 1372)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
What are the leasing arrangements between the Australian Post Office and Television Corporation
Ltd for the provision of coaxial cable facilities, and what revenue does the Australian Post Office derive from these leasing arrangements.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
General Television Corporation Pty Ltd (GTV9), Melbourne, lease television relay facilities between Sydney and Melbourne under an agreement with the Post Office. These facilities consist of a one-way vision and sound channel in the direction Sydney to Melbourne and a one-way vision and sound channel in the direction Melbourne to Sydney. The terms of the agreement provide for an average usage of the facilities of 70 hours weekly in each direction. The lessee, General Television Corporation Pty Ltd, is authorised to make arrangements with Television Corporation Limited (TCN9), Sydney, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission for joint use of the facilities, such arrangements to be mutually agreed upon by General Television Corporation Ply Ltd, Television Corporation Limited and the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
The annual revenue received bythe Post Office from General Television Corporation Pty Ltd, Melbourne, isthe subject of a written agreement between the 2 parties and it would not be proper for me torelease publicly the information sought by the honourable member.
(Question No. 1374)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1375)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Is there a large difference between prices offered at current wool auctions by the Australian Wool Commission and prices in other woolproducing countries, where these prices are 10 to15 per cent lower than in Australia.
Statements have been made in the press that the reserve prices bid by the Australian Wool Commission at wool auctions are too high compared with wool prices in other wool-producing countries, mentioning the percentage differences cited by the honourable senator. These statements must be treated with considerable reserve, as any comparison of Australian wool prices in general with wool price levels in other countries can only be of doubtful validity.
The only major wool producing countries where authoritative wool price statistics are published arc Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There are few points of comparison between the clips of Australia and New Zealand, the latter consisting predominantly of coarse types.
Although South Africa produces much wool which is comparable in fineness to types commonly grown in Australia, South African prices tend to be lower because, on average, South African wool is shorter in fibre length, has lower tensile strength, contains more dust, etc.
Such price information as is available on South American wools suggests that, even where some typesare broadly comparable, Australian wools normally command a price premium because of better classing.
– On 1 6th September Senator Murphy asked me a question without notice about a letter from the Australian Mass Communications Council to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts concerning the proposed National Film and Television School. The Minister has informed me that he replied to the Council as follows:
I refer to your letter about the proposed National Film and Television School.
The report of the Film Committee, Australian Council for the Arts, recommended the establishment of:
an Australian Film and Television Development Corporation;
an Experimental Film and Television Fund;
a National Film and Television School.
The report said that:
While all three recommendations set out are complementary, and would in concert provide an exciting and stimulating basis for an invigorated film and television industry, it would also be possible to implement any one of them in isolation. Any one of these would be valuable in its own right if financial considerations prevented advancing on all three fronts at once.
The Australian Film Development Corporation was established last year with an initial capital of $lm. The Corporation only recently became fully operational with the appointment of an Executive Officer and the establishment of an office in Sydney. It has considered a number of applications for assistance and at 30th June had firmly committed over $300,000 of the initial allocation of $lm.
Apart from the Corporation, however, help has also been provided to persons interested in the film industry by way of the Experimental Film and Television Fund which was established in June 1970 to provide assistance to individual film makers to develop their own talent and expertise and to explore the possibilities of the film and television media. The individuals assisted by the Fund may be those with experience or those who are relatively inexperienced but with capacity for talented and original work.
In addition, the Interim Council, National Film and Television Training School, has provided travelling scholarships to enable promising young students to proceed overseas and learn about various aspects of the film and television industry.
In my statement to the parliament on 8th September, I explained that the Interim Council had been established to investigate and report on the form and location of a National Film and Television School. While the Council’s enthusiasm for this project is fully apparent from its reports, the continuing economic stringencies and the substantial cost, which is estimated to be over $7m during the next five years, have led to consideration of its proposals being deferred for twelve months.
The proposals may then be considered in the light of what I hope will be more propitious economic circumstances. At that stage we shall also know more of the progress of the Australian Film Development Corporation, the success of which is so important to ensuring a viable industry, capable of usefully employing graduates from the proposed School.
– Yesterday Senator Lawrie asked me the following question:
Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to the fact that the longshoremen’s strike in the United States of America has now spread to the east coast? Can he inform the Senate of any likely effect on Australian exports to the United States, especially meat which has to be got in almost immediately to fill this year’s quota?
I have been advised that longshoremen on the west coast of the United States went on strike on 1st October and have been followed on strike by east coast longshoremen. On 25th September last President Nixon personally intervened in the dispute saying that further delay in settlement could not be tolerated. He called on the parties involved to discuss the matter and stated that if an east coast strike were to go on simultaneously with a west coast strike the Taft/ Hartley Law would automatically be applied to curtail the dispute. Regarding that part of the honourable senator’s question which concerned importations of meat, I understand that some meat is still entering the west coast of the United States via Canadian ports. The average weekly loadings of this meat in September were 2,600 tons compared with average weekly loadings in August of 8,300 tons.
As at 1st October last the total loadings of quota meat - beef, veal and mutton - were 209,800 tons. The balance to be shipped for 1971 arrival was 45,000 tons. The loadings for the week ended 1st October stood at 3,300 tons and were 1,100 tons above those for the week ended 24th September. I point out to the Senate that average weekly loadings in September were 2,600 tons.
– Pursuant to section 27 of the National Library Act 1960-1967, I present the Eleventh Annual Report of the Council of the National Library of Australia for the year ended 30th June 1971 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the interim annual report on the activities of the Australian Wool Board for the year ended 30th June 1971. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 23 of the Australian War Memorial Act 1962- 1966, I present the annual report of the Board of Trustees of the Australian War Memorial for the year ended 30th June 1971, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 1 standing in the name of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, formal or not formal?
(4.36) - I move:
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– Yesterday I indicated that discussion was taking place between the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and myself in relation to notices of motion. I am not yet in a position to clarify the situation but I hope to be able to do so tomorrow. I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– J move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Act 1964-1968 to provide for the extension, for a further period of 3 years, from 1st January 1972 to 31st December 1974, of the special levy on livestock slaughtering imposed initially in January 1969 to provide finance for the operations of the meat industry service and investigation section of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The rates of levy are to remain unaltered at lc per head on cattle (over 200 lb dressed weight) and one-tenth of a cent per head on sheep and lambs. The levy is payable by the owner of the livestock at the time of slaughter and, in contrast to the levy used to finance the operations of the Australian Meat Board and the Australian Meat Research Committee, may not be passed back to producers.
The initial proposals for this levy were submitted by the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council and fully supported by the Meat and Allied Trades Federation and the Australian Meatworks Federal Council. These organisations have agreed to the continuation of the levy for a further 3 years. The service and investigation section of CSIRO has used the funds obtained from the levy, together with a matching Commonwealth contribution, to assist meatworks in many fields including quality control, sanitation and hygiene - all of which are assuming increasing importance in the meat trade. The section has also published reports and information newsletters on its work and findings and conducted schools for meatworks management. Funds from the levy should, on current estimates, provide finance to allow a continuity of operations over a period in excess of 3 years. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drury) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill proposes amendment of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act to give effect to the decision of the Government, announced in the Budget Speech, that a new export financing facility, known as buyer’s credit, would be introduced for the assistance of Australian exporters of capital goods. In addition, the Bill proposes to broaden the existing insurance and guarantee provisions of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act by giving the Corporation the authority to enter into re-insurance arrangements with its counterpart organisations in other countries, where this would facilitate Australian exports. There are also in the Bill some proposed amendments of a housekeeping nature. They are mainly drafting changes consequent to earlier amendments of the EPIC Act.
Honourable senators will know that the Export Payments Insurance Corporation was established by this Government in 1956 to provide insurance for exporters against the risk of non-payment by overseas buyers. Since then, the range of the Corporation’s facilities has been progressively extended and the operation of the facilities improved to take account of changes in the pattern of Australian production and exports, in the direction of our exports, and in the nature of the competition we have to contend with in overseas markets. These successive amendments of the EPIC Act give clear evidence of the Government’s determination to keep abreast of exporters’ requirements in the field of export payments insurance and associated facilities. And so it is with the amendments proposed in this Bill. They stem from 2 main factors. In the first place. Australia, over recent years, has developed a broadly based capacity for the production and export of capital goods which are frequently traded internationally on long term credit. The second factor is that, with competition in world trading at such a high pitch, the nature of the credit arrangements exporters can offer has assumed a special significance.
The introduction of a buyers’ credit facility is a measure which follows consideration of submissions made to the Government by the Consultative Council of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation and the Export Development Council. More recently, various national industry organisations have expressed support for buyers’ credit financing to assist Australian exporters of capital goods.
At present, Australian exports of capital goods sold on credit are financed under the suppliers’ credit system. Where an exporter has to offer deferred payment terms to the buyer to meet overseas competition, he frequently finds it necessary to obtain financial accommodation from a bank or other lender while waiting to receive payments from the buyer. Usually he does so with the support of an EPIC insurance policy and, in some cases, against the security of an EPIC guarantee to the lender. A drawback of the suppliers’ credit system is that, over the full period of the credit, often as long as 10 years on heavy equipment, the exporter is on recourse to either the lending institution or EPIC. In consequence, the exporter may carry for a considerable period a contingent liability in respect of each sale. This can impair an exporter’s ability to obtain finance for further export transactions and, in some cases, for other purposes.
Under buyers’ credit, a system which has become accepted overseas as an alternative means of financing exports of capital goods, loans are made direct to the overseas buyer by lending institutions in the country of export. These loans are usually secured by a guarantee given by the exporting country’s counterpart of EPIC and often also by the guarantee of a bank in the importing country. The loan is used by the buyer to finance his purchases from the exporter and payment to the exporter is completed once the buyer accepts the goods. Accordingly, buyers’ credit financing has the effect, for the exporter, of converting a credit transaction into a cash sale. With the agreement of all the parties involved, a buyers’ credit loan may also provide for progress payments to the exporter during the manufacturing period. Accordingly, a buyers’ credit system frees exporters from involvement in the financing arrangements of capital goods transactions and allows them to concentrate on the job of manufacturing and selling their products.
This is the position the Bill seeks to achieve for Australian capital goods exporters. In brief, the Bill proposes that, in respect of capital goods export contracts in which there is a high Australian content and where credit terms longer than 5 years are appropriate, EPIC may guarantee the repayment of loans made by Australian lenders to overseas buyers for the purpose of financing payments by the buyers to the Australian companies which are principals to the contracts. The granting of buyers’ credit loans by Australian institutions would be subject to exchange control approval by the Reserve Bank. No change is envisaged in existing exchange control policy under which extended credit terms will be approved only if they arc necessary on commercial grounds and do not go beyond those offered by competing overseas suppliers. In addition, approval would normally be given only for loans denominated in Australian currency. In any exceptional case where circumstances justified the guarantee of a loan denominated in a foreign currency, it would be a requirement that the loan agreement contained an exchange variation clause which would ensure that the overseas buyer carried the exchange risk.
The proposed guarantees by EPIC would have some similarity with the guarantees that the Corporation already provides in respect of loans made by banks to exporters under suppliers’ credit operations. A buyers’ credit guarantee would be given on the basis that the lending institution would have no recourse on the exporter and it would provide that, subject to appropriate documentary evidence, EPIC would pay unconditionally upon demand any due instalment of principal (and interest) of the guaranteed loan which remains unpaid by the borrower for 3 months.
The guarantee would be associated wilh the supply contract between the Australian supplier and the overseas buyer, and also with the loan agreement between the Australian lender and the overseas buyer/borrower. As the supplier would benefit from the guarantee, EPIC would also enter into an agreement with him, which would oblige him to pay premium at the appropriate rate for the guarantee provided to the lender. The buyers’ credit guarantee would not be intended to relieve supplier, lender or borrower of any commercial responsibilities inherent in transactions of this kind. All three must accept their full commercial responsibilities.
As regards the financing aspects, honourable senators will know that the provision of finance for Australian exports is traditionally the function of commercial lending institutions. The Government’s consideration of this matter has therefore been on the basis that the proposed system of buyers’ credit loans should be within the established framework of the financing of commercial transactions of this type. It therefore envisages that EPIC would be prepared to provide buyers’ credit guarantees, subject to compliance with the specified conditions, to all Australian lending institutions prepared to undertake this type of lending activity. It is assumed that, in practice, the bulk of any such loans would be made by the banking system, in particular the trading banks, but other institutions would not be precluded from undertaking this type of business.
The Government also considers it appropriate that such loans should be on commercial terms and conditions and that the rate of interest on each loan should be determined by the lender concerned, in accordance with Government policy that exporters should receive preferential treatment, and having regard to the security offered and the particular circumstances of the export transactions. The elements of the proposed buyers’ credit facility have been the subject of discussions between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks. The trading banks have indicated that they are agreeable to participating in a buyers’ credit scheme along the proposed lines. The Reserve Bank, in its consultations with the trading banks, will keep in touch with developments that could affect the ability of the banks to handle buyers’ credit lending.
I turn now to a discussion of the main qualifying criteria for the issue of guarantees. Firstly, as 1 have said, the proposal relates to the financing of export transactions only where they involved capital goods. These are the kind of transactions which most frequently involve the provision of long term credit to the overseas buyer and which, because large values also are usually involved, create for the exporter the financing difficulties I have described. Capital goods transactions encompass, of course, a wide range of possible arrangements between an Australian exporter and an overseas buyer. At one end of the spectrum there is the contract involving merely the supply of a single piece of capital equipment. At the other end, there is the contract for a turnkey project, that is, the supply, erection and commissioning of a complete production plant. In view of this a definition of capital goods has not been specified in the Bill. However, it will be included, together with other qualifying conditions, in the formal ministerial approval of the policy to be adopted by the Corporation in the operation of the facility.
Importantly, this policy would preclude the giving of buyers’ credit guarantees unless the Corporation was satisfied that a credit term in excess of 5 years was appropriate for the goods concerned, or necessary to match foreign competition. In addition, EPIC would need to be assured that the business could not be done readily within the suppliers’ credit financing system. Also, it is not the intention of the Government that Australian funds be employed unnecessarily in financing the export of the products of other countries. Accordingly, it is proposed that eligible transactions should normally have an Australian content of at least 65 per cent. This will be prescribed in a regulation. There is provision, however, that, in special circumstances, consideration could be given to contracts having less than 65 per cent, but not less than 50 per cent, Australian content. This particular provision is included in the Bill.
Another important provision in the Bill is that EPIC may not guarantee a loan which represents more than a prescribed percentage of the contract amount. The percentage that will be prescribed is 80 per cent. In effect, this means that eligible contracts must provide for a downpayment by the overseas buyer to the exporter of at least 20 per cent of the contract price. This provision is intended as a safeguard of the commercial soundness of each proposal.
The Bill also includes provision that consideration will be given to contracts only where the value involved is at, or above, a level likely to introduce financing difficulties for the exporter if arranged under a suppliers’ credit. The level which has been set, and which will be prescribed in a regulation, is a minimum resultant loan amount, after downpayment, of $200,000. This figure has been decided upon following an examination of the details of long term credit transactions supported by EPIC. The level is considered to be low enough to embrace most cases which could create financing difficulties for the exporter, yet high enough to justify a buyers’ credit arrangement.
These, then, are the principal elements of the proposed facility and of the eligibility requirements. However, as honourable senators will appreciate, in respect of a facility of this nature it is not possible to specify in advance requirements which will meet all the circumstances of possible buyers’ credit transactions. Accordingly, provision has been included in the Bill which would give scope for the consideration of special cases which, in one respect or another, do not satisfy all the proposed criteria but which are considered otherwise to warrant approval.
The Bill provides that the Commissioner of EPIC may refer to the Minister for Trade and Industry, for his consideration, particular cases which do not meet all the eligibility criteria. The responsibility for referring such cases to the Government will therefore rest with EPIC. Every case so referred will be considered on its merits by the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Treasurer, in consultation with other Ministers if necessary. In other words, the procedures would be similar to those which presently operate in respect of the national interest provisions of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act.
I would like to illustrate the types of problems which this provision is designed to overcome. I have said that eligible contracts must normally provide for a downpayment of 20 per cent of the contract price. A particular proposal may involve, for example, a substantial loan amount, say $5m, and an Australian content of more than 65 per cent but, for sound financial reasons, the overseas buyer is only able to provide a downpayment of 10-15 per cent. In circumstances where it was considered that such a transaction would result in obvious and significant trade benefits to Australia, and the commercial soundness of the transaction would not be jeopardised by the lesser downpayment proposed, EPIC could recommend to the Government that it be given approval to issue a buyers’ credit guarantee.
Consider another possibility. A proposal involving a loan amount less than the prescribed $200,000- say $180,000- would not normally be eligible for a buyers credit guarantee. For one reason or another, however, financing of the transaction under the suppliers credit system might not be feasible. If this were the case, and if EPIC was satisfied with all other aspects of the proposal, the Corporation could refer the case to the Government for consideration as a buyers credit transaction. Where the Government considered that the circumstances justified acceptance of a proposal of this nature, it could authorise EPIC to give a buyers credit guarantee.
The eligibility criteria will, of course, be reviewed by the Government in the light of the operation of the buyers credit facility. However, because of the nature of the facility and the types of transactions likely to be involved, it is important that EPIC should have adequate scope to handle the wide range of commercial situations that could arise as the scheme develops.
I turn now to the other substantive amendment of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act proposed in the Bill, namely, the empowering of EPIC to enter into re-insurance or indemnity arrangements with overseas export credit insurance organisations. Cases arise - and, again, mainly in the capital goods field - in which an Australian company collaborates with an overseas company in the execution of an export contract held by the overseas company. More often than not the collaborating Australian company is a subsidiary or associate of the overseas company. The Australian associate may be called on, for example, to supply a substantial part of the goods required under the export contract.
In these cases, the overseas company, being the principal to (he export contract, looks to the export credit insurance institution in its country for cover on the contract but may not be able to obtain full cover because of the Australian content. In fact, overseas credit insurance institutions usually restrict their cover on contracts to the proportion to be supplied from their own countries. They will consider covering the full contract only where the overseas content is marginal. In a situation like this, the Australian associate naturally looks to EPIC for insurance on its portion of the contract. Under its present charter, however, EPIC cannot offer insurance, largely because the Australian associate is not a principal to the export contract and has no standing under the contract with the buyer.
In the reverse situation, where the Australian company is the principal and an overseas associate the collaborator, EPIC adopts the same altitude as that of other credit insurers. Unless the overseas portion is marginal, EPIC insures only the Australian content of the contract and its counterpart organisation overseas is unable to insure the balance, because the overseas associate is not a principal to the contract. Hence, where collaboration occurs between a company in Australia and a company overseas it is usual that only the portion of the contact to be supplied from the country of the principal to the contract can be insured.
These difficulties can be overcome if credit insurance organisations agree to enter into re-insurance or indemnity arrangements with each other. Under these arrangements, the organisation in the country of the exporter, who is principal to the contract with the buyer, will give full cover on the contract and then obtain indemnity from its counterpart organisation in the other supplying country in respect of that part of the total contract to be supplied from that country. It is essential, of course, that Australian companies which participate in overseas contracts should have full access to payments insurance on the goods they supply. Moreover, export collaboration between Australian and overseas companies is growing and it is in out best interests to encourage this growth by providing EPIC with authority to enter into re-insurance or indemnity arrangements. The Bill proposes to do that. As its effect would be only to extend the Corporation’s normal facilities to export transactions which, at present, do not have that benefit, no new policies or procedures are involved.
The amendments proposed in the Bill, particularly in respect of the buyers credit facility, will extend the range of EPIC’s responsibilities. In respect of the buyers credit scheme, for example, the Corporation will be required to ensure that each proposal complies with the relevant criteria, including the essential requirement that the overseas buyer has adequate commercial standing and creditworthiness to justify the guaranteeing of a loan to him and that his country is an acceptable risk for the amount and term of the loan. The Corporation will also be required to ensure that the provisions of the supply contract and the loan agreement are satisfactory and contain adequate safeguards from the standpoint of the guarantor, and that it has an appropriate agreement with the supplier. The nature of these additional responsibilities, however, is essentially the same as those relating to EPIC’s present activities.
On the basis of EPIC’s impressive record of performance as a credit insurer, and by virtue of its considerable experience and expertise in the field of international trade and finance, I have no doubt that the Corporation will handle these additional responsibilities as successfully as all its existing facilities. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Deputy President, this Bill will give effect to the Government’s decision announced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) to continue payment of bounty on phosphate fertilizers until 31st December 1974. The Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Act 1963-1969 is due to expire on 31st October 1971. It provides for payment of $12 per ton on standard superphosphate and $60 per ton of phosphorus pentoxide content of other superphosphates and ammonium phosphate produced and sold for use as fertilizer in Australia. The bounty has been the major factor in keeping selling prices of phosphate fertilizers stable since its introduction in 1963. Continuation of the bounty is considered essential to maintain this position in view of the cost situation and marketing difficulties facing primary producers. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cant) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to amend the Railway Agreement Western Australia) Act No. 67 of 1961 by removing from that Act the time limitation on Commonwealth contributions towards expenditure by the Western Australian Government on the railway standardisation works in that State. Honourable senators will recall that the 1961 Act provided for both standardisation of the main line from Kalgoorlie to Perth and Fremantle and certain works of a developmental nature. These were to facilitate the development of an integrated iron and steel complex at
Kwinana based on the iron ore deposits at Koolyanobbing. The Act also provided for a large number of new standard gauge locomotives and rolling stock. The Act also provided that the Commonwealth would accept, as a charge against the rail standardisation project, expenditure incurred by Western Australia up to 12 months after the completion date and actually made within 24 months of that date. The completion date was 14th June 1969 - that is, the date when regular services commenced. This meant that expenditure had to be incurred by 14th June 1970 and made by 14th June 1971.
Although regular freight and passenger services are now operating on the line, the project is not yet complete. The main reason for this has been the necessity to re-design and expand the marshalling yards and freight terminals brought about by a more rapid increase in traffic than originally expected. Recognising the difficulties encountered by the State the Commonwealth agreed that it would be reasonable to delete the time limitation and substitute an overall limitation on the cost of the project. Under the 1961 Act the Commonwealth undertook to provide 85 per cent of the total expenditure subject to the time limitation to which I have already referred. The current estimated cost of completing the project is $125m. Accordingly under the new arrangements it has been agreed that the Commonwealth’s contribution will be limited to 85 per cent of this estimated cost, that is $106,250,000. The Bill before the Senate amends the 1961 Railway Agreement Act as necessary and ratifies the new Agreement which incorporates the above principles. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cant) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Pay-roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Bill 1971.
Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1971.
Pay-roll Tax (Territories) Bill 1971.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I inform the Senate that the President has received letters from the Leader of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party appointing senators to the following Standing Committees:
Foreign Affairs and Defence - Senators Carrick, Drury, McManus, Maunsell, Sim and Wheeldon.
Constitutional and Legal Affairs - Senators Byrne, Durack, Hannan, James McClelland, Murphy and Withers.
Debate resumed from 5 October (vide page 1 149), on motion by Senator Wright: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks to reduce the period of national service training from 2 years to 18 months, with attendant arrangements in that regard. When this debate was adjourned last night I was seeking to develop 9 points which are the basis of the objections of the Australian Labor Party to the National Service Act. So that I may develop my points here I refresh the Senate’s memory of those 9 points. The Labor Party has claimed, firstly, that the National Service Act and national service are wrong except in time of national emergency. Its second point is that national service as such is immoral. As a third point it criticises what it claims is the forcing of men against their will to go to a foreign war, and specifically to Vietnam. Fourthly, the Opposition criticises the terms under which the Act provides for conscientious objection. It argues that it is a bad law and that therefore people can break that law. At least some Labor supporters argue that it is proper to assist draft resisters and to sneer at and even obstruct Crown Law authorities in their duties. They argue further that there is no early threat to Australia in terms of defence. They quote Professor Howard in that regard. They argue that the defence forces, in any case, should be reduced to 28,000 from the present level of 44,000, that this could be done and that the Gates Commission in America sets the guidelines. They go further and say that the Labor Party has shown its ability to achieve these things by reference to what it did in World War II.
I pointed out that I reject these claims. With regard to the claim that national service is wrong and immoral, I pointed out that the very reverse is true, that voluntary service sought as the basis of the defence of a country is immoral, wrong, inefficient and dangerous to the life and limb of those in our defence forces. I pointed out that nobody should ask another person to carry a public burden for him, and specifically a defence burden. I developed that argument. I wasfurther developing the argument that it is wrong to have voluntary forces not only because they are inefficient but also because there is not enough time to train them. Because of the lack of time and the inability to train, the people concerned are put at peril. That in fact is what has happened before. I stressed that therefore voluntary service was the immoral and corrupt practice.
I should pause here because quite some mention was made of the period of World War 11 and the forecasts that were made at that time. In my view, the tragedy of the 1930s, which should be kept to the forefront in this debate, was not only the unpreparedness of the defence forces of the -Allies but also the unwillingness of the Allies to go to the help of an independent sovereign state, Czechoslovakia, in 1936- 37. Indeed, had the Allies had the will and the ability to give that help World War II could have been mitigated and the lives of almost 40 million people from all sides might well have been preserved. We are in fact our brother’s keeper, and when we see an independent sovereign state, including the independent sovereign state of South Vietnam, being invaded then we should go to its aid.
I understand that the Labor Party rejects the idea that South Vietnam is an independent sovereign state. I take it that that is so. I believe the Labor Party rejects that proposition. I am using Labor Party tests. Both last night and today I have referred to the United Nations, which the Labor Party always uses as the test of sovereignty. I invite Labor senators to go to the Library and read the account of the United Nations debate on 19th September 1952. This is important because at this moment similar treatment is being urged for Mainland China. I ask Labor senators to study the United Nations debate on 19th September 1952. I ask them to note that the Security Council, by 10 votes to 1, was in favour of recognition of South Vietnam as an independent sovereign state. I ask further whether opposition senators are on the side of the 10 or on the side of the Russian veto. If they are on the side of the latter they will be lonely in their splendour.
I ask Labor senators to go to the records for 21st December 1952 and look at the debate of the General Assembly. I ask them to note that 40 nations voted in favour of South Vietnam being recognised as an independent sovereign state, 5 voted against the proposition and 12 abstained. The United Nations by a large majority - indeed, may I say overwhelming majority recognised South Vietnam as an independent sovereign state. Russia vetoed the proposal for recognition, but subsequently some 40 to 50 nations recognised South Vietnam. Before the Geneva agreements Vietnam had been recognised throughout the world as an independent sovereign state.
– Are you dismissing the Geneva agreements?
– 1 am not dismissing the Geneva agreements. I am encouraged by Senator Georges. I want to say to him that at the Bandung conference even the Afro- Asian nations recognised South Vietnam as an independent sovereign state. So only Russia, in its splendour, and the Labor Party reject the principle of sovereignty. But I thank God that–
– In the same way as we guaranteed the sovereignty of North Vietnam.
– lt is fascinating that I have never heard the Opposition query the method of election in North Vietnam. At another time and in another place I will be happy to read out the North Vietnamese methods in their own words. Members of the Labor Party joined with Russia in its veto and non-recognition of sovereignty, although they are now eagerly seeking the sovereignty of another country. Australia, through its defence forces, proudly has intervened to help an independent sovereign state which is recognised by the great majority of countries. The test for members of the Labor Party has always been that sovereignty will be determined by the United Nations. I say to them that de facto the United Nations determined that South Vietnam was sovereign, but because it suits their political purposes they refuse to accept that fact. 1 come to the question of conscientious objection. I remind the Senate that last night I pointed out that the basic principles of conscientious objection, as adopted in the current legislation but much liberalised, were the principles upheld by the Labor Party when in government. I also say that these principles are more libera] than those in virtually ‘any other country in the world, that they go far wider than the test of religion, that they look to true conscience as such and that there is not only a determination by a magistrate but also appeals to higher courts. The test is that on the basis of these principles exemption has been granted to 81 per cent of people who have applied for it.
I was referring to those who burn draft cards and resist the law. I made the point last night that most people who did this did so not because they felt or knew that the law would not accommodate them or would not give them release from service in Vietnam or elsewhere but because they knew that it would. They were, in fact, denying the rule of law, and not a specific law. I made the point that every person who has gone to Vietnam has elected to do so by leaving himself in the ballot and not opting for service in the Citizen Military Forces or registering as a conscientious objector. They have all opted, by elective choice, so to do. I stated that no person has gone to Vietnam or to a foreign war except by making that decision. 1 want to deal with the theory that because a person or a group of persons believes that a particular law is bad they have the right either to break that law or to encourage others to break that law. I say emphatically that to hold that view is the very negation of the parliamentary system and the judicial system and that a parliamentarian espousing that view is recreant to the oath he takes as a parliamentarian and, indeed, has no place inside a parliament because the making of the law in a sovereign parliament depends entirely on the fact that when it is made the people who make it - the lawmakers - have a binding responsibility to encourage and to lead the rest of the community to uphold that law. There can be no principle other than this.
If anybody in the Opposition wishes to demonstrate against a bad law, he can do so; he can do so with all the legal means available to him and, indeed, if he can persuade sufficient people, he can change the government. But, if he cannot persuade sufficient people to change the government, he has no right to use force to enable a minority to enforce its will on the majority. That is the perversion of democracy and the perversion of parliament. This is the whole nub of the attempt to use political force inside and outside the Parliament to change laws. No minority has a right to assume more power for itself than others in the community have. Of course, it is Important to preserve the rights of minorities. No government has gone as far as this Government has gone in recognising the rights of minorities. No Labor government in the past has ever put on the statute book legislation protecting the rights of minorities as this Government has done.
But it is a perversion of the truth to believe that we discharge our duties when we look after the rights of minorities. The rights of majorities are equally important. Unless there is equality before the law, what the fabric of this Parliament stands to fall down. I say emphatically that nobody has the right to break a law. People have the opportunity to break a law, as they have when they commit murder, a burglary or any other felony. They therefore have the opportunity to submit themselves to the just punishment for breaking a law. But I reject entirely, and I ask all parliamentarians in the true sovereignty of Parliament to reject, that as a right because it is a corruption of what we stand for. Fundamentally, a parliamentarian or anybody else who aids draft resisters by burning draft cards or participating in such demonstrations and who tries to denigrate the law enforcement officers, as I have heard day after day after day in this session of the Parliament, is in fact breaking the rule of law and attempting to destroy the judicial system. It is the responsibility of everybody in this chamber to uphold the rule of law and to protect and assist law enforcement ‘ officers in the discharge of their duties. There exists within the community a campaign to denigrate the police and law enforcement officers. I hope I never see members of Parliament lending themselves to that. There are bad police officers, but they are few. By and large, the law enforcement officers in this community are fine people who need to be assisted and encouraged in the discharge of their duties.
Yesterday, Senator James McClelland developed the theory, along with Professor Howard, that there is no immediate threat to Australia and that we could get along fine with 28,000 volunteers. Professor Howard said that Australian forces wasted less money and produced more results than most of the world’s armed forces he had studied. But he said that there was a level of expenditure below which efficiency was impossible. He said that Australian governments will fall below that level at their peril. Was that the speech of a man knocking the present military system of Australia? Where was the criticism of national service? Is it not in fact a commendation of our system? If the honourable senator would like me to deal with the second prophecy, let me say that yesterday I was encouraged to quote other prophets. 1 happily do so. In terms of the honourable senator’s words. Professor Howard said: Do we fear Indonesia? That was said with something of a sneer. I quote a prophet who was a Vice-Premier of Indonesia in the mid-1960s. He knew of the PKI. He knew of their threat and of their near success. I remind this chamber that had the PKI succeeded on 30th September 1965 Australia, in Papua New Guinea, would have had a common border with Peking Communism.
– But the PK.I did not succeed. It was defeated. The honourable senator is out of date.
– That is quite right. The PKI did not succeed. Indeed, Dr Sigar, the Vice-Premier said:
Australia would be an easy prey for the communists if they took over Indonesia. If God saved Indonesia from communism in 1965, He also saved Australia and New Zealand from great danger.
I am out of date but I understood that the national service scheme was introduced in 1964. Was it then out of date, in terms of Dr Sigar? Or shall we go to a better authority, in terms of the Labor Party, one with whom Labor leaders have consulted? I draw upon the written words of Chou En-lai and Mao Tse-tung as documented in “New Programme for World Revolution’ which states:
After the liberation of lndo-China, Burma will fall into line as a good foundation has already been laid there. Then the reactionary group in Thailand will capitulate and the country will be in the hands of the people. The liberation of Indonesia, which will fall to the communist camp like a ripe fruit, will complete the circle around the Malay peninsula. The British will realise under the circumstances, the hopelessness of putting up a fight and will withdraw as quickly as they can.
Was this as wrong as was Mr Hitler in Mein Kampf, or as right or as prophetic? 1 was asked for the words of the prophets. Perhaps honourable senators would like the words of the heir presumptive, Lin Piao who in September 1965 in his statemen; of his intentions said:
Win Asia, Africa and Latin America through wars of national liberation’ and the United States and its western allies will be encircled, will be overwhelmed.
He also said:
And where is all this to begin? It has already begun and the place in which it has begun is Vietnam.
Are these the words of prophets or are we going to say, as so many did in the 1930s of Hitler, that ‘he does not mean what he said and we can furl our umbrellas’. Those were the words of prophet after prophet. Man can do only one thing in these circumstances, and that is be prepared. The whole basis of our national service system is that it is the most moral, the most efficient, the most prepared and the most likely to save the lives of our soldiers and of our people. Finally I say that over the years in debates on national service and defence generally a belief has grown up that if one mouths the word peace somehow or other, like the rain callers of other days, perhaps one can obtain peace or if one can say the word loudly enough one is by far the strongest peacemaker. I have lived to see those who call for peace practise anarchy, violence and certainly obstruction. We do not get peace merely by mouthing the word. We get peace when we decide what is right, what is our duty - first to our nation and then to our neighbours - when we equip ourselves in the most honest and satisfactory way and when we are willing to be our brother’s keeper. If we want to be a nation which survives and is free, in the first place we must be well prepared. If we want to have the respect of the nations of South East Asia we must be willing to go to their assistance when an independent sovereign state is invaded, as we have done.
– Any one of them?
– Yes, indeed. When there is aggression from without it is our duty to go to their assistance. When we do this we will make our judgments. When we do this we will do what we have done. In South East Asia over the past 6 years we have created a degree of stability never considered likely 6 years ago. In all those nations a degree of precious time has been bought which will enable consolidation within those nations. Despite the pleas and the laments of the Labor Party there are greater respect and admiration for Australia the length and breadth of South East Asia than there ever were before. I know some little of the countries of South East Asia. I am proud that we have walked alongside our friends and neighbours. Those who preach brotherhood and some kind of liberalisation of immigration, and talk of the absence of creed and colour, will stand up and be counted not when they mouth words but are they prepared to go alongside their brothers and say to them: ‘You are different from me in colour, creed, language and religion. I am prepared to stand by you in your fight for freedom’. By backing those words with actions their arguments will have some solidity.
– Senator Carrick who has just resumed his seat-
– A good speech.
– It was a good speech in that he has spoiled a reputation as a good speaker which he has built up since he came into this chamber. I congratulate the honourable senator on the address which he made about capital punishment. I think it is one of the best that I have heard on the subject. But the honourable senator lacks a sincerity which would enable him to make constructive speeches on all occasions. On this occasion the honourable senator has mouthed . half truths and, in some cases, untruths which are similar to those contained in the second reading speech. We have reached the stage where he has shown the whole hypocrisy of his attitude by trying to defend a discredited Government over its actions of conscription and involving us in Vietnam. I shall not take time to criticise what he said. He can destroy himself, I think. Among his untruths was a statement about the recognition of the independent sovereign state of South Vietnam. Under the terms of the Geneva Agreement Vietnam was divided into 2 sections. The Agreement was between North Vietnam and the French. Vietnam was divided for the purpose of disarming the combatants in that dispute. Following the agreement an election was to be held to decide on a sovereign government for Vietnam. But South Vietnam would not continue with the elections in 1962. We have entered Vietnam and sacrified the loves of young Australian men for the sake of discredited military governments which have taken power as coup has followed coup. The Pentagon Papers have shown that for no other reason but American prestige have we gone into this camp. That is the reason. Today we are told that South Vietnam is an independent sovereign state. I think that is a definite untruth. I excuse the honourable senator as he is new to this chamber He does not know that Senator Greenwood has been repeating the untruth night after night during previous sessions of Parliament. He has said that a way out for those who resent going to Vietnam is to join tha Citizen Military Forces. He has said that those whose consciences would not permit them to become national servicemen because of the possibility that they would be sent to Vietnam had the alternative of joining the CMF. But they sign on in the CMF for a period of 6 years to serve where the Government directs in any case of emergency.
– What is wrong with that?
– If an emergency arises such a member of the CMF has undertaken an oath to go to Vietnam contrary to the conscientious belief that made him refuse to do national service. Anyone with a conscientious objection to fighting in a particular area of the world at the Government’s request could not, as an alternative, join the Citizen Military Forces in Australia. To do so would be in defiance of his conscience. I hope to be able to show that at the present stage of Australia’s defence situation national, service is not desirable and is not in the best interests of defence. I accept Senator Carrick’s remark that there is a responsibility on all parties to provide an efficient defence for Australia, but we are not assisting our defence position by this Bill, nor are we assisting it by continuing with our system of national service.
There has been some question about who are the authorities on this subject, and rather than express my own opinion on the matter I propose to refer to no less authorities than Prime Ministers of Australia, Ministers for Defence and Ministers for the Army. Firstly I shall refer to the deteriorating position of Australia’s defence, quite apart from defence hardware, by mentioning the Army manpower. In his second reading speech on the Bill the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said:
Subsequent developments have fully vindicated the Government’s judgment. Since the introduction of national service, while the increase in the volunteer element of the Regular Army has been at an average rate, in round terms, of 1,000 men a year resulting in a strength of some 28,000 men at 30th June 1971, the actual annual increase has been decreasing, particularly since 1969 and, indeed, there was a fall in the volunteer element in 1970-71.
I do not know whether that has resulted from the influence of Senator Carrick, who does not seem to put much value on the regular services. I think it is recognised that the regular services must suffer some decline in numbers through not being able to attract those who normally would volunteer but who have been called up for national service. We find today that there is not an encouragement to join even our regular services and that we are losing numbers in that area. The Minister continued:
In the same period the national service scheme has provided more than 51,000 men. More than one-third of the Army has comprised national servicemen.
A secondary objective of the national service scheme is the encouragement of stronger citizen forces to ensure the support that the regular forces will require . . .
I understand that we have 12,000 men in the citizen forces and a reserve force with a strength of 21,000 men. In this Bill it is proposed to reduce our total Army manpower, a third of which is made up of national servicemen, from 44,000 to 40,000 to meet today’s defence requirements. The first question I ask is why this is necessary to meet today’s defence requirements. Recruiting to our Regular Army is on the decline, as the Minister said, and our need for an army obviously has increased from our requirement in 1964 when national service was introduced. National service was introduced at that time, contrary to the advice of Australia’s military experts, to meet the circumstances of the time. But it was decided by the Government that we needed manpower in the Army and that we had to send a group to Vietnam or somewhere else.
In Perth on 9th August 1964 the late Senator Paltridge, who at that time was Minister for Defence, told the Western Australian Party Conference that it was generally agreed that a scheme of selective training of 12,000 youths would not be effective. He was the Minister for Defence, so he should have known, and he said that such a- scheme would not be effective. He was supported in that view by the then Minister for the Army, Dr Forbes, who at Hobart on 26th October 1964 said on the subject of conscription to a Returned Servicemen’s League National Congress:
This is the problem to which I have given more attention than any other since I became Minister for the Army.
Even a scheme which provides for a 2-year period of service does not provide the people we most need, that is, experienced officers and NCOs. Those are the people we are short of now. The deficiency would be even greater if conscription were introduced.
It is wasteful in the sense that you only get about 18 months of service out of each person you train, compared with 51 years for most regulars.
So the Minister had said that the subject had occupied his attention and that in his view national service would not be helpful. The Minister for the Army, who was supporting the Minister for Defence in that view, had the advantage of the advice of the Department of the Army that it would be necessary to train national servicemen for 6 months, after which we would get 18 months service only from a 2-year conscript.
– From which document is the honourable senator quoting?
– I am quoting from Hansard of 11th November 1964. This was a quotation used by Mr Calwell when speaking on the ministerial statement on the defence review which announced the introduction of conscription.
– Where did Mr Calwell get it? The honourable senator said that Mr Calwell was quoting the Minister’s remarks.
– What reference did be give for the quotation?
– He said it was from Press reports.
– What is the reference to the quotation from Mr Calwell? It has been only half quoted.
– It is being questioned whether the remark was ever made publicly by the Minister. I invite the honourable senator to take note of the fact that on 11th November 1964 in the other place Mr Whitlam asked the Minister, Dr Forbes, whether he had said it. This appears at page 2783 of volume 44 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 11th November 1964. On that occasion Dr Forbes said in reply to the question:
True to his usual form, the honourable gentleman quoted only a part of what I said on that occasion. What he quoted me as saying is perfectly correct. Up to this point of time - that is the phrase I used-
I ask honourable senators to listen to this. He continued: when the Government was assessing the overall strategic basis of its defence policy the military advisers put the view that the strategic situation then did not warrant the introduction of selective national service training. However, it has been a part of our military plans for a long time now that, in certain situations such as the early stages of a limited war and so on, selective national training would be introduced immediately.
That was the statement made by the Minister for the Army on 11th November 1964, the day after the Prime Minister of the time had announced the introduction of national service. On 10th November 1964 the Prime Minister said why it was necessary at that stage to act contrary to the advice given by the Government’s military advisers, contrary to the express statement of the Minister for Defence and contrary to the express public statement of the Minister for the Army. It will be shown that there is justification for the belief that the statement made in the course of the second reading speech on the National Service Bill at that time, that national service was not being introduced for the purpose of supplying the requirements of Vietnam, was a false statement and that the situation in Vietnam and the incidents around Vietnam were the reason for national service being introduced. The Prime Minister at that time. Sir Robert Menzies-
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
- Mr President, prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner I had shown that in 1967, according to the expert advice of the Government’s Army advisers, it was not desirable to have national service in Australia. Despite the fact that national service was contrary to the expert advice of the Government’s military advisers, something happened in the world to justify an increase in Australia’s armed forces. Looking for an authority as to what happened I turned to the speech made in the House of Representatives by the then Prime Minister on 10th November 1964 when he introduced national service. In a statement entitled Defence Review’, the then Prime Minister said:
At present, important questions arise which require frank answers. They will, I regret to say, indicate that there has been a deterioration in our strategic position since the review which I presented to Parliament last year. The range of likely military situations we must be prepared to face has increased as a result of recent Indonesian policies and actions and the growth of Communist influence and armed activity in Laos and South Vietnam. If these countries collapsed, there would be a grave threat to Thailand and the whole of Sou ti East Asia would be put at risk. The effectiveness of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation as a guarantee of mutual security would be seriously jeopardised.
In particular, in South Vietnam the continued instability of government has made the task of resistance more difficult and to some extent frustrates the massive efforts of the United States and our own necessarily small contributions. The aggressive attitude of North Vietnam towards South Vietnam is demonstrated by continued political and ideological support given to the military insurgents, and the infiltration of thousands of trained men.
Summing up the situation, after the long review, the Prime Minister said:
Now, this has been a brief account of some of the developments which have led us to the conclusion that there has been, since my review of 1963, a deterioration in our strategic position.
That was the position which was said to justify acting contrary to military advice. It was the situation in Laos and South Vietnam. We actually had troops engaged in Malaysia and we were faced with the Indonesian confrontation attitude. In the words of the then Prime Minister, although national service may not be in the best interests of Australia in normal times, the circumstances at that time justified increasing the number of personnel in the Army. One must wonder what justifies national service now that we are not fighting in Malaysia. There is no Indonesian confrontation and we are withdrawing troops from South Vietnam. The threat that was there in those times is not apparent now. Why is it necessary today to continue calling up large numbers for national service, a policy which is not recommended by our military advisers? Consider the situation in 1964 and these words of the then Prime Minister:
That figure did include the Air Force and Navy. It was the figure said to be required to meet the emergency situation. In the words of the then Prime Minister, there was a grave threat which necessitated increasing the Army from 22,000 to 33,000. He said it was necessary to have 33,000 to meet our obligations. Having successfully fulfilled our obligations we find today that we need a force of 40,000 men although we are not faced with the threat in Vietnam or the threat in Malaysia. What is the reason today for the additional number of recruits and national servicemen who, according to the advice of the military experts of this country, are not the most desirable servicemen? Is it desired to keep this reserve force in our hands because of political reasons? Australia has a long history of opposition to compulsion.
– We might need them to beat fifth columns here.
– Australia has a long history of opposition to compulsion. Mr President, you will notice that on every occasion after the dinner adjournments we have to put up with these snide interjections from Senator Gair. If this is the result of dinner adjournments 1 suggest that we should try to do something about it.
– I think that is a singularly inappropriate remark for one senator to make about another senator.
– But it is factual, Mr President. On this occasion we find that the opposition to compulsion has been increased greatly by virtue of the fact that in Australia on this occasion national service is linked with the possibility of service in Vietnam and that men are selected to serve by means of a lottery. On other occasions that military training has been compulsory in Australia there has not been the opposition to it that there has been on this occasion. Australia has developed a tradition from the actions of its former citizens. Possibly Australians originated this tradition by revolting against the tyranny of the Imperial forces who were keeping convicts under subjection in Australia. We built up a tradition of fighting in opposition to tyranny in those days. Possibly one of the greatest events in Australian history occurred at Bakery Hill at Ballarat on Sunday, 3rd December 1854, when men engaged in mining protested about having to have a licence to mine for .gold or other minerals in Australia. We recall the history of events at Bakery Hill and the barricade. The licence burnt on that occasion was the first blow of free men in Australia for a certain free way of life which would not require them to follow slavishly what happened in other countries.
Then there was the occasion during World War I when the Government desired to force Australian soldiers to go overseas to fight. On 28th October 1916 the conscription referendum was held. The result was true to Australia’s tradition. Senator Carrick referred last night to certain figures. The result of that referendum seeking conscription for Australia was that 1,087,577 voted yes and 1,160,037 voted no. The result of the military vote on which the Prime Minister of the day was relying was that 73,299 members of the Australian Military Forces voted yes and 58,894 voted no. The combined vote of the military forces included the votes of troops in the trenches in Flanders as well as those in military camps in Australia.
The record is not sufficiently certain to show definitely how the soldiers overseas voted in the referendum but at least it is definite that 58,894 soldiers were opposed to the conscription of others into the Services. On 20th December 1917 a second referendum was held and it was even more disastrous for the Government. Twenty years ago the Government tried to force on the people of Australia the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the purpose of which was to annihilate a political party in this country and to deny to. men the right to organise in a particular political group. The people, again acting consistently with Australia’s tradition, rejected that legislation. The whole history, tradition and make-up of Australia reflects a fight against compulsion. It will not be accepted here.
– Compulsion to join unions.
- Mr President, you complained that my previous remark was inappropriate, but what is one to do when one does not get from the Chair protection from such interjections?
- Senator Cavanagh, I shall give you all the protection you require. You can disregard the disorderly interjections of Senator Gair.
– How can one completely disregard the inane interjections coming from that quarter? Despite the fact that on 28th October 1916 at a referendum the people were opposed to conscription, and repeated their decision on 20th December 1917, between the 2 referendums - on 5th May 1917 - the Hughes Government was re-elected with a big majority to the Federal Parliament. Although the Menzies Government had its Communist Party Dissolution Bill rejected at a referendum, it also was returned to the Federal Parliament. Despite the fact that in 1964 the Menzies Government introduced conscription, it was returned at the next election to the Federal Parliament. It shows clearly that a government’s attack upon freedom does not affect it electorally. It seems that the people of Australia are prepared to accept a government on their assessment of its legislative performance over a whole range of policies. However, they reserve the right to fight against compulsion, as is shown by the thread that runs right through Australia’s history. They have rejected attempts to force compulsion into our legislation.
I again remind honourable senators of the results of the referendums conducted in 1916 and 1917 on conscription and 20 years ago on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. When the Government introduced conscription in 1964 it did not conduct a referendum. What alternative have the young lads of today, what else are the young children to do when faced with compulsion? They have a responsibility to the traditions of their forefathers and the freedom fighters of Australia. They owe a debt to the traditions of those people who built up this country as we know it today and whose personalities shine throughout Australia’s history because of their fight against military jingoism and compulsion. What alternative is left to our youth but to rebel? Are they not following the tradition set by their forefathers? Are they not great examples of Australia’s heroic manhood? Should we not praise them? Should we not be proud of the members of the Victorian Labor Youth League who have set up an organisation to aid draft resisters? lt has been said by honourable senators opposite that our young people have a responsibility to obey the law, but the Government has a responsibility to implement laws in favour of the people, lt should be government by the people. Our national history is full of examples of opposition to the implementation of bad laws. Would anyone say that Christ was wrong when he was found guilty of treason and crucified for breaches of the law? Would anyone today say that Gandhi was wrong when he was imprisoned time and time again under British Acts of Parliament which he was found to have breached? Would anyone say that the authors of Magna Carta were in breach of the law? They did a service to British justice and the system that has developed down the years. Would anyone say that the protesters at the Eureka Stockade injured Australia by acting in defiance of the law? History records the beneficial results that have followed from revolt against laws which should never have been enacted.
The question is asked: Who decides whether a law is bad? 1 have put the test. A law that is broken by normal lawabiding citizens in large numbers is a law that should never have been enacted by a government which claims to be administering government for the people. In Australia today a section of the people is defiant in the old tradition. They need support in their protests against the way that the taxpayers’ money is being spent. We have a fanatical Attorney-General at present who forgets about breaches of federal law in encouraging the damaging of property and authorising 40 men to chase around a building for 3 days. He allows 100 men with conveyances and breaking implements to raid a university in which are 4 men who in a month’s time could be picked up anywhere. Four men are defying the Attorney-General on this question and actions are taken under laws that should never appear on the statute book. There is no need for anybody to apologise for those lads who find it necessary to act in the best traditions of Australia’s manhood and I believe that all democrats will wish them luck in the future.
– We are discussing legislation to amend the National Service Act. The main amendment is to reduce the time of service for national service trainees from 24 months to 1.8 months. Those of us who are interested in the nation’s defence may have some misgivings about the fact that a reduction of about 4,000 personnel in our armed forces will result. The present Budget contains an increased vote for defence at a time when most departments have had their appropriations reduced. If this means that our national defence is nol to be cut down in any way by the reduction of national service training, those of us with misgivings may find that they are unjustified. In studying the best way to reduce our armed forces, shortening the length of national- service training from 2 years to 18 months seems to be the soundest method that could be devised. It seems prefereable to reducing the numbers of the intake. It is true that the basis of any national defence is the volunteer system. We must retain the process of having volunteers for our armed forces.
– But last night your colleague-
– I will deal with that. To rely on volunteers alone would be completely stupid and we would fail them, as Senator Carrick pointed out, if we did not ensure that the numbers in the forces were maintained. We can maintain the numbers of trained personnel, and this has been proved in Australia and in most other countries that have had to face conflicts. Australians have not had to face an aggressor, except those of us who live in northern Australia. From what he said a short time ago it is obvious that Senator Cavanagh was not in Darwin or Townsville when they were bombed and when there was a real threat to Australia. He was one of the people who was south of the Brisbane line.
– There was no Brisbane line according to members of your Party.
– No Brisbane line? There certainly was a Brisbane line when General MacArthur came to Australia. Let us make no mistake about that. I have said that the basis of our defence forces should be volunteers. National service is necessary to ensure not only that the number of trained personnel in our armed forces is maintained at a high level but also that in case of emergency we have sufficient reserves to permit rapid mobilisation. Another interesting point is that many national servicemen have chosen the Army as a career after having spent some time in it. So in addition to providing insurance for our permanent forces, national service is a very important recruiting ground. When the inquiries currently being conducted into pay and conditions and into retirement benefits available to persons in the Services are concluded, we may see a considerable number of young people volunteering for the permanent forces. If that happens the demand for national servicemen will not be as great as it is now.
Honourable senators opposite have talked abour dirty wars. It seems to me that according to the Opposition, anyone who chooses to resist Communist aggression or infiltration is involved in a dirty war. That is an amazing attitude for the Opposition to adopt.
– Be careful. You should not start attacking the Opposition. You have not the ability to do that.
– Every time this aspect is raised we hear the cries from the Opposition side. Let us consider the situation which applied in 1964 or 1965 when national service was introduced in Australia and our forces first went to Vietnam. There was Communist aggression in South Vietnam and in the adjoining states of Laos and Cambodia. Indonesia which is very close to us was on the brink of going Communist. The Chinese were being most aggressive and we need only recall China’s activities in India and Tibet.
– Do not forget Czechoslovakia. That was the worst of the lot.
– I mention Czechoslovakia as well. This Government, acting in the interests of the Australian people, said: ‘This is contrary to the Austraiian way of life. This represents a threat to Australia. We must do something about it’. Now listen to the cries of Opposition senators. The Opposition resisted the sending of national servicemen to Vietnam. In fact it resisted the sending of any of our armed forces to Vietnam. It is still doing so. I feel sure that because of our actions in Vietnam the situation in the South West Pacific and in Asia hay changed materially. Our situation today is much better than it was then. Some Opposition senators haveadmitted that what we did was necessary then but is not necessary now. To that statement I reply that we must always be vigilant when our defence is involved. If it was necessary then and we achieved something then, I believe that it is just as necessary now.
The attitude of the Australian people to the Government’s actions is of interest. According to a recent Gallup poll 69 per cent of all Australians interviewed are in favour of national service, and 59 per cent of the 20-year-olds who are liable for national service believe that they have the right to serve in the interests of Australia. They accept national service as a necessary step in Australia’s defence. It is obvious from those figures that our friends of the Opposition are again on the way out. A further interesting point elicited by the poll is that a clear majority of Labor voters were in favour of national service because, to use a word that Labor people often use, they do not believe in scabs. The Opposition believes in compulsory unionism and everything else that is compulsory except compulsory service in the nation’s defence.
– And only 35 per cent of them believe in your Prime Minister.
– We have heard that story before. When national defence is concerned the Opposition’s policy is this: Hands off the Communists whether they be from Russia, China or anywhere else because they do not represent a threat to us. That is a matter of opinion. What the Communists have done in Tibet, Czechoslovakia and Hungary is not in accordance with our democratic way of life. In fact it represents a threat to our democratic way of life. However, the Opposition claims that there is no threat.
– Next you will say that Thursday Island represents a threat.
– Of course, Senator Keeffe does not represent a threat to anyone, certainly not to the Government parties as was evidenced at the last Senate election.
– He went to Queensland to win the election there.
– And we did very well with him, loo. I am a firm believer in national service as an insurance for our armed forces and for our general defence. Senator Carrick last night and again today put up a very good case for national service in the defence of this nation. It has been necessary in the defence of other nations which have had to face the threat of aggression in the past. I think we all appreciate the fact that modern techniques in warfare have given rise to situations which did not exist in the First World War or the Second World War. They have placed us in a position where we may have to fight alone. In that event we must make sure that at least we have friends close to us who will come to our assistance. Of course, it goes without saying that if they are attacked we will go to their assistance. I believe we have done that.
The Australian nation must be satisfied with what has been achieved since we introduced national service and since we sent our forces to Vietnam if only for the reason that the situation today is so much better than it was then. That in itself justifies our actions. It is in the interests of this nation to ensure that that situation continues into the future. We will maintain a defence force that can meet most emergencies. In the event of a conflict we will be able to mobilise reasonably trained men in a very short time and be able to meet any situation in a very short time.
I support the Bill. As I said earlier 1 would not like to have seen the forces reduced but I am quite sure that this Government, acting in the interests of the people, will make sure that the defence of this country will be maintained and that our friends in the Pacific and Asian areas will be able to count on us as a firm and sound ally.
– I would like to join with my colleagues Senator James McClelland and Senator Cavanagh in putting the case for the Opposition against this Bill. I feel a little sorry that Senator Maunsell took any part in this debate. I do not think he did anything to bolster the case for the Government. In fact, I believe that he did a lot to support what has been put by the Opposition. As you know, Mr President, at a later stage the Opposition will move certain amendments to the National Service Bill. But while we are debating the Bill at this stage I think it is only right and proper that we should look at the Vietnam commitment in retrospect and also at that aspect of the commitment which still faces us.
In 1963 and 1964 representatives of the Government stoutly denied throughout this country that conscription would be introduced for any reason at all. In fact, shortly after the time the Minister made the announcement that there would be no conscription introduced in Australia the Prime Minister of the day was able to repudiate his own Minister’s statement and say that conscription would be introduced. During the Senate election campaign in 1964 I and other candidates forecast that conscription was being introduced only for the purpose of bolstering the illegal commitment in Vietnam. But today the Government proudly announces that this commitment did not take place until 1966. In fact, the Minister for Labour and National
Service (Mr Lynch) mentioned this particular aspect in his second reading speech. Regardless of what representatives on the Government side might say, the only reason that conscription was introduced was to bolster a broken down, illegal war in a country in which this nation should never have been involved.
The national service system has provided this country, according to the Minister’s second reading speech, with 51,000 people. The Minister also stated that approximately one-third of the personnel in the Australian forces in Vietnam are people who have been called up - they are national servicemen. Might I say that it is significant that of the casualties in Vietnam almost one half are national servicemen. My party has consistently drawn attention to this over a long period of time. We have claimed on occasion that it is possible that national servicemen are not being properly trained before they are committed to battle. Statistically this is probably true.
Before I quote from other aspects of the Minister’s second reading speech I would like to make some references to some of the things that one of the Government senators said in this place last night and today. It is regrettable that he is a new member of this chamber; it is regrettable that he has turned out to be one of those who support the warmongers of this nation and of the world.
– Who is that?
– I think his name is Carrick. He comes from New South Wales. Last night when opening his speech he said:
The legislation which we are debating is designed essentially to reduce the national service period of training from 2 years to 18 months.
Then he went on to quote in detail statements from the Minister’s second reading speech, including the figures that had been given in that speech. On page 1145 of the Daily Hansard of 5th October 1971, after an interjection by Senator Georges-
– Who is he?
– Senator Georges is a well known name in this country as a fighter for freedom and democracy. This is what the Government senator had to say:
Indeed, freedom and democracy have been made, by corruption, words and weapons of war at this moment. I repeat that a government has a responsibility to decide on its defence, then to decide on methods and then to decide on the equity of those methods.
One wonders where the honourable senator dredged up this particular warlike theory of his because the lottery of death, as the national service ballot really is, is one of the most infamous systems of selecting national servicemen that this country or any other country in the so called free world has ever seen. In other words, if a person is unlucky enough to have his birthday on a certain day it means that he may be conscripted; it means that he may be sent into a war in which he has had no part and wants no part; it means that he may lose his life as a result of it. So this system of Australian roulette, where a youngster who was unfortunate enough to be born on a certain day may be sent to his death has made this country renowned for its unfair system of selection.
– Did not that originally start the slogan: ‘Diggers for dollars’?
– It was also: ‘Beef for diggers’ because one of the reasons we have become committed in Vietnam was not to save Australia from Communism. If anything our commitment in Vietnam has increased the number of Communists throughout the Asian area. We have made no contribution to peace. At the cost of 500 young Australian lives we have indulged in this infamous war. It has been said that we are there for trade. Indeed, we have a number of very famous sayings. It was a former Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, who went to America and at one of the well-lubricated dinners there said: ‘AH the way with LBJ’. Another Prime Minister, who was afterwards deposed in the great lottery that is going on in the Liberal Party, said, also while in America: ‘We will go waltzing Matilda with you’. Now we have another Prime Minister - honourable senators should note that the way in which we change our Prime Ministers is a bit like the system of ballots for national service; one after the other-
– We do at least have Prime Ministers.
– I would not even call any of them Prime Ministers, and as an Assistant Minister the honourable senator ought to know better. Of course, we do not recognise him as an Assistant Minister.
– The Labor Party does not recognise the honourable senator at all.
– Oh, a purile interjection. May I say that the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was waltzing around this country when he was busily castigating the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) as having been played in China like a trout, I think was the word that he used. In the meantime, of course, the President of the United States of America was playing the Australian Prime Minister like the biggest flathead that has ever been pulled out of any ocean surrounding this country. Therefore we find that while we have had Prime Ministers who have gone all the way and waltzing Matilda etc. we now have a Prime Minister who can be played like a flathead by anyone who wants to do so at any time.
Might I go back a little further to some of the statements made by our newest-
– Let us go right back to the Boer War.
– Look, interjections from conscientious objectors from World War II ought to be left out.
– Order! The honourable member will address his remarks to the Chair.
– Thank you, Mr President. Would you ask Senator ‘Little by Little’ to do the same? I am very disappointed that a man has come into this chamber in the dying stages of the Vietnam war and has made a speech in this chamber advocating conscription in any circumstances and who, as my colleague Senator Cavanagh said today, has indulged in half truths and most of the time in untruths. Anybody who reads that speech in Hansard will see that it contains distortions of all the facts of the case.
– Order! I do not accept the expression ‘half-truths”. What was said was either a truth or an untruth, so the honourable senator can commit himself to the ‘untruth’.
– I commit myself to all the things that I referred to as untruths.
Sometimes when one distorts the truth 1 think it is probably in the best of manners to call that a half-truth. On this occasion where what was said is not described properly as an untruth it is a distortion of fact.
– You would be a past master at that.
– I am getting some interjections from the peanut gallery - from the DLP corner.
– Order! Senator Keeffe, you are inviting interjections. I will not permit them, and you must not invite them.
– The Vietnam war has cost this country a lot in money and in lives. One of the most regrettable factors of the war is that while Australia has been participating in this illegal war many business men in this country were exporting the sinews of war. to North Vietnam. When attention was drawn to that by the Labor Party they decided that they would export through the back door. As a result of the scaling down of the commitment in Vietnam, as the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said the other day publicly in reply to a question asked in this chamber, the Government intends to sack employees of the Department of Works because of a shortage of work due to soldiers returning from Vietnam. If the Government was morally sincere in relation to this issue it would bring home the soldiers straight away. It would have brought them home years ago. If it had been honest about this issue, instead of kowtowing to other people, it would not have committed Australia to this war.
Senator Maunsell, who preceded me in this debate, referred to the results of gallup polls. He quoted one result, without giving the source or the date, which was in favour of national service. Senator Carrick, to whom I referred earlier, last night said that the Labor Party was committed to conscription. What utter piffle. In a few moments I shall read portions of the policy of my Party in relation to conscription. Mr President, if what Senator Carrick said is not a distortion of fact; I ask you what is. Gallup polls consistently have shown that this country should not have been involved in Vietnam. A majority of Australians believe that our troops should not be there. While the Government was able to beat drums in the early part of the commitment and while it told everybody that hordes would invade our country by sailing to our northern shores in canoes and dug-outs, it was able to frighten enough people into believing that there was a menace. Ii is significant that even now. as the withdrawal takes place, Australian soldiers are still being killed. The Government has consistently said, in this place and in the other place, that the area in which Australian troops are engaged had been freed of the so-called enemy. Somebody is not telling the truth. I suggest that it is members on the Government side.
Money has been made by some business nien because we have engaged in a war - a war to which the Government has not ve’ been able to prove that Australia was properly invited to commit itself, lt is true that the Prime Minister, who gets played like a flathead. was able to say recently that: he had some letters inviting our commitment. I would like to see the signatures on those letters and to have some identification of those signatures. If I had my back to the wall in the circumstances in which the Prime Minister had his back to the wall I might have produced something. The letters could be of very doubtful origin indeed. If they are not of doubtful origin, they do not mean a thing. They do not mean that this country should have been committed. The Minister in charge of the Bill, the Minister for Works, is able to laugh his head off because he thinks the Vietnam war is a funny war. He . is not worrying. 1 suggest that the blood of 500 men is on the heads of. the Minister and every supporter of the Government.
– Order! 1 will nol permit that kind of language.
– Shall I put it more politely?
– Everyone, including me, would be grateful if you did.
– Every supporter of the Government must share in the responsibility - whether the Minister thinks it is a matter of great mirth - for 500 families in this country today having lost a loved one A large number of widows will never sec their husbands again. Children in this country are fatherless because their fathers were killed in Vietnam. The Government has not saved a thing. It was supposed to be saving democracy. Last weekend we saw the greatest farce of democracy ever seen in a country that was supposed to be a free country. One man was able to eliminate his opposition without a ballot, go to a ballot alone and claim that he got 95 per cent of the vote.
– It was 99 per cent.
– Was it 99 per cent?
– It was 98 per cent or 99 per cent.
– 1 thank Senator Cavanagh. Who will believe that? If the result was as high as that it was only because the ballot papers were faked, because the soldiers in that country were able to carry out intimidatory tactics and because there was a great fear in the minds of the people of that country. Nobody in the world - be it a free country or otherwise - is prepared to believe that this was a democratic election. On the other hand Air Vice-Marshal Ky, who was feted in Australia by supporters of the Government, at the taxpayers’ expense, and who was flown around in a VIP aircraft, now threatens a take-over in Vietnam, by force if necessary. Whom does the Government think it is kidding? It is certainly not kidding the relatives of the 500 dead. It is not kidding the 2,500 people who have been maimed as a result of involvement in this war. lt is not kidding the newest war widows and the newest war orphans in Australia. The moral responsibility for these deaths lies right at the feet of the Government.
One would have though, seeing Australia has been involved in Vietnam since 1966 and seeing that the Americans were there before us in this same rotten war, that democracy would have been restored today. It has not been restored. The position now is worse than before America and Australia went there. The nations involved, apart from Australia and America, include New Zealand and other countries. I suppose these 3 nations of the so-called free world would be looked upon as 3 reasonably- respectable nations. Great Britain would not sully its hands, neither would any European country. Korea was forced into the war. lt had no chance of avoiding involvement. Thailand was involved in the war. It could not avoid involvement either. The Philippines became involved because you, by blackmail, forced it to become involved. In using the word you’ I am referring to the Australian Government and the American Government which worked in close cahoots to involve the Philippines in this war. The Philippines, to its very great credit, was one of the first to pull out although it was being blackmailed to stop there.
The Australian and American Governments said that they did not intend to spread this war. How many Australian troops became involved in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand? The Government will not tell us whether there are advisers or troops in these areas, neither will it tell us whether guerilla wars are being carried on along the boundaries to the south of this area. Reports that Australians are being maimed and killed seep out. The political immorality of this Government has to be seen to be believed. It hides behind all kinds of smoke screens. A senator can ask a question in this chamber and the fear of Government Ministers is so great that they are not prepared to tell the truth. They will sidestep issues. They will evade giving a direct answer. They will fabricate some kind of story in order to get off the hook - to use the good old Australian slang term.
If the Government is to face up to the future and if it wishes to remain in office it will have to develop some political backbone. At the moment its philosophy is: Let every day take care of itself. It has spread disquiet in every sector of the community. It has the business sector of the community in a cold panic because it is not providing a lead. Governments are supposed to provide a lead. If they are not able to do this they should not remain in office. The Government has young people today in a greatly mixed up mental state, and this again is the result of the Government’s own policies. The youngster who wants to make plans for the future does not know whether he should because his name may come out of the barrel and his career or training may be disrupted for 18 months. If he is planning to marry but wants to finish a university course he probably will not be able to marry because he cannot settle down to a planned future.
The implementation of the National Service Act is another disgrace. Young men have been gaoled and hounded throughout this country. Many of them have left the shores of Australia and may never come back to us because they have a moral right lo believe that they ought not to be involved in a particular war. Some are pacifists; some did not want to be involved in any war at all, and I have a very great admiration for these people. There are others who did not want to be involved in this war because in conscience they felt that they could not become so involved. But the Government has hounded them all around Australia. Today in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales 3 young men lie rotting in prison because the Government says that they must be there. It does not give them the right to have a conscience at all. It does not give them the right to say: ‘I do not want your rotten war and I do not want to bc involved in it’. So they are put behind bars. The young Mullen lad has been shifted from gaol to gaol. The Government will not even tell his mother why he has been shifted around. It throws up a smoke screen by saying that it is in his own best interest. These 3 youngsters ought to be released from gaol tonight. They ought not to stay there for another hour, but that is not the way the Government looks at it.
The Government is prepared to wreck a university. On orders from this Government only a few days ago thousands of dollars worth of damage was done by polio; who went rampaging through the university looking for 4 alleged draft dodgers. They still have not been caught. The fact that a large section of this country does not want to get involved in this political war is covered up by a distortion of figures. The Government is not prepared to face up to the realities of this, just as it is not prepared to face up to the realities of many other things. I suggest that the right and humane thing for the Australian Government to do today is to withdraw every one of our troops immediately from South Vietnam before any more good young Australians lose their lives in a battle that can never be won. I suggest that the National Service Act should not be amended but that it should be scrapped.
If anybody wants to accuse the Australian Labor Party of not having a proper attitude to the defence of this country he would do well to read part of our platform on defence. It reads:
Australia asserts the right of consultation in the great decisions of war and peace and should not allow herself to be committed to any course of action without consultation and agreement.
In simple words that means that if the Government did send our boys to Vietnam in the first place for trade purposes, to curry favour with America in order to sell our beef and sugar, the rug has been dragged from under the Government both politically and physically because a 10 per cent surcharge has been imposed on anything that is sent from this country to America. The chances of our increasing our trade with America are almost nil.
– If Labor were in government what would consultation lead to?
– It is very difficult to explain things to you, Senator Webster, as it is to all members of the Country Party. I suggest that if members of the Country Party have got up to their ears in their involvement in the Vietnam war because they wanted to sell their beef and wheat - it should be remembered that they were selling their wheat to China until they lost the market - they ought to develop a proper attitude to defence and not give Australian blood for trade with any country. I suggest that as a very adequate answer to the inept members of the Country Party. The Labor platform states:
AH defence policy rests ultimately upon the possible deployment of the armed forces. Labor’s policy is to provide a strong regular and citizen defence force which can be rapidly and efficiently mobilised in time of need. This force must -
be a balanced force - Naval, Military, Air and Fleet Air Arm - properly equipped with the best and most up-to-date weapons;
be capable of flexible mobility in Australianowned air and sea transport to areas necessary for the defence of Australia or her vital interests;
have sufficient range and striking power to deter any would-be aggressors; and
be capable of deployment for maintaining and supervising peace as part of a United Nations force or for carrying out international peace-keeping agreements.
To these ends, the regular forces must be maintained at viable levels whilst the citizen forces must be maintained as an essential force and as a means for training those with the wider skills required for general mobilisation.
This is where the Australian Government has fallen down very badly. For years it has tried to maintain the 3 Services at starvation rates of pay. They have been given living conditions and service conditions which would not attract any young Australian who might want to make a career of any one of the Services. Although the Air Force advertisements say: ‘Join the Air Force, young man, and see the world, and fly all our brand new planes and work with all our electronic gadgets,’ these things do not exist. The Mirages are probably the only flying machines in Australia at the moment that come somewhere within range of modern standards. The Neptune squadron has become obsolete and ought to be replaced. It is true that we have a number of planes on lease from America, but we are paying for them through the nose because the Government has been too short sighted to provide the means of defence.
Let us have a look at the Fill aircraft, the plane that we are buying on the nevernever, the plane which will probably be as the never-never, and the plane which will probably never never fly. To date we have expended well in excess of $200m on this plane. There is no guarantee that we will get it. It should be remembered that it was ordered in 1963 when dear old Sir Robert thought he was going down the political drain. He sent the then Minister for Air to America to buy up big in order to fool the Australian people into thinking that we would be getting an aeroplane with which to equip the Air Force. Where is the Fill? Every time we ask the Minister for Air that question he has to get a map to find out where America is so that he can say: ‘It is not quite ready yet for delivery’. It seems we are always going to get it at Christmas. I wish somebody would tell us which Christmas it will be.
The same comments can be applied to the equipment of our Army and our Navy. The ‘Melbourne’ has become famous in Australian defence history because its favourite habit is running down ships in peace time. It has cost more lives in the last 4 or 5 years in peace time manoeuvres than would have been lost in a year or full time combat. That is our Navy. It is true that we have some patrol boats, but it has been said, and probably rightly so, that they can be outrun by a sampan without a motor. If we are to take defence seriously, the responsibility comes right back to the Government. A little while ago we had the Minister for Defence denying his Prime Minister publicly, and vice versa. Half the time there is an argument going on between the 3 Service Ministers, plus the daddy of them all, the Minister for Defence.
The Government does not spend the defence vote properly. When we come to the end of the financial year there is a mad rush to spend the accumulated funds in the defence forces. I think probably the easiest way to remedy the great mess that this country is in today is to change the Government. It would not be improper for me to say that the Government ought to have a double dissolution right now and see where the Australian people would put it. They would put it into political limbo for the next 45 years because of the people it has killed in an illegal war, because of its incompetence-
– An illegal war.
– I thought I said ‘an illegal war’. It is an illegal war. If my friend from the Country Party, Senator Webster, who is interjecting, is still trying to sell his rice in Japan, that is bad luck. We have reached a situation which is no longer tolerable, in which the very credibility of the Government has been dissipated and in which the man in the street says: ‘I wonder what will be on television tonight. I wonder whether we will see the Gorton show or the McMahon show or whether it will just be the Government rabble’. The Government does not even have the respect of the people any more.
Senator Webster’s leader, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony), said the other day that we are likely to have an election because things are crook. There is no doubt that they are crook. The Deputy Prime Minister went to Europe only a few months ago to see whether he could fix up the Common Market problem. When he returned he said: They will not listen to me. They do not want any Australian primary products’. But, of course, while he was enjoying his mid-winter holiday, the Minister of Overseas Trade and Industry and other responsible people from New Zealand were in Britain and Europe making sure that there was a reliable phasing out period for the primary products of that country. I might say that 2 responsible members of the British Government have been in Australia since then. At the moment it is not the Labour Party that is in power in Britain, although it will not be long before it is. Those members of the present British Government have said that the Deputy Prime Minister went to Britain and did not do the job; he did not ask for a phasing out period.
The day in 1957 when the first meeting was held to decide on the Common Market was the day when the Government ought to have laid plans for the phasing out of the European and British markets for Australian products. I am not a bit concerned about the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who is interjecting. As I said recently, be is marked down for destruction by the Prime Minister. He will not be in the Ministry for long. He had better interject while he has the chance. This is what will happen because this is where the rot set in. The Government has bad years to plan and it has failed to do so. I suggest that the Labor Party’s attitudes to this question are completely moral and completely correct and that time and the ballot boxes in this country will prove that this is so.
– I proudly lead in this national Parliament a political party which has always been fully conscious of the necessity for adequate defence for Australia. In being anything but that, we feel, we would be recreant to our trust. We would betray the interests of the younger generations, and even the generations yet to be born, if this great country - the land of the Southern Cross - was left as a gift to be overrun by the hooves of invaders’ horses, as it were. I have listened to the debate up to now, and I am amazed at the indifference of some people to the necessity for defence. I suspect that those people who would have Australia defenceless are subscribing to ideologies of and doing a service to people who could have their eyes on Australia.
Surely we have learnt a lesson from the neglect of governments and oppositions prior to the Second World War when the Menzies Government failed this country and did not increase the defence vote by £1 over a period of many years. Of course, the value of the £1 deteriorated because of the increase in the cost of living. The Australian Labor Party, which begrudged any expenditure on defence, was then in Opposition. Senator Carrick pointed out that Mr Curtin, as Leader of the Opposition, 10 months before the war broke out deplored the amount that was being expended on defence. That was the attitude of the Government and the Parliament at the time. They were both guilty of placing Australia in a lamentable and ignominious position when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbour. It was providential and very fortunate for Australia that the Japanese struck Pearl Harbour. If they had come this way and not attacked Pearl Harbour, it would have been a case of ‘God help Australia and its people’. At least it had the effect of making up the minds of the leaders of the great United States of America at a time when the leaders of public thought and the major Press were advocating neutrality. Had Pearl Harbour not been attacked, that country probably would not have been involved in the war.
But what Wits Australia’s position? I was a member of the Queensland Government at the time. I know what the position was. We had limited forces. We were calling up First World War ex-servicemen to give us the benefit of their experience. Volunteers were being trained in Queensland - the garrison State of Australia and the gateway from the East to this country - with broomsticks. We had no arms; we had nothing. Yet people will continue living in this land of fantasy and thinking that nothing can happen, that we have no potential invader and that no-one could ever come to Australia. The tune was changed when the Japanese started to land a few bombs in the Ross River outside Townsville and when Japanese submarines were found. in Sydney Harbour. The attitude was altogether different. That even had an effect on the war loans. People who had been sitting tightly on their bags of money started to release their money and to contribute to war loans, whereas formerly they were acting in a mean way. None of us knows, particularly in this disturbed world, who is likely to come to
Australia and who is likely to seek to take this country. It behoves each and every one of us to be not war-minded but defence-minded, and to pay some regard to the necessity of defending our shores not only by increasing the ranks of the Army but also by improving Air Force and Naval defence.
The Australian Democratic Labor Party has made no apologies for putting defence in a very high position of priority on its programme and platform. We will continue to do so because we think that this country is too great and too wonderful to be given away because of our own lethargy and apathy. We have heard a lot about warmongering and about the failure of one government as against another government. I definitely charge both the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party with the neglect of Australia’s defences prior to World War II. Even though 10 months before the outbreak of the war John Curton may have said that he deplored the amount being spent on defence, at least he redeemed himself to a great measure by the exemplary manner in which he conducted himself and the Labor Party during the succeeding years of war. This man, who had been a great anti-conscriptionist in the First World War, saw the necessity in the then circumstances to convert and convince the various State executives of the Australian Labor Party of the necessity for conscription.
– Of everything.
– Yes, of everything, as it should be in time of war. He withstood the rearguard action which was being fought in Caucus. He withstood criticism because of his statesmanlike attitude at a time of the gravest emergency this country has ever faced. In my opinion John Curtin was the greatest Prime Minister Australia has ever had. I am supported in that opinion by men who occupied the Cabinet benches at that time.
– Senator Carrick does not agree with you.
– Senator Carrick said that he had the greatest respect for John Curtin but he criticised the attitude held by John Curtin 10 months before the war. The honourable senator said that John Curtin showed a lack of vision. But this lack of vision was in keeping with the thinking of the whole Parliament. It never thought that Japan would bother coming to Australia. 1 used to hear stories - as honourable senators heard them - that the Japanese were ill equipped; they could not fly an aeroplane; they had a sight defect, and such nonsense. That was the talk at the time. But it was a different story when the Japanese threw a few bombs into Pear! Harbour. A lot of people sat up and took notice. But what a pathetic position Australia was in at that time. Do we want that position to occur again? No-one in their senses would want that position to obtain. That is why the Australian Democratic Labor Party, which I am privileged to lead, for as long as it is here, is intent on alerting and prodding the Government - irrespective of which party is in government - about the necessity of having adequate defence. That is why we put emphasis on self reliance. For generations we hung on to the apron strings of Britain. We were content to hang on to the apron strings of Britain and sing ‘Rule, Britannia, Britannia rule the waves’. During World War II when poor old Britain bad more on her plate than she could handle the Americans came in response to the call of John Curtin, the Prime Minister of Australia. He was criticised for making that call to America. But America responded and it was because of that response that we continue to enjoy the freedom and liberty which we have and for which so many noble men and women made the supreme sacrifice in many theatres of war during World War I and World War II and in Korea and Vietnam.
– The Australian Labor Party has not shown much thanks to those people since, has it, senator?
– The Australian Labor Party can deal with its own conscience on that matter. However, I repeat that no-one wants to see a repetition of that state of affairs. For anyone to say in this chamber that there is no necessity for a standing army or trained forces-
– Who has said that?
– I have heard it. The honourable senator indicated that very definitely. There was no ambiguity about it. There is no need for a standing army because Professor Howard has said-
– That is a lie.
– We will check Hansard. I am not disturbed because the honourable senator says I am telling a lie. I have been insulted by experts; amateurs never worry me. But the fact remains that the essence of Professor Howard’s statement is that we have no necessity for trainees; we have no necessity for any army at all. The Professor said: ‘You have no defence problems at all. Who is ever going to invade you?’ What a mind of fantasy that shows. I say that if no-one is going to invade us we need the army in our own defence against the subversive forces which are operating in Australia at the present time.
– Good heavens!
– Yes. They are growing fast. One day in defence of our country we might be forced to fight within.
– Who is encouraging them?
– The honourable senator’s guess is as good as mine. But they get plenty of encouragement. Now we come to the Bill. The only thing wrong with it, I feel, is that we should be in a position to do more in training young men for the defence of their native land or the land of their adoption.
– Let us have total mobilisation?
– Yes, if necessary.
– Right now?
– Yes, if necessary, if the authorities can handle the numbers and if the situation were expeditiously dealt with. It would overcome the complaints which some people have because some men are called up and others are not. If the position is competent of being achieved 1 think it would give greater measure of satisfaction, except to those who are physically unfit. It would not be the first time that we have had total mobilisation. I know that it is a long time since the days of Andrew Fisher. But let us examine and compare the thinking of the Labor Party in those days with its thinking today. First of all it would appear that one of its major objections to this legislation is the provision for compulsory military service. The Australian Labor Party carefully chooses the word ‘conscription’ to describe compulsory national service. The history of conscription goes back to the early days of the Labor movement in this country and in older countries. Conscription was adopted as a means of ensuring that the sons of the rich bore as much of the burden as the sons of working men. That is the principle of conscription - the rich do not escape. Rather they will carry as much of the burden as working men’s sons.
What are these awful words ‘conscription’ and ‘compulsion’? The ALP imagines that the use of the word ‘conscription’ will stir people’s emotions and will suggest that human freedoms are being trampled upon by a ruthless government. I might be inclined to be influenced by the Labor Party’s appeal on this matter if I did not know so much about its desire for conscription. Members of the ALP agree with compulsory voting; they believe in compulsory unionism. If a person docs not subscribe to that compulsion he is denied the right to live. He is unable to get a job and there are no ways and means by which he can support those dependent on him. That is compulsion; that is conscription. What is more important, they believe .in conscription in the matter of the compulsory payment of levies for the ALP, whether or not a person belongs to the Australian Labor Party.
– You supported compulsory levies when you were Premier of Queensland.
– I was in a union when it was not compulsory to be in a union.
– Did you not support compulsory unionism when you were Premier of Queensland?
– What did you do about it?
– We did not have compulsory unionism.
– What did you do about it?
– The court determined the question of preference. The Senate will see how I have led Opposition senators up the garden path. Let me now refer to compulsory levies and those people who complain about conscription. I invite honourable senators to consider the Hursey case in which a man and his son, waterside workers, refused to pay a levy to the Waterside Workers Federation at election time, because half of it would go to the Communist Party.
– How do you know that?
– Because the case was heard in public. The Hurseys refused to pay the levy because half of it was going to the Communist Party. But what happened to them in this great democracy, in this time of trade unionism, freedom and liberty? They were boycotted and hounded off the wharves of Tasmania. Indeed, there were attempts to run them down by car. Let members of the Australian Labor Party deny that, if they will.
– They were given no protection by the Government or anybody else.
– That is so; yet Opposition senators talk about ‘compulsory’ as though it were a dirty word. Everything is compulsory. I was just as enthusiastic about unionism as Senator James McClelland was when he was in the group movement, and I was in a union before I was required to be.
– That is a lot of bunk. What nonsense.
– What nonsense? Jack Kane is here and will bear witness to what 1 have said. 1 remind the honourable senator that if you pitch for it you get it. The honourable senator is not dealing with the rag-tag now.
– I do not think he denied it, senator.
– He tried to avoid it.
– That is the thing that irritates me; they pretend to be so innocent about this kind of thing. They pretend that compulsion is an awful thing, but they are compelling everybody else to do their bidding, and God help anyone who does not do so. If one does not do their bidding one cannot even get a job. Is the ALP suggesting that there should not be compulsion to bear some part of the burden of national defence? I repeat that my only objection to the legislation is, and has been, to the ballot system by which a section only of our youth is trained. I think that every physically able young man should be trained to defend his country. And this should apply to women too, for that matter. I have a good ally in that because after the 1969 election no other than Mrs Whitlam advocated the conscription of the young womanhood of Australia for the defence of this country. I congratulated her when I saw her.
It is not too much to expect from people who live in a land such as ours, with all the advantages, all the privileges, all the freedoms and all the liberties, that they should be prepared to learn something about defence so that they may defend this country if the occasion should arise. We do not want a repetition of what happened at the time of the Second World War when young men of the age of 18 years - not 20 years - were called up and, with very little training, were sent, as nephews of mine were, to Milne Bay or the Kokoda Trail. As Senator Carrick said earlier in the debate, they were less equipped to defend themselves and their fellow men than they would have been if they had had adequate training. It would do many young fellows today a lot of good if they were to have a little training and some of the discipline that goes with it. We would not have the scenes that we now have and there would be an end to the disregard for law and order that we see so frequently.
– Did you have it?
– Yes, I had it.
– What did it do for you?
– It did a lot for me. It brought me into the highest position in my native State, and after nearly 40 years I am still going with the confidence of the people of Queensland. What better tribute than that would one want? My objection to compulsory training in my day was that a trainee learnt little. There appeared to be alack of tutors and training. Nothing distracts or frustrates young men more than being tied up with an outfit where they are not learning anything. Give young men something in which they can interest themselves and they will go along with it, but to call them to a parade on a Saturday afternoon and march them around 2 or 3 times, leaving them then to sit down and engage in pebble throwing at one another, when they would rather be playing football or cricket, is not good enough. Young men will not mind going into camp or undergoing training if they feel that the time they are giving is properly used with advantage to themselves and the Army to which they belong.
Let us recall the attitude of Labor years ago, in the days before there was an Australian Labor Party. For the benefit of those who blow into the Labor movement with any little bit of wind that blows, I point out that the Australian Labor Party was not known as an organisation until 1918. Until after the First World War we had Labor movements in each State. In Queensland I represented the Labor Party, as it was known then. It was not the Australian Labor Party; there was no federation.I belonged to the Workers’ Political organisation long before I had a vote. We had universal military training under Labor. It came under an official Labor policy as long ago as 1908. In 1911, 3 years before the outbreak of the First World War, when Australia was fully protected by the military and naval might of the British Empire, the Fisher Labor Government - Fisher was a Queensland representative and a good Scot - implemented a scheme of universal and compulsory military training. This 1911 Labor scheme embraced not only men of 20 years, not only young men of 18 years; it embraced all those who were between the ages of 12 and 26 years. Therefore, it applied to school boys as well as to adults.
– Would you like that today?
– I would not, but I can imagine the hue and cry of the present Australian Labor Party if the Australian Government today proposed to extend the operation of our national service training scheme to boys in Form I. That was Labor policy in the days of Fisher, in time of peace. Fisher recognised the necessity of training and discipline, and he knew that even if they were never needed for war it would at least do them no harm, that they would grow up to be bigger and better men for what they learnt and for the training they had received. So when we go back through the history of Labor and Labor governments we see that we are now, at a time when the world was never more disturbed, dealing with this proposal with less enthusiasm than they had back in 1911. The effect of the present Bill will be to reduce Australia’s Army from 44,000 to 40,000. It will consist of 28,000 regulars and 12,000 national servicemen. I wonder just how adequate this is. However I am prepared to support the Bill and accept the advice of those controlling our Army and our military forces as to our ability and capacity to train.
The size of any Australian Army must be related to the size of Australia, which is just under 3 million square miles. It must be related also to the region of South East Asia in which we find ourselves and of which we are an indisputable part. South East Asia is an area of political instability in which relatively small and emerging nations are confronted with enormous problems of development and industrialisation. It is an area dominated by the enormous armed might, conventional and nuclear, of Communist China. As the United States withdraws militarily from Asia and Britain pulls out its forces, this area will lack a balance of power to offset China. We no longer have the assurance that powerful allies will come to our aid in an emergency. Neither SEATO nor ANZUS can any longer be taken to guarantee Australia’s safety. There is no parallel between the defence position of Australia and the defence position of the countries of Western Europe.
In Europe there is the NATO alliance and behind it is the United States nuclear shield. All this provides a balance of power situation. The Soviet Union and its allies are well aware of this situation. Professor Howard, who was quoted so warmly and so enthusiastically last night by Senator James McClelland, had the European situation in mind when be attempted to evaluate Australia’s defence in his radio talk. I do not suppose he went further than Sydney. He has never been up into the vast open spaces of Queensland which, I say again, is the gateway to Australia from the East, or to the points of vantage that exist along the long coast around to (the west. He would not have any idea of the geographical position of the country; yet apparently we are told that we should lay great weight on every word that he utters and say: ‘Well, that is good enough, thanks. We will do nothing about Australia’s defence. We will just let our country go to hell; let it be here for the taking, whether by China, Indonesia, Japan or Russia’. Professor Howard is attempting to judge Australia, 1 repeat, according to the European situation where a series of closely-knit alliances is ultimately guaranteed by the nuclear deterrent.
The European nations should feel more secure than Australia because we have no nuclear umbrella to shield us from a rain of bombs dropped by any would-be invader of this country. If they are more secure one would imagine that their military strengths would reflect that view but do they? The answer is no. The opposite is the case. To illustrate this I will present the Senate with a few figures. The population of The Netherlands is 13 million, which is about 500,000 more than the stated population of Australia. It is roughly equal to our population. It has an army of 76,000 and the proposed army for Australia is 40,000. That is not a very favourable comparison.
– Does The Netherlands have conscription?
– Yes, it would nave conscription. Switzerland is only a small country in size. Its population is 6.3 million and it has an army of 29,500 of which 24,000 are conscripts. But in addition there are a further 530,500 active reservists who can be mobilised within 48 hours. Now I turn to Sweden which, so I am told, is a model socialistic country. Its population is 8 million, about three-quarters that of Australia, and it has an army of 49,000 of which 36,500 are conscripts. But Sweden also has 100,000 reservists who are called up for from 18 to 40 days running each year. Belgium has a population of 9.8 million and an army of 71,500. Italy has a population of 54 million and an army of 295,000. Austria has a population of only 7.4 million but has an army of 44,000. With a smaller population than Australia, Austria will have a larger army than we will have as a result of the reductions proposed in this Bill now before the Senate.
It should now be clear to all those who are fair that we do not have a gigantic army, not by any means. Countries smaller in population than Australia have larger armies. What is more, the countries I have quoted have greater security than we do. All this crying about national service training will get us nowhere. We need an adequate army, if we have any regard for the country and its future, for the children who live here and for future generations. If we cannot attain an adequate army of volunteers we will have to continue with compulsory national service training, no matter how inconvenient it might be.
I repeat that every young man in Australia should be trained in the defence of this country. If our military leaders think that 18 months is long enough to give our young men sufficient training, well that is good enough for me. I am not an expert military strategist or educator but I know from long experience just how young men react favourably to the discipline and training they are receiving. I have had as many as 6 people, particularly mothers, come to my home when the previous national service scheme was in operation, worrying about their boys going into camp for a period. Some of them cried: ‘Can’t you stop my son from going to camp?’ I said to them: What is your objection to your son going to camp?’ They said: ‘We are told that they have to sleep on boards. They have no beds, no stretchers, and the food is awful.’ It was evident to me that they were over-indulgent parents. They thought their poor little dears were going to be very badly treated. At least some of them came back to me after they made their first visit to the camp one Sunday. They had a glow in their faces and they said: ‘Our boys are happy out there. They say they are getting plenty to eat and they have stretcher beds to lie on.’ A few of those women afterwards said to me: ‘The best thing that ever happened to my boy was that period in camp. He came out better for it and was more manly. He learned to do a bit for himself instead of waiting on his mother to do everything for him.’
A bit of training is good for us all. It is not possible to get a 100 per cent result. That is too much to expect. Even in our best schools that result is not achieved. As my poor old mother used to say: ‘You will find weeds in the best kept gardens.’ That is to be expected. If we love this country we should be prepared to serve it. It pro vides us with many opportunities, but God help us if we neglect it. As the poet, Sir Walter Scott, said:
Breathes there the man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said This is my own, my native land!’
– I heard Senator Cavanagh tonight allege that my colleague Senator Carrick had not been telling the truth. He repeated that allegation several times. I thought that Senator Cavanagh had been here long enough to know that when a senator quotes from Hansard, and particularly replies by Ministers to questions, he should quote the whole reply and not half of it. Senator Cavanagh quoted a question asked by Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, on 11th November 1964. Mr Whitlam asked whether the Government’s military advisers had recommended national service. Senator Cavanagh quoted only half of the Minister’s reply. In order to put the record straight I intend to quote the rest of his reply. The question asked by Mr Whitlam appears at page 2783 of Hansard of 11th November 1964. Mr Whitlam referred to the following statement by the Minister 15 days previously:
We have not introduced conscription up to this point in time because our military advisers have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakeable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face.
Mr Whitlam asked:
Have the military advisers since changed their advice?
Senator Cavanagh quoted only part of the Minister’s answer. The Minister went on to say:
When the Government last undertook a review of the strategic basis of defence policy, the military advisers did not believe that selective national service training was warranted at that time. On this occasion, when the Government reviewed the strategic basis of our defence policy, our military advisers believed that the situation had deteriorated to a point at which it was necessary for them to tell the Government that the only way to establish an Army of the size we required in the time we required it was by introducing a selective service training scheme.
That is the Minister’s reply. I think it is a great pity that Senator Cavanagh did not quote the full reply. He would have created a different impression from that which he intended to create. After Senator
Cavanagh had alleged that my colleague Senator Carrick had not been telling the truth, he said that South Vietnam had not agreed to hold elections in 19S6 as had been agreed upon at the Geneva Conference. I have spoken on this matter before. This is a story that has been floating around for years without any basis in fact. Let us get the facts straight. Two agreements were reached at the time of the Geneva Conference, the first of which was between the People’s Army of Vietnam - which included many people who later moved to South Vietnam as they refused to accept Communist domination - and the forces of the French Union. The agreement was for the cessation of hostilities, the laying down of demarcation lines, the movement of troops and so on.
The second matter negotiated was not really an agreement as much as a final declaration - an unsigned declaration - of the Geneva Conference, the parties to which were representatives of Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, France, Laos, the People’s Republic of China, the State of Vietnam - I point out to honourable senators that South Vietnam was not recognised in the declaration - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. I shall quote from clause 7 of the declaration in order to make my point clearly understood. In a moment I will go further and deal with this situation. Clause 7 states:
The Conference declares that so far as Vietnam
H concerned the settlement of political problems effected on the basis of respect for the principles of independence unity and territorial integrity-
I am reading the whole of it, and not half of it- shall permit the Vietnamese people to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, guaranteed by democratic institutions established as a result of free general elections by secret ballot. In order to ensure that sufficient progress in the restoration of peace has been made, and that all the necessary conditions obtain for free expression of the national will-
I ask honourable senators to note the expression ‘free expression of the national will’- general elections shall be held in July 19S6 under (he supervision of an international commission composed of representatives of the member States of the International Supervisory Commission. . . .
At the end of the Conference the United States and South Vietnam said that they had serious doubts about clause 7. What was the position in North Vietnam at that time? Did all the necessary conditions prevail for a secret ballot and the free expression of the people s will?
I do not wish to quote any authorities other than those whom Senator Cavanagh would regard as impeccable; for example, General Giap, Commander-in-Chief of the North Vietnamese forces and Minister for Defence, and Truong Chinh, the architect of what I will describe in a minute. In 1954 the North Vietnamese Communist Government embarked on a programme of land reform. That is what they called it. What happened? Between 1954 and 1956, at a time when free elections were to be held, it is on record that about 100,000 people were butchered. This is documented and indeed admitted by the North Vietnamese. I shall quote a description of what happened during that period.
The record is clear. In 1956 under the guise of land reform as many as perhaps 100,000 people were murdered in North Vietnam, many, more were tortured and imprisoned without trial. The families’, of the victims were left to starve. The excesses of this purge were admitted by General Giap. The principle adopted was that it is better to execute 10 innocent people than to allow one enemy to escape.
Genera] Giap admitted at that time that too many innocent people had been executed. He said that terror became too widespread. He did not say that terror should not have been used. He qualified it and said that it became too widespread. He admitted that torture became a daily occurrence. This was admitted by General Giap in respect of a period about which Senator Cavanagh tells us that conditions existed for free elections in North Vietnam.
– Menzies said that the Communists would win if there were free elections.
– No. You are mixing him up with Genera] Eisenhower. When did he say that? Tell us the date?
– In the House.
– We have heard the argument previously that General Eisenhower had made such a statement. General Eisenhower had not. What General Eisenhower had said was that had it been a contest between Ho Chi Minh and Bao Dai the Communists would have won because Bao Dai had been discredited. That was a different story. But that does not alter what I am saying. Of course the Communists would have won because not 95 per cent of the people in North Vietnam would have voted, 100 per cent of them would have voted because Ho Chi Minh would have seen to it. Do you think that Diem could have compaigned freely in North Vietnam as Senator Cavanagh has suggested?
– I said in a free election.
– Will Senator Cavanagh say categorically that Ho Chi Minh would have allowed President Diem to have campaigned in North Vietnam? Would Ho Chirn Minh have allowed other political parties to exist in North Vietnam? Would Ho Chi Minh have allowed the International Commission to supervise elections in North Vietnam at a time when he was murdering and torturing his political opponents, as has been admitted by General Giap?
– Did he say that he would not have elections? Let us be honest about this.
– Of course he did not say he would not have elections.
– Can you mention any of the parties to the Accords which wanted an election in Vietnam?
– No-one signed the Accords. The Accords was a declaration. The United States and South Vietnam dissociated themselves from it because they did not believe that conditions would exist for a free election. They were right. Conditions did not exist. I am stating the facts and it is of no use for Senator Bishop to argue.
– Let us be honest. There was no intention to hold an election, is that right?
– Of course there was not, because Ho Chi Minh would not have allowed them. He gave no indication between 1954 and 1956 that he allowed political parties to exist because he was busy murdering his political opponents to make sure that they did not exist. So there could not have been any elections. This is factual and has been admitted by General Giap of North Vietnam. Truong Chinh, a charming gentleman, said:
The aim of the present revolution is that the entire people should thoroughly absorb the socialist ideology, that they should abandon their previous outlooks on life and on the world and replace it with the Marxist viewpoint.
That was the situation which existed at that time, yet Senator Cavanagh and other members of the Labor Party have the effrontery to accuse the South Vietnamese of reneging on an agreement, an agreement that they did nol make and did not accept. We were told also by Senator Cavanagh that South Vietnam had breached the Geneva Accords in many respects. That is an old story. Two days after the Geneva Accords had been arrived at Ho Chi Minh said:
We must devote all possible efforts during the peace to obtain unification of the entire nation. We shall struggle infallibly . . . The struggle will be long and difficult; all the peoples and soldiers of the North and the South must unite to conquer victory.
I must say that that did not indicate that he wished to take the risk of having a free election which he might not win. His remarks on that occasion gave no indication of that. In July 1954 at the commencement of the Agreement the Lao Dong Party, the Communist Party of Hanoi, had this to sav:
Naturally, the Party members and compatriots in South Vietnam will continue to remain in the zone on the other side. Our compatriots and our members must continue to wage a hard struggle. The Party must struggle; its cadres must remain with the people . . . maintaining the influence of the Party and the Hanoi Government.
Let us have the record straight on this. The final point with which I wish to deal relates to whether South Vietnam is an independent state. I have never heard any argument that the agreement regarding the division of Germany, which was to have been settled by free elections, has been breached by one side or the other. It is obvious that East Germany with 15 million people would not take the risk of losing a free election because in a unified Germany they would have no say. We never hear anything about that. We hear only about North Vietnam and South Vietnam because there are more people in the North than in the South and there would have been a 100 per cent vote in the
North. Further, no political parties would have been allowed to campaign in the North. The suggestion that is made is pretty one-sided.
– The Russians had tanks in Czechoslovakia to help the people there to vote.
– 1 know. That has happened in other countries as well. Over 70 independent nations in the world recognise South Vietnam as an independent nation. In 1958 the Soviet Union proposed a package deal by which South Vietnam and North Vietnam, and South Korea and North Korea should be admitted to the United Nations. So in 1958 the Soviet Union was prepared to recognise, and indeed did recognise by this proposal, that South Vietnam was an independent country. Those members of the Labor Party who still reject this - I do not suggest that all of them do - are becoming a pretty lonely group. 1 turn now to the Bill before us. 1 must confess that I am not entirely happy with the Bill because it proposes to reduce the period of national service from 2 years to 18 months. I am not happy because this will mean even a small reduction in our military forces. I agree with both Mr Gorton and Professor Howard. Senator James McClelland made the same stupid mistake as Senator Cavanagh made in quoting only part of what Professor Howard had said whereas my colleague quoted all of it. Professor Howard agrees wilh the Government’s view that there is no discernible enemy likely to attack Australia in the foreseeable future, but I noted that Senator James McClelland did agree that this situation could change dramatically. lt is true that the situation in South East Asia had improved. The stability of the area has improved. However, there are dark clouds on the horizon and no-one can be entirely happy with the situation which is developing. Communist insurgents are becoming more active in Thailand, both in the north and in the south. They have again established themselves in northern Malaysia and are becoming increasingly active. They are becoming increasingly active also in Sarawak and in Indonesia. On my recent visit I heard fears expressed in each of those countries, and also in Singapore, that this was posing a new problem and a new threat to the stability of the area.
– Do you not think that the socialist, Lee is handling Singapore well by adopting an anti-subversive attitude?
– I am glad that Senator Mulvihill has mentioned the socialist leader of Singapore because the socialist leader of Singapore has nothing but contempt for the views of the socialist party of Australia, as is evidenced by the fact that he has supported to the hilt the commitment in Vietnam of both the United States and Australia, and is on record as having said that Singapore knows, as do the other countries in South East Asia, that if Vietnam falls to the communists all the little fishes of Asia will fall as well. I am glad to have Senator Mulvihill’s support in the view that the socialist leader of Singapore is doing a good job.
– There is a fundamental difference.
– Do not try to talk your way out of it. Lee Kuan Yew is a free enterprise man. There is no socialism in Singapore. Do not forget that. When he came to Australia he was so concerned about the Australian Labor Party that he invited it to send some representatives to Singapore where he could instruct them in the facts of life. He did that, too. He instructed members of the Australian Labor Party in the facts of life. Singapore is concerned with the growing instability and increasing communist insurrection in parts of South East Asia. We cannot be complacent about the situation. Nor can we be complacent about the attitude and policies of the United States.. The Nixon Doctrine is in effect. It would be, I suggest, calamitous for Australia to change its mind at this time when the Nixon Doctrine says: ‘We will help those who help themselves’ and when the countries of South East Asia are endeavouring more and more to help themselves. Whether we like it or not, Australia cannot escape its commitments in South East Asia because the stability of South East Asia is essential to our security. The stability of the region would be affected if Australia, the most affluent country in South East Asia, reduced its forces.
The Australian Labor Party can try to explain this away; it can try to explain it to the countries of South East Asia. But I certainly would not try to explain it to those countries because they would not accept the explanation. They would think that Australia, which is vitally concerned with South East Asia, was ducking out and was going to leave the problem to them - the less affluent and less developed countries. I believe that this would cause a loss of confidence throughout South East Asia. Therefore, the stability of the region is of concern to us and it is a matter of concern for countries in the region in which we live.
No-one knows how the position could dramatically change. Even Senator James McClelland admitted that there could be a change. We do not know what will be the result of the discussions between President Nixon and Chou En-lai. They could result in all sorts of alternatives which for all we know could have grave consequences for our position, for the part of the world in which we live. I would say this: There is concern in South East Asia on this matter. There is also concern about other matters. Concern has been expressed about the growing power of other nations and the effect that this may have in time on the stability of the region. So we cannot be complacent. Nothing would be more disastrous than if we adopted an attitude of complacency. I suggest that foreign policy today is very flexible. 1 find it hard to understand what the policy of the Australian Labor Party is on this matter. The Labor Party said that it would abolish national service immediately and would reduce our forces to 28,000 if it came to power. I tried to understand what was said by the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard) who is the Labor Party’s defence expert. The honourable member said that perhaps in 5, 10 or 12 years time - this was some indefinite period - we could have by means of voluntary enlistment a force of 38,000 or 39,000. However, he made an extraordinary statement. He said that a voluntaryforce of 37,000 or 38,000 would be the equivalent of a force of 40,000 because there would be, he suggested, some 2,000 who engaged in the training. I cannot see the logic of this. Several thousand would be engaged in training the volunteers, or does the honourable member not think they are going to be trained? 1 do not know. However, I do know that Senator James McClelland apparently does not quite agree because he spoke some irresponsible nonsense to the effect that all we require now is an army of officers and non-commissioned officers who could quickly train a force in an emergency. I think the honourable member used the words: ‘You could raise a national security force should Australia be threatened’. However, the honourable member admitted that it took 6 months to train a soldier. I wonder whether someone will be kind enough to say to us that we will be threatened in 6, 9 or 12 months time and therefore we had better start training our forces. I suggest that this is the sort of naive suggestion that the Opposition is putting up.
I challenge also the statement that a soldier can be trained in 6 months. National servicemen serving in the infantry were trained for 9 months before they were sent overseas.
– A lot went over with 3 months training.
– Oh no, senator. They had 9 months training before they went overseas. What is more, the Army is becoming more complex and more specialists are required. One does not train a specialist in 9 months. It takes at least 12 months and probably longer to train a specialist today in the complex and sophisticated army which must be developed.
I have not heard greater lunacy than to suggest that when an emergency arises we should have a number of officers and noncommissioned officers who will be available to train a force quickly. Those of us who served in the last war know that troops were trained quickly at that time of national emergency. This is no laughing matter, Senator Georges. Troops were trained quickly - they had only 13 weeks basic training because of the national emergency and sent up to fight in the jungles of New Guinea. We do not want to have that sort of situation develop again. Troops were a quarter trained and could not protect themselves. If the suggestion that the Australian Labor Party is adopted, theo 1 suggest that it has not learnt the lessons of history, and recent history at that.
– Then the honourable senator has not learnt any lessons at all.
– Well, I am afraid, Senator Georges, that if I have to wait for you to educate me, I will be over 100 years old and still will not be educated. I have never heard such rubbish in my life as that which has come from the honourable senator’s side of the House.
Another aspect of national service training which has been completely overlooked, and which I suggest is vital to the defence of Australia, is that this scheme builds up a substantial force of reserve troops who are fully trained and who are available at a moment’s notice. At the moment, I think, about 21,000 men have been fully trained. In a time of emergency these men could be called up. This number is a substantial addition to our present force. Over the years since national service training has been in existence, I suggest, the number of reserves would be nearer to 50,000 men. Many of them would require little training to make them proficient soldiers once again. Therefore it is very important that behind every standing army there should be available fully trained reserves who could be brought into action at a time of national emergency and trained to proficiency in a matter of weeks or a month. We should not bring in raw recruits and expect them to be trained by all the officers and NCOs that Senator James McClelland said would be available Who will lead the troops when these officers are training the recruits? I just do not know. The honourable senator did not explain the answer to us, probably because he does not know.
The next point I wish to make concerns statements made about experts. We heard a lot about experts. As my colleague Senator Carrick pointed out, experts can be wrong. I wonder, as the Australian Labor Party has placed such great faith in an expert such as Professor Howard, what faith it would place in its expert advisers - the men who are trained to advise a government on what type of forces are required? Would the Labor Party regard these people as experts? Would the Labor Party consider that such advice should be accepted? It readily accepted the advice of Professor Howard.
– Who said he was an expert?
– Senator James McClelland said he was. I am in a very jovial and generous frame of mind and I will accept just for the moment accept that fact because the honourable senator felt that he could assist Labor supporters. What would the Labor Party do with the advice of its expert and military adviser if the departmental advisers on defence said: ‘Mr Minister, we require an army of 50,000 men to be available’. Would the Labor Minister say: ‘You are not an expert; I am the expert? Would he just ignore such a recommendation? What would the Labor Party do about it? Senator Georges has a chance to tell me what his Party would do about it.
– Just pause for a moment and I will tell you.
– The honourable member says he will tell us and I will be very interested to know because it is all right to quote experts when it suits his Party to quote them but it ignores experts when it receives advice that it does not want to hear. This is a different story altogether.
Unfortunately my time has almost expired, but I would like to say one more thing. We have heard a lot about conscience; we have heard a lot about the right of people to disobey the law. All 1 want to say tonight is that a Labor government would be in an interesting situation because it would have no right to enforce its laws. It would have no moral right to enforce its laws because all I would have to say would be-
– That is what you think.
– All right, I am glad to hear the honourable senator say that because it brings me to the point I was going to make: The Labor Party has a double standard. If it can say that a man as a matter of conscience has a right to disobey a law then every man has a right to disobey a law if he says: ‘My conscience will not allow me to accept that’.
– That is right.
– Does the honourable senator agree with that?
– It would be interesting if the Australian Labor Party were in office and if all citizens said that they refused to obey the laws of Parliament because of a matter of conscience.
– Who decides your conscience?
– I decide my conscience, not you. I decide what is a matter of con.cience to me, not Senator Georges. What would happen if all citizens said that they have a right to disobey the law? In conclusion I suggest that the Australian Labor Party, by its infamous attitude, has so compromised itself that it could never govern Australia.
– Until I heard the amazing speech, very well put together and very well delivered, by Senator Carrick it was not my intention to enter this debate. His speech induced me to say a few words about national service. Before I deal with his speech I remind the Senate that for some years there has been developing an attitude of wanting to divide countries. Some glaring examples of the way in which countries have been divided is the way in which the United States of America divided Korea. There was no North Korea and South Korea until such time as the Americans became involved in Korea.
– It was the United Nations that went into Korea, not the United States.
– The United States went there, through the United Nations of course, and created 2 countries. Its presence there gave it a foothold in the northern part of Asia. Then the United States decided not to adhere to the Geneva Accords.
– It was not the United States, it was the United Nations which went into Korea
– The honourable senator should not butt in. He should listen to what is being said.
– It was a glaring misstatement. You said that the United States went there. It was the United Nations.
– I did not make that statement. The honourable senator should listen to what is being said. The next divisive move made by the Americans was not to accept the Geneva Accords and to divide Vietnam. It did not accept the Accords.
– For a good reason.
– Maybe the reasons were good. The result was that it created 2 countries where previously there existed only one. Another classic example is Cuba. America still retains a military base on the island of Cuba. Another example is what is happening in Northern Ireland now. All the disturbances being caused in Ireland are being caused because Britain wants a foothold in Ireland. There are not 2 Irelands. There are not Northern Ireland and Eire. There is only Ireland. Yet that country is divided. The great powers are setting out to divide the people of the world.
– You are talking nonsense.
– Everyone talks nonsense, except Senator Wright when he got £6,000 collected by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ to defend the Hurseys. Where did that money go? That is nonsense, I suppose. We have heard how various countries are assisted. Until 1938 I was mining antimony which was shipped to Germany to build armaments for war. Senator Carrick had the effrontery to denigrate Jack Curtin. Yet it was the Menzies Government that was shipping antimony to Germany. It was the Menzies Government that shipped pig iron to Japan to be thrown back at us. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) does not like that. It was Menzies who went to Germany in 1938, who had dinner with Hitler and who on his return said: ‘Hitler has some good ideas. We should follow them’. Would honourable senators opposite deny that Menzies said that? Menzies said: ‘Hitler has some good ideas. We should follow them’. Honourable senators opposite should remember that. That is the kind of government that honourable senators opposite give us. Senator Carrick said that if a law is bad the law should be changed by the government or the government should be changed by the people. He talked about democracy and about the people being able to change the government of this country.
Let us see how the Government has prostituted democracy in this country. In the 1966 elections the Australian Labor Party got 42 per cent of the vote and won 43 seats. The Liberal Party got 38 per cent of the vote and won 62 seats. The CountryParty got 10 per cent of the vote and won 20 seats. The DLP got 10 per cent of the vote but did not win a seat. Do honourable senators opposite call that a democracy?
– Who got past the post first?
– The one which had the gerrymander, the one which had rigged the electorate to suit its convenience and the one which gave votes to rabbits and trees - 10 per cent of the vote for 20 seats.
– Order! The honourable senator should confine his remarks to the Bill.
– I did not introduce this subject.
– I point out to all honourable senators that the proceedings are being broadcast. The uproar that is going on does the Senate no credit.
– When we hear people such as Senator Carrick, who led for the Government, speaking it is quite easy to believe that McCarthy is not dead. I want to quote a few things that Senator Carrick had to say when addressing himself to the Bill. He made one profound statement. He repeated it. He said:
No person has the right at all to seek of his neighbour a greater public burden than he will bear himself.
Does that statement stand up in the light of the fact that the Government is prepared to conscript only 20-year-olds? Are honourable senators opposite, who are over 20 years of age, prepared to ask 20-year- olds to bear a burden that they themselves do not have to bear? Senator Carrick lauded the National Service Act. He is asking 20-year-olds to bear a burden that he does not bear.
– He bore his own burden, senator. He did his share.
– Maybe that is why he is so much in favour of conscription. He said:
Many of us who were in the militia when World War II broke out and who were forced to go with the tide to war. . . . perhaps he supports conscription because he was forced to go.
– That is not so.
– There it is. It is in Hansard.
– He was forced to go not by law but by a sense of duty.
– He said he was ‘forced to go to the tide of war’. Perhaps that is why he supports conscription. He also said:
Nevertheless a country and a government - Labor or Liberal - has as its first responsibility the organisation of a defence system, ft knows that its policy is unpopular.
The sort of conscription issue that we delve into with the National Service Aci is a pretty cunning one because we do not offend very many people, even if our policies are unpopular. Out of approximately 120,000 20-year-olds each year we conscript 8,000. Even if the policy of conscription is unpopular it affects only 8,000 families at the most and the other 112,000 are not affected. This is the sort of policy that Menzies brought in, knowing that it would be unpopular, knowing that the Australian people would not accept conscription for overseas service. Knowing full well he introduced a discriminatory form of conscription which allowed the remainder of Australia to carry on with business as usual. Are the 20-year-olds making millions out of the rackets on the stock exchange in this country at the present time, rackets that this Government takes no action to contain? It takes no action to stop these people from ruining the Australian market in the eyes of the world. Do 20-year-olds take any part in this? Of course not. This Government believes in conscription of only one section of the community. It talks about conscription that was introduced by the Australian Labor Party during the Second World War. That was not conscription as we have conscription in this country today. It was limited conscription for a limited area. It was solely for the protection of Australia in the western Pacific and south of the equator. But this Government has not introduced that sort of conscription at all. One of the main points, I think the strongest point, made by Senator Carrick was stated in these terms:
I state here and now that no person has gone to Vietnam as a national serviceman except by his clear elective choice.
They are strong words. Senator Carrick continued:
Here is the form for anybody to see. The conditions are quite clear. I ask simply this: ls it not a fact that under the legislation, as clearly shown on the application form, a person at the point of registration can opt not to go into the ballot and to adopt the alternative of joining the Citizen Military Forces? I ask now whether this is true. 1 asked Senator Carrick at the time to state the conditions of the option but he conveniently refused to do so. I want to deal with a little of the history of this matter. In 1964 the Government proposed an amendment to the Defence Act. The then Minister, Senator Paltridge, in his second reading speech introduced the word conscription’. I went to my Party leaders and asked them why the word ‘conscription’ was in the second reading speech when it did not appear in the Bill. Senator Kennelly and Senator McKenna had a conference with Senator Spooner and Senator Paltridge. They were assured that the Government had no intention of introducing conscription. 1 was not satisfied with that and I asked the leaders of my Party to get a military adviser over to have a talk to them. Three military advisers came over and advised Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly that there was no intention on the part of the Government to introduce conscription.
Within weeks of that confirmation by the 2 leaders of my Party, the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Government and their military advisers, the National Service Act was introduced to provide for conscription for national service. This was done under the leadership of Sir Robert Menzies. But when it came to the crunch and it appeared that national servicemen might have to be used overseas, did Menzies send them overseas? Of course not. He resigned and left the dirty work to Harold Holt. In 1966 national servicemen were sent overseas. What are the conditions of the option about which Senator Carrick was so vehement that applied to these young servicemen? We endeavoured to obtain the conditions of the Citizen Military Forces to put before the Parliament. The 2 pamphlets that I have before me were sent over with a little note attached to them. The note reads:
Captain Smales of the CMF in the A.C.T. said that these items contain the ‘conditions of service’ of CMF recruits.
What are they? One of the pamphlets deals with rates of pay and the other one deals with conditions of service, the benefits a serviceman receives. The pamphlet deals wilh these benefits under the following headings: Pay, taxation and allowances; fares; marriage allowance; uniforms; training; enlistment. These are the items that Captain Smales said contained the conditions of service in the CMF. The Defence Act sets out the option about which Senator Carrick is so proud. Section 50a states: (1.) In time of war or in time of defence emergency, the Governor-General may, by proclamation, call out the Citizen Forces, or any part of those forces, for continuous full time service. (2.) The proclamation shall state the reason for the making of the proclamation.
There are 2 other sub-sections. They deal with the fact that Parliament shall be notified about the Citizen Military Forces being called out in time of a declared war or state of national emergency. Section 50c. of the Defence Act states:
Members of the Military Forces may be required to serve either within or beyond the territorial limits of Australia.
What does this mean? In relation to the option that is available to the people to elect not to go to Vietnam, Senator Carrick stated:
I state here and now that no person has gone to Vietnam as a national serviceman except by his clear elective choice.
The elective choice is to serve 6 years in the CMF and be a volunteer for overseas service if there is a war or a national emergency.
– It is a conscription force.
– Of course it is a conscription force, but they do volunteer. When the Defence Act was amended every member of the Military Forces had to resign. The name was later changed to the Citizen Military Forces. They had to resign and re-enlist under the new conditions which required that they would be available for service anywhere in the world in the case of a national emergency declared by the Governor-General. This is the option that Senator Carrick is so pleased to talk about. It is an option of 6 years service without hard labour, I suppose one could .say, as opposed to 2 years service with hard labour, but the 6 years service may involve 6 years of hard labour in the case of a national emergency. What sort of an option is that for people? What sort of an option is it when the Government could have declared Vietnam a national emergency at any time? It did not have the guts to declare a war. It did not say that we were at war with North Vietnam. It had arrows pointing dowm from China and said that C;ina was the big boy. It won many elections on that. But members of the Government parties never had the intestinal fortitude to declare the Vietnam conflict a war so that Australia would be placed in a defence emergency situation and the position would not be war for the 20-year-olds and business as usual for the capitalists. That is the policy that is subscribed to by honourable senators opposite. I say again to Senator Carrick that when one hears speeches of this nature it is quite easy to believe that McCarthy is not dead.
– The Senate is debating a national service Bill. Actually, for what it achieves it is a minor Bill, but it is a particularly important one for those who are affected at the present time and for those who will be affected in the future. To me, national service appears to be an essential element that will stay with Australia in the future. I believe that since its introduction it has been a very successful element in the defence of Australia. It is most regrettable that any life has been lost overseas in fighting a war in another country. I, as well as every other member of the Government parties and every member of the Opposition, greatly regret that this has occurred. But it is noticeable that today’s protest columns, caricatures and cartoons depict the protests of mothers saying: Please leave our boys in Vietnam. Do not bring them home for the carnage on the roads which we are all associated with’.
– If the honourable senator likes to read the ‘Australian’, he will see it. Although we may not wish to listen to such a statement, that is the position. Australians generally are willing to put up with the carnage on the roads in Australia, which is of their own making, but they protest very strongly when lives are lost in another country. The basic proposition contained it) this Bill is that there will be a reduction of the length of full time service for our national servicemen. It has been very interesting to note that not one speaker on behalf of the Opposition during the whole of the debate yesterday and this evening has put forward the Australian Labor Party’s proposition for an adequate defence force for Australia.
– You have not been listening, obviously.
– Order! Every speaker on my left has been listened to with reasonable decorum; but the moment a Government senator rises, he is the subject of a harassing barrage of interjections. They are all disorderly.
– I hope that the honourable senator who is interjecting will be able to show me afterwards where the Labor Party’s policy has been put forward, because I do not think it has a comprehensive policy on the defence of this country. Although your various platforms say what you believe-
– Would it nol be better if you addressed your remarks to the President?
-Senator Murphy, this is your first appearance in the chamber all evening, although I do not doubt that you have been very busy. I am delighted that you have come in to advise the President as to what should happen. Let me reiterate that every Opposition senator who has spoken on this Bill has been very vocal on every matter other than national service and the defence of Australia. From the last speaker, Senator Cant, and the Opposition speaker before him, Senator Keeffe, we heard a reiteration of what was involved in the European Common Market and every matter other than the criticism that may be levelled at this Bill and what the Opposition would put in its place.
– Obviously, you have not listened to me.
– I listened to Senator Cavanagh, and I take it that he is in full accord with the amendments that the Opposition, as a party, proposes to put forward in relation to this Bill.
– Particularly the one to end it.
– The honourable senator says: ‘Particularly the one to end it’. Perhaps we should look at it because it is an important part of the debate. The Opposition proposes that the National Service Act cease to be in force on 1st January 1972.
– Is that not a declaration of what we intend?
– 1 believe that those who interrupt have a vision that extends only to 1st January 1972, because not one member of the Opposition has had sufficient stomach to say what the Labor Party proposes as a force in Australia after that time.
– That is not so.
- Senator Willesee, lying back, says that that is not so. I have not a copy of the up to date platform of the Australian Labor Party. I have not the benefit of what the 1971 Commonwealth Conference of the Australian Labor Party decided. The latest information that the Parliamentary Library could give me was the Platform, Constitution and Rules as decided at the 28th Commonwealth Con: ference of the Labor Party. I realise that some of the ideas of the Labor Party change very quickly. Honourable senators opposite comprise a party of standing. I would have hoped that they had a policy that they were able to demonstrate to the people at a forthcoming election was in the best interests of the country. I am not trying to denigrate them. I am trying to evaluate what is in fact their policy.
– Were not you listening? I said it in my speech. Read the report of my speech. I set out the policy.
– You set out the policy?
– In my speech I set out the Labor Party’s policy.
– I believe that the honourable senator said that there would Bc no national service.
– That is right.
– Thank you. Let me read the defence policy from the platform and policy of the Labor Party. I regret it if it has since been changed.
There may be a more up to date policy. I know how testy some members of the Opposition become about references to the Opposition here or in another place; but Senator James McClelland said that the Labor Party will abolish national service and that there will be no national service after January next year. I think that the public of Australia should know that.
– I told them so. Why should not they know?
– Senator James McClelland told them so. But there is a slight difference between that and what the platform says. I quote the following from page 40 of the platform of the Labor Party, as decided at its 28th Commonwealth Conference:
The Labor Party insists upon the adequate defence of Australia and asserts the need for defence forces of the highest professional standards.
We all would agree with that. It continues:
A strong citizen army should be created for the defence of Australia and her overseas territories. If this force can be raised by voluntary means then it should be a volunteer force.
– This is out of date. Read what I said yesterday. What the policy is now is in my speech yesterday.
– I will proceed with this because I think it truly represents the Labor Party’s view.
– You insist on being out of date, do you?
– No, I do not. One of the members of the Opposition can prompt me again and tell me whether this is correct:
If such a force cannot be raised voluntarily and if the international situation is deemed to indicate a threatened attack on Australia and her overseas territories, then the force should be raised or augmented on a National Service basis.
– We move with the times. Read what I said yesterday.
– If Senator James McClelland said anything different from that-
– I did. It is in my speech. Just listen to it or read it.
– I listened. I was here for the whole of your speech.
– It is all in Hansard, lt is on the record.
– The honourable senator keeps interrupting with a lot of gobbledegook which is like the sermon which he gave before. But the fact is that even the attitude of the Australian Labor Party is consistent If a force is necessary in Australia it will be obtained by enforced national service. I ask the honourable senator whether that is out of date?
– Right. We hear the Opposition interrupting. It believes in national service and in enforced conscription but only if Australia is attacked. The Labor Party is very quiet. But it indicates that it is prepared to leave the forces within Australia at a low level until there is an enemy force on the door step of Australia. Then in that great situation when there would be calamity and immediate distress it would try to train a force which would come to Australia’s aid. This is the attitude which the Labor Party has expressed. There is no inconsistency between the attitude of the Labor Party and the Government in relation to conscription. Both parties believe (hat in the interests of Australia there should be conscription. It is just a matter of when conscription should be introduced. So that Senator James McClelland may be quoted I believe his statement on Labor’s attitude is summed up as follows-
– Give us a quote from Major Menzies.
– No. I wish to quote what was said by Senator James McClelland. He said:
All forces should be made up of volunteers and conscription as such shall be abolished. In the national interest, however, the right must be retained to raise a national service force should the security of Australia be threatened.
I thank Senator Carrick for finding that passage for me. He was much criticised by the Opposition. Undoubtedly the comments which he has received while the Senate has been on the air have indicated the great effect he has had in castigating the Labor Party policy in relation to this matter. But it is a fact that the Opposition believes in conscription during an emergency. The assessment to be made is: When is there the emergency for Australia? There is no inconsistency–
– Does the honourable senator believe in total mobilisation now?
- Senator McClelland, there is no inconsistency between your attitude and the attitude of the Government Conscription is necessary in Australia, lt is necessary for us to have a sound military force. The Opposition’s attitude is that conscription is necessary when Australia is presented with a threat. It is my attitude and, I believe, the attitude of the Australian public, that there is an ever present threat to Australia.
– That is not the view of your Foreign Ministers. They have said that there is no threat in the foreseeable future. A succession of them have said that. Is that not correct?
– 1 have heard some Ministers say that there will be no threat for a period of years. I do not see a threat to Australia this month or next month. But I think sufficiently, and I believe the Australian public thinks sufficiently, to realise that what has happened in Vietnam is spreading further into independent countries to the near north of Australia. Would the honourable senator disagree that Cambodia’s independence is being threatened today? Would the honourable senator not suggest that if there were sufficient stomach behind the American forces and if there were a ready attitude in Australia to stand to the principle that we would fight for the independence of a small nation, we would be seeking to defend Cambodia? Or should it be Laos or should it be Thailand? lt is my attitude that regrettably there has been a threat from the Communist section in the north. But wherever that power threat may be coming from it is still evident in those countries in our near north.
– Did not Gordon Bryant mention something about Cambodia?
– 1 think the Opposition knows that one of its leading spokesmen, Mr Bryant - I think the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) called him the white haired professor - sent a telegram to the then Prime Minister asking that arms be sent immediately to Cambodia to help that country defend itself against the threat from North Vietnam.
– The honourable senator asked me a question.
– Would Senator Murphy ask bis Party to give him a little time.
– 1 would agree that the, independence of Vietnam and other countries has been threatened by a number of countries, including ourselves.
– During the second reading speech the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) put forward some of the important aspects of the Government’s view in relation to this matter. He stated: . . the Government continues to stress the importance of volunteers as the basis of our Armed Forces. However, if Australia’s defence manpower requirements cannot be met by volunteers, any government would invite condemnation of its policies if it were to refuse to require men to serve, for this would entail dependence on an army of inadequate strength. No responsible government could act in this manner.
I firmly believe, and probably the Opposition believes with me, that its inability to get over to the Australian public the defence philosophy in which it believes - and 1 take it in which it genuinely believes - has kept it out of office for the past many years. Now that the Leader of the Party in the Senate is here I reiterate that not one member of the Party has stressed the attitude that he would take to the preservation of forces within Australia. That has not occurred.
– Why do you repudiate your Foreign Ministers who have said that there is no threat to Australia in the foreseeable future?
– We on this side of the chamber happen to be able to hold independent views. If 1 hold an independent view that there is a threat in the north and that it is important that not only is it necessary to have a voluntary force but also to require national service by young men of our country, then I think I can hold to that view. I do not hear any dissent within Senator Murphy’s party relating to its view. But I note that many of the moderates within the honourable senator’s party do not speak on this issue. That is very evident. If one investigates the propositions put forward by the Opposition as amendments to the National Service Bill one must agree that the first move it wishes to make is to eliminate national service. The other important matter which it wishes to see implemented by amendment of the Act is the provision of a means of avoiding national service if a conscientious belief can be found. A most interesting document was put forward by Senator James McClelland in relation to this matter. I do not know whether honourable senators on the Government side have taken time to study it, but a basis is put forward whereby if a person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in military service either generally or while particular circumstances exist, so long as he holds those views he is exempt from liability to render service under the Act. On the Opposition’s proposition he has the right to appeal to the commissioner for conscientious objectors. If the commissioner finds against him he has the right of appeal.
– That provision is in the present Act.
– I am saying what you put forward, senator. This is what I imagine the Labor Party wishes to bring about for conscientious objectors. I take it that it is the Opposition’s attitude that there is insufficient provision for conscientious objectors today. Indeed, Senator Cavanagh spent a great deal of his speech talking of this matter, as did Senator Keeffe and others. Senator James McClelland put forward the proposition that there would be an appeal to a court from the commissioner and the matter would be decided. But in the proposition he puts forward there is no provision as to what is to happen to the objector thereafter. I take it that if his conscientious belief is not upheld he is to be forced to undergo national service. So we see a most amazing situation. Whilst criticising the Government for having a set of conditions in which, in open court, a person who is able to prove that he has a conscientious objection is able to avoid the incidence of national service, the Australian Labor Party says in its proposition, in words which are meant only to create a lie in the minds of people as to what they are attempting to do, that an objector has a right to appeal to a commissioner.
Honourable senators opposite say that he has a right to appeal to a court, but they say nothing about what happens if his objection is not accepted. In that case the same thing will happen as happens today and he will have to go into the forces. What will happen if a person still objects to service? How often have we heard back benchers in the Labor Party say that when the Labor Party is in government - heaven forbid that that should happen - they will support the attitude that a person should have a perfect right to oppose a law in which he does not believe. In the words of the amendment proposed by the Opposition, any person who ‘either generally or while particular circumstances exist’ - could anyone find any expression wider than that - has mentally a conscientious objection to military service will have a perfect right to oppose the law and not comply with it, and in that instance his views will be upheld by most honourable senators opposite.
Opposition senators have spoken tonight on a number of matters which have been the reason for them being kept out of office for so many years. Should an election be held on this issue, they certainly would not win and occupy the Government benches. Those honourable senators speak of the right to object, yet the very amendment produced by the Opposition provides no right to object for any person who feels that he has a conscientious objection - he would be put into the Army. lt was suggested by one Opposition senator who spoke tonight that Labor Party policy calls for a right of consultation with another country before Australian forces would become obligated. 1 wonder what those words ‘right of consultation’ mean. I feel that there is already every right for the elected government of Australia to consult any country on any matter which it feels merits consultation. I certainly do not know what the Opposition means by its suggestion that there should be a right of consultation.
Senator Cavanagh suggested that national service is not desirable, but I suggest that his Party’s policy is contrary to what the honourable senator said tonight. He said also that national service was not in the interests of the defence of Australia. 1 suggest that the Labor Party’s policy again is in opposition to what Senator Cavanagh said. If we consider those who have been vocal on the National Service
Bill, which in the eyes of the community today is a most important Bill, we find a complete division within the ranks of the Labor Party. Those who may be described as being somewhat to the left of centre have been the debaters on this Bill; those who would consider themselves to be among the more moderate members of the Labor Party have certainly not been on their feet this evening. I think that indicates the attitude of the Labor Party on this matter.
– In what category would you put us?
– The honourable senator asks in which category I would put him. I think one of the important matters in the Bill before us is the proposal to reduce the period of national service to 18 months. This course would have a very great impact upon the Army. I imagine that it is still our wish to produce within Australia a competent defence force with competent officers and leaders. In the past Australia has been particularly proud of its defence forces, and all of us have read the congratulatory remarks of visitors from overseas on the type of forces that we have in readiness in Australia. 1 hope that the training techniques of the Army and the other Services will be upgraded continuously, as they must have been in the past as we are now able to come to a decision to reduce the period of national service training by 6 months. This is a very big step to take. We have been told that it is necessary for a person to have 6 months basic training in the forces prior to his receiving that specialised training which will enable him to be an efficient and useful member of the forces. If that is so, the 12 months service that remains will, of necessity, need to be a time of most intense training. With the sophisticated weapons of war that we have today and the type of forces that we must have on the alert, it will be necessary to have the best type of training. There appears to have been an upgrading of the training to achieve this standard, but I think this has imposed a great load on the armed forces.
It must be realised that a reduced period of service will necessitate a quicker turn round of national service personnel. This will result in an enormous work load and perhaps will involve an element of waste because of the numbers being trained for our defence forces. With the quicker tura round of trainees more time will be involved in registering personnel, conducting medical checks, solving repatriation problems and dealing with the reestablishment of personnel after they have finished their training. Whilst one would hope that in the future we may be able to envisage the prospect of reducing the period of national service to a period even shorter than 18 months, it is very unlikely that in the immediate future I would advocate that the armed forces should consider the prospects of taking less time to train Service personnel.
The Bill before the Senate is of particular importance to those in the age group who are called upon to undergo national service training. The way in which the National Service Act has been administered in the past does the highest credit to those people in the Department of Labour and National Service who have been involved with it. There has been a genuine attempt to exempt from service those who have objected to national service. My recollection is that only 6 persons have refused to serve during the period that the Act has been in operation. That is a record of great credit.
– Six have been gaoled.
– I am told that 6 have been gaoled in that time, but they were the ones who had refused to serve. We have been able to obtain for Australia a reserve force, not only in the civilian services but also in the Regular Army. It is a force which is of the greatest credit to Australia and one which will, in time of emergency, be willing to defend this country.
- Mr President, I wish to make a personal explanation to put the record in order.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do claim that, and I want the record to be corrected.
– The honourable senator may do that at the end of the debate.
– I have to do it now because we are approaching the time of adjournment and I need the correction to be made now rather than tomorrow. Senator Webster claimed that I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) asking for arms to be sent to Cambodia. I deny that I was the person who sent that telegram.
– I rise to a point of order. I apologise to Senator Georges if in fact I used his name. I hope that the Ilansard record may be corrected. All honourable senators - indeed the whole of Australia - should know that that was Gordon Bryant.
– Order! in conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– 1 desire to take only a few minutes to put the record straight. While Senator Sim was speaking this evening I interjected and stated that the then Prime Minister of Australia had said that if a free election were held in Vietnam the Communists would win it, or words to that effect. Senator Sim challenged me to say when the then Prime Minister said this and where he said it. Obviously, as I made the statement by way of interjection, I did not have the record with me but I have since perused it. I would not like to have it thought that I was stating something that was not correct simply because of my inability to quote the instance.
– I did not say that at all.
– I know but I would not like anyone to think it was not correct.
– Senator Cavanagh, in making this explanation - I use the word explanation’ deliberately - I take it you are not reopening the debate.
– No. I was challenged to state when that statement was made. I refer Senator Sim to Hansard of the House of Representatives, dated 5th August 1959, at page 65, where the then Prime Minister is reported as having said:
I make these remarks-
– Did you say 1959?
– It was in 1954.
– That is 17 years ago.
– That is right. That is when the issue arose.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh is making an explanation.
– I am verifying my earlier statement. In a statement on international affairs, the then Prime Minister stated: 1 make these remarks not because I desire even to appear to resist the development of democracy in other communities; on the contrary, it is one of the great hopes of the world. My reason for saying what I have on this point is to emphasise that the probabilities in Vietnam, both north and south of the line of division now established, are that the most organised groups will be the Communists themselves.
That is in both North and South Vietnam. He continued:
We must, therefore, not overlook the possibility that a free election may be an election which establishes a Communist administration in the whole of Vietnam.
That was the statement of the then Prime Minister. Whether or not there could be a free election, the then Prime Minister was of the belief that if there were a free election the Communists would win it.
– I want to take this opportunity tonight briefly to follow up a response I received from the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), representing the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), as to whether there is an overkill as a result of the use of insecticides or pesticides to control the locust plague that is imminent in New South Wales and Victoria. I regret that Senator Davidson is not present because he was Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution. However I notice that Senator Rae is present. The story I unfold tonight is a clearcut indication of what happens with divided control over so many forms of pollution and the apparent inability of the Commonwealth Government to introduce its national water commission.
The story commenced, as honourable senators know, some days ago. The Minister for Primary Industry claimed that New South Wales had given an assurance - I take it that it was given to the Commonwealth Government - that there would be no such thing as an overkill as a result of the use of the chemical, lindane, in very minute quantities. I had some reservations about this, with all due respect to the Minister for Primary Industry, and subsequently consulted a number of people, including Dr Dorward, who is a very senior lecturer at the Monash University. Many people know that he is an authority on much of our wildlife - the Cape Barren geese and other types of bird life. The fact of the matter is that he came out with a counter suggestion that the States would be much better off if they used malathion instead of the other pesticide.
What I am concerned about tonight - I think the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) would appreciate this - is that this is one of the many situations we are going to be confronted with in that a department with the primary responsibility of combating the various insects affecting a crop may be obsessed with that and not worried about maladjustment of the environment that may occur. I do not blame Senator Greenwood for this state of affairs. I believe that this is a grand opportunity for the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) to come in with all guns blazing and co-opt the various authorities that arbitrate on this situation.
Dr Dorward pointed out that it is quite possible that the Victorian Government will not use lindane. An analogy may be seen in the famous ‘Torrey Canyon’ oil pollution disaster when the British and the French adopted different control methods. I think that on balance Britain had fewer secondary effects on its beaches than France had. Applying that analogy to this situation, I looked in vain for some unbiassed or less committed government authority. Like everyone else in this chamber I have been inundating the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts with all sorts of matters, ranging from limestone to many other things, in respect of which I wanted him to instigate effective planning, utilising the Bureau of Mineral Resources to assess various alternative deposits - in fact the whole range of variations of environmental control. Now suddenly I find I am back in square one again. Again I use that term in a broad sense.
Senator Greenwood obviously has been instructed by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. He has washed his hands of the whole affair and has adopted a Pontius Pilate attitude indicating that it is not for him to intercede. I get back to the answer given’ to me by Senator Drake-Brockman. I question whether the people in the Department of Primary Industry really are obsessed and whether they are aware that overkills can happen. Do they know what their effects can be? I asked a supplementary question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. 1 suggested going back to the biblical days and that the ibis and other birds could play a role in combating the locusts by natural means. 1 said: What will happen if you virtually inundate their habitat with all these pesticides?’ The Minister said that the River Murray Commission did the right thing in controlling water levels. I have the 1970 report of the River Murray Commission with me and I think my eyesight is pretty good but I cannot see any reference in it to water levels and control of the habitat. I think the people in the Department of Primary Industry are adopting a very cavalier attitude to this matter. They seem to think that I am just another one of those idiots who take up the conservation cause. That is their attitude. 1 know how they think. Senator Douglas McClelland well knows that you have to bear with this problem when you advocate any new cause. That is part of the cross we carry in this place.
– You bave our support.
– I realise that and I know that Senator Georges is a very solid ally to have alongside one. I am far from satisfied that we can trust the Department of Primary Industry. It has a pretty inglorious record concerning its inability to control the export of kangaroo meat, lt played a very shabby role because there were a few dollars involved in that trade. 1 say respectfully to Senator DrakeBrockman who represents the Minister for Primary Industry in this place - 1 am sure Senator Poyser will appreciate this remark if he is present - that I feel that the Victorian Government is proving far more statesmanlike in its attitude to pesticides than are Premier Askin in New South Wales and Mr Crawford, the Minister for Agriculture in that State. I know that my New South Wales colleague, Senator Douglas McClelland, agrees with me in this regard. We find that Mr Howson, the Minister for the Environment. Aborigines and the Arts, is failing to take up any of these particular cudgels. I will sum the matter up in this way: I say to Senator Drake-Brockman and to Senator Greenwood that I have no confidence in any answer I will get back from the Department of Primary Industry because it is committed to a certain viewpoint. I do not know which Minister represents the Minister-in-Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I would like to feel that tomorrow we could have an independent assessment by the Wildlife Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Some people are a little scornful about the effects these insecticides will have on the habitat of the birds. I wish those people would read of the chemical tainting of food. Some people run around extolling Bex, APC. aspirin and things of that kind that are no good to anybody. It is just a vicious circle. The simple fact is that a great deal of virus results from the overkill with insecticides and pesticides. Then the people who make products such as Vincents APC powders are able to make profits. If anything is to be banned, let us ban Vincents powders and preparations of that nature because they do not do anybody any good.
All these problems would be solved by the supervision of a Commonwealth department over the way in which the States apply these insecticides. I would also like to feel that the CSIRO Wildlife Division would provide an assessment. If necessary, the 2 State Ministers could be called in and advised as to the pesticides they should use. This is only one claim that will be made tonight but 1 know from correspondence I have received from quite a number of environmental groups that it will continue to go on. A most regrettable feature is that obviously the Department of Primary Industry has adopted a particular line. When the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts continues to adopt a Pontius Pilate attitude it does not say much for the research that Senator Davidson, Senator Rae and other people who served on the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution engaged in. The recommendations of that Committee have been virtually ignored.
– I sense the feelings and frustration to which Senator Mulvihill has given expression because he believes that there is a problem. He wants to be assured that the problem is acknowledged and that appropriate steps can be taken, if they are not now being taken. I sense that this difficulty and frustration arise because he finds it hard to pinpoint the area of responsibility to which he can go to plead his case. It is a difficult matter, because we are not only confronted with a novel situation but we are also in this whole area affected by the constitutional problems of divided control.
The question whether pesticides may. or may not be used because of the harmful consequences which usage may produce is in terms of a legislative area something relatively new in Australia. There has always been a concern that the nation’s health could bc affected by the use of pesticides. I am not suggesting that that is a new aspect, but insofar as it is an area where responsibility lies it is not a Commonwealth area of responsibility but a State area, and any Commonwealth activity must essentially be indirect and persuasive. When we move into this emerging area concerning effects on the habitat of birds and the environment generally, once again we are essentially in a State area of responsibility. The Commonwealth has established a new Department of Thc Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. It has been stressed many times that it operates in a co-ordinating area. Undoubtedly there is a role which the Commonwealth can play in endeavouring to coordinate the activities of the States but there certainly is no power, as I sense Senator Mulvihill suggested at one stage, to direct the relevant State Ministers to adopt a particular course.
Quite apart from environmental matters problems are created by the interest of the Department of Primary Industry and the conceivable interest, to which Senator Mulvihill referred, of the Department of Education and Science, which is responsible for the administration of CSIRO. There is also the fairly pervading influence of the Commonwealth Department of Health, and in a position yet to be evolved in these areas there is the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts.
– It is a tangle of bureaucracy.
– I note Senator McClelland’s comment and I appreciate why he makes it, but it is a problem which besets any government.
– There is now a Ministry. Why should it not take over all this responsibility?
– That very question highlights the problems. There is the difficulty of the Ministry for the Environment taking over a problem which is essentially that of Primary Industry - the problem of protecting those people who are likely to be subjected to the ravages of the locusts as is in contemplation at present. It may be in due course a question of priorities. Is it more important to protect the hundreds of thousands of farmers who may have their crops destroyed or is it more important to protect that which is constituted by the concept of the environment and all the matters of which Senator Mulvihill spoke?
I sense that I am explaining the type of situation which necessarily confronts any government in the area to which Senator Mulvihill has referred. I can only assure him that 1 will convey to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts what he has said tonight and ask him to give a reply to Senator Mulvihill. I sense that he may well have anticipated what the reply will be, but I can assure the honourable senator that he will have as much support as I am able to give to his representations that activity should be undertaken to explore the situation.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate advising that he has appointed Senator Douglas McClelland to serve on
Estimates Committee A in the place of Senator Keeffe.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 October 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19711006_senate_27_s49/>.