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Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) .- Mr. Deputy Speaker,on Tuesday evening last, this House and, I believe, the nation listened to a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) concerning his tour abroad, the various conferences which he attended and his discussions with the President of the United States of America - a statement which. I am. sure, added further to the prestige that the right honorable gentleman has gathered in the time during which he has been Prime Minister of this country. Whether or not the Opposition agrees with some of the- things that he said, it should not twist the facts in attacking him. The truth of the facts should be stated in substantiation of any criticism that is made in such a debate as this.

The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) talked about the employment of natives in South Africa and said that some received an income of only £44 a year. When he was challenged on that statement, he said that he based it on a most reliable book written in moderate terms. I should like to read from the " State of the Union Year-Book for South Africa" for 1959-60 an extract from an article which refers to the employment of natives and states -

The change in their outlook towards regular employment was accelerated by the revolutionary industrial development that took place in the Union during and after the second world war. Because of an amazing resistance to boredom the average Native has proved especially good at repetitive work. In addition, many thousands entered semi-skilled trades and a number are today doing skilled work. In the majority of industries, minimum, conditions of employment are governed by wage-regulating measures which apply to the occupations and do not discriminate on a colour or race basis. In the Southern Transvaal for instance, a great number of semiskilled Native workers receive an average weekly wage of between £4 and £5 inclusive. Natives are also being increasingly employed in occupations which were once the preserve of Europeans. They drive motor cars and lorries, operate bulldozers, excavators and mechanical shovels. Thousands of them are being paid more than £60 a month.

The gold-mining industry was mentioned particularly by Opposition members as an industry in which tremendous profits are said to be made by the exploitation of the natives. This article continues -

In the precious metal industry some who have attained artisan skill receive over £80 a month.

That puts in a completely different light what has been said during this debate about the employment of natives in South Africa.

I should now like to mention universities. This year-book states -

The only university devoted entirely to the interests of non-Whites is the South African Native College at Fort Hare.

Bantu and other non-Whites are also admitted to the Universities of Cape Town, Natal, Witwaters and the University of South Africa.

The year-book gives the numbers of students enrolled at the universities in South Africa in 1957. At the various universities, including those of Cape Town, Natal and the Orange Free State, a total of 29,775 whites, 1,637 Bantu, 607 coloureds and 1,218 Asiatics were enrolled.

A comment that the problem in South Africa does not lend itself to an easy solution does not mean that a person who makes such a comment must be taken immediately as supporting the policy of apartheid. I think that any one with any experience at all would say that the policy of apartheid in South Africa is unworkable. I had the privilege of being in that country during the Second World War, Sir. I told quite a number of South Africans, "What I fear is that by taking up the position which you are taking up- you will create the very situation which you fear". 1 think that that is something that has been obvious to many of us for some time.

To- accuse the Prime Minister of supporting the policy of apartheid seems to me to be to say one of the most ridiculous things that could ever be said in this House. What the Prime Minister said on a number of occasions- was: " This is a tremendous problem. Although we do not agree with the way in which it is being dealt with and although we regret to the utmost what has happened, we consider that this problem, if it: is ever to be solved, will not be solved by the mere fact of condemnation. What you, have to do is work out at solution to it." The Prime Minister said also that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference presented an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister of South Africa and- with other Prime Ministers. He stated that the occasion of that conference was the time to work out a solution to the problem.

The honorable member for East Sydney (Mi. Ward) asked what would happen if a country which was, a: member of the Commonwealth of Nations became Communist. He asked whether we would still support a vote to retain- such a country within the Commonwealth. I believe that that would be- a. situation different from the one relating to South Africa. A country which became Communist would immediately be subject to outside interference-, and because it was subject to such interference it would no longer be a sovereign and independent state, and that, would make impossible, an application by it to continue as a member of the Commonwealth- of Nations.

The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that every time we took a particular position in a vote at the United Nations we associated ourselves with South Africa. I suggest to the honorable member that that does not give much credit to the various representatives and delegates from other nations at the United Nations. The honorable member's statement implies that those representatives were not able to work out what Australia's representatives at the United Nations were saying, and I suggest that that implication does not give them much credit for their intelligence and understanding. The fact that the honorable member for Wills and other Opposition members have not been able to understand the position stated by the Prime Minister and other Ministers in this House does not mean that the representatives of other countries at the United Nations are not able to understand what is said by the Australian representatives there. In that regard, I would point out that every time Australia has voted, the reasons for the vote have been given and statements have been made in regard to Australia's position. He also asked, was the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) ashamed of having Australia's policy looked at because the danger of this was that it was opening the door to interference with domestic policy? But that is not so at all. We have seen, in. the international sphere in the last few years, what can be done by nations deliberately endeavouring to mislead the world in regard to the situation and policy of another nation. We have seen that happen in the United Nations in relation to our policy in New Guinea. That is a thing which we desire to avoid, and should avoid with the utmost possible force.

My own leader, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), during his speech gave a clue in regard to this debate on the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he mentioned - as has been mentioned by other members on this side of the House - that many of the major matters dealt with in the Prime Minister's statement have been ignored by members of the Opposition, who have been merely getting on the band wagon of those responsible for the propaganda attack on the Prime Minister which has been made in certain quarters. Honorable members have done this because they fear that it is not possible for them to win the forthcoming election by any means other than destroying the Prime Minister. They are trying to gain votes from this debate.

The criticisms made by members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate all fall by the wayside in the light of the record of the right honorable gentleman as Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. If they had said that they thought the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister should not be one and the same person, because of the physical imposition of that double task upon a single person, it might have been a different matter; but they have been attacking what they call the incompetence of the Prime Minister. I would say just one thing in this regard: I was rather amused - perhaps that is the right word - to hear some of the comments by members of the Opposition in regard to a previous Minister for External Affairs, now Lord Casey, because when he held that portfolio for years in this Parliament there was tremendous criticism by members of the Opposition of what they called his incompetence and also of the frequency of his visits overseas. But now, one of the criticisms from members of the Opposition is that because the Minister for External Affairs is also Prime Minister he has not sufficient time in which to travel overseas as much as he should. That is a complete contradiction of the previous comments of the Opposition about Lord Casey. 1 come now to the Foreign Affairs Committee, about which the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) made some remarks which do not really support the arguments of the Opposition, although on the surface they may appear to do so. Only three or four weeks ago the Opposition said that that committee was a study circle and of no value at all, but it has now apparently achieved great importance, and is a vital committee, and the words of its chairman are all important. It is remarkable how the views of the Opposition have changed. Members of the Opposition talk about the switch by Cabinet and the Prime Minister in the United Nations, but that is nothing to the aerial acrobatics of the Opposition in this debate.

Members of the Opposition have referred to what they term " the Suez crisis ", in which the Prime Minister was supposed to have lost us friends because of his actions. I would remind members of the Opposition of the fact that it was an honour to this country that our Prime Minister was selected by the London conference to be the representative to go along, as leader on behalf of a group of nations, to talk to Colonel Nasser. Whether the meeting with Nasser was successful or otherwise is beside the point. It was an honour to this country that our Prime Minister was selected for that rob. With all due respect to the United States of America, I believe that country let us down in that situation. I have an appreciation if one of the main reasons for that, which was that it happened to be election year in the United States of America.

Mr Haylen - Rubbish!

Mr LUCOCK - The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) should know what is rubbish and what is not, because he is one of the greatest exponents of it in this House. I remind honorable members that shortly after the Suez affair the United States of America landed troops in Lebanon and the British landed troops in Jordan. In my opinion the situation in Lebanon and Jordan was created by the unfortunate happenings in regard to the Suez Canal. For members of the Opposition to criticize the Prime Minister in this way shows a complete lack of appreciation and understanding of international affairs.

The Prime Minister was also criticized by members of the Opposition in regard to the five-power resolution calling for the holding of a meeting between President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev, to which the Prime Minister moved an amendment calling instead for a meeting of the Big Four. The five powers which moved the resolution were Yugoslavia, Indonesia, the United Arab Republic, Ghana and India. The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, criticized our Prime Minister, as he was perfectly entitled to do, because he is entitled to his own opinion, but the fact that Prime Minister Nehru criticized our Prime Minister does not necessarily mean that our Prime Minister was wrong. It does not mean that he should not have contended, for the reasons that he gave, that the proposal put forward by the five powers was not a valid one, nor would it be successful. The reasons for that situation are also obvious. As has been previously mentioned here, it occurred at a time when the then Preident of the United States was about to retire from office and there could be no continuity. To suggest that he should meet Mr. Khrushchev was one of the most absurd suggestions ever made. Yet we are told that, because of his action, our Prime Minister lost us the friendship of the Afro-Asian nations. That is one of the absurdities of the Opposition's criticism of the Prime Minister.

I come now to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, of which members of the Opposition have made so much. They have spoken mainly not of what happened at the conference but of what happened before it, and of the South African policy of apartheid, in an endeavour to make political capital. Is it necessary that on every occasion we should agree with these new and independent nations which have come into the Commonwealth? Is it necessarily true that, because they have recently received their independence, everything they say is right and everything the old and established nations say is wrong? Look at the situation that exists between the Ceylonese and the Tamils, and that which exists between India and Ceylon, and the situation in South Africa between thenative South Africans and the Indians in that country. If members of the Opposition consider those things they will realize that this problem is not merely one of differences between Europeans and coloured people. I remind them of the situation in the Congo. There, it is not a matter of European fighting native but of native fighting native, and this shows what can happen when events are allowed to rush forward too quickly.

With all due respect to Tunku Abdul Rahman, our very good friendin Malaya, I think our Prime Minister's statement in London did not have the effect of equating our immigration policy with the policy of apartheid. Any one who reads what the Prime Minister said will have an appreciation of that. What the Prime Minister said was that if we allow this criticism of one nation's policy by other nations to become an established event within the Commonwealth of Nations at Prime Ministers' Conferences, there is a danger that what other independent members of the Commonwealth are doing could be discussed and create further crises at such meetings. I can think of some things done by other nations that could be mentioned.

I refer now to the mis-statement of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) in regard to the salaries received by natives in South Africa. It was not surprising, because he said the other day, in a television broadcast, that the Chinese had a defensive army and not an aggressive army. I wonder what the people of Tibet and the Indians near the northern border of India would think about that statement.

The Opposition's amendment should be thrown out. Any manis likely to make a mistake, but I say that this country has been extremely fortunate in having the right honorable member for Kooyong as its Prime Minister for the period that he has occupied that office. Instead of trying to kick him down in these times of world difficulty, the Parliament should give him the support that his actions have shown he deserves.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell's amendment) stand part of the question.

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