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Tuesday, 30 September 1958


Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) . - I thought that when the Labour party announced that it intended to raise this matter as one of urgency there was going to be some sting in the debate, some attack on the Government. After listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) it was perfectly obvious, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pointed out, that the right honorable ' gentleman was merely taking advantage of the provision in the Standing Orders for raising his proposal, in order to support the leader of the Labour party in Great Britain on the weird foreign policy which that gentleman enunciated at the British Labour party's conference about two days ago. The right honorable gentleman did not really attack the trade policy of this Government; but he did announce, as the Prime Minister said, first, that the Labour party believes we could get more trade if we recognized red China. May I tell the right honorable gentleman that after we had recognized red China we would get less trade with that country than we had before. This has been proved by events, because every time Great Britain has appeased red China she has been given far less trade than she had before the appeasement.

The second point enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition was that Formosa should be placed under a United Nations trusteeship. The third point was that our trade with Asia in general has been falling off. Well, the answer to the last one is that trade all over the world has been falling off.

Then the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) spoke, and disagreed with his leader on practically everything. He agreed with him on one point, however. They both claimed that the loss of our export trade had been due to inflation. In fact, that is the only point on which all three of the Opposition speakers so far have agreed. Yet here we find the Labour party going to the next election offering the electors all sorts of baits at a cost of extra inflation, which would be produced by the printing of extra currency. This has already been announced in the press.


Mr Peters - That is not so.


Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES - You have said that you will increase social service benefits and everything else. Thereby you must necessarily increase inflation. You must also increase taxes to pay for the increased benefits you promise the electors. I am not criticizing honorable gentlemen opposite on that at the moment. I shall criticize them on it at the right time. All I am saying, to them now, is: Do not accuse this Government on the score that inflation has upset the export trade, because that is not true. The fact, as everybody who has examined the position knows, is that we are now in a somewhat similar period to that which followed World War I. As in the early 'thirties, a large measure of the backlog of shortages due to the war has been caught up in every country of the world and when the defeated nations have come back into the world markets and must be given a reasonable share of them. We are now in a period of re-adjustment which is going to be a little difficult, because the halcyon holiday of the post-war period is over. But, instead of what happened last time - a very serious economic depression - we have this uneasy period of what might be called re-adjustment and stabilization, showing that the policy of this Government and of other governments is much more effective than were the policies of Labour governments at the time of the depression. The facts show that the Government knows what to do in order to cope with the situation, and the Government therefore should be congratulated, and not criticized, for its achievement.

So I cannot understand why the Labour party has raised this matter although, when the last speaker had the floor, it seemed that the reason was to allow the honorable member for Darling to get a little pre-election kudos. We all are human, and we know that he represents a constituency which is directly affected by this particular matter of lead and zinc quotas. Let me remind the honorable member for Darling that the richest city in the whole of Australia, if not the world, has been Broken Hill ever since the war. In that city there still operates the lead bonus of £8 10s. a week, and the minimum wage is about £23 a week. It is still a very rich city. Although everybody wants to try to correct anomalies that might occur in a situation of this nature, I feel that we have to do far more for some of the miners who will be more affected in other areas, and who will be not as well off as the miners in the electorate of the honorable member for Darling.

Last week we had the Labour party slandering America right and left because the American Government has imposed quotas on lead and zinc imports. Thank heavens honorable members opposite seem to have learned a lesson since last week. Although the Leader of the Opposition continued, in a small degree, in last week's strain, it was only in a small degree compared with last week, when a wave of hysteria hit the Labour party, whose members thought, " Here is good election propaganda ". May I remind the Opposition that, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has often said in this chamber recently, the dairying industry has been much worse hit because Great Britain has subsidized her farmers, and other nations have taken action similar to that which we have taken ourselves. But the plight of the dairying industry, as shown by the honorable member for Richmond, did not rouse one mite of interest in the Labour party. Indeed, members of the Opposition actually scoffed at the honorable member for Richmond when he mentioned the matter. There are far more people engaged in other primary industries than there are engaged in the mineralproducing industries. We want to help anybody who is affected by falling trade in any of the industries concerned.

After the Leader of the Opposition had spoken for some minutes he came to his real theme - the recognition of red China. May I remind the right honorable gentleman again of what he said in 1949 when he declared the Communist Government of China could not be recognized - and now I quote verbatim -

.   . in the absence of specific assurances that the territorial integrity of neighbouring countries, notably Hong Kong, would be respected and that the new China would discharge all international obligations.

That was the Leader of the Opposition in 1949. I ask him now whether he considers that red China is discharging all international obligations by attempting to settle the question of the off-shore islands by force. I think that the right honorable gentleman has been led away by his Labour counterparts in England. Both Mr. Gaitskell and Mr. Driberg were among the angry young men of the 1920's, who thought that fate had dealt them a cruel blow because they were too young to go to World War I. So they had to espouse all kinds of extreme policies afterwards in order to obtain the recognition that they had formerly been deprived of. Mr. Attlee advocated the same kind of policy with regard to Formosa. He was going to give away Formosa as well as the off-shore islands, but now apparently somebody has got a little bit of sense. These are the people who are now criticizing America, and they are the same people who at the time of World War I. criticized America, not over Quemoy, but over a small country called Belgium. They said to America then, " You are too proud to fight ".


Mr Curtin - What did McEwen say about it?


Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES - You would not remember this. You were too young. The criticism of America then was that she was too proud to fight. Now, because she is standing up to red China and saying she will not allow aggression to succeed, she is criticized again, and this time the Leader of the Opposition, in spite of what he said in 1949, comes straight out for recognition of red China and for putting Formosa under a United Nations trusteeship. Perhaps I may remind the right honorable gentleman of Mao Tse-tung's memorandum on the new programme of world revolution carried to Moscow by Chou En-lai in March, 1953 -

Formosa must be incorporated into the People's Republic of China because of the Government's commitment to the people. If seizure by force is to be avoided for the time being, the entry of the Chinese People's Government into the United Nations may help solve this problem. If there should be serious obstacles to the immediate transfer of Formosa to the control of the People's Government, a United Nations trusteeship over Formosa as an intermediary step could be taken into consideration.

I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition should follow the Mao Tse-tung programme.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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