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Thursday, 8 September 1960

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- I do not know what prompted the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to enter the chamber just now. I flatter myself that possibly it was to hear my speech because what I have tosay refers particularly to him. I, for one, am a little worried about his health. I have raised this matter before, and I hope he will not misunderstand my approach toit. In discussing the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs, let me again express my concern at the fact that he still' retains personally the conduct and administration of a number of portfolios, the most important, other than the Prime Ministership, being the External Affairs portfolio.

Quite frankly, I do not think that it is possible for any man, no matter how great his capacity may be, to do full justice to the onerous responsibilities which are associated with the Department of External Affairs, while he is administering other portfolios. At this stage the Prime Minister is alsoAc'.ing Treasurer and Minister for External Affairs. All three portfolios entail heavy responsibilities and very important decisionsEach requires full-time attention.

If we study the history of the Department of External Affairs we will find that one of the major activities associated with it is representation abroad at very important conferences, including the United Nations General Assembly and other meetings of a somewhat similar nature. When Labour was in office, the then Minister for External Affairs, Dr. Evatt, had occasion to travel extensively. So did Mr. Casey and Mr. Spender as they were then, when they held that portfolio. Every Minister for External Affairs, particularly since the war, has had to spend a considerable amount of time outside Australia in order to attend to the duties associated with that position. I know that the Prime Minister will forgive me when I say that he is away from Australia, as Prime Minister, for a fair portion of the year. How can he, in addition to his travels as Prime Minister on Government business, fit in the travels which necessarily are associated with the External Affairs portfolio? I think that this is well nigh impossible.

In the immediate future a delegation will leave to attend the United Nations General Assembly - probably one of the most important meetings of the United Nations for many years. Mr. Khrushchev personally will lead the Soviet delegation; the premiers of a number of iron curtain countries will be present; Dr. Soekarno will attend, and we will be represented, not by the Minister for External Affairs who should be the person to represent Australia, but by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). Of course, he will be supported by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and very ably, no doubt, by the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa). But the point I make is that having regard to the composition of the delegations from other countries, and bearing in mind the important part that Australia played under a Labour government in the setting up of the United Nations organization - the present honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was a member of the initial Australian delegation to the United Nations - it is not unreasonable to expect that we should be represented by the Minister for External Affairs. We cannot possibly do that on this occasion because the Prime Minister is too busy in his own country to attend to this matter. We should not have a man who already holds an important portfolio filling the high office of Minister for External Affairs because it is impossible for him either to give full attention to it or to carry out efficiently the tasks pertaining to it.

Who is to be our spokesman at the United Nations? Will the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) be the man who speaks for Australia on the variety of matters associated with international affairs in the discussions at the United Nations? Even the Prime Minister will agree with me when I say that the honorable member's views do not exactly agree with those of the Prime Minister, and it could well be that there will be an international incident when Khrushchev faces the honorable member for Mackellar across the table at the momentous meeting that is to be held.

That brings me to another point. We should be represented there by the Minister for External Affairs. I do not want it to be said that I am " picking a box " or anything of that kind, but I do think some one should be appointed immediately to fill this important post in order that we might have top-level representation at that conference, through our Minister for External Affairs. It is true that our delegation will be well led by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), and I am sure that he will put our case ably, but my fear is that when he returns he will continue as Attorney-General, so that whatever contacts he makes at the United Nations will be wasted in that he will not be occupying the External Affairs portfolio and the work will have to be commenced all over again.

I join with the criticism offered by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) last night who said that at these conferences there should be fewer officials and more parliamentarians. In my opinion, the Government tends to make its delegations top-heavy with administrative staff instead of sending the men who should really deal with these matters.

Mr Wight - Do you think you should go?

Mr DALY - I will say that I would be a vast improvement on many of the Liberals I have seen sent to these conferences. I noted with interest that it did not take the Prime Minister long to wake up to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes).

I understand he took the honorable member for Barker to Indonesia on one occasion and has never taken him out of the country since. I think that was the honorable member's trial run, and he did not prove successful as a stand-in for the Prime Minister in dealing with minor matters on that occasion. I repeat that I join with the honorable member for Scullin in saying that more parliamentarians should be sent to attend meetings of the United Nations Organization. After all, the findings of the United Nations constantly enter into the deliberations of every member of this Parliament, and I can see nothing wrong at all with increasing the number of members of Parliament attending its deliberations. Of course, I should be very sorry if one or two officials lost a good trip, but the important point is that it would be more beneficial for Australia if the politicians of this country, the men who have to face up to these issues, were given the opportunity to learn at first hand what is taking place in the United Nations' discussions.

I emphasize, too, that, as has been mentioned by other honorable members, many nations with much smaller populations and probably of less importance in the international sphere than Australia will have larger delegations there. I therefore suggest to the Prime Minister that he would be well advised to appoint a Minister for External Affairs immediately and give consideration to enlarging the delegation on the parliamentary level so that this Parliament might be fully informed at first hand of what takes place there.

I should like now to refer to one or two matters connected with the Estimates which 1 notice total about £2,944,000. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. I do not mind that, and if they will wait until I have concluded my remarks I shall give intelligent answers to both their interjections and any questions they might like to ask. But I do not like honorable members on the Government side to sit in their places and interject when they have not the courage to rise and defend their Government's policy and its proposed expenditure. I do not expect honorable members on the Government side to agree with what I have said about the Prime Minister's portfolio and the filling of the External Affairs port folio, nor do I expect them to agree with my suggestion that a full-time Minister should be appointed to the Department of External Affairs, because, when all is said and done, every one of those honorable members sitting opposite to-day thinks he ought to have the position. When one looks at honorable members on the Government side, one appreciates why the Prime Minister has not appointed any one to fill the office of Minister for External Affairs and why honorable members opposite merely sit in their places and interject instead of speaking to these matters.

I notice that a fairly large sum is to be expended on the various ambassadorial centres in Asia. I should like to see more money spent on representation in Asia in preference to spending it on representation in other parts of the world. After all, the Asian centres are more important from our point of view than are those which are further afield. I think that the building up of able Australian representation right throughout Asia would make a great contribution towards the establishment of a better understanding of the problems of both Asia and Australia. After all, what happens in Asia possibly has a greater effect upon us than upon any other part of the world, and there is, therefore, a grave need for the establishment of the greatest goodwill and fullest understanding by the Asians in connexion with matters which are of mutual concern to Asian areas and Australia. It cannot be said by any stretch of the imagination that the Government's policy in connexion with Asia is one calculated to promote goodwill and understanding. For instance, the sending of troops to Malaya hardly helped to promote the goodwill of the Asian people towards Australians. Again, the Government's recent policy in connexion with South Africa could hardly be said to have added to the goodwill of the Asian people towards Australia.

Mr Wight - What is your policy on red China?

Mr DALY - I agree with the policy of the Labour Party on red China. We cannot ignore the millions in Communist China. They will have to be recognized ultimately, as they have been recognized by the governments of Great Britain and other places.

The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) and others who sell their wool to red China will admit that we shall have to recognize red China ultimately. 1 should like to hear what honorable members on the Government side have to say on these matters. I am saying that we should spend more money in Asia because this Government's policy is destroying the goodwill that was built up by the Labour administration when it was in office. I mention these matters in the hope that the Government will appreciate the need, in Asia in particular, to build up goodwill and understanding and to encourage co-operation because many people in Asia misunderstand our approach to their problems. They also quite rightly misunderstand the attitude of the Australian people, and this misunderstanding has arisen only as a result of this Government's policy. It is only by having good and able Australian representation in these centres, representation by people who know the country and understand it that we can hope to build up our prestige and promote understanding, goodwill and friendship with these people.

I hope that the Prime Minister will take careful note of the suggestions I have made. I hope that he will take particular note of my suggestion that a Minister for External Affairs should be appointed immediately and of my suggestion that we appoint as our representatives in Asia people who are capable of presenting Australia's policy towards Asia in the most favorable light. If the Government takes a leaf out of the Labour Party's book, if it will only realize the need for building up friendship and goodwill with Asia, it will do much towards bettering relations between the two countries. After making those few constructive suggestions, I hope that those honorable members on the Government side who have had so much to say by interjection will have the courage to rise and defend this Government's policy.

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