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Thursday, 21 March 1968


Sir JOHN CRAMER (Bennelong) - I have a high regard for the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti). He certainly finished his speech, I suggest, in a much better way than he began it, even though the whole of his speech was negative. He made no real suggestions at all. I was interested in his fuel policy. He keeps on talking about it, but I have never heard what it is. All the personal matters that he indulged in are, I believe, not the sort of thing we should deal with in the AddressinReply debate. I do not want to waste time, however, on that, because I want to make some suggestions which I think are important for Australia's future.

It is very interesting to hear several speeches of honourable members indicating a growing recognition of great changes taking place in Australia's national growth. This seems to be seeping through to the minds of public men everywhere, particularly in this place. It is of course a fact that we are emerging into a challenging nation of real importance to the rest of the world, and particularly with a responsibility and a destiny in this part of the world. Therefore I believe that the time is ripe for a new and complete assessment of our future as a nation. In this I believe we should include our brother country of New Zealand. The lead for this - and I shall talk more about this concept of including New Zealand - must come from this Government. There is a great deal of groundwork to be done by publicity and propaganda, because it is necessary when great changes are taking place for the people to be made aware of our final objectives in this matter. Let us look at the great changes that are taking place and have been taking place in recent years which affect Australia and its growth as a nation.

First, we have the Pacific area and the eastern countries which are advancing with such rapidity that they are assuming much more importance in world affairs. This, of course, is stating an obvious fact. We only need to look at the growth of Communist China with its 700 millions or more people, and the fact that it now possesses a nuclear capacity, to see this fact. But this growth at the same time shows danger. There is the challenge from Communist China to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for leadership in the Communist world. These are changes that we cannot look at lightly.

I am referring to these matters briefly only because of the time element. When we refer to the extraordinary trade growth in Japan which now ranks as Australia's best customer in trade in this area of the world, we get some idea of the great changes that are taking place in our region. We think in passing of the 'great possibilities of the 100 million people in Indonesia when they have settled down and get something in the nature of stability in their Government. We think of Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore - all countries in which we are vitally interested. We cannot pass Formosa by without noting the extraordinary things that that country has done in the last 10 years or more. The same thing can be said of many other countries in South East Asia.

We need to look at all these matters in the light of another 'great change which has taken place. This is the completely revolutionary change in our outlook and in the outlook of people in our part of the world. This has been brought about by the proposed withdrawal of the United Kingdom from participation in the East. In defence matters almost completely but also in many other ways, there is a withdrawal by the United Kingdom from this part of the world. This withdrawal will have tremendous repercussions upon our future as a nation and on the future of other countries in the South East Asian area. Then, we must remember the avowed intention of the United Kingdom to link its future with the European Common Market.

We see evidence today of the struggle by the United Kingdom for economic security and stability. We all wish her well. Sometimes I believe it is forgotten that England voluntarily gave all that she had to humanity and to the world in an effort to save humanity and freedom throughout the world. We sometimes forget this fact. T am not one of those who blame England for withdrawing from the East. England has to do something to protect the standard of living of the 45 million people on that little island. It is understandable therefore that Britain should change its age old traditions and link its future with the European nations nearby.

But what is the future of the Commonwealth countries that are in this part of the world? I refer to India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the Solomon Islands, all of which are of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The time has arrived when we must face up to the facts and to the changes that have taken place. Let us not deceive ourselves in any way. We are on our own now. What we in this country decide now will determine what sort of a nation this will be in the future. We must make our decision in this regard and take appropriate action to bring our wishes about. We have friends. Thank God, we have friends - particularly the United States of America - who will help us. But although we have friends who will help us the things that we will do and the decisions that we will make are for us alone to decide. We are on our own, and we need to make these decisions in a national way.

We need to look at all these violent changes in two ways - from the economic point of view and from the point of view of defence. I am touching on these matters of great importance only briefly because of limited time. In the economic field, we must remember that this is the part of the world in which we will always live. We live here now and we will always live here. Geographically, we are part of the East. All the advances, the economic security, the independence of countries in the East and improvements in standards of living that are brought about must help us. We need to remember that fact. We must develop trade in the East because it is in the East that our future lies. We need to have co-operation and friendship with the people in our region, otherwise we will not succeed and we will not develop as a nation.

In the defence field, we must be prepared to be at a continuing high level of defence preparedness. We need to face up to these facts because we must maintain even greater defence preparations than we have at the present time. Yes, we have our treaties. We have the ANZUS Pact. I believe that this is a most important treaty because it guarantees the protection of our security by the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. We have the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Other arrangements include the Colombo Plan and the South Pacific Commission. There are a number of other organisations of this type in which we take part.

Australia needs to build up its own defences. We have to help to meet any challenge to the national freedom of independent countries in South East Asia. This is the basic reason why we are in Vietnam today. Many people do not seem to understand that if we were not in Vietnam or that if somebody did not take a stand to preserve the security of these independent nations, the independence and freedom of these countries would be lost. All of the countries within this region have received independence only within the last 20 years. As I. have said, we do not seem to realise the importance of maintaining the independence and freedom of these countries. This is what we are fighting for in Vietnam. This is of vital importance to the Australian people as well as to the successful development of Australia as a great nation.

But what of our own internal changes? Apart from these external changes that I have been mentioning, in the last few years Australia has had vast internal changes. This country is developing at a very fast rate. Due to the encouragement, I believe, given by the present Government which, thank God for Australia, has been in office for 18 years, providing stable government, Australia is on the threshold of enormous developments almost undreamt of in the past. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) is sitting beside me. He has done a great job in his portfolio. Our mineral discoveries are staggering, when we compare what is happening now with what happened in the past. There is the development of our uranium resources as well as the great exports of iron ore that are being carried out. Expansion is taking place in the coal industry. Sometimes we forget about this industry, but the development is there if one looks at the figures. Development is occurring also in relation to bauxite, nickel, gold, silver, tin and phosphate. These minerals are valuable. But on top of the development of these minerals we have discovered oil and natural gas in substantial quantities. The prospect would appear to me to be that in no time at all Australia will be self sustaining in these types of things. These developments are evidence of the great changes that have taken place in recent years.

The honourable member for Macquarie, who preceded me, referred to water conservation. Contrary to what the honourable member said, we are doing great things regarding water conservation. For instance, there are the Snowy Mountains scheme and the Ord River scheme, as well as many other schemes on which we are spending enormous sums of money. I agree that it is most important for us to undertake these projects if we are to develop to a greater degree. But we have done great things relative to roads and transport which also are vital to the development of Australia. We are moving as fast as we can with these projects. We cannot undertake all of them, but we are undertaking as many as is within our capacity. If we can keep stability of government we are on the way to great riches and we can look forward to great new things.

In this context 1 should like to say a few words about the part played by the States in national development, and particularly their spirit of nationhood. Whilst the Federal Government lays down the foundation and gives the impetus for development, we must remember that most of the detailed work is carried out in and by the States. Each of the States is jealous of its own progress. Each has an enormous number of schemes in mind - far in excess of its own capacity. It is important that the States should have schemes under consideration. But as a result, there is pressure on the Commonwealth Government and on the Australian taxpayers to provide more and more money for every State. This request for money does not come from only one State. This is evidence that the States are thinking about these projects, that they are anxious to have them carried out and that they are optimistic about their future. They all want more and more money but, leaving money out of it for the moment, we have only a certain pool of men and materials and we must use both to the best possible advantage. It is understandable that each State is enthusiastic about its own progress, but sometimes I fear that in this enthusiasm for progress the spirit of nationhood is somewhat forgotten. I do not say that in any critical way, but I do not think it is the kind of approach that we should adopt in considering the future growth of this great young nation.

I believe there is a great need for more co-operation with the States on a national level. I have said that we have only certain resources of men and materials. It is a question of first things first, from the national point of view. When a State is enthusiastic for its own progress, it may sometimes get these considerations u little out of balance. Therefore, I again urge the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to establish an Australian council for national development on which would be representatives from the States and the Commonwealth. I do not suggest the establishment of such a council for the purpose of taking away the power or sovereignty of the States. I' do it in the spirit of building a nation. With that national outlook we must make the people realise that we have to use our capacity in the best possible way for the most successful development.

I have mentioned New Zealand. I come to the question whether we should consider a wider nation including New Zealand, Papua and New Guinea, the Solomons and, if Charles de Gaulle does not mind, perhaps New Caledonia. I am thinking in terms of a nation comprising Australia, New Zealand and the arc of islands which surround us. I know that such a proposal may be ahead of its time, but when we consider development in the Pacific area generally, and how we are placed in this part of the world which is traditionally of the West but is geographically in the East, I think it would be to our benefit to endeavour to build a greater and stronger nation than we are building at the present time. I am convinced that we should do this.

The Prime Minister leaves for New Zealand next week. I ask him to discuss this matter seriously with the New Zealand Government. I suggest that, if possible, we should set up a joint Cabinet committee of Australia and New Zealand in order to have preliminary discussions on the degree of co-operation which can be achieved, with the long term aim of complete integration. I recently spent 3 weeks in

New Zealand. I know that a year ago New Zealanders would have looked at an Australian aghast if he had said: 'Link up with us'. The whole outlook in New Zealand has changed. I found that the public and the officials, including members of Parliament, unanimously held the view that integration is inevitable. The reason for the change is that they can no longer look to the United Kingdom as they have done all their lives. They are now isolated. They feel that they need someone to help them. This situation has rather shocked the New Zealanders. New Zealand is passing through very real difficulties, particularly this shortage of overseas funds. New Zealand is a magnificent country. It has great possibilities for development which I believe could be complementary to Australian development. I believe that an amalgamation would be of great benefit to both countries. In the defence and foreign affairs fields, integration with Australia is absolutely essential to New Zealand. I can state that as a fact. New Zealand is too small to be effective in this field alone. The quality of armaments and equipment and the lack of overseas funds illustrates the point. At the present time New Zealand's Army officers are trained at Duntroon. New Zealand follows us in many respects.

The New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement which was completed a little time ago, is just not free enough to be effective. I agree with the statement made recently that New Zealand and Australia have rather locked each other out and have thrown away the keys. The Agreement is not free enough and there is a need for a close examination to be made of it. I do not want to shock my friends from the Australian Country Party, but in many industries, such as the dairying industry, New Zealand can beat us to a cocked hat. Of course, there are industries in which we can beat New Zealand to a cocked hat. New Zealanders and Australians are brothers and by thinking together both countries could benefit. We must be broad and generous in our approach but we must not condescend in any way. It is as much our duty to help New Zealand as it is New Zealand's duty to help us. The way is still open for New Zealand to come into the Commonwealth without any alteration to our Constitution. I think that the Press could help a great deal in this regard. I find very few Press reports in Australia dealing with New Zealand, and I have found very few Press reports in New Zealand which deal with Australia. I hope that something will be done to rectify these things.

I refer honourable members to an excellent paper delivered by Professor Miller at the symposium of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science held in Christchurch in January. I believe it would be worth anybody's while to read it, because it is good reading. I notice that my time is flying and I would like to refer to a statement by Sir Leslie Munro, a former president of the United Nations General Assembly and a member of the New Zealand Parliament since 1963. On 2nd March - only a short time ago - he said:

I think I am ahead of my time in saying this, but I would not be afraid of New Zealand joining the Commonwealth of Australia. Indeed there is provision for this in the Commonwealth Act

I put it to New Zealand that it would lose nothing. Indeed, there is no reason in the world why a New Zealand born person could not be the Prime Minister of this country. It could happen quite easily. Although while he was Prime Minister he would have to live mostly in Canberra, at the same time there would be nothing to stop this. We have to get away from the old way of thinking. Though it is not really so old, because New Zealand nearly came in with us at the time of federation. Is there any reason why we should not have this greater and stronger economic unit? This would be of particular benefit from the point of view of defence. I appeal to the Prime Minister at least to have preliminary discussions on this development, which I sincerely believe will be inevitable in the not too distant future.







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