PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 117

PRESS CONFERENCE, CANBERRA

Photo of Menzies, Robert

Menzies, Robert

Period of Service: 19/12/1949 to 26/01/1966

More information about Menzies, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/10/1959

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 117

PRESS CONFERENCE GIVEN BY THE PRIME MINISTER RT.
HON. R. G. MENZIES, AT CANBERRA
ON THE 1ITH OCTOBER, 19 9 at 11 A. M.

QUESTION: Sir, yesterday it was announced that the Commonwealth was financing a Grant to the Monash University of up to about œ 500,000 and referred to a report by the Universities Commission. I was wondering if we could have a copy of the Report.

PRIME MINISTER: When I had the application from Victoria for a very
substantial increase in the amount that was being provi
-ded under the Murray Report for the Monash University,
I told the Premier that I would get the Universities
Commission to have a look at it because, after all,
that is the kind of thing they are there for. They examined
it and made a report to me and I sent it to him
with an indication that we were prepared to act on the
recommendations in the Report. There is no reason why
the report shouldn't be published but I notice in the
paper this morning that he's indicated, from his point
of view, that the Report should not be published until
after the Interim Council of Monash has had a chance to
look at it. Well, I don't quarrel with that, but as
soon as the Report has gone to the Interim Council I
will have no objection to publishing the report: in
fact, I think it ought to be made available. As a mat-_
ter of fact I have got, I think a supply of the necessary
copies so . that at a moment's notice they can go out,

QUESTION: Apart from the questions of Monash, Sir, does this Report
deal in any general terms with University enrolments
and extensions and so on, or any ratters on Monash
apart from what we have now?

PRIME MINISTER: No, this is a Report which relates to the Monash
Applic-tion. It does nontain statistics in relation to
the Melbourne University which are quite interesting.
Yes, I'll be delighted to have the report made available,
but I don't want to appear to be discourteous to the
Council

QUESTION: The Leader of the Labour Party in the Queensland Parliament
Mr Duggan, has described you as one of the outstanding
public men Australia has ever had

PRIME MINISTER: I bet there's a catch coming ( Laughter)
but he says that you are politically lazy he said:
" Mr. Menzies had done great dis-service to Australia because
every international Mission with which he had been
associated had been a colossal failure. Would you reply
to his statement?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, I wouldn't dream of sitting in judgment on Mr.
Duggan; I doubt whether I'm equal to that task.

QUESTION: Any announcement yet, Sir, on the Governor-General?

PRIME MINISTER: No.

QUESTION: Could you say what sta,-oe has been reached on the appointment.

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, I'm in communication with the Palace about it,

QUESTION: Do you expect it to come soon, Sir?

PRIME MINISTER: I don't know. I hope so.

QUESTION: As a result of Dr. Subandrio's visit to China, Sir, and
the agreement that has been reached between Indonesia
and China for mutual support in respect of Territorial
claims, Indonesia's support of China on Formosa and
China's support of Indonesia on West New Guinea, have
you thought about that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I've read what has been published on the
matter and we have no official information. But all
those declarations, you know, may mean one of two thing;
they may simply mean ' Well, we give you moral support;
we announce our beliefs that you are entitled to West
New Guinea if you announce your belief that we're entitled
to Quemoy or Matsui or Formosa' I suppose there
are a number of people who support the claim in that
sense but the alternative meaningthat they are prepared
to support the claim by force is a very different
matter. Indeed, it will be remembered that Dr. Subandrio
in Australia went on the record to the effect that
Indonesia did not propose to establish its claim by
force and there is no reason to assume that he has
changed that ground, and therefore this mutual declaration
is, no doubt, one of sentiment or opinion it
doesn't necessarily involve military support.

QUESTION: A Conference in Germany, Mr. Menzies, has asked all
countries to co-operate in a world-wide survey on radio
-active fall-out and the effects on food, etc. Will
Australia co-onerate in that survey?
PRIME MINISTER: But Australia has been doing a iLot cf work in
that field already; we have a special commitoe, an
expert commit oe which, quite recently, made a report,
It's report showed that net only was the amount of fallout
in Australir insignificant ascompared with some other
countries, but that it didn't present any danger.
You remember the report wa3 published not long ago.
Well, that's a highly competent committee..
QUESTION: I presumc, Sir, that the information we obtain here is
available for international
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, yes.. Copies of our reports are made available,
and, of course, we ourselves have had reports
from the United Nations bodies which have gone into
this kind of thing. It stands to roaso:. hat in Australia
the amount of fall-out might be expected to be
negligible. Perhaps the Soviet Union, for example,
where there has been a great activity in these matters,
the fall-out might be much more considerable.
QUESTION: Now that Mr MacMillan has been returned is there any
suggestion of a Commonwealth Conference early next
year. You did mention earlier in the year
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, give them a chance,
QUESTION: Next April?
PRIME MINISTER: Well we've never had one in April. but keep on
going; you know as much about it as I do. I haven't
a clue,
QUESTION: Supplementary to that question, Sir, it has been reported
that Mr. MacMillan is planning to create a Ministry
of Science in his Governnent to bring it in line with
the Technilogical Age, Have you contemplat-d such a
Ministry here, Sir?

PRIME MINISTER: I can't say that I have. A good deal of our
technical resources are dealt with by the Department
of Supply and its a little premature to know what he
isgoing to do. It may be that he'll establish a Department
of Science or a Ministry of Science, but the
interesting thing will be what re-construction occurs
in other Departments.
QUESTION: It has been suggested that Supply Department
may go.
PRIME MINISTER: Quite so, If it were merely a matter of taking
over the Department of Supply it wouldnt be very radi.-
cal, but there may be that other things that are done
in other Departments there which could be aggregated
under one Minister. It's only guess work at this
stage. I'll be very interested myself to see the way
that's dealt with.
QUESTION: At the moment, Sir, it is true that our chief scientific
activities are under two Ministers, one from C. S. I.
R. O. and the Department of Supply?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes, that is quite right,
QUESTION: Do you see any advantage in the combination?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't know. I haven't given any thought to
creating a new Departmunt or an amalgamated one but
Ifm always willing to learn and I'll be interested to
see what goes on in England.
QUESTION: Can you tell us whether you have any specific programme
for the Divorce Bill? Do you hope to have it through
by Christmas?
PRIME MINISTER: I can't tell you. You had better ask the Attorney
that.
QUESTION: Does that not raise the question
PRIME MINISTER. Well thats a genuine consideration, but I know
that both the Attorney and I were hoping that this
Bill would be disposed of this year. but whether anything
that has happened affects that I don't know/; he's
just circulated a number of amendments. They may be
much less formidable than they might appear on the , urface
and a great number of them will no doubt be quite
verbal, but ask him. I think he's still hoping.
QUESTION: Have you given any thought as to whether there should
be
PRIME MINISTER: None whatever. As a natter of fact one reason
why I made it clear to my people that it mustn't bo no
sumed that the Session was going to end on th,; dde
that rumour had originaily mentioned, chat I had
hopes of disposing of the Divorce Bill; it's had a very
long airing and the Attorney's done a phenomenal amount
of work in relation to it, you know, in dealing with
groups of people and organizations.
QUESTION; There doesn't seem to have been a great deal of opposition
PRIME MINISTEI.: Not so far as I can sce.
QUESTION.: Didn't Mr. Holt make it clear, Sir, that the Government's
prograimme was in future always to prorogue the
Parliament and have an opening once a year at the begin
-ning of the year?

PRIME MINISTER: Frankly, I've forgotten whether he did.
QUESTION: Would the question of pro-rogation be contingent on
the date of arrival of the new Governor-General.
PRIME MINISTER: Well I suppose if we were to plenty of " ifs" in
this question if we prorogued, which I don't know
and if the new Governor-General can't be here at a time
when the house would normally meet, then no doubt we
would then consider whether the meeting of the new Session
after the pro-rogation would occur after his arrival.
All this is very elementary, my dear Watson,
and highly conditional.
QUESTION: There is no occasion that I can remember of an Administrator
having opened Parliament?
PRIME MINISTER: No. I can't recall one.
QUESTION: A rather interesting situation?
PRIME MINISTER: Mm.
QUESTION: you mentioned in an article that communications
were taking place between you and the Queensland Pren.
ier on Mount Isa. Are there any new developments cn
that7 Could you say whether the visit of Sir Rol. a,
Wilson and Mr Holt overseas may have any results?
PRIME MINISTER: The last communication I made to the Premier uas
that as Holt and Wilson were investigating certain naL**
ters and they would be back fairly shorcly, perhaps it
would be mo: e satisfactory and save time in the l! ong
run, if we had a further discussion after their return
Well they come back, tomorrow isn't it?
PRESSMAN: Due tomorrow in Sydney
PRIME MINISTER: They won't be here; well Holt won't be here, but
they will at once bring us up to date on this matter
and then I'll ask him to get in touch with Mr Nicklin.
QUESTION; Mr. Menzies do you hope to announce the Governnentis
tew 3-year Defence Plan before the Parliament rises foM
the year?
PRIME MINISTER: That's a difficult question to answer. I certainly
intend that it will be determined and announceable
some time in November because I have to go away
at the beginning of December and I want this matter tb
be fixed before I go, Whether that means actually
while the House is still sitting or just afterwards,
I don't know; it will be done as soon as it can be,
but it certainly will have to be done in November.
QUESTION: Have you had any final judgments from the Technical
people?
PRIME MINISTER: Don't ask me; I: m having a Conference with Mr,
Townley about it today. A lot of work, I know, has
been done on this.
QUESTION: Could you tell us anythingnow following Mr McElroy's
visit Sir?
PRIME MINISTER: No. There is nothing realoly.
QUESTION: It was more a goodwill visit was it?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, yes, we didn't discuss any of the techniques
of the business with him.

QUESTION: Now that it is in retrospect, Sir, do you think that
we have learned anything from Princess Alexandra's visit
that can be useful in future? It seems to have
been extraordinarily successful..
PRIME MINISTER: I don't know. She did a lot to make it extraordinarily
successful herself, of course, because she
is a natural person. I think the thing we have to
do more and more in Australia is to get away from the
idea of long, formal, royal tours, you know every
State committees and organizations all that. They
are all right, and you can have one or two of those
occasionally, but I much prefer to think that we occasionally
have a Royal Visit, that's a very different
thing a Royal Visit from a Royal Tour. Somebody
might 0me out and visit one State for some particular
purpose; somebody might come out and actually have a
few weeks' holiday, but if it is to be every State for
every visitor, then we certainly won't have as many
visits. There people would say " Oh, this is becoming
too much". I'm hoping to encourage the idea of the
occasional, informal easy visit. This Princess went to
three States. I don't think there was any really bitter
complaint from the other three. The next visitor
might go to two or one. Let's get the formality out
of it. By formality I don't necessarily mean that they
have to shake hands with Prime Ministers and Premiers,
because they'll do that in any case, but that they
won't have these great programmes in which every day.
brings forth its visit to so-and-so and its this or
that, in some other locality. There is no escape from
those when you have a first visit from the Queen, for
example, a visit from the Queen Mother which has some
particular historic and personal interest for Australia.
But I'm hoping that in future we'll be able to eliminate
some of the aspects of a highly organised tour and substitute
some of the aspects of a personal visit.
QUESTION; Did the military advisers of SEATOactually, at the
time of their meeting, recently, get some actual concrete
schemes agreed on to intervene militarily if the
situation required it in Laos?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, you wouldn't expect me to answer a question
like that would you?
QUESTION: Well, did they just " waffle", or did they have anything-
PRIME MINISTER: I've no statement to make.
QUESTION: Senator Spooner said in the Senate the other day, Mr,
Menzies, that he would confer with you on Members'
p: ivileges. I was wondering if he had spoken to you
alrout it yet?
PRIME MINISTER: Senator Spooner, unfortunately, is on the Sick
List. He's in hospital.
QUESTION; SEnator Aylett said that he wanted the Parliament and
Gcvernment to protect him from the criticisrisof the
kind that he has been getting. Have you any comment
t: make on-Senator Aylett's position?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, we've all felt that way occasionally.
QUESTION: Were you surprised, Sir, when you heard of the Christmas
Island rackets?
PRIME MINISTER: I concurred with the action taken by the Minister
very swiftly. Yes.

QUESTION: Do you thinlc Sir that it's likely that there will be
any anendrient to the rules relating to thle Secretaries
and Offices to require they be in the State of a member?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't know. We are going to have a discussion
on this business and it would be premature to be
speculating about it. I don't seen to be very well
informed on a lot ofthese things because there are
people around here who are far more familiar with these
things than I am and the fir-st thing I had to do was
to say: " Can somebody give me a list of all these
things", And I'm getting that, and then. we'll have a
go at it, in a perfectly reasonable spirit, I'm not being
unpleasant about it.
QUESTION: Sir, when you say " We" l do you mean the Cabinet or
PRIME MINISTER: Well, one or two Ministers and myself, at any
rate.
QUESTION: When you say " it" Sir, do you mean the whole range of
Members'I amienities?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't know. I haven't seen thle list yet so I
don't know which ones I want to have a look at. It's
really in transit.
QUESTION; Does that include the question of residence, Sir?
PRIME MINISTER: You fellows are asking mae questions about a matter
on which I an the worst informed man in Parliament,
you see, so I'm taking steps to inform myself.
QUESTION: Will you consider this point then, Sir, that
PRIME MINISTER: I'll consider anything you care to put to me,
but I'll make no statement about it.
QUESTION; Well, where the Parliament is in recess for less than
14 days Memibers who remiain in Canberra are entitled to
œ C4. a day -allowance. Do you think that's a fair thing?
PRIME MINISTE I'ma making no statement about any of these matters.
QUESTION: Will you consider that point, Sir%
PRIME MINISTER: Look, I'vc told you I'ri making no statement about
that matter, I'm in the process of informing my nind,
QUESTION:. Can you give us details of the Superannuation Scheme
. that has been mentioned a couple of times in the House,
PRESSMALN: You answered a question onthat,
PRIME MINISTER: Yes, but he wants some details of a Bill.
QUESTION; Well could you say when it might be brought dox~ m?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I can't tell you precisely because I don't
know off hand,-whethcr it's boen through the Legislation.
the scrutiny of the Committee, but I would take it for
granted that it would come down in this Session and be
passed in this Sossion.
QUESTION; Sir, have you yet roceived the proposals from-the Acad--
emy of' Science on Spac~ e Research?
PRIME MINISTERt No I haven't.

QUESTION: On Space Research, Sir it has been suggested that the
United States nay undertake work of that nature at
Woomera in a bigger way than was already indulged in
during the Geophysical Year. Could you tell us anything
of that Sir?
PRIME MINISTEI*: I don't know,
QUESTION: Do you expect any Government Legislation arising out
of the Hursey case Sir?
PRIME MINISTER: I couldn't tell you.
QUESTION: Have you any comuent to make on the decision by tnc
United Order of Oddfellows which provides that Austra.-
lia's first Dental Benefit Scheme within the next few
weeks in New South ales should cover children and
teen-agers from the age of 3 to 17 and further, has
there been any discussions at Government level to en.-
courage or embrace such a scheme in the National Heal'; n
Scheme?
PRIME MINISTER: There have been no discussions to which I an a
party. Whether the Minister for Health has given it
any thought or had any discussion, I wouldn't know, b:.
it hasn't come to ne,
QUESTION: Does the removal of this hill outside Parlioment House
indicate that there is any move towards a new Pc. rlia.-
ment House at all? It's gradually been disappearing.
PRIME MINISTER: I think it-s sort of an embodiment of the Scrj
tures ' If you have sufficient faith you can move
mountains7 and this is very encouraging to Members cf
Parliament; when everything seems black, when the
Press have turned them down, when the Mirror', bought
out the Sydney Morning Herald and all these terrible
things have occurred I lock out and there's the embodiment
offaith.
QUESTION: Could you give us any indication, Mr Menzies, of whether
there is any prospect at all as to the results of
Mr Holt's and Sir Roland V4ilson's activities overseas
of getting a loan
PRIME MINISTER: No look don't ask me to say any more tha.. that
because Ill. be ruch better informed on that in two or
three days.
QUESTION: Could you give us any background, Sir, to the Government's
delay in the appointment of a Committee of Enquiry
into the Taxation Laws which you mentioned in
your Policy Speech?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the delay is on the side of getting the
membership established and as we want to have the very
best kind of committee, after a long exaymination of a
lot of names we decided that I, myself, would have a
chat with a couple ofrepresentative bodies, particularly
in the Accountancy and Business world, in order to
see that we wore getting somebody who carried weight all
round. I expect to have those discussions in the next
few days and the moment that has been done we'll be in
a position to. o ahead.
, QUESTION: To announce the names?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes, and the torms of reference,
QUESTION: And the Post Office committee?

8,
PRIME MINISTER: I'n having a meeting this afternoon with bearing
on that matter and therefore we'll be able to announce
something in the next few days on that.
QUESTION: Could you give us any guidance before that cones out,
Sir, as to the terms of reference of the Post Office
comnittee? Are they likely to be geared to the recomnendations
of the Public Accounts Comnittee Report on
the Post Office?
PRIME MINISTER: The terns of reference have not been settled.
They are not very easy to work out. It's very easy to
say in a broad way: " Well what capital is engaged in
the Post Office in real terms?" and you start to elaborate
the terms of reference to see how that gets workec
out, well it's a veiy very different matter, but I'n
having a discussion about it this afternoon.
QUESTION: The enquiry will be confined to the ( inaudible)
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
QUESTION: It . on't be extended, as sone Members h. ve asked for,
to cover the whole functioning of the Post Office?
PRIME MINISTE.: Oh, dear, No. I should have to appoint an entirely
different kind of cor. ittoe.
SQUESTION: Sir, has the Government got any prograrneo in nind for
shifting nore Government Departments from Melbourne to
Canberra?
PRIME MINISTER: I think that, you know, the process of digesting
the las' move will take a little tine, but that's noreally
a , ouction that I can answoer T think you ha1
better ask the Minister'for the interior P. use they
may te working out wT. Lh the Canberra Comnission a sort
of future time-table on t-mis natter, but I wouldn't knc.
about that. Ask him if he's got any knowled;,. -n
thlL ' m cure he would be glad to tell you,
QUIESION. On pro,,. nt indications, Mr Mnzics, it looks as if it
will be anything up to two years before television services
a:' e operating in counLry areas. Has the Governnent
anything in mind to speed up this enquiry that's
taking placo, and for the applications for licences or
to
PRIME MINISTER: Yo. had better ask the Postmaster General that,
You see t. ore appears to be a mass of applicants. WclL
I suppose ifyou have lots of applicants they all have
to be heari, they all have to have a chance to put
their case: c. l have to have questions put to themn
it's very ciffi. cult to speed up a thing like that,
QUESTION: The Board is proposing to make all its recoLmendations
in one piece rat-er than deal with the applications fo:
one area and one State and then make recoruendations,
Would you conside. getting them to deal with then in
States or in area"?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't kno: what the Board is proposing to do
on that. Thats a -atter on which you really ought to
ask the P. M. G. I hWve been concerned only with overall
policy on that.
QUESTION: In view of recent rc--crts that Russia is willing to sc
oil to Australia, do you feel that it would be advantag
eous for Australia take up any further trade with
Russia or its satellites to promote peaceful co-existence
or trade ties?

9.
PRIME MINISTER: I don't know that I understand that.. We have a
certain amount of trade with then the Minister for
Trade has been asked questions about this repeatedly
and I see no reason to alter what has been our approach
in the past.
QUESTION: Have you any new views on Summit talks, Mr Menzies, following
Mr. MacMillan's return and the visit to
PRIME MINISTER: No. My views remain the sane and therefore what
you are really asking me to do is to make a proph) cy. a
very uninformed prophecy. I think there will be one,
I'll be very surprised and disappointed ifthere isn't,
QUESTION: Has the Cabinet considered the Draft Trade Treaty with
Indonesia, Sir, prepared by officials in the two Governments
earlier this year yet?
PRIME MINISTER: A Draft Trade Treaty? I haven't seen it, but
then I was away at the relevant time.
QUESTION: Have you any views on your omwn future Sir?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, I should think my future is very murky, Ar'
you speaking now in terms of the " hereafter" or in this
world?
PRESSMAN: The immediate and near future.
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, no) Ive got plenty of occupation thanks,, i
just going along, living mny idle lifer
QUESTION: When will you appoint an Ambassadoro to Moscow. Sir?
PRIME MINISTER: I don! t know. You had better ask 3xternal Affaf.::
about that. They deal with that.
QUESTION: Do you consider any extension, Sir,, to your' own trip tc
Indonesia and Malaya?
PRIME MINISTER: No.
QUESTION: How long do you expect to be away, Sir?
SPRIME MINISTER: Only about l4 days altogether five c-day3
in Indonesia and five or sixdays in Malaya plus trave..
I might come back through Cocos Island, if that is an
extension.
With the ccpli-nts of:
Hugh Dash,
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Transcript 117