Chapter 20 World Problems

It is unfortunate that we have to legislate to stop pollution. One would think that people would want to do it of their own freewill, but too many do not stop to think - or do not care.

Unfortunately you have to pass laws to keep things tidy and unpolluted. Voyaging to Alaska a few years ago, I saw that Canadian towns were very clean and most U.S.A. towns very dirty. This position may now be different. In the U.S.A. some states were perfectly clean, while the next state a few hundred metres away was filthy. England has cleaned up the Thames - fish have come back. Rhine water is recycled effectively and used up to a dozen times.

Australia - and especially Tasmania - should have little or no pollution. We have vast tracts of country with a small population, surrounded by vast oceans, yet already disaster is staring us in the face unless the obvious warnings are heeded.

The world is rightly becoming health-conscious, and pollution control is exercising the minds of people everywhere. We must do our part by looking after our own continent. If we do we have a great future - but if we completely spoil the environment we will be ruined.

In Tasmania at present the wood-pulp industry has presented a dilemma. We want the export earnings, but not the pollution from the mill. Other people have solved such problems, so why can't we? For many years in Victoria sewerage has been pumped onto agricultural property at Werribee, and the resultant production has earned a lot of export dollars. It has been suggested that sewerage effluent from cities should be pumped on to land to grow forests. That is a better alternative than using it to pollute our streams.

Perhaps a pulp mill would be more popular if it were located near a gully where the effluent could be stored over the wettest part of the winter, as well as the following seasons, and then pumped or gravity-fed on to land suitable for growing trees.

The tree roots would filter the effluent and the trees would improve the air quality. Industries where possible should be made to make use of their waste, not just dump it into the nearest river or ocean as in the past.

If the industry were involved in growing its own trees from its waste, it would ensure that there were no harmful chemicals to harm its future source of production. I have written to the Premier making these suggestions. Of course there will be people who say it cannot be done, but if a big project has to be done there are plenty of positive people available who find ways and means of doing it, for example, sending a man to the moon.

There are signs that overseas countries are taking action to prevent big companies from operating without due care for the environment. According to a newspaper report the Amazon River area of Brazil now has soldiers on patrol to stop land owners burning and ruining the forests.

Closer to home the New South Wales Government has put forward legislation to increase 25-fold present fines for pollution. Guilty companies will be liable to fines of up to a million dollars, and they will also be required to bear the entire cost of cleaning up, which could run into many millions of dollars. The Supreme Court will have the power to seize the assets of companies that do not pay their fines, and the operating licences of guilty companies will be revoked once they have been convicted on pollution charges. As well, company executives will be liable to prison terms of up to seven years.

It is obvious we must learn not to waste our resources. Yet we see children write a few words on foolscap paper, then throw it away and get another sheet. A Scout leader in her fifties says she always opens up her envelopes and uses them for scribbling paper. I know I do the same. It is no good going to rallies to save our forests, yet continue to waste what we make from them.

Of course, this is only one very small example of what is happening every day in Western civilisation. We must use only our share of the world's resources. There are 5,000,000,000 people on this small planet, all trying to survive, but a lot are trying to use more than their fair share of available resources on our planet. No wonder the world has problems! I am a very simple person and I do not wish to exploit or waste any of our natural resources. Nor do I expect my family to do so, and lam sure thcy also, along with my staff would not wish undue waste to take place. it is pleasing they are all caring people, working for the future.

The finances of the world generally are in a turmoil. The increasing debt of the Third World, without any foreseeable hope of paying it back, is a problem for the industrial nations, for if the money cannot be repaid they may take some action which will disrupt the world generally.

I was only 10 years of age when the 1929 Depression hit the world, and, although I was very young, I can still remember those years very well. I left school in 1933 with depression still very much with us. Although the crash was horrific, causing many people to commit suicide, those early days were not the worst, for it continued to get worse for another four years, and it Was 1933 before things even started to 'bottom out'.

Although we think we now have a more sophisticated financial system, I do not think we have really learned. A father has experiences and passes them on to his son, bitt the son still makes all the same mistakes driving a car, for instance, as his father did. Nationwise we are no wiser, and there are many examples of history repeating itself. If only we would learn from others and absorb past mistakes, the world would be making more progress.

However, even in war time, when there is a national emergency, past mistakes are repeated, so no wonder avoidable mistakes are legion in peace time. During the last war, the American ration included generous quantities of beef. Australian and English troops were short of beef and even Churchill wanted Roosevelt personally to cut rations down, but this could not be done, nor could McArthur do anything about it. There was no more co-operation regarding food rations than there was regarding weapons.

War records proved that in the Boer War soldiers were receiving three hundred odd calories of food, and using up to four thousand calories. In New Guinea some troops apparently did not have the stamina to fight and get away, because they lacked good food with sufficient calories.[*]

[*] Who Called the Cook a Bastard, by Brig. Sir C. Stanton Hicks, is worth reading on this subject.

Field green peas reconstituted were very good, but soldiers thought shoots were maggots, therefore would not eat them! Nutrition suffered. The buying of fresh vegetables was complicated by red tape and vegetable crops close at hand were being wasted. Lettuce and cabbage were good when bought, but hopeless when eaten days later. Earlier in this book I mentioned howl played a major role in drawing up the vegetable contracts for Australia. Although these contracts were sound and accepted, you cannot foresee all the red tape of implementing them in a practical situation.

The Scottsdale Anned Forces Food Science Establishment (now Material Research Laboratory), which I helped to establish, are doing on-going research, which is essential for the future. Hopefully it will stop so many mistakes being made in the future, therefore saving money, but more importantly, lives.

I do not think we have reached the lowest financial stage of the stock market crash of October, 1987. Whether we will reach the lowest depths in 1990 or whether, because of our professed sophisticated financial structure, it will take longer we will soon know.

However, I fear we still have a way to go downhill in this regard in Australia and, in fact, the world generally. It is interesting that the U.S.A. are bailing out 5000 of their Thrift Banks (we call them Savings Banks) to the tune of $100,000,000,000 plus, eighteen months after the Stock Market crash of 1987!

According to the Financial Review in 1990, it is estimated that the cost of the government-funded bail-out of the US savings and loan industry is now estimated to have grown larger than the annual US defence budget or Australia's Gross Domestic Product.

In an assessment no-one has rejected, the General Accounting Office calculates that the price tag, including interest, over the next 33 years will be at least $US325 billion - or $US68 billion more than the most recent government estimate.

But the GAO chief, Mr. Charles Bowaher, told a congressional committee the rescue could easily become a $US400 billion problem and it could even hit as high as $US500 billion if you get the economy working against you.

One of the biggest problems I see is that now in 1990 we do not have two really large world financial systems. The world's finances are more and more becoming just the one global system, because the Communistic financial system is breaking down.

Financiers of the world now have a better chance of manipulating finances world wide. This can be to our betterment, but it could also be to our detriment. It could again lead to a recession if finances were called in, just as it did in the 1930's.

And the only people who appear to have an answer to all these problems are those in Opposition to Government! This applies to every country in the world.

However, notwithstanding all these problems and the real difficulties being experienced, I still think that we in Australia have a bright future.

There are many political problems with world trade, but eventually supply and demand will be a major factor. As the general world position deteriorates, the economy of supply and demand will be more important.

However, we must still plan for future generations; we must not let any present urgent necessities blind us to the need for looking after our country and our heritage. That is Australia's great future. Keep improving your property, your district, your state and Australia generally; then it will be a place of which we can all be proud.

Do not give way to pressure groups, whether they be Government, industry or other stirrers encouraging us to pollute our countryside and deplete our country's resources for the sake of meeting some immediate needs, without taking a long-range view of the consequences.

We must not waste our resources, but must do exactly the opposite by working hard in harmony with Nature to make Australia a richer, more productive coumry. This will not only benefit ourselves, but mankind everywhere. We must encourage others to realise Australia has a great future, and to think positively rather than negatively.

When I was talking to Clayton Whipple in Washington in 1956, he asked me if I would like to do something to really help Australia. I was intrigued and wanted to know how I could materially help Australia from a national viewpoint. (This was the time of the McCarthy purge against Communists and their supposed sympathis- ers.)

He said, Get your name in the papers, by some method, and then get the TV cameras and newspapers at a meeting and claim Australia is becoming a Communist State. We will then rush to give you tens of millions of dollars to fight Communists. If Australia just keeps working hard and trying to balance their budget, we will give you nothing. It was more or less a joke, but very true.

Clayton Whipple was a wonderful man. He was in charge of the eight hundred U.S.A. overseas embassies and branches.

The Australian Ambassador in Washington asked me out to have dinner with him and Clayton Whipple at a very nice restaurant. After we had been eating and talking for about an hour and a half Clayton asked me when I arrived back in Australia if I would write to him and tell him what I thought of various parts of the world, and how they were progressing. I laughed and said this was my first trip, and he had undertaken dozens of similar trips. He told me that he was not just being polite, but I appeared to see the world with new eyes and had a different vision.

He mentioned practically everything I had said over a one and a half hour period and said most of it was news to him. He said that when you travel a lot you cannot really see the actual forest, only trees. I was very impressed with his ability to listen and remember what a young, inexperienced chap had been talking about. He was a great man; I do not think I would have the ability to listen and remember in similar circumstances.

Unfortunately I was busy on returning home and never did get around to writing to him, and then as time progressed it did not seem worthwhile, but I now feel that I did not give him the courtesy and understanding he gave me.

Clayton mentioned how, in the l930's the U.S.A. could not get out of the Depression, for, while President Roosevelt said it was over, there was no visible response from the business world.

Henry Ford's automobile plants were not operating, nor could he sell his cars already built. However, he decided on a bold stroke. Calling his executive staff together, he told them he wanted to start three-shift production of cars within four weeks and required 520,000 men!

His advisers thought he must be joking, but he said the Depres- sion was over and they had to get in front of the opposition. Newspapers carried the story to every corner of America and he started his three-shift programme on schedule with 520,000 men.

Clayton Whipple was on the spot, and said that that was what broke the world depression.

There are always world problems. At the present time we have a very serious Iraqi situation with potential oil supply shortages. However, let us see if there is a positive side to the situation as far as Australia is concerned. Russia and U.S.A. have recently been getting on fairly well, but now because of Russia's co-operation over the Iraqi situation, the U.S.A. will help Russia financially. This in turn helps us with wool sales and general trade. The dearer oil makes us explore more for oil and encourages us to use natural gas, which we have in abundance. It also makes plastics more expensive, making coal, steel, wool and cotton more competitive.

More expensive chemicals will help our pyrethrum industry, as well as speeding up biological control methods. This will help our quality of life generally. In brief, there will be a short-term debit, but hopefully, a long-term gain.

China's Tiananmen Square episode was regrettable. One minute they seemed too soft; the next far too hard. However, I know of no nation which can afford to throw stones and sound righteous: certainly Russia, U.S.A., England, Germany, Japan or Australia cannot. Australia has in the past slaughtered hundreds of aborigines and before 1967 did not even count them in a census as human beings. We have a vast land with only seventeen million people; China has one billion. We are not even capable of understanding their problems. On the whole, they are doing a wonderful job.

Let us spend our energies in doing the relatively simple job of improving our country and stop criticising big and complex countries such as Japan, Russia, China and Europe. Europe has shown wonderful co-operation in establishing the E.E.C. In 1956 I attended the Follies in Paris and a skit showed how impossible it would be to join together the traditional enemies of Europe to become the E.E.C. Yet later this (U.S.A. idea) became a reality, through negotiations which were successful where centuries of wars had failed. This looks hopeful for world co-operation in the future.

Man has been very clever at breaking the atmosphere into minute particles, extracting gases from minerals etc. However, he has not learnt to put them back together! Once he can accomplish this, we won't have the waste disposal problems of nuclear and poisonous gas residues. This is a thought for the year 3000!