21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mb. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House when wool-growers may expect to receive the final payment of Joint Organization moneys?
– The final disbursement of Joint Organization profits will be made in the latter half of the present financial year. Previous payments have been made usually in the March-April period, and I think the final payment will he made about that time in 1955. That statement, of course, does not apply to the disbursement of certain Joint Organization moneys that still may be the subject of appeal in what is known as the Poulton case. Those moneys will be distributed without delay as soon as the legal position is made clear.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether there is any substance in the report that Commonwealth security officers have been engaged at the Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s undertaking at Bell Bay during the past three months. Have these officers been engaged to consider complaints about conditions of employment and dismissals? Has a report been submitted to the Minister’s department by the security officers? If so, will the Minister make it available to the House ? Is it a fact that the AuditorGeneral has refused to certify the commission’s last financial statement?
– It is true that, upon my instructions and in accordance with a request by the Australian Aluminium Production Commission, officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service were sent to Bell Bay to investigate certain aspects of the aluminium project there. -They were asked to investigate, not matters connected with complaints about dismissals, but other matters” which, rumour had it, were in an unsatisfactory state. Those investigations have taken some time, but they are now virtually completed. I have had some indication of what may be expected from the final report, but I have not yet received it. I shall consider what can be done about it after I have received it. It is true that for some time past it has been impossible to obtain an Auditor-General’s certificate in respect of the Bell Bay plant. “ One reason for that position is that in 1948 an agreement was made by the Chifley Government with the Labour Government of Tasmania that, during the process of construction of the plant, the capital costs of the venture should not bear interest. I have been told that the Auditor-General objects to this arrangement on technical grounds and that during the term of the previous Auditor-General only a qualified certificate would be given. The present AuditorGeneral, however, has stated that he is not prepared to give any certificate. I do not see how, with that position existing, it will be possible to obtain an unqualified .certificate. There are also other difficulties. In 1951 and 1952 accounting and record keeping by the administration of the Bell Bay project were unsatisfactory. These matters are under investigation and I hope to be able to clear them up. Whether or not we shall then obtain an Auditor-General’s certificate, I do not know.
– “Will the Minister for Supply say whether the investigation into the aluminium plant at Bell Bay is a matter of security or merely a general investigation? I take it to be the latter. Can the Minister indicate broadly the matters being investigated so that honorable members will understand the position ?
– The investigation concerns, shall I say, administration or the misconduct of individual persons. I am not prepared at present to say any more than that about tho matter. The opportunity may occur later so say more on the subject, but I think that it would be unfair to everybody concerned if I did so now.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service received any advice from north Queensland that the rate of loading of waterside workers al Port Douglas is ‘ far below the rate in. previous seasons, and that as a result of inefficient work performed by waterside labour, lighter ships have had to leave for Cairns short-loaded? Will the Minister also say whether dismissals or suspensions of labour have been effected by stevedores or the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board or by both? If so, what is the result? Has the Minister’s department been advised that the Mossman sugar mill, which has no other transport service, is seriously handicapped, with limited storage space to hold its weekly “make”, and is rapidly running to a close with potential disaster to the livelihood of nearly 1,000 farmers and sugar workers ?
– Knowing that there was trouble of’ that nature at Port Douglas I obtained a report on the matter to-day. I am informed that the rate of loading at Port Douglas has given rise to concern, and it is thought that the stevedoring agents have dismissed the watersiders involved on ten occasions during last month. The shipping employers have ,now taken action before Mr. Justice Ashburner of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and the hearing is now proceeding. In these circumstances it would not be proper for mc to make any further comment.
– Has the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, any information to convey to the House regarding experiments in cloud and rain research, and the general subject of artificial rain-making in Australia?
– No precise point has been reached in research work on what is popularly known as artificial rainmaking. I can only say that the research has been going on, I think with progressively greater chances of success, for several years. Dr. E. G. Bowen is in charge of the work. He is in America at present, on loan for about a month or so to the United States Government to advise it in regard to similar work there. This work has not yet, by any means, reached a Stage when it can be said that artificial rain making is commercially practicable or economically possible. However, the work is showing great promise, although it may be a year or two before the matter reaches any definitive stage. It is quite impossible at present to send aircraft out to make rain. I do not want to suggest that that is at all possible at present, but the progress of the work is showing great promise, and .honorable members will agree that if it does - I might almost say by chance - achieve eventual success and become economically practicable, nogreater boon will have ever been conferred upon mankind.
– Will the Prime Minister extend an invitation to the leader of the British Labour party when he is in Canberra to address a gathering of the members of both Houses of the Parliament?
– The Eight Honorable Clement Attlee will be here only for a very short time, as the honorable member knows. The programme for his visit has been worked out by the Government, in association with an honorable member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition. Mr. Attlee has indicated to me that naturally he could not accept many engagements, but would like to make effective contact with members of the Labour party as well as with members of the Government - which is eminently proper. I cannot state offhand the nature of the arrangements for Canberra, but I shall ascertain that information, and if the honorable member will renew his question to-morrow morning I may be in a position to give him the detailed programme. All 1 know is that the programme has been agreed upon.
– In view of the present position of the poultry industry in this country, has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet had an opportunity to consider the recent representations made to him on the subject? Further, will he inform the House of any actions contemplated by the Government to place the poultry industry on a sound basis?
– The problems of the poultry industry have been under the active consideration of the Government for quite a long period, and the honorable member himself and many honorable members of the Government parties have made explicit and constant representations to the Government about them. One of the outcomes of these representations was- that the Government last year made available £250,000 to aid the poultry industry. At present a close study is being made of the commercial and production problems of the industry. The Prime Minister gave an undertaking to the Premiers at a recent conference on wheat that, as the outcome of representa tions made by members of the Government parties, and of further representations emanating from the Premiers themselves, the Government would consider in good faith what might be done by it to aid the poultry industry in its immediate circumstances, and to stabilize thai important industry over a long term. Stability in this concept is not a matter of political decision but of placing the industry on a commercial and economic basis.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. In view of the Australian Government’s attitude in forcing the United Kingdom and other wheat, buying countries to remain outside the International Wheat Agreement, so causing a considerable reduction of prices to growers, will the Government endeavour to have the International Wheat Agreement reviewed with the object of bringing the United Kingdom and other large wheat buying countries into a new agreement in order to increase future markets for Australian wheat and obtain a price which will give a good return to the producer?
– One of the premises upon which the honorable member hatbased his question is wrong. I am not prepared to agree that the abstention of the United Kingdom from the International Wheat Agreement has resulted in a fall in the international value of wheat. The present agreement, with its floor and ceiling prices, was the outcome of negotiations which took place between more than 40 exporting and importing nations for about a year. A complete review of the agreement within a year of its inauguration would be quite impracticable. The agreement will operate for a period of three year3. The Australian Government endeavoured to induce the United Kingdom to subscribe to the agreement while negotiations were in progress, and it has since submitted to the United Kingdom Government that it would be in the interests of all concerned if it were to review its attitude. So far the United Kingdom has not done so, and I do not know of any further useful steps that the Australian Government can take.
– -Recently it was announced that the Australian Overseas Transport Association had reached an agreement whereby individual exporting industries could negotiate for reductions in overseas freight rates. Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture satisfied that the smaller exporting industries, such as the fresh food industry, will be protected and that all of the benefits which may follow a reduction of freights will not go to the larger industries?
– The matter that has l*en raised by the honorable member is important, but it is too complex to permit of a complete explanation in an answer to a question without notice. The honorable member made an important point when he implied that individual industries may find it necessary to negotiate their own freight arrangements. Wool comprises the greater proportion of export freight. Some wool exporters desire that the wool trade should negotiate its own freight arrangements. Such a development would leave the smaller industries in a weaker position in separate negotiations. The Government is aware of the position. Officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture have been conducting continuous negotiations for a long time with all of the interested parties, including the shipowners. Last year, following the departmental officers’ negotiations, the shipowners made some important concessions. Departmental officers are still directing their attention to the matter.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider the granting of a reduction of the annual rental on telephones, especially of the rate charged to domestic users? Is the Minister aware that in the metropolitan area the cost for this service averages approximately £12 a year? If the Minister is unwilling to grant a reduction in rental to domestic users, will he grant age and invalid pensioners a concession similar to that granted to them in respect of broadcast listeners’ licences and charge them half rates? If the Minister agrees that a telephone service is a necessity for sick pen sioners but that due to their low incomes pensioners cannot alford the high rental, will he consider the matter sympathetically.
– I know of no reason why telephone rentals should be reduced. Applications for telephone services are being made at the rate of approximately 140,000 a year, which is much faster than we can install services. If rental charges were reduced, it would be logical to believe that the number of applications would be greater and that the difficulty that is being experienced in installing telephone services would be correspondingly greater. The question of giving concession rates to age pensioners has been considered by every government, and it has been found after careful consideration of the position that it is not possible to grant the concessions sought.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question concerning the supply of telephones. Are handsets in short supply? The Minister might recall that in my electorate much work has been undertaken to provide cable, but the installation of handsets is lagging. I instance one small centre where twenty subscribers are connected by the wire and are awaiting the supply of handsets. Is it possible for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to give priority in the allocation of handsets as they come forward to the areas where wires are already in position?
– I shall obtain information about the supply of handsets, and pass it on to the honorable member.
– Will the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization tell me whether the efficacy of the myxomatosis virus for the killing of rabbits is rapidly diminishing? If this is so, has the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Eesearch Organization any plans to introduce a more virulent strain of myxomatosis, perhaps from France?
– It is not true that the killing power of myxomatosis is rapidly decreasing, though it varies from season to season and from district to district, largely according to ‘the prevalence of insects and other agents that spread the disease. In the last few weeks I have not received a report on the subject. I shall get one and give the honorable member a more detailed reply later.
– Last week the Minister for Immigration informed the House that he was not satisfied with the rate of applications for naturalization. Will the Minister who is acting for the Minister for Immigration state the number of applications being received, and whether the Government believes that the figure indicates a. reluctance on the part of nonBritish immigrants generally to become Australian citizens?
– I think it proper to say that when the Minister for Immigration answered a question on this matter last week he did not have before him the latest figures that have recently been received by me. Non-British immigrants, for the most part, have to wait five years before becoming naturalized, though there are some exceptions to this general rule. Immigrants in this category did not begin to arrive in Australia in large numbers until .1.949, and the ma jority of them have been here barely five years or less. Therefore, one would not at present expect applications for naturalization to be made in great numbers. Recent figures reveal a considerable increase in the number of applications. The average monthly figure during the first six months of 1953 was 320. For the first six months of 1954 it was 1,100, and last, month 1,770 applications were received. This indicates an encouraging increase in applications for naturalization, and the Government earnestly hopes that the rate will become even greater. No administration can be completely satisfied unless applications are made at the maximum possible rate.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration whether there is any possibility of immediately increasing the number of British immigrants to be housed at the East Preston hostel in Melbourne with the object of making available increased man-power for the production of bricks and improving production in the saw milling industry in that area. Some weeks ago, this matter was the subject of correspondence with the Department of Immigration, but that correspondence has been inconclusive.
– I shall certainly have an examination made of the matter that the honorable member has raised in order to see whether it is possible to comply with his suggestion. I, personally, do not know the background of that matter, but I shall ascertain the facts and let him have an answer later.
– Will the Treasurer state why he broadcast the speech with which he opened the latest Commonwealth loan last evening over both the Australian Broadcasting Commission stations in Canberra. It was an excellent address, which I personally immensely enjoyed hearing. But any listener to station 2CN could have heard the Treasurer over station 2CY, and even the right honorable gentleman’s most ardent, admirer could not have listened to both stations simultaneously. Does the right honorable gentleman not think that it is redolent more of a totalitarian than of a democratic regime that, people should be denied an alternative programme over the air simply in order that they should be compelled to listen to governmental announcements? Is this instance a portent of horrors to come when television is introduced into this country? I trust that the Treasurer, when he replies, will not refer me to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, because the commission in arranging its programmes is almost completely indifferent to the wishes of ordinary citizens.
– I shall refer the honorable member not to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but to the officers who had the duty of arranging the advertising of the loan raising to which the broadcast was related.
– My question relates to instruction sheets that are wrapped with social services application forms which are made available at post offices. Will the Minister for Social Services state whether the liberalization of the means test has been so rapid and generous during the term of office of the Menzies Government that departmental officers find it difficult to keep up to date with the recall and replacement of outofdate instructions? Is it possible to withdraw current instruction sheets from circulation at all post offices, particularly semi-official post offices, immediately a.ny class of social services benefit is liberalized ?
– I have no knowledge of the matter that the honorable member has raised, but I should imagine that the implication contained in his question would, to some degree, be correct. If he furnishes me with details of particular cases I shall refer them to the department and see that appropriate action is taken promptly, particularly in the honorable member’s electorate. Invariably, instructions that are issued by any branch of the Public Service are observed promptly and efficiently. Officers of the Department of Social Services, which was so admirably administered by my predecessor, will give immediate attention to the matter that the honorable member has raised, and I am sure that the interests of recipients of such benefits in his electorate will not be forgotten. uranium:.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that numerous public and private companies, some of them of a speculative nature, are attracting skilled engineers from Commonwealth and State uranium undertakings through the magnetism of considerably higher salaries? Is he satisfied that the Commonwealth is paying salaries commensurate with the importance of the rapid exploitation of our proved uranium resources? Has there been any decline in efficiency at Rum Jungle as a result of this increasing competition for engineers, technicians and skilled workers generally?
– I am aware, of course, that, as a result of the quickening of interest and of the increased activity in uranium mining, there has been a greater call for mining engineers and other technicians in that industry. It is true that numbers of skilled engineers and professional men have transferred - I should not say deserted - from Government employment to private companies which offer more attractive conditions. I do not know what we can do about that, because, after all, an individual is free to change his employment if he so desires. With respect to the increasing demand for such technicians we arp doing our utmost to attract as many people as we possibly can and as quickly as we can to that field. As honorable members will acknowledge, we have not a surplus of skilled mining technicians in this country. The emoluments that are paid to members of the Public Service - and that is the crux of the matter - are determined by the Public Service Board. I foresee difficulties if pressure is brought to bear, or if the Public Service Board is persuaded to increase unduly the salaries of, and rewards payable to, uranium engineers and technicians. Such increases might throw Public Service salaries generally out of balance, and, therefore, the matter must be examined, not piecemeal, but as a whole. I think that the position will adjust itself. Some men remain in the Public Service because they like it. Other men go out into industry, because they like it. In the long run, the matter works out all right. I inform the honorable member, in reply to the last part of his question, that no decline in efficiency has occurred at Rum Jungle.
– My question refers to the promise qf the Prime Minister to give financial assistance to the gold-mining industry. Will the right honorable gentleman indicate whether this assistance is to be confined to big mining companies or whether prospectors and small companies, which have helped to develop the industry and still play an important part on the gold-fields of Western Australia, are likely to benefit from such payments? In view of the delay that has occurred in reaching finality on this matter, will the Prime Minister consider making the application of an.v assistance retrospective ?
– All those questions will be answered when the particular proposals which are now being worked out in detail are presented to the House, as they will be in the form of a hill in the course of the current sittings.
– On several occasions, I have suggested that the Australian Apple and Pear Board should have a regular representative in England and on the continent, especially during the times of arrival of fruit on those markets. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether consideration has been given to such a proposal, and can he indicate whether such an appointment will be made?
– That matter comes within the jurisdiction of the Australian Apple and Pear Board. I think that the board has had the suggestion under consideration at various times. The honorable member for Franklin went to the United Kingdom on behalf of the Government in 1950, and performed an invaluable service to the industry in making arrangements for the change-over from bulk buying by the British Ministry of Food to trader-to-trader arrangements. Since then, his representations and suggestions on this matter have been considered by the Australian Apple and Pear Board. Recently, a senior member of the staff of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, who returned from a mission to England, revived and supported the suggestion. I ha.ve again brought the matter to the attention of the board, and [ believe that this valuable suggestion is under consideration by that body.
– Will the Treasurer arrange that the sons and daughters of age and invalid pensioners, who incur medical, hospital or funeral expenses on behalf of their parents, shall be allowed to claim those amounts as deductions for taxation purposes?
– The honorable member’s question involves a matter of Government policy, which will be outlined in my budget speech next week.
– My question to the Minister for the Army refers to the holding of national service training camps at Singleton, New South Wales, in the period from January to June, when farmers are preparing the land and sowing their crops. Will the Minister consider the advisability of holding the camps in the latter part of the year, as that would cause considerably less inconvenience to the trainees ?
-Every effort is being made, and will be made, to ensure that Citizen Military Forces camps held at Singleton or elsewhere in Australia shall be arranged at a time which will cause least inconvenience to those engaged in industries in those areas. I have issued an instruction that the commanding officers of the units which go into camp must first satisfy themselves from local knowledge and from inquiries from producers’ organizations that they are submitting to Array head-quarters the periods for the camps which will least inconvenience anybody. If the honorable member for Lawson has any suggestions to make about the Singleton camp, I shall give them careful consideration.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has committed Australia to provide armed forces for service outside this country or its territories in areas other than those where Australians are already serving. Has the Government given any undertaking to increase the number of Australian personnel already serving abroad? If so, will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House setting out the details of such commitments? If no such commitments have yet been made, will he state whether any are contemplated, and will he give an unequivocal undertaking that the Parliament will he consulted before any commitment is made on behalf of Australia?
– I thought I had made this matter clear last week. The Government has made no commitments. The Government, through me, indicated to this House and the country on Thursday evening last week that it was prepared to .make commitments. It also indicated that the nature and extent of those commitments could not as yet be known because discussions must occur under any machinery set up for joint defence of the kind that is now being considered. I therefore indicated that, if and when specific commitments arose out of those discussions, the Government would take the Parliament - and the people into its confidence. That intimation carried with it the necessary implication that, if the Parliament did not agree with us, it could remove us.
– Will the Minister for Health indicate the progress that has been achieved in the national campaign against tuberculosis? What has been the approximate cost to the Commonwealth of this campaign so far, and how many additional hospital beds and X-ray plants have been provided by the Commonwealth to the State governments for the location and treatment of tuberculosis cases?
– The best evidence of the progress of the national antituberculosis campaign is the continually tailing death rate from this disease. I.n 1949, the rate was about 25 in every 100,000 cases. By 1953 it had been reduced to eight in 100,000 in Western Australia, ten in 100,000 in Queensland, and about ten in 1.00,000 in other States. This was largely the result of the efforts made to detect tuberculosis cases in their early stages and to bring concealed cases under treatment by the payment of a generous tuberculosis allowance made available by this Government and the institution of mass X-ray diagnostic arrangements throughout Australia. By these means, many thousands of concealed cases have come to light, and many thousands of patients have been cured because early treatment has been possible. No fewer than 1,000 new tuberculosis beds have been provided during the last four years, and we are committed to provide 1,500 more in the various States. The methods employed in the attack on the disease have enabled Australia to make greater progress towards its eradication probably than any other country.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is true that there are many vacant tuberculosis beds in hospitals in the various States, particularly Victoria and Tasmania. Does this mean that the Commonwealth scheme for the eradication of tuberculosis has been more successful than was expected?
– I was very pleased to notice recently that the Minister for Health in the Labour Government of Tasmania had announced that the progress made with the tuberculosis campaign in his State, as a result of this Government’s generosity, had been so great-
– He did not say that.
– He announced in the press that the progress had been so great that now there were not enough tuberculosis cases in need of hospital treatment to fill the beds available. He gave notice to the authorities of other States that Tasmania would take a certain number of cases from the mainland, where the construction of buildings to accommodate tuberculosis cases had not progressed to the same degree as in Tasmania. It is an unfortunate fact that the building programmes of other States have not advanced so far, relatively, as that of Tasmania, with the result that the supply of beds is still deficient.
– What is the infection rate of tuberculosis amongst the native population in the Northern Territory, and how many additional beds have been provided in the last five years for the care and treatment of the cases that have been detected there?
– It is impossible to find the exact tuberculosis infection rate among aborigines in the Northern Territory because of their nomadic habits and their unreadiness to remain in one place for treatment. My medical advisers have assured me, however, that conditions at present are much improved in comparison with conditions five years ago.
– The question that I address to the Minister for the Army refers to the purchase by his department of a building in Payneham, South Australia, known as Mum’s Own, which was used by a fruit-processing company previously. Can the Minister tell me the cost to the department of the building? I. ask this question because I have heard many complaints that persons who know the facts claim that the price paid by the department was far in excess of the value of the property.
– T h e Department of the Army does not acquire any properties on its own behalf. Such transactions are carried out through the Department of the Interior. I have no knowledge at the moment of the price paid for the building mentioned by the honorable member. The transaction occurred a considerable time ago. I shall obtain the information and make it available to the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether any further steps have been taken towards the abolition of hides control. Does the right honorable gentleman believe that the Commonwealth, which is bound to pay just terms for acquisition. is morally justified in refusing to grant export licences so that hides may be purchased by the States on unjust terms ?
– The Government is closely watching the situation in relation to hides and leather control. The arrangement is the outcome of the policy of the States in maintaining prices control on hides and leather. When overseas values are higher than the locally fixed scale of values, some control of exports is obviously necessary if the local price-fixing arrangement is to be enabled to continue. All I can say is that at present there is very little difference between the overseas values of hides and the locally fixed prices. If that situation continues, I consider that there will no longer be any virtue in maintaining the whole apparatus of control.
– Will the Minister for Supply state whether it is a fact that the Government will shortly acquire a second-hand nuclear reactor? If this is a fact, does the Minister think it proper that Australia, with its prominent geophysicists and its rich endowment of fissionable material, should receive anything less than the best equipment ? From what agency is the reactor to be bought?
– There is no proposal that Australia should acquire a nuclear reactor in the immediate future. If and when the time is reached for us to do so, we shall make sure that we get the best.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation tell the House whether the Australian National Airlines Commission intends to sell its DC3 aircraft when the new Vickers Viscount aircraft come into service? Has the licence of the DH84 type aim-aft owned privately in Sydney but used on regular public transport services been suspended for safety reasons, and, as Trans-Australia Airlines operates a DH84 in western Queensland when Drover aircraft are not available, will the Minister take steps to retain the DC3 machines and use them to replace those of the DH84 type?
– I undertake to inquire into the matter.
– Will the Minister for the Interior say whether he has granted, or authorized, any preferment by priority in the allocation of a government house in Arthur-circle, Forrest. Australian Capital Territory, to a medical practitioner already resident in, and practising in, that suburb?
– Not that I know of, but I shall have inquiries made regarding the matter, about which I am at the moment completely in the dark.
– Has the attention of the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization been drawn to a statement made by the chairman of the organization to the Australian Primary Producers Union in which that gentleman expressed great concern at the inability of the organization to recruit an adequate staff of scientists, biologists, and other highly skilled officers because of the low salaries offered to them by the organization? In view of the tremendous importance of the work that has been, and is being, done by the officers of the organization, does the Minister consider that the danger of upsetting the Public Service balance of salaries, as mentioned by the Minister for Supply in answer to an earlier question to-day, should ,not be allowed to outweigh the urgent necessity for ensuring that this great scientific organization shall be adequately staffed by the most capable men h variable ?
– I am well aware of this problem, and have discussed it on many occasions with the Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Sir Ian Clunies Ross, the last occasion being about ten days ago, when we considered a positive plan in respect of at least a few dozen of the more senior officers of the organization, some of whom we were in danger of losing because of inadequate pay. A proposal is in hand, and by now will have been discussed with the Treasury and the Public Service Board, for coping with the position as it touches, at any rate, a large number of scientific research officers at the top of the scale in the organization.
Motions (by Sir Euro Harrison) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Clark, Mr. Joske, Mr. McLeay: Mr. Morgan, Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Swartz and Mr. Turnbull be members of the Committee ot Privileges; five to form a quorum.
That Mr. Speaker, Mr. Andrews, Mr. Bryson, Mr. Edmonds, Mr. Failes, Mr. Gullett and Mr. Hulme be members of the House Committee.
That Mr. Speaker, Mr. Cremean, Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Duthie, Mr O’Connor and Mr. Wentworth be members oi the Library Committee.
That Mr. Andrews, Mr. Cremean, Mr. Drury, Mr. Freeth, Mr. E. James Harrison, Mr. Leslie and Mr. Osborne be members of the Printing Committee;
Parliamentary Proceedings BROADCASTING Committee.
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, the following members he appointed members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, viz.: - Mr. Speaker, Mr. Jeff Bate, Mr. Bryson, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Allan Fraser and Mr. Gullett.
That, iii accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act .1951, the following members be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz. : - Mr. Anderson, Mr. Bland, Mr. Crean, Mr Davis, Mr. Hulme, Mr. Leslie and Mr. Thompson.
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, the following members be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz. :- Mr. Bird, Mr. Bowden, Mr. Cramer, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Watkins.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill now be read a second time.
The purpose of the bill was stated by the Governor-General in his Speech when he opened the present Parliament. It is a bill to put beyond doubt the authority and powers of the Royal Commission on Espionage and the protection of its proceedings. Most honorable members will recall that, by unanimous vote of both Houses, the last Parliament passed a bill to authorize the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the allegations with respect to espionage and related matters that had been made by the former official of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Petrov. In doing this, the Parliament was exercising two powers of the first importance - the power relating to external affairs and the power relating to defence. A commission of three Supreme
Court judges, drawn from three of the States, was established, and the taking of evidence commenced. As soon as the evidence .began to indicate the identity of some of the persons who were alleged to have supplied information, two proceedings, at any rate, were begun in the High Court. Proceedings were begun by one man, a well-known Communist, Lockwood, clearly with a view to stopping the activity of the royal commission. In one action, which was an action claiming an injunction to restrain the Commonwealth and the commission from proceeding, Lockwood applied for an interim injunction. Mr. Justice Fullagar of the High Court refused the injunction because he thought it not at all probable that the challange could succeed. He gave his reasons for upholding the validity of the commission. I shall go hack to that matter in a moment, because it has some interesting aspects. In the result, however, the work of the commission has, in fact, continued without interruption, but the two High Court actions are still pending, and, as honorable members know, one or two witnesses are still in the position of having refused to testify before the commission. The Government is determined, as I am sure the House is determined, that the commission’s inquiries should not be thwarted by avoidable legal technicalities. Accordingly we are, in this hill, which has received long consideration, asking the Parliament to do everything in its power to put beyond further question the validity of the royal commission, and to make its powers effective. I have already indicated that this bill is a proposed law with respect to external affairs and defence.
I want to emphasize the high significance of these powers, because undoubtedly there have been already organized attacks on the commission, and some refusals, which might increase in number, to give evidence before it. Therefore, I emphasize that this commission is dealing with matters of great importance, not only for Australia’s national safety and our international relations, but also for other countries with which we, as Australians, are associated in resistance to Communist aggression. Such a commission as this may need, and in our opinion should have, more ample authority and protection than we would necessarily afford to a royal commission in the ordinary sense. This is a special commission, and it is a special case. This bill, unlike the last one which was passed quite quickly at the end of the last parliamentary sitting, does not proceed by amending the provisions of the old royal commissions law. In order to make it abundantly clear, we have covered within the confines of this bill the whole of the provisions that will relate to this royal commission. In other words, this is a self-contained measure, and is designed therefore to set out in their entirety the principles that we propose should apply to this particular royal commission.
The last relevant act passed this year came about through very sudden and special circumstances. Petrov left the Soviet Embassy on the 3rd April this year. He took with him some documents which were mostly in Russian. On the 11th April, after some preliminary translations had been made, I was given, for the first time, information which made it clear that a commission of inquiry should be appointed. That view was confirmed on the following day after some consultation by myself, and confirmed and authorized by the Cabinet on the day after that. The necessary bill was introduced on the following day, the 14th April. The Cabinet made its decision about the matter on the 13th April, and the bill was introduced on the 14th April. Even at that stage only one day of the session remained for discussion of tho contents of the measure, and, in fact, the House on both sides was so seized with the importance of this matter that the bill went through without any dissenting vote. . In the time available on the timetable that I have detailed, it would not, have been proper or feasible to try to introduce a large and comprehensive measure of the kind now laid before the House. Therefore, we indicated the scope of the inquiry and applied to the commission the powers in the old royal commissions act.
On this occasion we have made some changes. There are some provisions that did not need to be put in the Royal Commissions Act because they were already in the Crimes Act. We have dealt with those in a proper way. We have cleared up a number of minor difficulties, and added a few extra provisions in order to make the inquiry of the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia both authoritative and effective. I pause here to emphasize that this bill, comprehensive as it is, deals with this particular royal commission, and with no other. If there were to be any amendments of the general law in relation to royal commissions I believe that the House would be entitled to look at them in their own setting, detached from this particular case. If honorable members want to follow with some care the way in which the old law has been dealt with and the nature of the new provisions, they will find that information in a table that is being circulated among them which shows the various sections of the bill, the main changes proposed in the old Royal, Commissions Act of 1902-1933 and those provisions which are new for this particular purpose. That information may be of some assistance to honorable members.
The first matters that I want to make clear about this bill are that it deals with penalties for refusal to testify, and also with the authority of the royal commission. However, it deals with those two matters in different ways. Honorable members will find here penalties provided for refusal to answer, or what I shall call in the broad way, refusal to testify. There are penalties for refusal to answer, refusal of a summons, refusal to take the oath and so on. Those various acts which normally come under the heading of contempt in a court of a law, are to be offences against the law, and are also able to be dealt with in the High Court of Australia as though they were acts of contempt of the High Court itself. However, in all those cases we have provided that the operation of the law shall be purely prospective. People have gone along to the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia and have said, “ I refuse to answer your questions “. We do not make that an offence, if it was not an offence at the time, because we have maintained the principle that something that happened in the past shall not be a penal offence when it was not a penal offence at the time of happening. Therefore, all these penalties for offences operate in futuro
If a witness has refused to answer, he must be recalled and given a further opportunity to answer. If he again refuses to answer, and this bill has been passed, he will become affected by the penalty provisions of this law in respect of the new offences and not the past offences. But in some respects the bill is necessarily retrospective, because it declares that this royal commission has been validly appointed as from the time it was appointed. Also it gives protection in that sense to counsel for what he has already said before the royal commission, and to the Government Printer in respect of anything that he has already printed as having emerged from the royal commission. It also gives protection to shorthand writers and staffs in respect of the transcript that has been provided from day to day. As there is some little doubt about these matters, for reasons that I shall mention, we provide that protection shall be afforded in respect of them as from the beginning of the work of the royal commission.
This bill also deals more stringently than did the old law with the duty of a witness to produce documents and answer questions. It preserves and extends to a spouse, that is a husband or wife, the present rule that prohibits the use against, the witness in any civil or criminal proceedings against the witness except for some contravention of this act itself, like perjury, of any evidence given before the commission. In return for that protection, this measure will make it clear that a witness before this royal commission may not refuse to answer questions on the ground that his answers might incriminate himself or his wife. That is one privilege that has been taken away for the purposes of this royal commission, and for reasons that will leap to the minds of honorable members. Other privileges remain. For example, the privilege of confidential communication between solicitor and client, medical man and patient and all those normal privileges at common law. The privilege not to answer for something said in the Parliament is another instance, although that is merely an illustration of a dozen forms of privilege. However, it will not be possible for a witness to say, “ I decline to answer your question .because the answer might incriminate me or my wife “. I do not suppose that it is necessary to point out to honorable members that in a matter of this nature an objection of that kind left open to witnesses, might very well almost entirely frustrate the inquiry of the royal commission.
The bill makes the offence of refusal to testify, in the various forms to which I have referred, an offence that is punishable summarily by the High Court of Australia as though it were a contempt of that court. The measure also provides for alternative proceedings, because it is provided that refusal to testify will be an offence against the law which is punishable by summary proceedings before a magistrate. I do not desire honorable members to suppose that a man may be punished twice for the same offence; he cannot be so punished. The bill provides alternative ways of making effective the obligation that is imposed upon such a person to answer his subpoena, to answer questions, or to produce the documents for which he is asked. It places beyond doubt, and necessarily with retrospective effect, the opinion that counsel who appear before a royal commission have the same absolute privilege that is enjoyed by royal commissioners and witnesses under the old law and as counsel who appear before the ordinary judicial tribunals of the country. The bill also places beyond doubt, with retrospective effect, the fact that no proceedings for defamation may be brought against the Commonwealth or its representatives for statements that are made before a royal commission or for a publication which arises out of the proceedings of that commission or, in the case of newspapers and broadcasters, for a fair and accurate report of the proceedings.
I now refer to the litigation which, to some degree, has led to these proposed changes. I stated that Lockwood began two actions. In his action for defamation, no further steps have been taken. If the proposed legislation is passed, no further steps will be available to him because the action for defamation relates to a statement that was made by counsel properly in pursuance of his duty before the Royal Commission on Espionage. In the other action, the plaintiff issued a writ and asked for an injunction against the Commonwealth, and the royal commissioners to prevent them from proceeding. Lockwood rested his case on the argument that the appointment of the royal commission was beyond the powers that were conferred by the legislation that was passed by the Parliament. He also raised some constitutional issues, but the gravamen of the matter was that the Royal Commission Act 1954 referred to the appointment of one person as commissioner. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) queried that matter and I also sought the advice of the Crown Law officers. I was advised by the Crown Law officers, and I so informed the right, honorable gentleman, that their opinion was that under the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1953 the singular included the plural and that the provision for the appointment of one person would be sufficient to provide for the appointment of more than one commissioner if it were decided to have three commissioners. I am bound to say, if I may say so with great respect to the High Court of Australia, that that is still the view of the Crown Law authorities. However, it was not the view of His Honour Mr. Justice Fullagar, who is a member of the High Court of Australia. I do not need to say that His Honour is a very distinguished judge. Mr. Justice Fullagar heard Lockwood’s application for the granting of an interim injunction to restrain the proceedings of the Royal Commission on Espionage. Counsel for Lockwood advanced, among other arguments, the argument that the singular did not include the plural and that, therefore, the Royal Commission Act 1954 did not authorize the appointment of the Royal Commission on Espionage. Let me emphasize that the learned judge, when he heard the application for an interim injunction, dealt with an ex parte application. The Commonwealth received no notice of an application for the granting of an interim injunction and therefore it was not represented by counsel. All of the argument that was placed before the learned judge was that of the plaintiff. It is quite true that the learned judge did not find himself able to accept the argument in the result, but the point is that argument emerged from one side only. His Honour refused to grant an interim injunction, and outlined his reasons at length. One reason was that he did not think that the Royal Commission Act 1954 authorized the appointment of three commissioners. In other words, although the Commonwealth had not argued the point before him, he rejected the opinion of the Crown Law officers that the singular included the plural for this purpose. However, he stated that that ruling did not answer the matter because, in his opinion, the Royal Commissions Act 1902-1933 was sufficient to uphold the appointment of three commissioners.
As I realized when I received a report of the judgment, the Commonwealth found itself in the curious position of having a judgment in its favour against which no appeal could be lodged. The ruling was fatal to the interpretation of the Royal Commission Act 1954, but the ultimate ruling gave an extended meaning and operation to the Royal Commissions Act 1902-1933. It was thought that the interpretation of that act might be open to doubt or that it might be challenged subsequently in the court, because it was challenged violently and successfully before the Privy Council approximately 40 years ago. There was also some’ doubt about whether, under the Royal Commissions Act 1902-1933, a person other than a witness or a royal commissioner was protected in relation to his statements. In other words, there was some doubt about whether counsel who appeared before a commission were completely protected or whether publications that emerged from such proceedings were completely protected. For that reason, I thought that Mr. Windeyer, who is appearing as counsel to assist the Royal Commission on Espionage and who is the projected defendant in the action for defamation, may have found himself in a position of some insecurity. I do not put it any higher than that. No counsel ought to be in a. position of insecurity when he is performing a task of investigation in matters of this kind. The measure seeks to remove all doubt that the Royal Commission on Espionage is authorized under the Royal Commission Act 1954 and also provides that proper protection shall he extended to those persons who are engaged in the investigation. I do not wish to weary the House by analysing the technical details of these matters, but I think that the outline which I have given is not an unfair account of the proceedings before Mr. Justice Fullagar.
Let me emphasize that the refusal of a witness to give evidence before the Royal Commission on Espionage is a matter of the greatest possible concern to the Parliament and the people of Australia. In many instances a refusal to testify might not have much effect upon the inquiry, because an abundance of evidence might be available from other quarters. But, as I have said before in this House, a security service is not to be put in the position of disclosing all its sources of information, if that course is avoidable, because the disclosure of a source of information destroys it forever. Therefore, in a case of this sort, it is a matter of supreme importance that people who ought to answer questions shall be compelled to answer them, and that by their refusal they shall not be able to jeopardize the vital security services of the nation. Consequently, we are providing, not only that there shall be compulsion and that the witness shall not be able to hide under the umbrella of incrimination and thereby refuse to answer, but also, though we are not looking for extravagant penalties, that the tribunal that deals with a refusal to answer shall have complete option to award imprisonment for the first offence. In the past a fine was the most severe punishment for a first offence, with the possibility of a term of imprisonment only for a second and subsequent offences. The bill provides for the alternatives of a fine and conviction for a period of up to three months for the first as well as for subsequent offences.
May I add to what I have said on the question of incrimination a remark that is of importance. I frankly said earlier that in the normal course one would be reluctant to deprive a witness of the old common-law right to say, “I decline to answer that question, because the answer might incriminate me “. For the very powerful reasons that I have advanced, this is an instance in which a witness ought not to have that privilege, and I am happy to say that we, in this matter, may find ourselves on a good, deal of common ground. As some honorable members will recall, during World War II. a vast and complex body of regulations grew up. I do not make that remark critically, for many regulations were necessary. Numerous complaints were made that some of these regulations, deprived the citizen of his normal liberties, that in some instances he was put under the onus of proving his innocence, and that in other instances he was compelled to answer questions that involved him in other liabilities. In those circumstances, the Leader of the Opposition, who was at the time Attorney-General, appointed a regulations advisory committee, under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), which included three well-known barristers - Sir David Maughan, of Sydney, Mr. J. V. W. Barry, of the Victorian Bar, who has since been elevated to the bench, and Dr. Frank Louat, of Sydney. The committee investigated these matters to which I have referred and reported to the Attorney-General that statements or disclosures made under compulsory questioning,, should not, except in proceedings for perjury, or for refusal or failure to answer, he admissible in civil or criminal proceedings against the person interrogated. That precisely, in almost identical wording, is provided in clause 14. I shall quote only one paragraph of the advisory committee’s valuable report, as follows : -
The Committee recommends that either by addition to the regulations containing these powers, or by a regulation of general application, provision should be made to protect in the ‘manner indicated persons compelled under penalty to answer. As the position of the person so interrogated would then be adequately protected, it would be proper to provide that he shall not be excused from answering on the ground that his answer might tend to criminate him.
Honorable members will see that in this provision we have endeavoured to fit in with what the Government and I believeto be a perfectly fair analysis of the principle with which the correct rule should conform. Again I emphasize that, apart, from taking away the privilege to refuse to answer an incriminating question, all the other privileges that are available to a. witness remain untouched.
There is one aspect of the bill that is so technical that I hesitate to burden the House with it at this stage. It is the matter of determining how offences shall be dealt with. The Leader of the Opposition has a particular acquaintance with this problem. A very old argument,, still unresolved, exists as to what is an indictable offence under the Constitution. The High Court twice has given decisions on the question. Oh the second occasion Mr. Justice Evatt, as he then was, and Mr. Justice Dixon, found themselves unable to agree with the views of the majority, and they dissented in terms that give to the word “ indictable “ a somewhat -wider meaning than was given to it by the other judges. I do not propose to argue that matter or to endeavour to settle it. I do not feel qualified to try to settle it.
– The Government has provided for either view.
– It seemed unwise to allow it to remain possible for the proceedings of a royal commission of this sort to be delayed indefinitely awaiting the determination of some constitutional argument. Therefore, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, the Governmenthas provided for either view. We have provided for what may be called a summary procedure before the High Court, and also that if, for some constitutional or other reason, the summary procedure is not available, a High Court judge shall be empowered to give a direction, which means that he may direct the empanelling of a jury so that there may be a jury trial. We have endeavoured to provide that there shall be no undue delay while questions of law are determined one way or the other. I want to make it clear that the Government’s principal desire is that these procedures for enforcement shall be of a summary kind, because time is of the essence, in these matters. It is of no satisfaction to any one to have the proceedings of a royal commission indefinitely prolonged, because this would cause many .people to suffer unnecessarily. The problem will be relatively simple: Has the witness been called? Has a. question been put to him? Has he refused to answer the question? Was the question ruled to be relevant? These are not matters for prolonged investigation.
They lend themselves to summary procedure. The Government has endeavoured so to shape this measure that, whether the High Court determines this summary procedure to he constitutional or unconstitutional, it will still be possible to proceed with it at once. If it is ruled that the summary procedure is correct the matter can be dealt with at once. If it is ruled that that procedure is not constitutional, a judge is expressly authorized by this bill to empanel a jury and to proceed on indictment. But those are technical matters which are the pride and joy of lawyers and the despair and heartburning of decently constructed laymen; and, therefore, I do not propose to go into them. The House will note the broad structure of this bill, but a good deal of its size is accounted for by reason of the fact that it seems to be quite unsound to deal with old laws which then must be read together. This measure will be self-contained; it will stand on its own feet; and it will enable the royal commission to proceed steadfastly and swiftly to its conclusion.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 10th August. (vide page 145), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: - Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement - 5th August, 1954.
– The importance of the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in opening this debate on foreign affairs on Thursday last has been emphasized more than once, particularly by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) when he spoke in this debate last evening. Although the statement was on foreign affairs in general, this debate has been confined almost entirely to a discussion of affairs in South-East Asia. The importance of the Prime Minister’s speech arose from the fact that he enunciated a new policy for an Australian Government, which was that the Government was prepared to accept commitments which, in fact, will be military in nature and will be binding on future governments. This is a revolu tionary conception of foreign affairs policy in this country. I point out that under this new policy the Parliament has not been disregarded. This debate itself is proof of that fact. In any event, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, any treaty that may be entered into will be referred to the Parliament for its consideration before it is ratified.
I believe that the Prime Minister’s statement has been received with general approbation throughout the country. Even if members of the community in general do not, perhaps, fully realize all the implications that it involves for the community as a whole, nevertheless it has received general acceptance for the reason that Australians have been deeply impressed by recent events in Indo-China. The events that have been happening in Indo-China during the last three years were not in the public mind plainly and were not generally understood until the terms of agreement which was arrived at in Geneva a few days ago were made known. This, as the Minister for External Affairs pointed out to the House, finally acknowledged a state of affairs already in existence. I have already said that the essence of the Prime Minister’s announcement was the fact that the country and the Government will be implicated in binding commitments of “ a military nature. We shall do well, therefore, to examine the factors that have operated in respect of such commitments and the background to those commitments. Whilst these factors apply directly in respect of South-East Asia, they operate also in respect of the Pacific as a whole and in our relations with other countries in general.
The first factor to which the House might direct its attention is that to-day, just as in the ancient world, and just as in the world of yesterday, power is still of immense importance in international relations. This is just as true in the modern world. One has only to look around to realize that fact. No country is successful in diplomatic relationships unless it has potential or actual power, and unless it is able by its own power or by allying itself with other countries to attain status backed by power by which it can command respect for its desires.
The second factor is the nationalism that is now obvious among Asian countries. Nationalism is nothing new. It has been expressed in various forms in various countries over the years; but its growth and vigour in Asian countries, particularly since the end of World War II. are very important factors which must be considered in any dealings that we may have with those countries to-day.
The third factor to which attention should be given, if I may presume to call it so, is the Asian outlook on international relations. For us in this country, nurtured in the tradition of democracy, understanding its processes and believing that the freedom of men and nations is expressed and safeguarded in the processes of democracy, it is natural and easy to realize that the great danger threatening us to-day is communism and that the danger that is threatening Asian countries is militant and expansionist communism. However, I do not think that Asiatic countries see the danger quite in that light. The fact that they can assert their nationalism and throw off the chains of what they regard as colonialism, and the fact that they may be successful in opposing and, indeed, deposing, the rule of countries of the West, appear to be of more importance to them than the fact that they may have acquired the strength to enable them to take such action through an alliance with or under the domination of communism. I believe that that observation applies not only to countries in ; South-East Asia but also to other Asian countries. That outlook permeates nationalist movements throughout Asia. Another factor, operative in the Pacific and to which we should direct our attention, is that we should realize that in the military sense nothing, and in the political sense very little, can occur in the Pacific either without the acquiescence of the United States of America or in the absence of the active opposition of that country. This fact was recognized by Japan in 1941, because that country’s first action, before it undertook the risk of war with the Western powers, was to endeavour at Pearl Harbour to destroy the power of the United States of America in the Pacific. This was, of course, a miscalculation, but it showed that Japan recognized the overriding importance of American power in the Pacific and in Pacific affairs.
When we come to consider the pact which is envisaged under the proposed policy, we would do well to ask ourselves a few questions about its nature and objectives. I believe, largely for the reasons which I have just outlined, that the pact will not be effective if it is just an anti-Communist pact. Any alliance that we are to have with other countries must be on such conditions as will make it attractive to them. It will not be sufficient as I have said for the pact to be just an anti-Communist pact, and nothing more. The treaty must have sufficient attraction to make other nations with to be asociated with it. It must pay deference to their nationalism, and must attract their public opinion, because if it does not have the backing of public opinion in Australia and in the Asian countries, it willnot in the end be effective. The objective of this pact and, indeed, the objective of foreign policy is surely political stability in the Pacific. The objective of the foreign policy of any country surely is national security, and the security of the Pacific countries will be contingent upon political stability in the Pacific. Therefore, any arrangement which we make must be of a nature calculated to inspire Asian countries with confidence in its ability to preserve the political stability of the members of the pact, and of the whole area.
Finally, it must be a pact that is not aggressive, and does not cause any parties to it to imagine that it can be used for aggressive purposes and the pactshould not create fears of aggression in others who are not members, if that is possible. But this policy does not apply only to South-East Asia. We are particularly limited to the countries of South-East Asia in respect of a definite pact or treaty organization, but the expressions of foreign policy in the Pacific, and the factors which I have mentioned, operate beyond the confines of South-East Asia. There are other countries, particularly Japan, whose fate is intimately connected with our own fate and with happenings in the Pacific. I believe that it is not possible for Japan to be left, as it is at the present time, in a kind of political vacuum, in a state of suspended national animation. Japan is a vigorous nation. It has a big population, and a long history. It has suffered a great disaster. The people of Japan are sensible of those thing3. They cannot forever remain unaccepted by the West, and barred from the other powers opposed to the West. Somebody has to take steps that will bring Japan back into normal relations with the other nations of the Pacific, and, indeed, into normal relations with us. Such a move may involve some unwelcome concessions on our part, as in the realm of trade, but failure to take the requisite action may involve much more unwelcome alternatives in the end. I believe that Japan would welcome such an attitude on the part of Australia and other powers.
About twelve months ago, Japan made some effort to participate in the Colombo plan as a donor nation. Why not ? It is not realistic and helpful for us to imagine that we can continually spurn Japan and treat it as a defeated power. Such an attitude is not only unrealistic, but also inconsistent with traditional British policy. It has never been British policy in the past to perpetuate enmity against defeated foes. The whole course of British foreign policy for hundreds of years in relation to the nations of Europe has been that Britain has consistently opposed that power which, by its dominance of the continent, threatened vital British interests. But once that threat had been removed, Great Britain has not pursued a policy of unending enmity with that power but has been willing, as is shown by British History, which is also our history, to adopt the entirely opposite attitude, and make friends with the defeated enemy, and even oppose nations that had previously been its allies. So, I claim that it is important and urgent, and, in fact, basic to our security, that we should adopt a more realistic attitude towards Japan. The alternative is that Japan, humiliated, defeated and rejected, may easily become allied with the very powers about which we are now most gravely concerned. That would be the worst disaster that could befall our policy in the Pacific.
I return now to the South-East Asian pact in order to consider for a few moments the methods for giving effect to it. Of course, those methods cannot yet be well defined, but this pact, if it is to be effective, must do certain things. It is easy to draw a line on the map, and say that Australia and other countries are members of an alliance and that if aggressive military action takes place across that line, it will involve us in war. But I do not believe that the pattern of future aggression is likely to take such a course. It is much more likely that subversive acts, disclaimed by the Communist powers, will grow and flourish in scattered areas. I believe that the pact will not be effective unless it imposes upon all the members the obligation to make some contribution towards stamping out such subversive activities before they assume large proportions. In other words, it should be open to a member of the treaty organization to invite other members to assist it to suppress a subversive movement that is gaining momentum within its territory, if its own resources are unequal to the task.
The military aspects of an organization are immensely important, but they are the short-term aspects. If we are to have political stability in the Pacific, we must ensure that subversive acts and movements do not grow out of all proportion. We must also ensure that overt attacks on member nations are met with armed force. An alliance that does not make provision for those two requirements will not be worth anything, and will not be convincing to any of its members. But more important than the short-term requirements, and going beyond the boundaries of a mere regional pact, are the aspects of foreign policy which we must apply to other nations. I refer to an inter-change of cultural relations and the immensely important endeavour to understand the problems of the other nations of the Pacific. It is easy for us in Australia to have cut-and-dried ideas about the things that other nations in the Pacific should do, and the things that we would like them to do. But it is important for us to understand their views, and what we and other people in the Pacific have to do .if we are to live together in peace and enjoy political stability. In the long term, it is also immensely important that we should do everything possible to encourage economic growth and trade in the Pacific. As I have said previously with special reference to Japan, it is not possible for any nation to be isolated -and to have its trade restricted indefinitely. Therefore, it is essential for us to understand the outlook of other Pacific nations, to make sure chat we pay deference to their points of view, and to do all that we can to foster their economic stability and promote trade relations with them, even if such a policy involves us on occasions in measures that are unwelcome to us. Obviously, we must work out a method of living together in harmony in the Pacific, especially in the South-East Pacific.
Such a policy, of course, would not mean that we should have to depart in any way from what we consider to be the basic principles of our national existence. [ refer to this subject because there has been some reference to it in recent public utterances in Australia. There are certain issues concerned with our national existence - and honorable members will know what I mean - which w.e regard as being solely our own concern, of which we are the sole arbiters, and which we do not intend to have interfered with by any other nation. “We should not increase the respect of our friends or diminish the antagonism of our enemies by giving the impression that we were prepared to compromise on those issues. What I have said about Japan in the Pacific represents only one aspect of a world problem. The Prime Minister referred to other regions when he spoke about Australia’s security. Just as I believe it to be important that we should take full cognizance of the fate of Japan in trie Pacific, so I believe it is important that we should take full cognizance of the fate of Germany in Europe.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is highly important that Australia’s policy in -relation -to South-East Asia should be explicit and definite. It should be a line of policy that can be understood by all, and .it should be based on certain fundamentals. The most basic of these fundamentals, in my opinion, is close accord with Great Britain and out other partners in the British Commonwealth of Nations and a more friendly working association with the United States of America. The agreement in Indo-China has given us a breathing space for the moment. Time alone will tell whether it will be a short or long respite. It is generally recognized that Australia is vitally and directly concerned with plans for the security of South-East Asia because, in. the long run, our destiny must be inextricably bound up with the destinies of neighbouring countries in this zone.
Unfortunately, the proposal for a South-East Asia treaty has not been received with any enthusiasm by the Colombo plan countries. Notwithstanding our hopes. India Indonesia, and Burma have unequivocally refused overtures to be represented at the discussions. Ceylon and Pakistan may be represented, but only in the role of observers, and it is by no means certain that they will become partners in the proposed pact. Despite these setbacks, we must seek at all times to gain the understanding and goodwill of those countries. To an oriental mind, a military pact with the West may not seem to be the best insurance against the spread of communism. The purpose of a South-East Asian pact without Asian participation could easily be twisted to the advantage of communism by propaganda from Peking. In view of this risk, which I consider to be serious, it is important that any grouping of Western powers should make special efforts to found its association on an economic as well as a military basis.
I suggest that a programme should be implemented immediately for the purpose of waging the fight against communism with economic weapons as well as defence forces. Unfortunately, as far as I can judge from the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Government has no proposals of this kind in contemplation. We should encourage at all times a policy calculated to enlarge the food and raw material resources of Asian countries, which are beset by problems of poverty and .low living standards. Such a policy would gain for us amongst the Asian peoples much moral support which, at present, appears to be sadly lacking. My proposal simply is that the Colombo plan be magnified many times. When we contrast our defence vote of £200,000,000 with the annual expenditure of £4,000,000 on economic and technical aid for the countries of South and South-East Asia, it appears to be clear that increased aid of an economic kind is justifiable in the prevailing circumstances. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we are engaged in a battle for the control of minds in Asia. Our adversaries, of course, are the Communist countries of China and Russia. Nothing could be more calculated to make our policy increasingly popular with Asians than a programme of practical help for the needly. Such a programme ought to he regarded as an essential feature of any South-East Asia treaty.
Russia is waging a fierce propaganda war to dissuade any of the Colombo powers from becoming parties to the proposed pact. Therefore, the need for counter measures by the democracies is urgent and imperative. However, as far as I have been able to ascertain, this Government has made no attempt to take such measures. Most people will agree with the Prime Minister, I believe, that a collective defence system in South-East Asia to prevent a renewal of Communist military aggression is of vital importance to Australia. But I, for one, would be grateful if the Government would tell the Parliament and the people whether its defensive arrangements represent the whole, or only a part, of its solution for the problems of South-East Asia. Is military action the only reply that the Government has to offer to the spread of communism in South-East Asia? I am not the only person who has doubts on this point. On Monday last the Sun News-Pictorial, of Melbourne, a newspaper that always supports this Government at elections, published a very interesting leading article under the heading, “ New Weapons in Asia Fight “. The article stated -
Empty rice bowls may he no less potent than bombs in advancing Bed doctrines. A programme of economic aid which would bring badly needed resources of food and raw materials to ill-equipped areas may be no less potent than defensive pacts in counteracting these doctrines.
That epitomizes my point of view. Unfortunately, the Government appears to think only in terms of military defence against communism. This is an extraordinary state of mind in view of the situation with which we are faced iri South-East Asia.
We all acknowledge the truth of the Prime Minister’s assertion that Communist influence has expanded and that the frontier of communism has come much nearer to Australia. We also realize that this is the first time for years that communism has not been in the process of expanding militarily. There is a truce, uneasy though it may be, and we are not engaged in a shooting war with the Communists. It appears for the moment that the Communists have reverted to their old method of aggression by concentrating on the weapons of the cold war - political infiltration, subversion of non-Communist governments, the overthrow of those governments from within, and the exploitation of economic and social grievances. Unfortunately, according to the Prime Minister’s speech, we do not propose to counter those insidious weapons. Once again we may reasonably expect the Communists to concentrate on supporting nationalist movements for independence in South-East Asia. Once again we shall see the hand of the Communist agitator behind domestic revolutionary movements in the remaining non-Communist countries of Asia. What is this Government’s plan to deal with the menace? According to the Prime ‘ Minister, it. proposes only to send forces to SouthEast Asia as an army of occupation to stand around waiting for the shooting war to start again. As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) very shrewdly asked, what could such forces do to stop the Communists from gaining power by peaceful means?
Does the Government propose that Australian troops in Malaya should do what the French forces in Indo-China failed to do, and put down a. nationalist, movement for independence if that movement happens to be backed or spearheaded by Communists ? Clearly, military force alone is not sufficient to stem the forces of communism in Asia. Yet military force is all that this Government proposes to use in order to counteract Communist propaganda. Whether we like it or not, communism is going to spread insidiously, yet effectively, while Asians continue to suffer from starvation, poverty, low living standards, graft, corruption, inefficient government, disease and injustice. Communism thrives on all these evils, for which this Government has proposed no cure. The Prime Minister’s statement would have been much more timely had it been made twelve months ago, when the democracies faced, military aggression by the Communists. To-day we are in a different situation. We are faced with another kind of aggression, and this Government’s foreign policy provides only half a solution for the problem that confronts us. In fact, that policy could be positively harmful to the cause of democracy in Asia.
Has the Government considered the fact that the Communists will be able to base effective propaganda on the establishment by. the democracies of a purely military defence system in Asia? When Australian and other troops take up their stations as virtual armies of occupation, the Communists will be able to say to the Asian masses, “Look what the Western democracies ure doing. You are hungry and poverty-stricken, and you want peace, independence and a chance to improve your living standard, but the West sends in armies of occupation to prop up an expensive colonial system and offers no relief of your hunger and poverty.” What answer can this Government give to such, propaganda? To those who want bread will it offer only a stone? If one takes the Prime Minister’s statement at its face value, it seems that the Government is commendably anxious to combat Communist military aggression, but has no plans to relieve or eliminate the basic evils which encourage and assist the spread of communism. Although the Communists have called off the shooting war for the time being, we must maintain our military defences in case they resume hostilities. We all agree on that point. However, I suggest to the Government that, instead of devoting an additional £35.000,000 to military defence, it could make a much more practical contribution to the struggle against communism by expending the money on economic aid and technical assistance to the countries of South-East Asia. I am not suggesting for one moment that we should not have announced our willingness to participate in a military defence agreement. That was a bold stroke, and, I should say, a g°od one. It has shown our allies that we are willing to play our part when, and if, a shooting war starts again. But I contend that the Government should have gone further. It should have given a lead to the whole western world, and thereby won for itself enormous goodwill in Asia, by announcing that, in addition to making a military defence contribution, Australia would also increase economic aid and technical assistance to the backward countries of Asia. Economic aid and technical assistance would pay off, pound for pound, much better than expenditure on troops, ships and guns, which simply wait in inaction for a war to start and do nothing towards eradicating the economic and social evils on which communism thrives. Yet how much is Australia spending to-day on economic aid and technical assistance for Asia? A miserly few million pounds a year! It is expending for that purpose a mere fraction of the sums expended on ships, guns and bombing planes, which raise nobody’s standard of living. Of course, the Government may say in answer to my suggestion that it fears the domestic political consequences of a large increase of expenditure on the Colombo Plan. It may fear that if it proposes an expenditure of £35,000,000 on feeding and clothing Asians and developing Asian resources, there will be an outcry from Australians who will protest that the money should be expended here on housing and social services. If the Government really has such a fear, it is insulting the intelligence and the humanity of the Australian people. Australian newspapers are in accord that something should be done in the direction that I have stated. A few days ago the Melbourne Age stated in. a, leu ding- article, under the. heading: “ Shaping Defences for South-East Asia “-
As a contribution towards discouraging the spread of Communism, it would seem that thu Colombo Plan vote could be appreciably raised without sacrificing other budgetary aims. Our example would not go unheeded by other contributors to the cause of combating Communism by humanitarian “ weapons
It is obvious that voices more powerful than mine are raised in suggesting that the policy that I am advocating be adopted. The Australian people are obviously willing to spend £212,000,000 a year on defence. If a proposition were put to them fairly they would undoubtedly approve the allocation of portion of thi? sum to economic, as distinct from purely military, defence. The Australian is not so foolish that he would rather see his money spent on tanks and guns, which are useless until a war begins, than on economic and technical assistance, which may well prevent the outbreak of war. Australia has acted with courage and. determination in announcing that if the Communists start another shooting war Australian troops and equipment will be available for immediate action.. Let Australia now act with’ imagination, and give a lead to. the. democratic world by proposing an economic and technical assistance programme that will cut the ground from under the feet of the Communists, prevent a renewal of the shooting war, end kindle in Asian hearts a belief in democracy that will mark the beginning of the retreat of communism back to where it came from.
It is estimated that the average income of an ordinary person in the Western countries, is 1,000 dollars a year, compared with the average income of an inhabitant in Eastern countries of 60 dollars a year, which is a sixteenth of the Western average income. There is nothing new about that state. of affairs. It has existed for decades. What is new is that these facts have suddenly acquired international significance, whereas 30 years ago they did not have such significance. Many Eastern countries are now. independent and the ills which beset South-East Asia - poverty, underfeeding, disease and illiteracy - are now facts of international importance.. Asian govern- ments- to-day can. frame their own internal and external policies, but no govern^ ment of any country in: Asia can hope to remain in office unless it improves the lotof the ordinary people. Stability is necessary in. Asia to-day because communism thrives in a condition of instability. We should do everything possible to bring stability to the new Asian nations. This subject has been dealt with in many reports in recent years, from which we can. conclude that the amount of extendi aid required by the Colombo plan countries is not less than 10,000,000 dollars a year. At present they are receiving only 1,000,000 dollars a year in external aid, which is only 10 per cent, of the amount required. I suggest to the Government, therefore, that in connexion with the proposed South-East Asia .Treaty Organization it should immediately review the Colombo plan. Last night the Minister for External Affairs, said that we must keep the Colombo plan apart from Seato. I cannot understand why such a statement should have been made by the Minister, because he should know that both the Colombo plan and Seato are instruments calculated to prevent the spread; of. communism, and therefore should be dealt with together. He also told us yesterday that Seato is.’ collective security of a longterm nature. Is not that exactly what the Colombo plan is? Yet for- some reason or other the Government refused to identify the’ Colombo plan: with the Seato discussions. There is one thing basically wrong with: the Colombo plan at the moment. A comparatively large amount of money has been expended on the training’ of Asian students in advanced countries, but when these students return to their own countries they can only apply their newlyacquired technical skill if large-scale industrial and agricultural developments are in hand.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I, congratulate the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) on his constructive approach to the subject on which he spoke. I also agree entirely- with him that the aid which Australia is giving under the Colombo plan should be increased tremendously. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned in has speech on international affairs, perhaps too briefly, that an increase of aid under the Colombo plan would be forthcoming. Because I was -anxious to discover what sort of ;aid Australia had given to IndoChina under this plan I made some inquiries from the Department of External Affairs and discovered that the only aid that Indo-China has had is that one Canadian -expert had been .sent to one of the Associated States of IndoChina, I think, Cambodia. Wo have in recent months arranged to aid the three associated States to the extent of £450,000, which is £150,000 for each of the three. That amount, of course, is absolutely inadequate. Probably the reason for its inadequacy is that ‘he associated States of Indo-China are French territory, and France must be approached before aid can be given to them. I think that our donations towards the Colombo plan in other ways have been liberal. I believe that so far over £3.1,000,000 has been donated by way of technical aid and assistance to various countries under the plan. That is certainly not a large amount. Spread over a few years it would work out at an amount of about £1 a head of the Australian population a year. Surely we can do far more than that.
An election is to take place in Viet Nam in two years, and in the meantime the democracies and the Communists will both be striving to show the Vietnamese that theirs is the better system. That is why I believe that in Viet Nam, as in the other associated States, we must ensure that assistance is increased enormously.
I was interested to read some extracts from a book, published recently, which was written by a former head of the Department of External Affairs, in which he stated that to-day many features of communism are better suited to the immediate and urgent needs of under-developed countries than is capitalism. I disagree entirely with that assertion and I hope that every honorable member also disagrees with it. The whole trouble is that capitalism has never really been tried. We have never given the assistance to the people of French Indo-China to which they are ‘entitled.
– They have had capitalism for 300 years.
– They have not had capitalism. They ‘have had a form of colonialism, which’ is entirely different from the system that we, or the United States of America, know as capitalism. I should like to see either Australian or American agricultural experts sent to these areas to assist the local population. Mention was made last night of gifts of wheat to these countries. There is no doubt that the refugees streaming down from northern Viet Nam will need wheat and other food, but surely the most important thing is not merely to feed these people, but to assist them to improve the productivity of their own country. We can assist them with tractors and other equipment necessary in primary production, and with the greater fund of knowledge which we, perhaps, because we are better educated, have about agriculture. One thing that struck me when I was abroad last year was the way in which the Colombo plan has been received. I could not help noticing in newspapers in Singapore the number of photographs published of Asian students receiving technical education in Sydney. The Singapore newspapers also carried u number -of letters from these students telling their relatives about the education they were receiving. But there is one criticism of the Colombo plan which I have to make. I should like Asian students training in Australia and other advanced countries to receive more training in agriculture so as to make them of more use to their own countries. I do not see that we are helping the underdeveloped countries much by training their students in arts and similar subjects which will not assist in development. We should be training engineers and agricultural experts.
I am pleased to have an opportunity to debate this subject, because I was one of the few people fortunate enough to pay a visit to the South-East Asian area while fighting was in progress. Let me say at the start that I could not agree more than I do with the statements of both the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that undoubtedly the main cause of the problem in IndoChina is the fact that independence and self-government were withheld. After tae war a number of Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon, the Philippines and Indonesia received their independence. Domination by one western power or another has ended. In those countries the people of the East took the view that they would rather rule their own countries badly than be governed well by an outside master. But Indo-China did not attain self-government. There was some provisional kind of provisional government. That is all it really amounted to. Even last year the king of Cambodia, W Il;. realized that he was getting nowhere under the present system, abdicated and left the country. He was persuaded to return later, but still said lh:.t the. present set-up was not leading towards the independence that is essential. Shortly before I visited Indo-China last year it was found necessary to re-value that country’s piastre. I do not say that that action was not justified, because at that time certain persons were buying up American dollars on the black market in Saigon, flying over to Prance with them, rechanging them into piastres at the bank rate, sending them out again to IndoChina and so making enormous fortunes. The piastre had to be re-valued, but I believe that that action was not taken in the proper way. The piastre was revalued, not by the provisional government in Viet Nam, not by the French in consultation with the provisional government, but by announcement made by the French Government. The first thing that the Vietnamese knew about the revaluation was when they read of it in their morning newspapers.
In the centre of Saigon stands the emperor’s palace; an enormous and most amazing building, set in beautiful gardens. When I asked my Vietnamese guide whether the Emperor lived there, he said, “ No, the Emperor lives in the mountains. That building has been taken over by the French Minister”. No doubt, if we were treated in that sort of fashion we should feel much as the Vietnamese felt about it. I fully agree with the Minister for External Affairs, who said that if there had been more co-operation between the French and the Vietnamese many more Vietnamese would have assisted the French in their struggle against communism. As it was, many nationalists among the Vietnamese joined the Viet Minh because they believed that by so doing they were taking the only path that led to selfgovernment. Therefore, the ground was very fertile for the seeds of communism, and communism grew rapidly. I believe that had other action been taken, for example, had the United Nations been able to conduct the war instead of the French, there would have been a far greater confidence in the non-Communist side, and the Indo-Chinese would have rallied to the United Nations flag which we all know does not stand for colonialism. If the United Nations had taken over the conduct of this conflict there would have been a far greater number of troops from among the local population fighting the Communists in Indo-China than there were in Korea, where the inhabitants played an enormous port in halting Communist expansion. Of course, the United Nations was not completely successful in Korea, but, nevertheless, its forces stopped the advance of communism in that state.
I find it impossible to understand why the French have always completely under-: estimated the position and strength of the Communists in Indo-China, and why they have attempted to mislead other nations about the precarious state of the war in that country. All honorable members will recall the visit of M. Letourneau to this Parliament in March of 1953. I heard him speak to honorable members, and 1 applauded him when he said, in effect, “ We now have the southern half of IndoChina completely free, and we think it will not be long before the northern half is free also”. Two months later I visited Indo-China and found that that statement was completely at variance with the facts of the situation there. One finds in Indo-China, even in the capital cities that Communists are particularly active. People who arrive in the country by ship have to sail 50 miles up a long and deep river before they reach the port of Saigon. Before they do so they are warned that they should travel below decks for the whole length of the passage, because if they do not they are liable to be shot by Communists. Every restaurant in Saigon is fitted with barbed wire windows which are designed to stop any hand grenades liable to be flung into the building through the windows. When people go to the picture shows they are searched to ascertain whether they are carrying arms before they are allowed inside. I saw all that, although only a few months before I visited the country, honorable members of this Parliament were told that it was free of Communists. One could not drive any distance out of Saigon, even in the daytime, because he was likely to be ambushed and shot.
It is a tragic thing that the French did not take us further into their confidence and ask us for some assistance. I believe that if they had so asked, that assistance would have been readily forthcoming - although there would have been difficulties in the councils of the United Nations. It was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition that the Security Council should have done something about the war in Indo-China, but I point out that it was possible for the United Nations to wage war in Korea only because on one occasion Russia was absent from a meeting of the Security Council, and thus was not able to exercise its veto power. It is quite certain that the delegates of Russia will never again be absent from any meeting of the Security Council, and so there is no possibility that the war in IndoChina could have been waged by United Nations troops. One feels that the whole of Ohina at present is like an inflated balloon. It pushed out into Korea and was stopped. The pressure of that resistance pushed it out into Indo-China. Until the armistice had been arranged in Korea, the supplies from China going to the Indo-Chinese rebel forces were very small, because the Chinese were waging a full-scale war in Korea. That appears to be the fact, although last year in Saigon f saw a truck on show which had been captured by the French and which was marked “ Made in Moscow “. Therefore, there is no doubt that a measure of support for the Viet Minh was coming through- from China. However, after the armistice in Korea was arranged, the terrific weight of Chinese communism moved down to the support of the Viet Minh and now there are enormous quantities of supplies pouring in from China. Moreover, many of the Viet Minh troops are being trained in China, where their officers are also being taught the art of modern warfare.
It was quite obvious last year that the French could not continue to hold out for long in Indo-China, and therefore I cannot understand why an approach was not made to someone else for aid. The United States of America has given an enormous amount of help to the French in the way of arms and ammunition, but the French, have borne the brunt of the fighting alone. They did that because they said that the Indo-Chinese war was an internal affair; but Australia is nearer to Indo-China than France, and it was just as much our affair as that of anybody else. However, I do not want to be unduly severe on the French, because they have paid the penalty of their attitude in an enormous expenditure of men and materials. During the course of the war in IndoChina almost 100,000 French troops were killed, and 250,000 wounded. The war has cost France £3,000,000,000, which is just about fifteen times as much as we expend on defence each year. The French have played their part, but owing to Franco’s mistake in not giving selfgovernment and independence to the Associated States of Indo-China, its efforts have not been backed by the local population. It is no good crying over spilt milk, but if we understand the position now we can avoid similar mistakes in the future. At present there are two States in IndoChina completely free from Communist domination. If the policy carried out in those States is to be the same as the French policy in Indo-China before the Geneva convention, the same thing will happen to them. If Laos and Cambodia, and the southern part of Viet Nam, are not given independence and assistance under a treaty arrangement, if necessary sponsored by the West, we shall find that the southward march of communism will not be arrested.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement because it is the first definite commitment that has been made by this country in time of peace. I believe that all honorable members realize that such a commitment, was necessary.. Now wo have to consider how we are to carry out any such arrangement. The plain fact is that although we may be able to carryout commitments in the air and. at. sea, we are not in a position to carry cutextensive commitments with land forces. Therefore, we- must have an appraisal of our military forces. I recently read that, apart from instructors, there are only 5,000 men in the regular army who are immediately available for overseas service.
– Does the honorable member favour military conscription ?
– Personally, I do. I cannot see why Tom Brown, a draftee from New York,, should fight my battle in Korea, and Bill Jones, a conscript soldier from London, should fight my battle in Malaya, while Australians are not permitted to be sent abroad at all. During the last war the Labour Government took a step with which I completely agree. It extended for a short distance the area into which conscripted Australians could be sent. I feel certain that we should study this problem, and if we find that we are not able to raise, through the normal channels, the numbers necessary for our commitments abroad, we should take the step of ascertaining which is the area in which we are directly affected, and introduce conscription for service in that area. I wholeheartedly support the Prime Minister’s statement.
.- The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been classified by sections of the press as a history-making one. It is the first speech of its kind that has been filmed for television in Australia, and overseas radio and. newspaper interests accorded it publicity not usually associated with such statements. This, I believe, is the alpha and omega of its history-making character. The reaction of . our own purblind and partisan press can he heavily discounted, and even the enthusiasm from the Government benches had something of a. synthetic ring.
After the: momentous-, developments that have taken, place- in foreign affairs during recent months, I. cannot, concealmy feelings, and I therefore say frankly that, the: speech, fell quite- flat, and that the- Government, has failed in. this crisis as, it has done in. all. others: The reaction of an impartial observer: after listening to the Prime Minister’s speech would, be, “ It is quite a. good summary of events but, after all, I was aware of this, and my knowledge of events has not been increased “. The proposal of the Government to meet this new situation is neither original nor novel. Rather, it is inevitable and inescapable. The Prime Minister’s statement that we should try to live in peace with Communist countries is one that, most rational people will subscribe to,, but, here again, I pause to ask what would have been the reaction, of the Government supporters, and the press of this country,, if a member of the Opposition had made this statement. Such a member would have been branded and smeared as a Communist sympathizer or “fellow traveller “.
The average man wants peace. He is desperately perturbed by international developments, realizing that in a third world war there could quite possibly be no winners, and, for the Western world, even a victory could quite easily mean a return to the catacombs. The threat to world peace does exist, and the responsibility for the threat rests squarely with the United Soviet States of Russia. ThePrime Minister’s statement can almost be described as a restrained and. somewhat placid one. As. opposed to this, I recall the recent statement made in Brisbane by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony)-. As no repudiation of that statement has been published, one might well ask who speaks for the Government and what is its policy. The two statements represent opposite, points of view.
The Prime Minister stated recently that a new working arrangement would be adopted by ‘Cabinet. He divided Cabinet into two committees, which have been described by some wit as “the players” and “the gentlemen”. Th, Postmaster-‘General is in the players’ team and his Brisbane speech seems to indicate that he- is its’ captain. For party reasons, the Prime- Minister has chosen to ignore the Postmaster-General’s Brisbane contribution on the question of foreign affairs. The position in relation to the Government’s foreign policy is serious enough already, but if national considerations are to become subservient to party interests, as they have become in this instance, criticism of the Government for its handling of foreign policy, not only is sustained, but also becomes imperative. The bland description of the loss of the Siu?2 Canal amazes me. The implications of this development can be of the greatest importance to Australia and the Government cannot be too strongly condemned for its failure to emphasize this aspect of overseas developments. Developments in Egypt posa the following questions: What policy, underlay the action that was taken? Who was responsible for that policy? What part did the Government play in the negotiations? Does the Government acquiesce in this policy? One looks in vain for an answer to those questions. The Government’s statement deserves the most stringent criticism, because it fails to emphasize Australia’s strategic deterioration. The significance of the. agreement in relation to the Suez Canal lies in the fact that Australia is in danger of losing its entry to Europe and in the fact that it has been compelled to shorten its defence lines. Whether the loss of Australia’s entry to Europe shall become a reality only time will tell, bli1, no room is left for speculation in relation to its lines of defence because the loss of the Suez Canal and events in Indo-China have caused us to re-orientate our thinking on these matters. The Government’* declared policy in relation to the future use of Australia’s forces in Malaya “.» not impressive, because there is no other place in which to use them. If Australia’s forces were not placed in Malaya, where else could they be placed? Over the years the people of Australia, as a result of repeated statements, have regarded the Suez Canal as being vital to their defence. Government after government has emphasized the fact, but now we are faced with a changed situation. Previous statements in relation to the importance of the Suez Canal were either true or false. I accepted them as being true. For that reason, the changed conditions give rise to serious disquiet.
Events in Indo-China have been tragic and very disturbing. The Geneva conference may have solved some problems for France, but I doubt whether it has done the same for Australia. If any one thinks that the aggressive tendencies of communism in SouthEast Asia will be curtailed, I remind thai person of the statement of the Viet Minh leader, Ho-Chi-Minh that the seventeenth parallel was not to be regarded as a permanent frontier. That statement is a grim reminder of the state of affairs that exists in Korea. To-day, in power politics, the world is witnessing on ti scale that has no precedent the application of the principle of partition. It is also witnessing the growth and upsurge of nationalism in Asian countries. The fact that a given people in a given area should want the right to selfdetermination is not only understandable; it is also their natural right. It i3 for that reason that the Australian Labour party is sympathetic towards those people and their aspirations. In many instances the Asian people have discovered that the powers which formerly occupied their territories were willing to concede autonomy to them but that, when those powers withdrew, another imperialistic power in the form of Russia moved in. The people discovered that only their masters were changed. In the changeover these people suffered disastrously. Russia has proved, and is proving, to be a colonizing power that has dwarfed any similar power in history, because it has displayed a lack of human values, and it has practised savagery and barbarity. Russia is an Asiatic power three-quarters of its territory lies in- Asia. If people generally recognized that fact, there would be no illusions as to Russia’s motives. Russia, having succeeded in. obtaining the agreement of England and America to the application of the principle of partition in Europe as a condition of peace in the post-war world., is now applying that principle indirectly through its satellites in Asia. The country that has gained most from this infamous practice is Russia itself: otherwise, it would not have pursued that policy. I cannot refrain from asking how much that policy has cost the democracies and when and where it will end.
This debate has covered a wide field, but, although I should like to have said something in relation to the European situation, time compels me to confine my remarks to Asia. English policy, as it is related to Asia, leaves one disturbed and unsatisfied. That policy has been directed and always will be directed to obtaining the balance of power in Europe. That is understandable from the English point of view, but, if British people in Australia and New Zealand are less understanding, it is for the very same reason that underlies England’s approach to Europe. Australia and New Zealand form part of Asia. These two countries comprise approximately 12,000,000 white people who see in the spread of communism in South-East Asia a very real threat. If we do not readily accept a policy that envisages ourselves as being expendable, are we to blame?
– I listened with interest to the speeches of honorable members opposite, because in many cases it seemed that they wanted to keep a foot in each camp. Sometimes Opposition speakers seemed to support one argument and then, when one adjusted his mind to that approach, they supported another argument. The Opposition accused supporters of the Government of having adopted a policy which supports the granting of independence to various nations, and then they adopted a similar policy. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) has criticised the agreement that was made between Great Britain and Egypt in relation to the Suez Canal. I remind the honorable member that the previous agreement between the British Government and the Government of Egypt was due to expire in 1956. The British Government could have insisted upon the exercise until 1956 of its full rights under that agreement, but with consequent ill-feeling. Although the British Government may not be satisfied entirely with the new agreement, it has been able to achieve far more than by adhering to the earlier agreement until 1956. The honorable member for Martin also referred to statements that were made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony). If those statements were studied, it would be found that they were not opposed but that they really were in agreement. Perhaps one emphasizes one point while the other emphasizes another point. Australia is extremely fortunate, at this difficult period of its history, in having most closely associated with international agreements two men of the calibre and stature of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey).
The honorable member for Martin stated also that British policy in Asia disturbed him. If we went to Malaya and saw the British forces that are fighting in that country, we would appreciate the fact that the British Government and the British people are making a contribution that need not disturb us, but which should give us cause for pride in our heritage. It is understandable that in the present world situation the Allies should be divided into regional camps. The close association that exists between the United States of America and the United Kingdom shows that those two nations are working to a concerted plan. One nation places the emphasis on one area and the other nation on another area. I was interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) state on Thursday, the 5th August, that we should not think that there is a need for aggression against a man because he is a Communist or against a country because that country is Communist. We might agree with that statement, but we should also think about the other side of the question. I invite honorable members to study the attitude of the Communists towards the people of Viet Nam or the people of Korea who did not want to become Communists. What has been the attitude of the Communists towards the people of such territories as Siam and Malaya who did not want to become Communists and who did not want to be ruled by Communist masters? What has been the attitude of the Communists towards people in red China who did not desire’ to be ruled by them? A criticism of the events of the past seven or eight years may be justified to a degree, but we would do well to ask what we have done in relation to those matters. Although we may not be satisfied with the Geneva agreement, we must admit that the Premier of Prance, M. Mendes-France, was faced with a situation in which he had no alternative. It is no use now for honorable members opposite to say that something should have been done nine years ago. We must learn a lesson from the present situation and go forward in the future. The many movements that are evident in the world to-day demonstrate that it is possible to go forward.
The Communists, if they can, by every means at their disposal, will strive to divide the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Australia against one another. Perhaps we all do not completely agree with the attitude and the actions of those who support the doctrine known as McCarthyism, which has great strength in the United States of America. Whenever any influence . such as McCarthyism becomes apparent in democratic countries, Communists throw up their hands in horror and say that the liberty of the individual has been attacked. Can one point to any instance in which, as a result of the investigations that have been conducted by Senator McCarthy, a man has been dragged off to a concentration camp, thrown into prison without the opportunity to communicate with his relatives, or denied the natural and normal liberties of the individual in a democracy and the opportunity to appear before a tribunal or investigating committee to state his own case? Communists try to make capital for themselves out of McCarthyism, but one must consider this doctrine in relation to other matters. If the positions were reversed and the United States of America were under Communist control, the common democratic liberties enjoyed by the citizens in that country and by Australians, for example, in relation to the Royal Commission on Espionage, would be afforded to no one.
As I have said, it is possible for us to go forward and to work for the continuance of peace. A number of Asian countries realize the difficulties ahead of them, but they understand also that the West is working for their advancement as well as for itself. President Magsaysay of the Philippines said recently not only that a return to colonialism, of which the last vestiges are disappearing from Asia, shall not be tolerated in any form, but also that the colonialism that threatens Asia to-day is world communism. He added that nations that have won their freedom now face the danger of losing it. That is a realistic appraisal of- the position in South-East Asia by an Asian who has a first-hand knowledge of the situation. President Syngman Rhee, of the Republic of Korea, with all of whose views we might not agree, this month addressed the Congress of the United States of America in the following words : -
You saved a helpless country from destruction and in that moment the torch et true collective security burned brightly as it never had before. The aid you have given us . . . is an unpayable debt of gratitude. The essence of the Soviet’s strategy for world conquest is to lull Americans into a sleep of death by talking peace until the Soviet Union possesses enough hydrogen bombs and intercontinental bombers to pulverize the airfields and productive centers of the United States by a sneak attack . . . The Soviet Union will not stop of its own volition. It must be stopped.
This is not a matter of one race opposed to another. Those who value freedom face a challenge to acknowledge the realities of the situation. It is very true, as it was once said, that if we do not hang together we will hang separately, and that if we do not unite against this threat we shall be swallowed up individually as was a number of small countries in the early days of World War II. This brings me to a matter that I mention with great reluctance and only after much searching of my own conscience. I refer to the attitude of some people, and particularly of some church leaders, to the problem of preserving peace by negotiation with the Communists. As one who strives in his own small way to serve Him who was the Disciple of Peace, I do not take lightly the suggestion of negotiation to avoid war. But sometimes those who in their own hearts sincerely wish to work for peace do its cause great harm.
The Prime Minister, in his statement on Thursday evening last, did not completely deny the possibility of our living in peaceful co-existence with Soviet Russia. Those of us who have experienced the horrors of war do not want it to occur again. However, I believe that peaceful co-existence between the western democracies and Soviet Russia can be achieved only if the Russians will meet us half way.’ We do not intend, and never have intended, to end negotiations with Russia, but we must negotiate from strength, and not from weakness. If an enemy knows that one cannot back one’s words by action, there is a much greater likelihood that that enemy will wage wai- to get his pound of flesh. By all means let us negotiate with Soviet Russia, but let us at the same time clearly understand that the blame for the present strained relations between that country and the democracies does not lie with us. Indeed, the United States of America and the United Kingdom have on many occasions almost leaned over backwards in their efforts to negotiate with Russia. We must negotiate with the strength of our arms and make it clear to Soviet Russia that though we are ready to work with it for the peace of mankind, that peace can be preserved only by the maintenance of certain standards, and that we will not sacrifice our liberties and our way of life - that great heritage that was won for us at great cost in past generations. If we make it plain that we shall go so far and no farther, we shall improve the likelihood of preserving peace. But if Soviet Russia will not negotiate with us on that basis, we must face any sacrifice rather than lose the real and lasting values of life.
– Does the honorable member want another war %
– The values of life are even greater than life itself. The honorable member for Hindmarsh might take note of that. We must rise to the challenge before us and make whatever sacrifices are necessary. Those who ure not ready to shoulder their responsibilities to work for the peace of the world should be ashamed to attend Anzac Day celebrations in the future and to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made in the past. This generation, instead of merely talking about the sacrifices that have been made in the past to secure our democratic freedoms, must accept its obligations and submit to whatever sacrifice is necessary for the preservation for our freedom-loving way of life.
.- On Thursday evening last, I listened with great interest to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), which showed us fairly clearly where we stand in international affairs. The areas with which we are primarily concerned in international affairs are widely scattered, but my thoughts at the moment are fixed on the seventeenth (parallel of latitude in Indo-China. Recently, too much notice has been taken of parallels of latitude and too much partition has been practised, lt is an old saying that the worst peace is better than the best war.
– That is a weak-kneed statement.
– The honorable member may have his say later. I read recently that Professor Marcus Oliphant, the English scientist, has said that the hydrogen bomb that is now being perfected will be capable of killing every living thing within an area of 1,000 miles radius.
– That is what some people want.
– I do not want it. The power of the hydrogen bomb emphasizes that war is the most deadly disease in the world. The killing potential of war has increased enormously in recent years. The most powerful atomic bomb, which is much less destructive than the hydrogen bomb, has a killing power approximately 10,000 per cent, greater than that of any weapon previously developed. The cost of killing a serviceman, whether he bc an airman, a sailor, or a soldier, has increased from about 50d. in World War I. to about £50,000 at present. In spite of these developments in the horrors of war, the world, through the efforts of the United Nations, has made much progress towards the goal of peace. If the nations of the world had lived by and honoured the principles of the United Nations Charter the disease of war would long since have been eradicated. Fifty nations signified their approval of the United
Nations Charter when that organization was formed in 1945 with the object of saving future generations from the scourge of war and its terrible consequences. This debate gives honorable members an opportunity to declare their views about the greatest force for world peace - the United Nations organization - and to reflect upon its wonderful work, about which the people generally hear far too little.
Those who say that the United Nations organization has failed must be unaware of its achievements, many of which are fu miliar to honorable members, though they are almost completely unknown to many people. The economic work of the United Nations is particularly noteworthy. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration - Unrra as it was commonly known - helped enormously to relieve the sufferings that were inflicted upon millions of people by World War II. * The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund has been of enormous benefit to children who were orphaned and made homeless by war. The International Refugee Organization has rehabilitated, thousands of homeless people, victims of the scourge of war. It ha« found homes and suitable employment for such persons in various countries, including Australia. All these subsidiary organizations of the United Nations did splendid work towards the end of World War II. and during the post-war period ; and they are still carrying on that work in the Middle East, where over 1,000,000 people are benefiting from their activities. Australia has made an outstanding contribution towards the cost of that relief work. Up to date, we have contributed no less than £24,000,000 for the purpose of enabling victims of war to be supplied with food and clothing and other necessaries of life. Our contribution on a per capita basis exceeds that of any other country. Contributions of this kind do more than anything else towards the preservation of peace. People like us when we help them ; and they hate us when we refuse to help them. Many more millions are still dependent; upon such help.
There is still great scope for the exercise of charity, not only at home but also abroad. We are aware of the plight of millions of people in South-East Asian countries. Over 570,000,000 people live in that area. Perhaps, it would be more correct to say that they merely subsist. Because of the low standard of living in those areas, ‘the expectation of life is only approximately 35 years. Food consumed by those people averages only 2,000 calories per capita daily, compared with an average of 3,500 calories in this country. In South-East Asian countries each person, on the average, is able to obtain only nine yards of cotton cloth annually, which is sufficient to provide only two garments. Yet, there are extremes of climate in that area similar to the extremes that we experience in Australia. In South-East Asian countries, the mortality rate amongst infants hi their first year of life is six times as great as it is in Australia. The SouthEast Asian people :are just as human, and many of them are just as cultured, as are Australians.
The next subsidiary of the United Nations to which I refer is the World Health Organization, which has extended its activities to every corner of the world. This organization has proved to be a valuable instrument in raising health standards throughout the world. It has a great record of achievement in that respect. It has helped to stamp out epidemics in numerous countries. The Food and Agriculture Organization is helping backward countries to improve their farming methods and to raise thi: standard of diet of their people. It is providing advice and assistance with the object of increasing food production in various countries. Then, there is the International Labour Organization, which was established originally as an adjunct of the League of Nations. The purpose of that organization is to evolve better standards of labour and to protect standards of employment. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is helping many countries to improve their educational systems and to raise their cultural standards. It is fostering international understanding in many ways, including the provision of facilities for the interchange of students. Australia is participating in the work of that organization. Then there is the International Court of Justice on which fifteen of the world’s leading judges are available to render service. That tribunal has given some very valuable judgments on international issues although it has no powers of enforcement. Although it has not the power to enforce its decisions, nevertheless its judgments are respected by the countries of the world. I instance its judgment some time ago in respect df sovereignty over the continental shelf after the issue had been raised in respect of fisheries rights in Australian waters. Those achievements of the United Nations in the economic sphere constitute a marvellous record.
What is the political record of the United Nations? The organization was established in the midst of crises. The challenge was made to it that if it did not succeed in settling disputes very quickly, it would soon die. Fortunately, the United Nations still lives. I agree with those honorable members who expressed regret that it was not called upon to intervene in the crisis in IndoChina shortly after the conflict in that country commenced. However, it cannot be said that the organization has proved itself merely because it still exists or, conversely, that it has been proved to be worthless because the danger of war is still with us. Only extreme pessimists seriously expected so great an organization to go under after eight years of tempest. And no optimist could have expected it within that period to calm the waves for ever. The fact is that the United Nations Organization was launched on turbulent international waters. Some people expected it to be completely and immediately successful; and such people are only too ready to decry the organization whenever it appears to experience failure. No one can logically claim that because there are still many sinners, the churches have failed; or that the police force is a failure because crime is still committed; or that schools have failed because there are still many people living in ignorance. The United Nations has not failed. After all, a period of eight years is only a fleeting moment in the life of an organization of that kind.
The organization had no sooner been established than it was confronted with a series of crises. The first of these occurred in Iran in 1946 when Soviet troops entered that country. The United Nations stepped in and settled that incident. We recall the misunderstanding that occurred between Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. Again, the United Nations stepped in and restored peace. The next crisis was the Berlin blockade which was followed by disputes in Palestine and several other countries in the Middle East. Next, came the conflict in Korea whilst, to-day, the world is troubled by the conflict in Indo-China. Any of the disputes to which I have referred could have led to a third world war but for the successful intervention of the United Nations which exerted great influence through the exercise of conciliation. In many instances, the United Nations has averted the. catastrophe of war.
As yet, we cannot rest assured that World War III. has been averted. This uncertainty is due to the attitude that is being adopted by Russia. A visitor to the United Nations Assembly asked one of the delegates whether he ever got sick of all the talk and wrangling which were a feature of the assembly’s discussions, and the old diplomat to whom the question was addressed replied that it was preferable that aged diplomats contract ulcers as a result of arguments than that soldiers should lose their lives on the battlefield. Some people ask, “ Why do we need an international organization? Why not let every nation work out its own problems and achieve its own destiny ? “ The answer to those questions is written in the blood of hundreds of wars that have occurred down through the centuries. There must be world planning, world arrangement and the exercise of power and authority on a world-wide basis, if peace is to be preserved. I disagree with the exercise of the veto at the United Nations. Nevertheless, I regard the United Nations as one of the greatest adventures of history. Its work and ideals should be more widely understood. I put aside my extravagant expectations for the future. I take comfort from the solid core of achievements of the United Nations. I trust that power politics will not last for ever, but that a new era will dawn in which the nations of the world, including the United States of America and Russia, will recognize that moral power is always superior to military power. I hope that, as a result of the great work that the United Nations is doing, the time is fast approaching when national superiority will be measured not in terms of hydrogen and atomic bombs, battleships and bombers, submarines and soldiers, but rather in terms of churches, homes, hospitals, libraries and schools, that is, in short, by the moral quality of a people and by the morality of their national pattern.
.- This debate is probably one of the most important ever to engage the attention of this House. The masterly statement which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made last Thursday evening in which he set, out unequivocably where Australia stands in relation to the present world danger has been approved not only throughout the length and breadth of Australia, but also throughout Great Britain and other countries in the free world. The right honorable gentleman’s approach to the present complex and difficult international situation was timely and statesmanlike. The old concept of Australia as a remote continent far removed from the danger zones of the world vanished during World War II. when this country was directly and immediately threatened by invading forces and when we escaped by only a hair’s breadth the iron heel of an aggressor. A glance at the map of Asia reveals at once the vast area of that continent already under Communist domination. A dire threat exists to the security not only of Australia but also of other countries in South-East Asia which lie across the southward path of Communist expansion. It is obvious that our only chance of national survival lies in strong collective defence measures and regional agreements with countries -within the framework of the United Nations.
Government supporters, like honorable members opposite, believe in the United Nations. We are pledged to support that organization, but we are not so foolish as to believe it the be-all and the end-all of world security. Neither do we believe that any kind of peace is better than no peace at all. The announcement by the Prime Minister that Australia is prepared to undertake military commitments in a programme of peace through strength will give satisfaction to all free peoples and encouragement to our many friends in South-East Asia. To-day, our northern frontier is the seventeenth parallel in Indo-China. Within the next two years, free elections are to be held in the northern and southern divisions of Viet Nam. Let us not delude ourselves about the efficiency of Communist propaganda and infiltration, or about the possibility that two years hence our northern frontier will be much nearer than it is to-day. Indo-China is as vital to Communist imperialism as it is to the free world. Just to the north of the Associated States of Indo-China lies China which, with its teeming millions, is completely under red domination. To the west of IndoChina is Thailand, a weak country by comparison with some of the other Asiatic powers, but one which, we are happy to note, has already indicated its willingness to join the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. Burma adjoins both Thailand and Indo-China, and could easily be overrun by a Communistcontrolled Indo-China. Beyond Burma lies India, the largest and most strategically valuable of all the countries in southern Asia. Tibet, unhappily, is already completely under Communist control.
To the south of Indo-China lies Malaya, with its great resources of tin and rubber, where Great Britain has been fighting for years a war against Communist insurrectionists in the guise of bandits and nationalists. The Philippines lie only a few hundred miles to the east of IndoChina, and the new Republic of Indonesia, with its many islands, and with many problems of its own, constitutes the sole remaining stepping-stone to Australia. In the overall strategy, whoever holds Indo-China holds the key to the whole of South-East Asia. This fact, no doubt, ha3 long been realized by Moscow and Peking. The Communist leaders must be well aware that, with Indo-China completely under their control, the way would be open for an assault on the greatest rice-producing area in the world, as well as the source of three-quarters of the world’s supply of rubber and half its supply of tin. The loss of this area would constitute a disastrous blow to the free world.
The Moscow-Peking policy is one of attrition. “What the Communists cannot gain by other means short of war, they will gain by war itself, if they can. Seen in perspective, the wars in Korea and Indo-China are a part of the one general pattern of Communist conquest in the bid’ for world domination. The key to the future of Communist policy in South-East Asia may very well be found in the following statement, made in February, 1952, by the CommanderinChief of the Chinese armies in Korea: -
Our present struggle against Western imperialism, led by the United States, will end in certain victory. But this does not mean that our cause will be secure. Victory in one region cannot be regarded as security till that imperialism is destroyed elsewhere. We must be on the alert to recognize when the strategic hour arrives for us to strike elsewhere and especially in such places as a favorable condition presents itself. Asia is one, and there cannot be freedom for one part of Asia, while the rest or any part of it remains enslaved.
That idea, no doubt, is well, in the minds of the Communist leaders. In this critical situation, it is clear that the countries of the free world must stand shoulder to shoulder if it is to survive. Let us hope fervently that a powerful South-East Asian Treaty Organization will soon emerge to guarantee the safety of those countries of South-East Asia that wish to retain their freedom. No aspect of old-style colonialism can compare in the smallest respect with subjugation by Communist tyrants. I hope that the countries in South-East Asia will realize that fact. Defence measures must be backed by sound economic and social policies. Any cracks in the overall Communist structure should be fully exploited by the Western Powers while there is yet time.
Recently, I read a book entitled Our Secret Allies, by an American, Eugene Lyons, who was a newspaper correspondent in Russia for some years. In that book, the author gives a graphic account of how the Russian people hate and detest their Communist rulers, and asserts that they would like very much indeed to overthrow them. There are reported to be underground revolutionary forces at work within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics seeking to overthrow the present Soviet regime. Surely the leaders of the free world could give some words of encouragement to the Russian people at this stage. Surely, in the interests of world peace,, it should be made plain to the Russian people themselves that we have no quarrel with them, but only with the tyranny of their oppressors, whom they are seeking to overthrow, and with any extension of Marxist control over freedom-loving peoples. I repeat that the Western world should endeavour to let the people of Russia know, with all speed, that we are their friends, that we desire only to live in peace and friendship with them, and that we should like to see them free from their chains of bondage. It is a dreadful thought that in this year of grace 1954, hundreds of millions of human beings throughout Europe and Asia, totalling no less than one-third of the population of the world, are to-day bound in chains under the Communist yoke; living in a state of mental, and physical enslavement, under conditions that are barely endurable.
The Prime Minister has stressed, in his own incomparable way, that the great conflict of our time is a moral and spiritual one.. I believe that in God’s good, time, the spirit of man will emerge triumphant, and that the forces of evil and oppression, and of atheistic communism, will be overcome and destroyed. There is evidence to-day in many countries, including Australia, of a religious and spiritual awakening, a realization that the things of life that really matter are not so much the material things but are of the mind and the spirit. This religious and spiritual revival may well prove to be the turning point of our history and the dawn of a new and happier era for mankind. If the free world continues to grow in spiritual strength, seeking the guidance of Divine Providence and combining with that spiritual strength a united display of armed force and a determination to use that force, if necessary, to prevent further aggression, then I believe that the forces of communism will be held in check.
The free world cannot afford any further surrender’ of territory or any further compromise.
We in Australia have an important, and, indeed, a unique part to play at this critical stage; Geographically,- we belong to the East. Historically and culturally, we are of the West. Our future is indissolubly linked, not only with our Mother Country, Great Britain, with our sister nations in the British Commonwealth and with our great, ally, the United States of America, but also with our friends- in South-East Asia, some of whom have attained only in recent years the status of full and independent nationhood. The great task that faces us is to play our part effectively in strengthening these, links and in bringing closer together, in the common interests, those countries and their peoples whose aims and aspirations are in affinity with our own.
The Colombo plan, which was initiated by Australia, has already helped to bring us into closer relationship and harmony with countries in South-East Asia. I should like to see more time and effort devoted in Australia to a study of South and South-East Asia and its peoples, problems, history, languages and culture; a study of the whole background of those peoples with whom we seek to co-operate on a basis of friendship, goodwill and mutual understanding. I believe that the- Minister for External Affairs, by his visits to those countries and by his wise administration of our foreign policy, has done much to cement this friendship and understanding, and to demonstrate our good faith. No country in the world to-day can stand entirely on its own feet. We are mutually inter-dependent in the free world. Each country, each region, has its own special problems, but none of them can be solved without regard to the whole global picture. Peace is indivisible.
The proposed South-East Asia Treaty Organization is ‘a necessary complement to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Anzus pact, concluded three years ago, was our first real step in the direction of collective security in the Pacific. Now, in association with our friends, we are taking another important step. The Soviet and its satellites are united in their aim and in their strategy. They have one policy - a policy of world conquest through force and disruption. The free world can be saved only by cohesion, strength and unity of purpose. In the preservation of peace and security through collective defence, Australia can be relied upon to play its full part.
Sitting suspended’ from 5.57 to- 8 p.m.:
.-I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate, which has been rightly described as- one of the most important of the discussions that: will engage the attention of the Twenty-first Parliament. I am glad that the Government decided to initiate a debate on affairs in South-EasAsia at the first convenient opportunity in the life of the Parliament, and I hope that, as the session proceeds, we shall have, further opportunities to review developments in international affairs. The statement of the Government’s view; on such matters, and the free discussion of those views: in this chamber, can help the people to appreciate the significance of events that are of the first importance to us as a nation.
It is desirable for us to approach international problems in a calm and resolutely purposeful frame of mind. We must not allow hysteria to affect our thinking and lead us into the making of ill-balanced judgments. We, as a nation, are noted for our sober thinking and the objectiveness of our outlook. These are qualities that attract our friends. We should not be unwilling to enter into defensive arrangements with friendly nations, but. at the same time, we must not lose our sense of proportion. I am afraid thai the old fever that has affected the Government and its supporters in campaigns oi the past again manifests itself when they seek to make an almost unlimited commitment on behalf of Australia without knowing anything more than the fact thai the proposed South-East Asia treaty is* intended to halt the elements of aggression. Surely it would be sufficient for the Government to say that Australia will be a loyal and active partner in any such arrangement, and then work out in detail the extent of the obligations of the respective partners. That is why I am in complete agreement with the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that Australia should consult with its proposed partners and learn the exact nature of its probable commitments, so that the Parliament and the people might first be informed.
The people, in the final analysis, will be required to provide the manpower, organize the resources of the nation, and pay the cost of Australia’s participation in any alliance in SouthEast Asia. They have a right to be consulted in matters of such grave importance to the nation, and I earnestly entreat the Government to acknowledge its obligation to the nation. Governments of the past have led the country into calamitous situations merely by following courses of action similar to the course that this Government now contemplates, that of deploying our forces. We are unanimous that aggression must be stopped. But we have a right, as a free and independent nation, and must not surrender our right of determining our commitments. It may be that we can best serve the interests of Australia and its friends by acts other than military operations. I recall the situation in Australia during World War II. when, as a member of the War Cabinet, I was charged with the responsibility of organizing a large proportion of the nation’s resources. Non-military activities constituted a major contribution by Australia.
We must not under-estimate the capacity of our country to serve the cause of democracy and international peace outside the sphere of military activities. We should carefully ‘assess the advantages that may be gained by the effective organization of the nation’s resources in order to contribute to the work of the proposed South-East Asia treaty organization. Other honorable members have indicated already that Australia can make a very important contribution in South-East Asia by supplying food and raw materials to the needy peoples in that region. When I remember that our contribution of food and economic aid to Asia represents less than one-half the contribution made by our sister country of Canada, I cannot escape the conclusion that the Government has failed to appreciate the importance of such aid. Contributions of this sort can profitably serve our in- terests by encouraging friendship and destroying many of the ill-conceived ideas that Asians entertain in relation to Australia.
Much confusion is likely to occur in South-East Asia during the present period of transformation, when the old ideas of colonialism are being displaced by a new spirit of nationalism. The Communists have taken advantage of this period of change in order to infiltrate Asian countries, and they have fanned a spirit of aggression into flame. They must be restrained from threatening further the rights of free peoples. Let us not fail to appreciate the value of the gestures of goodwill that we are capable of making to people struggling to work out a new way of life and a new responsibility in their own right of nationhood. Many of these are as anxious to resist Communism as we are. I would sooner send supplies of food, which we have in abundance, than engines of destruction and war-like contingents capable of bringing distress, disaster and devastation to the countries that we wish to help. Asians who have recently established their independence are developing a new outlook and are seeking to make new friendships. We can help them to achieve security by demonstrating our goodwill. Of course it may be essential also for us to show a degree of military strength to those who threaten. However, economic aid, given as a tangible gesture of goodwill, is, in my opinion, an essential precedent to any defensive pact by the western powers in Asia.
I know something of the outlook of the people of the United States of America, for I lived amongst those good friends of Australia for nearly five years. Those people, to whom we are inseparably joined by ties of friendship and common interest in the security of South-East Asia, are a great peace-loving people. They are well and generously disposed and are eager to live in concord with other peoples. Certain features of their way of life at times, may be perplexing, but it can be said that their main desire is to live at peace with other nations. I also found the Americans to be a very devout people. They have a warm regard for, and a desire for friendship with, this country. I believe that they regard the
Australian -way of life as more closely approaching their own way of life than that of any other country. American servicemen who came to Australia during the last war evidently took home splendid reports of the treatment they had received here. Their stories have left a splendid impression of Australia, on the minds of the American public. I am certain that Australia can be confident of the support of the United States of America if this country’s security should ever be threatened by aggression.
I believe that the English-speaking peoples constitute the greatest power on earth for world peace. They are the principal protectors of modern civilization. America is just as much aware of the need to have friends as is any other country. The Americans realize, as we do, that the future security of the world rests largely with the English-speaking peoples. It is for this reason that I hope Australia will be able to develop the mutual feelings of trust and friendship that exist between this country and the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
I deprecate very much the way in which the major nations have by-passed the United Nations. The ability of that organization to achieve the peace that we so urgently desire should not be overlooked. I had some association with the Security Council, and I found that if only the nations were prepared to show more patience and a greater spirit of conciliation, it would be possible to arrive at even unanimous agreement on the most vexed of problems. The United Nations provides the means for reconciling the differences of the nations and affording to the world the prospect of peace.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- This Parliament is not accustomed to debates on international affairs of such a serious character as the present debate. During the five years in which I have been a member of this Parliament we have had many statements from successive Ministers for External Affairs, each of which lias reviewed a wide field. I remember the celebrated occasion when the Government received, in this Parliament, the approval of the Parliament for its proposed policy of intervention in Korea. This debate is different. It has been initiated by two statements, one from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the other from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), of great importance and seriousness. We are debating a single issue during this debate. That issue is whether or not the present great danger to this country, and to the other free countries of the Pacific area, requires us to relinquish our past policy of avoiding commitments abroad. The issue is whether or not we must, for our own safety, undertake definite and onerous commitments for the defence, not only of this country, but also of the democratic way of life in the whole of SouthEast Asia. I accept, without reservation, the necessity to do so, and I think it is fair to say that the debate so far has shown that the Opposition also accepts it.
I followed with great interest the speech of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin). He touched upon a number of matters, including the need to support the United Nations and the unfortunate fact that that organization has been by-passed at times, although I do not think I understood him to say that it had been by-passed in Indo-China. The honorable member now indicates that he agrees with that statement. We have all heard the reasons given by the Minister for External Affairs’ why United Nations support was not, and could not be, invoked in Indo-China. If I understood the honorable member for Sturt correctly, he supports the Government’s general policy on this issue. I believe that the majority of the members of the Opposition who have spoken in the debate so far share his view. It may come as a surprise to most Australians to learn that our external affairs policy in the past has been to avoid commitments abroad. It is true that we have followed the general British Commonwealth line faithfully and well. In the past we have been content to let our external status and treaty obligations, our relations with, and our duties to, our neighbours, fit in with the Commonwealth pattern, and to undertake such obligations as we found fairly placed on us within that pattern. But the situation has changed. We now find that if we are to play an adequate part in our own defence, we must undertake .binding commitments abroad upon which our neighbours, whom we ask to depend upon us, can rely. I think that this is perhaps one of the obligations that result from out increasing strength and importance in the world, certainly in the Pacific world. It is one of the necessities which fall upon us because of our isolation at the tip of South-East Asia.
After having read the statements made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs, I think that, in logic, the .statement of the Minister for External Affairs comes first. He has given us a statement of the facts of the war in Indo-China. He has told us the grim effects of the French defeat and the Communist victory, and of the general democratic retreat in Indo-China. The Prime Minister’s statement revealed the consequences to us of that defeat and that retreat. He told us why we could not allow the Communists to move further forward towards our shores, and yet remain safe. I believe that the two statements combine to make one of the most honest, candid and sober appraisals possible of the rising peril to us as a free people. It seemed to me that nothing was withheld, nothing was shirked. We were told plainly, as a people, what had happened to our safety as a result of recent events in Indo-China, and what was required of us in an effort to prevent such happenings in the future. The Minister’s story was of the defeat and retreat of Western democracy as a whole. The Prime Minister’s statement was an account of an important change in the Government’s policy to meet the danger, and a call for unity, not only among the Australian people, but also among the free democracies of South-East Asia, all of which are equally threatened.
I believe that it is useless at this stage to blame France for what has happened in Indo-China. France has suffered a military defeat, but the important thing is that that defeat was not suffered at the hands of the Viet Minh. It was suffered, in reality, at the hands of Communist
China . France withstood the Viet Minh movement for seven years. Only when the Chinese Communist Government had so put its own affairs in order at home that it was able to look abroad, and give military assistance and undertake military commitments outside China, and had been relieved of the strain of the war in Korea, did France face defeat in Indo-China. Let us have no doubt about this. France was not defeated by an insurgent nationalist movement. France was beaten by Communist imperialism, the same Communist imperialism as threatens all the nations of South-East Asia and threatens us, not when these other nations are defeated, but now.
For reasons which the Prime Minister has told us, France was obliged to conduct that Indo-China war alone to the point of defeat. He has told us why the United Nations was not invoked in the IndoChina affair. A good deal of point has been made by Opposition speakers about what might have happened if United Nations action had been invoked. Itis only fair to the Government to remind the House that the IndoChina dispute was well under way when members of the Opposition, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) himself, had control of Australia’s foreign policy. However, I particularly wish to avoid making this a party issue in this House because, as I have said, I welcome the evidences of Opposition support of the Government’s present policy, and because recriminations about the past are useless. We know now why United Nations action was not, and could not, be invoked in Indo-China. First, there was the veto, which would have been applied by the Communist powers in the Security Council, and there was the fact, apart entirely from United Nations considerations, that France itself feared that if active military support were accepted in Indo-China there would immediately be open and much more effective support by the Chinese Communists for the Viet Minh than had been forthcoming up to date. Consequently, other nations did not intervene. Of course, the real reason why there could bc no such intervention is that there was no mutual defensive pact on a regional basis for the defence of Indo-China. That is why the Government, now asks this House to support a policy under which we shall take our part in a regional defensive pact in South-East Asia so that the situation which prevented support being given to Prance in Viet Nam will not arise again in the. case of future aggression anywhere in South-East Asia. The reasons why France could not get outside support in Indo-China are the reasons why we must now promote a regional defensive pact for the whole of South-East Asia. At the risk of criticism for repeating myself I cannot emphasize that fact too strongly. If we do not have such a pact, then any nation threatened with Communist aggression in the future will find itself hi the position that France was in in Indo-China. It will be unable to accept the help of its friends in meeting the aggression. We must all have nol only the right but also the obligation to go to the assistance of any country that may be threatened by communism in the future.
In our time, international events have moved at headlong pace. I am appalled at the speed with which so much of the once free world has fallen a victim to Communist aggression in our lifetime. In 1939, Soviet Russia stood alone. In 1941, the young, free and fresh democracies of the Baltic fell to the Soviet aggressor. Then Poland went. Then eastern Germany. Czechoslovakia was followed quickly by Hungary and Roumania. After the fall of those countries, Asia was affected. First the whole of China, then North Korea and now Viet Nam. All are now beneath the Communist heel. In the experience of the world to the present time, the way behind the iron curtain is a one-way movement; because no way back has yet been found. Can this aggressive communism be stopped? That is the great problem of our generation. I believe that the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, which this Government asks us to support, will form part of the solution of that problem. I, myself, do not pretend, and I do not suppose that any member of the Government pretends, that it is a full solution of this problem; it is not complete because the free democracies are not unanimous about it.. India, whose attitude I. find completely incomprehensible, has indicated that it will not join the organization., Apparently India nourishes the hope that the Chinese Communist leaders’ suggestion of peaceful coexistence has some value and can be relied upon. I should, have thought that the list of once free countries that have gone heiland the iron curtain is of sufficient’ length to shake even Mr. Nehru’s confidence. But even if India does not join the organization, is it not possible that a strong defence community in the Pacific will provide a strong right arm on which Mr. Nehru may later be willing to lean - and not in the so far distant future?
If a government should be undermined by internal revolt, through an inspired Communist revolution, that government would not invite support. An example is Czechoslovakia, which was taken over by the Communists from within. The socalled government of such a country would reject the offer of assistance from outside. That is a problem to which no answer has yet been found, but I suggest that one may have to be found. As an example, let me ask how Australia’s security would be affected if the Government of Indonesia should fall victim to an inspired Communist insurrection within its own borders? The Government of Indonesia is already dependent for its existence upon the votes of some Communist deputies. Although that Government has been in existence for about eight years, it has not yet been able to stabilize the Indonesian political situation to the point where a general election can he held. It is a government beset by political and economic problems, and the Communists are known to be organizing effectively and well in Indonesia. That country could quite easily be the next one on the list of the Communist imperialists. The Indonesian Government has also given a cool reception to the suggestion of a South-East Asia treaty organization. Are we to be deterred by that? I do not think so. When the Indonesian Government sees that the South-East Asia, treaty organization is a living organism, and a strong one, is it not. reasonable to hope that it may gain courage from its very existence ? in time it may become convinced that we ure building only for defence, and may be glad to accept regional support, even though it may not join the organization.
This attitude of distrust for organizations for mutual defence is unfortunately not confined to some South-East Asian countries. There are many well-meaning people in Australia who are victims of this viewpoint. To some the problem is viewed as it is by the Quakers - war is evil, therefore any warlike preparation for defence must also be evil. But. for myself, and I believe that I speak for the majority of Australians, I know of nothing in morality or religion which could prevent !i man of goodwill from resisting evil; rather I believe that it is enjoined on such a man to resist evil at the cost of all lie has to give. Aggression is evil, and Communist imperialism is evil. Therefore, we have a moral duty existing side by side with a plain practical necessity to defend ourselves, and the system for which we stand, against these evils. The Prime Minister reminded us thai the conflict between democracy and communism is not a competition of existing economic systems, it is a moral issue; and one by which the future of civilization will stand or fall. I remind the people to whom I have referred, who may doubt the moral necessity to defend ourselves against Communist aggression, of the Prime Minister’s words -
In this century miti tmI ism will invite aggression, hut will never defeat it.
I believe that those words are profoundly true. There are others who turn from defensive measures in South-East Asia because of the fear of provoking an atomic war. It is true that total war is a dreadful thing to contemplate, but we must not allow ourselves, through fear of it, to be paralysed against taking the only steps which can defend us against it. There is only one way to prevent the hostile use of atomic weapons. Our only safety lies in the fact that the Communists know that retribution will follow if they use atomic weapons. Our only safety lies in the united resolution and strength of the democratic nations. But atomic destruction is not our only danger. A more likely fate awaiting civilization if it fails to unite for its own defence, is that the free nations will be picked off, one by one, so that in the end the Communists will control us all. That process has been followed by Russia since 1941, and it is against that danger of piecemeal defeat that the South-East Asia treaty organization is aimed. What can we do as individual members of this House ? I believe that even back benchers can do something in this issue. For example, we can try to reduce the level of party politics in our approach to these international matters. Although we are accustomed, during debates in this House, to attack each other with vigour, I have been greatly heartened during the progress of this donate by the fact that the speeches of honorable members on cither side of the chamber have indicated that they are behind the Government’s action.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- So many of us are deluged these days with Communist or “ fellow traveller “ propaganda in relation to the efforts of this nation and others to defend themselves and the free peoples of the world, that we often seem to approach international affairs with somewhat guilty consciences. So, for a beginning, let us state that there cannot be any doubt as to our bona fides. We can show the people, not only of Australia, but also of Europe and Asia, that we want to see them living in peace and freedom, enjoying the fruits of their labours and free from the fear of the devastating influences of present-day weapons. Past imperialism in Asia, is as dead as the dodo to-day, except for a few remnants in the French Empire. Colonialism, which we have condemned and which is responsible for many of our difficulties in Asia, no longer should trouble our consciences. Our task is to save the people of Asia from the new imperialism, which was described by the Foreign Minister of Burma, who is chairman of the Anti-colonial Bureau of the Asian Socialist Congress, which just concluded its meeting in Rangoon, as -
The new colonialism, more dangerous, more degrading, more ruthless, more systematic and mure -blatantly justified in the name of the world Communist revolution than the older imperialisms.
We need not have a guilty conscience when we ask the Asian peoples to stand with us in the defence of freedom. Some people believe that our efforts should be confined to helping Asian peoples to raise their standards of living, rather than asking them to join us in military organizations. We all hope to help them raise their standards of living, but this world is not a world of our choice. We are not war-makers of imperialists, but no desire for peace and no fear of the effects of war can alter the cold, hard facts of the present situation, ft is of no use refusing to fight communism because peace should exist in a world where all men are brothers. Our world is not a world of that kind at all, although that is no fault of ours. In the past we played our part in building it, but at least we are trying to make amends at the present time. Unfortunately, events have now caught up with us, and perhaps it is too late for us to make just amends. But let us tackle our task with a clear conscience, uninhibited by the fellow travelling, screaming press and Communist propaganda with which we are deluged from all parts of the globe.
Recently the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said in this Parliament that he did not believe in telling honorable members about external affairs. He said that he did not believe in headline diplomacy, and, in effect, did not believe in telling the Parliament the Government’s policy in relation to certain problems.
The Sydney Morning Herald recently published a report which announced the proposed return of the Royal Australian Air Force wing that is at present stationed at Malta. The report stated that some time ago the Government, in conjunction with the Governments of the United States of America and Great Britain, decided that Australian commitments in any future war were to be in the Middle East. That is a decision that should have been announced to the Parliament and which should have been approved by the Australian people before it was implemented. This Government’s foreign policies are not the ‘blue prints of some private Utopia of the Minister for External Affairs. It is the Australian people who will be forced to meet any commitments that he and his Government might make. Any policies that this Government decides upon will have to be carried out with the blood and treasure of the Australian people. This Parliament, as representative of the people, is entitled to be consulted before the Government takes any important step in its major international policies. I do not suggest that the Minister for External Affairs should approach the Parliament every time he has a discussion with an ambassador, or before he goes to a conference. But before the Government makes any major political decision which involves the military forces of this country, the Parliament should he consulted. It should be the decision of the Australian people as it is expressed by the Parliament.
– The Prime Minister gave such an assurance at question time.
– The Prime Minister gave an assurance, but what did he tell us? Nothing, except that discussions were held at Geneva. In not one of the speeches that have been made by members of the .Government were, honorable members told the policy that was pursued by Australia at that conference. Surely the Government realizes, quite apart from the right, of the Parliament, as being representative of the people, to be informed of the policies of the Government, that if it wishes those policies to be implemented effectively and. if it wishes to rally the people behind it in carrying out what might be very unpleasant and very difficult tasks, the people must be taken into its confidence. Otherwise, how can the Government receive support for the policies that are suddenly sprung upon the people and which might be a direct reversal of the traditional attitude of the Australian people towards the problems with which they are confronted? The Government should outline its policy to the Parliament in order that the matter may be debated.
The Minister for External Affairs told the House that he went to Geneva and that he flitted around the conference chambers between his visits to his electorate of La Trobe, but on not one occasion did the right honorable gentleman tell honorable members the policy that he urged upon that conference. The Minister did not consult the Parliament.
He attempted to whitewash the Geneva conference, but history certainly will not re-echo the cheers that greeted M. Mendes-Franco and Mr. Eden when they returned from the Geneva conference. If there is ever another generation of free white Australians - a possibility which I beg leave to doubt - they will live to revile the governments that participated in the Geneva surrender. I should like to hear from the Minister for External Affairs and from the Government an expression of their attitude towards the request of Mr. Dulles, both prior to and at the Geneva conference, for a firm stand in the face of Communist aggression so that negotiations may be conducted on a basis of strength rather than a basis of disorganization. It is rather obvious, apart altogether from sentiment, that there is a fundamental conflict between the policies of the United States of America and Great Britain in relation to SouthEast Asia. Australia has no right to continue to expect Great Britain to carry the burden of its defence or the burden of the protection of this area. Lest it may be thought that my opinion of Great Britain is not as favorable as it ought to be, let me refer to the opinion of Mr. G. F. Hudson, who is an eminent British expert on foreign affairs. In Foreign Affairs of July, 1953, Mr. Hudson dealt with this specific problem and outlined the points of difference between the British and Australian policies. Mr. Hudson is also a member of the editorial staff of the London Economist, -which couldhardly.be accused of being an anti-British journal. Twelve months ago, Mr. Hudson made the following statement: -
British foreign policy and strategy are ultimately based on a scale of priorities which sets Europe and the Mediterranean first, the Middle East and the Indian Ocean second, and the Far East by a long “way third. If in a time of crisis certain interests have to be thrown overboard to lighten the load, those which are located beyond Singapore must bc the first for sacrifice-
And let me remind the House that Australia is located beyond Singapore - and those from Suez eastward must be next; but the needs of security in Europe can never be .sacrificed because the very existence of Britain as a nation depends on it. The fall of Singapore in the last war did not finish Britain; even Rommel’s entry into Cairo would not have been -a mortal blow; but had Hitler’s army been able to cross the Channel in 1940, that would have been the end of everything for the British people.
That is a very sane and correct statement on British policy in relation to current world affairs. The unfortunate fact is that Britain is in Europe and Australia is in Asia. Britain, to use the words of Mr. Hudson, must pursue a policy which lays down the priorities to which I have already referred. Obviously, Mr. Eden went to the Geneva conference quite determined that mder no circumstances would Great Britain support the United States of America in its attempt to negotiate with the Communist negotiators from a pre-arranged position of strength. In any future negotiations, the policy of the leaders of Great Britain must be to follow the order of priorities that I have outlined. It is not without significance that the Suez Canal area is already being evacuated.
Australia must stand on its own feet and realize that British policy must look to the security of the British position in Europe first. I should have expected that the Government, when it referred to the Geneva conference, would have clearly stated its position in relation to the attempts - successful attempts, unfortunately - of Mr. Eden to secure the Geneva surrender. I should have liked the Minister for External Affairs to 6tate just how strongly Australia’s point of view was placed before the conference and where the right honorable gentleman stood in relation to the attempt of Mr. Dulles to secure a united front by the democratic powers in their negotiations with the Communists. We should not delude ourselves. The House has been told that a South-East Asia treaty organisation is to be established. Will Great Britain join ‘the organization, having in mind that the ‘showdown could come as a result of the establishment of that organization? Do honorable mem.bers think that Malenkov ‘and company will have any illusion’s as to whether we are earnest when we say, “ There is the line; thus far and no further. If you come over that line, it is on.” ? Russia has already heard that declaration half a dozen times. What did Mr. Dulles say before the Geneva conference? He said that in the event of any further Communist aggression there would be immediate massive retaliatory action, which meant that the democracies would hit at the heart of the Communist conspiracy. As soon as the words were out of his mouth he was running away from them. Why did he run away from those words and from that policy? He did so simply because there is that fundamental conflict between the policy of Great Britain, whose interests lie in Europe, and that of the United States of America, whose interests lie jointly in Europe and in Asia. In this conflict of policies poor little Australia runs the grave risk of being isolated in Asia. It is of no use to talk of Australia bridging that gap because the two points of view are fundamentally in conflict. Australia must make up its mind that the fine words that have been spoken about its being protected under the wing of the eagle are not enough, we must also accept the full obligation that our present position in the Pacific and the unfortunate weakness and inability of Great Britain to maintain our defence impose upon us. Australia must accept those economic, military and political obligations if it is to survive. i do not expect that the policy of containment that has resulted in a series of costly wars, and in the pouring out of blood and treasure in Asia over the past few years, will be of any use to us. I think that those who place much confidence in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization are simply deluding themselves. What has been the effect of the decision of the Geneva conference? The Prime Minister admitted, in effect, that the whole of Indo-China had been handed over to the Communist forces. We gave notice to every other Asian nonCommunist country that was likely to stand with us in an organization to defend ourselves that, when the chips were down, we would betray them. Those lessons have not been lost to those people. What fools the people of Burma or Laos or Cambodia would be to stand up and shake their fists at Communist China, with the overwhelming power of the Communist empire all around them, in the vain hope that on this occasion we really meant what we said. That is the first result of the Geneva surrender. Secondly, there was the rewarding of the aggressor himself. Time after time we have stated in the Charter of the United Nations and in pronouncements of responsible men that, us soon as aggression paid, the cause of peace was lost. At the Geneva surrender we rewarded the aggressor and, in effect, tore up the Charter of the United Nations, because we declared to the world that we no longer believed in and supported that principle that the aggressor should be punished.
Let us not delude ourselves that drawing a Seato line and telling the Communists that they must not cross it will halt aggression. I have no hesitation in saying that, when the time again arrives for them to call our bluff, Australia will, if Geneva policies are pursued, be left alone in the Pacific area. If the action that was taken in Greece soon after World War II. had been taken in relation to Indo-China, that country could have been held. We talk about organizing defence pacts and so on, but any weapon is only as strong as the will of the person whose finger is upon the trigger.
– Why does the honorable member not join the French Foreign Legion and have a go himself?
– -I suggest that the honorable member for Lalor should do so. The honorable member can express his own opinions in relation to this matter. The best thing that can happen in this House is for honorable members to have a free and frank exchange of their views. The sooner the House has that expression of opinion from both the Government and other members of the Parliament, the sooner the Australian people will be able to determine the course that they may have to follow through the perilous seas over which they must sail in the immediate future. The Minister for External Affairs should have told the House where he stood on the conflicting policies of the United Kingdom and the
United States of America in relation to the Communist regime in China.
– Where does the honorable member stand himself?
– J. have stated my opposition to the recognition of red China quite clearly. I believe in the Charter of the United Nations. I do not believe that any aggressor ought to be rewarded and given the spoils of his piracy. I do not believe that the people of Formosa ought to be handed over to a fate that is similar to that which the population of northern Indo-China will experience within the next few weeks. This country should find allies in Asia wherever it can. We cannot apply to the people who can be our allies in Asia the standard that is generally applied in this country. Apparently, before an Asian leader is to be accepted on our side he has to be a cross between Abraham Lincoln and Saint George! I am not prepared to accept that position. If we can find in Asia people who are willing to be our allies in a policy of liberation we should do so. This present suicidal policy of containment simply means waiting while we are picked off bit by bit until there is nothing left. It is a policy which encourages the aggressor and which will result in the very disaster that we wish to avoid - a world war. I do not believe in a policy of containment; I think it is fatal and suicidal. The sooner we begin to look for allies among the countries of Asia and for support for a policy of liberation, the sooner shall we enable the free world to begin to take heart and believe in its ultimate survival. Continual retreat at every conference or engagement or any sort is a policy of disaster, and. I earnestly hope that this policy will be abandoned.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in initiating the debate last Thursday evening, divided the subject under discussion into three parts - first, the events leading up to the cease-fire in Indo-China; secondly, the present situation and the period of adjustment that will follow the cease-fire ; and thirdly, the obligations that Australia will be expected to accept if the South-
East Asia Treaty Organization is formed. Much can be and has been said about the events that led up to the cessation of hostilities in Indo-China, and no great good can result from unlimited discussion on that aspect of the subject, because those events are past and are of importance only for the lessons that we may learn from them and for the guidance that they may give us for our future conduct. We are highly conscious of our responsibilities at the present time of adjustment while negotiations are proceeding in an effort to establish Seato. We must consider particularly the obligations that we may be called upon to meet when the organization is firmly established. .During the negotiations the responsibilities of Australia and our friends will be discussed. The observations of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) about our need to find allies in South-East Asia were of great interest. There is a considerable division of opinion among members of the Opposition as to Australia’s standing with its allies. We must determine, first, who are our friends in South-East Asia and elsewhere, and to what extent we can depend upon them. In the recent general election campaign my Labour opponent went to great pains to tell my constituents that the Australian Government was completely under the influence of the United States of America, and he insinuated that the Government is anti-British. We in this Parliament are primarily conscious that we are of British stock, that this is a Parliament on the British pattern, and that the ties that bind us to our British heritage can never be cut. Let us never forget that, despite the views of some members of the Opposition. Our ties bind us primarily to the Mother Country, but secondarily we must consider our geographic position and our relationship with the United States of America, our ally and very good friend in World War II. The United States of America and Australia have much in common. We cannot afford to lose the valued friendship of that great nation, and we have much to gain from preserving good relations with the United States of America.
What are our obligations at present, and what are they likely to be under a
South-East Asia treaty? That is difficult to say now, but these obligations can be assessed generally without any consideration of military, naval or air force commitments. Some honorable members opposite have said that Australia’s immediate need is the defence of its territory, and that to ensure our protection we should immediately send battalions of troops, squadrons of aircraft and flotillas of naval vessels to Darwin to defend our northern coastline. This assertion depends entirely on the assumption that we are able to defend our territory without support from other countries. But the problem goes much deeper than that. Let us keep in mind the motto chosen by the late Lord BadenPowell for the wonderful boy scout organization that he formed - “Be Prepared Our need for preparedness has never been more urgent than it is at present. Doubtless, I shall be called a warmonger. It is strange that those honorable members who raise that cry and accuse the Government of warmongering were the first to criticize an earlier anti-Labour government for not having made sufficient preparation for Australia’s defence prior to World War II. Let those honorable members, who had not the foresight to see that adequate preparation should be made against the evil day that was to come, no longer criticize those who make preparations. We have strong hopes of settling the problems of the Pacific area by peaceful negotiation, but we shall not be foolish enough to neglect to protect ourselves against attack. One does not train a boy in the noble art of boxing so that he may bully his neighbours. One trains the lad so that he may be able to defend himself against an aggressor.
This debate affords us the opportunity of discussing not only what has happened and is happening overseas, but also the strength of Australia’s position in negotiating with allies of our own choosing who will join with us in working to chieve the ideals of democracy. We can do much to strengthen our defensive position by developing in peace-time, for the satisfaction of the needs of our citizens, industries that in time, of war can readily transfer their productive capa city to meet the needs of war. No honorable member would suggest that Australia wishes to embark upon a war of aggression. The Prime Minister pointed out the need to strengthen our economy so that we may better defend ourselves against attack by an aggressor. In World War II. the great steel industry that had been established in this country was able promptly to turn to the production of materials required for the prosecution of the wai-. The electrical and radio industries of Australia produced much precision equipment that was essential to the defence of this country. Australian workmen manufactured many thousands of radar sets that were installed along the Australian coastline, and in New Guinea and the Pacific islands to give warning of impending attack by enemy bombers and ships. The great radio and electrical industries, which work in close association, in any future conflict can play an important part in our defence if in time of peace they are placed on a sound footing. The textile and food-producing industries, which in peace-time serve civilian needs, in war-time play a vital role in clothing and feeding troops. In entering into any mutual defence organization Australia will be asked how much it can contribute to defence from its secondary, and particularly from its primary, industry.
The condition of Australian roads generally constitutes a grave internal problem in the consideration of defence. During World War II. many large convoys of troops travelled by road from South Australia to Queensland over roads so badly formed that they rapidly deteriorated to a shocking condition. It behoves us now to take action to establish an extensive network of the finest roads possible. Much of this work could have been done in the years gone by, but it is no use for us now to cry over spilt milk. We must embark on the task immediately and ensure that our network of roads shall be capable of carrying without damage the heaviest military traffic that they might ever be required to bear. The Australian railways systems, too, require considerable improvement to fit them to meet the needs of war transport. The railways of New South Wales are to-day in; a sorry condition, for they have been undermined by Communist infiltration into the ranks of the railway men. The rolling-stock is barely capable of carryingordinary peace-time traffic: Many years ago: a railway line from Sandy Hollow to Maryvale was proposed to link the- western line with the main northern line of the New South Wales railways system, and over a period of years was partly constructed. However, neglect by the New South Wales Government has allowed the earthworks to fall into disrepair and. a rail link that would have been of inestimable value for the transport of troops and supplies across the continent in wartime is valueless. Strategic airstrips throughout the country are a pressing need.. We cannot depend solely on the aerodromes adjacent to the coastal cities in the event of war. In World War LT. the ability of our American allies to provide heavy construction equipment made possible the construction of many inland airstrips and large air bases. We must not rely on outside assistance to do the job on a future occasion, but should now set to work ourselves to prepare large numbers of landing grounds throughout the continent so that they may be quickly converted into air bases should war occur. It is of no avail, for honorable members opposite to talk about stationing aircraft at Darwin and elsewhere in the Northern Territory for the defence of Australia’s northern shores, if airstrips and equipment are not available, and if food and other supplies cannot be transported to the area. We have now a glorious opportunity to encourage aero and gliding clubs. Many young men who served their apprenticeship as pilots in World War II. are now giving their services voluntarily to teach young1 Australians to fly.
It is obvious that the first need for- Australia’s’ defence is’ a sound internal economy so that we can make a worthwhile contribution towards mutual defence with our allies by providing’ supplies for use either within or outside Australia. During this interregnum, which precedes what might be a dangerous period resulting ultimately in war, we must take decisive and prompt action to develop our economy to meet defence needs. Australia’s1 economy depends primarily upon products such as wheat, wool, and meat, which are; of the utmost importance in clothing and feeding our own and. our allies’ troops. Though primary producers have recently enjoyed a run of. uncommonly good seasons and. production of wheat, wool, meat, vegetables and other foodstuffs is high, it is unlikely that the- good seasons will continue. Consequently, we must develop irrigation projects and construct dams for the conservation of water, such as the Keepit and Burrendong dams in New South Wales. The Burrendong dam, for example, will conserve water for the rich Macquarie River Valley and greatly enhance its productivity. We must bear in mind, that if we are plunged into war our commitments will not merely require us to provide troops for service within Australia and overseas. The consequence of expanding our forces in time of war is that much less labour will be available for the production of commodities vital to the prosecution of a war. When the labour force is reduced by this cause primary production can be increased to meet the needs of war only by the greater use of irrigation and machinery.
Doubtless there will be some suggestion during, the debate that we should form a home guard to protect civilians in time of war. In such circumstances, the great body of men in the rifle club movement could be infiltrated throughout civil defence organizations and could play their part in civil defence as the occasion demanded.
I make: no apology for touching upon the attitude of the States towards the Commonwealth in its. administration of the. defence power in the interests of Australia as a whole. Although defence is the responsibility of the national government, the States have, a duty to accept a share of it, if only in order to protect their own sovereign rights. The States ‘ can accept their share of that responsibility by co-operating with the national government in the provision of roads and railways, which come within their jurisdiction, with a view to strengthening our defences as a whole. The States must give support to this Government in that respect. At present, they are being allocated the whole of the loan money that, is being raised in this country whilst, in the’ past, they have received generous contributions from this Government’s treasury. It is incumbent upon them to ensure that a part of such money should be expended for purposes that will strengthen the defence of Australia rather than that they should expend all of it upon purely local projects, however dear such undertakings may be to their hearts. I do not desire to deal with this subject in a. controversial way, but I repeat that the time is opportune for the States to consider “how best they can expend at least a part of the revenues of the loan moneys which they receive upon, works of the kind I have indicated. First, the States should agree to a system of priorities for works which directly come within their jurisdiction but which could be of great defence value. I do not suggest that the construction of a railway cross country from Sandy Hollow to “Maryvale should be given priority over the construction of railways in capital cities, or that the electrification of the western line from Sydney to Lithgow should be considered to be of lesser importance than the construction of an irrigation dam. However, the Australian Government and the State governments should establish a joint committee to determine priorities for works according to their value from a defence point of view. The States should not expend ail their revenues solely upon works which are of value only in peace time.
I summarize my remarks by emphasizing that we have now decided to join an organization for the co-operative defence of the South-East Asian area. We must be prepared to play our part as partners in that programme, whether it be as suppliers of man-power, materials or foodstuffs. For this purpose we should immediately take stock of our present economic position and strive to build up reserves which, while they will be very useful in peace-time, can readily be mobilized for war purposes. By following that course we shall achieve more than if we merely discuss events that are now history. We must get down to the solid job of preparing effective defences so that in the event that we are attacked we shall be able not only to defend ourselves effectively, but also to make a substantial contribution to the defence of those coun tries that will be associated with us in the South-East Asian area.
.- It has been made evident in this debate that honorable members generally realize fully the dangers that confront Australia as a result of present world tensions. The statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and that made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) contained many fundamental truths. The quarrel from the point of view of the Opposition arises not from the content of those statements but from the clandestine nature of the Government’s administration of Australia’s foreign affairs policy. This is the first occasion on which the Government has seen fit to place before this House the facts of the international situation that has existed for many months past. It must be obvious that unless the Government is prepared to deal with the Parliament frankly in respect of such matters many people in the community will doubt the sincerity of its approach to these problems. Events in Indo-China during the last three years have caused grave concern to Australians. That unhappy country is the gateway of South-East Asia, and the success of the Communists at the Geneva conference . opens for Mao Tse Tung and Chou En Lai a vista of further conquests that could include Australia, possibly after the subjugation of Indonesia and New Guinea.
The armistice represents a complete victory for the forces of the Comintern. It was negotiated, in reality, between the victor and the vanquished; and, unfortunately, the Western leaders represented the vanquished. In the eyes of the Communist rulers, the armistice is just another step forward in their global strategy. The , Chinese Communist leaders were elated at the result of that conference. Statements which they made following the armistice indicated that they viewed their victory as being just a beginning. That fact was made clear, particularly by Chou En Lai. The Communists are content to consolidate their gains at the seventeenth parallel only temporarily. I remind honorable members that Lenin, the author of revolution, once said -
The road to Paris leads through Peking.
Lenin also said -
The real revolution will only blaze up when the 800,000,000 who live in Asia unite with us.
As recently as 1949, Malenkov quoted the famous dictum of Lenin -
The outcome of the world struggle between capitalism and Communism depends in the long run on the fact that Russia, China and India comprise the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.
Every dictator, in recent times, denied that he had territorial aims; and, unfortunately, the democracies took his highsounding phrases at their face value. But such accommodation on the part of the democracies did not result in lasting peace. On the contrary, it only put off the evil day. A study of history will show that decisions made as the aftermath of acts of aggression ultimately lead to war. Chamberlain returned from Munich to Great Britain waving a piece of paper which he declared was a treaty that would guarantee peace in our time. However, within a brief period, Europe was almost enslaved. The continual appeasement of dictators by the democracies has done more harm than good. “What stands between Australia and the Communists, who are now flushed with victory in Asia? The next development could be armed aggression by the Communists in Indonesia, or further aggression on the part of the Communists by the insidious method of internal subversion. How does Australia stand in these circumstances? This continent, which is sparsely populated, lies on the fringe of South-East Asia. In considering this matter, let us substitute Australia for Indo-China. We should then realize more clearly the fate of a country that is overrun by the Communist aggressors. In the event of attack, Australia can expect only limited help from European sources. Not so long ago we comforted ourselves with the thought that if we were attacked Australia could be most effectively defended in Europe or in North Africa. That idea has now been proved to be untenable. Circumstances have changed, and the. result of the Geneva conference has indicated a pattern for Australia for the future. Despite the bonds of Empire and despite the fact that all honorable members cherish our membership of the British
Commonwealth of nations we must realize that in the event of our being attacked we shall be able to count upon only the United States of America to give us effective support. That is the only country that could adequately assist Australia in such circumstances because of all the great powers it has a vital strategic interest in this part of the world.
The threat that exists to Australia at present is obvious even to the most uninformed. We are an isolated country and would be no match against the limitless numbers in Asian countries. Our position would be gravely worsened should Communist imperialism dominate the countries immediately to our north, including Malaya and Indonesia. The latter country, having regard to the present state of its economy and the unsettled conditions that prevail there, would be an easy prey to the Communist aggressor. Indeed, the Communists already wield considerable power in Indonesia, several Communists being included in the Government of that country. The basis of any Australian foreign policy must be to prevent the approach of an aggressor to our shores. It would be entirely useless simply to send Australian forces to Malaya, or Singapore, if the enemy could by-pass the islands to the north of Australia. That fact cannot be denied and it should startle all Australians. In such an event, we would be unable to defend ourselves effectively in Darwin, or in New Guinea. Time and time again, Indonesia has declared that it has a right to control Western New Guinea.
The defence of Australia in Malaya is not a substitute for a strong home defence policy. We could not divert our defence potential to such an area if it meant that Australian shores would be left undefended. Home defence must be given the highest priority, and it is not enough to assume that Australia can be defended in Malaya. However, some prominent Ministers appear to have the idea that Australia can be defended there. It is perfectly true that Malaya is of great importance to the defence of Australia, but Malaya could become too remote to be an effective frontier for Us in time of war, regardless of any part that we may play with America in the
Pacific. Australia and the United States of America have mutual interests in the Pacific. Australia owes a debt of gratitude to the .United States for its participation in the defence of our shores in World War II. However, we must make it clear to our American friends that the safety of Australia is as important to America as it is to us. I am sure that they will understand the position. Without Australia as a base, the Pacific flank of the United States of America would be faced with a deadly threat. That danger was understood by the great President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and many American leaders in the last war. We must have the ability, in co-operation with America, to hold Australia. That stark fact must be recognized by the American leaders now.
A sound policy for home defence is fundamental to an effective foreign policy. We have not the physical resources to enable us to fill the role of Pacific policeman, particularly in the areas to the north of this country. We can assist in that task, but it must not be taken for granted that we can send our forces too far north while our defences are in such a bad state. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) took that risk in 1939. I notice that he does not like to be reminded of that fact, but, nevertheless, it is the truth. No doubt he is a better man for that experiencee He had the responsibility for the direction of the war effort in the early years of World War II., and I think that he must have felt a tinge of regret later about the course of events. However, that risk was taken, and it was only good fortune, and the arrival of the United States fleet to participate in the battle of the Coral Sea, that saved this country from conquest by the Japanese.
The manner in which this Government has handled the defence of Australia is indeed deplorable. It is true that1 there are thousands of men in uniform. That does not do any harm. We must have an army. But the mere fact that we have many men in uniform does not provide an entirely effective home defence. France, for example, had 9,000,000 men in uniform in World War II., but an army of that magnitude did not prevent
Hitler’s Nazis from overrunning France with their modern weapons of war. The Sydney Sun-Herald, on the 18th April last, published an article that had appeared in the London Times. The article was headed “Australia’s Defence Unhappy “, and read as follows : -
Australia’s new defence policy “ makes unhappy reading” s’ays The Times in a leading article to-day. “No nation acquits itself so valiantly in war, no nation takes so little pains in peace-time.” it says.
Criticizing Australia’s decision to concentrate on its Air Force and reduce its .Regular Army and Fleet Air Arm The Times says: -
It makes unhappy reading. “ For all this is precisely what pessimists foretold last month when Mr. McMahon announced with pride that Australia would be buying 24 V four jet bombers costing £1,000,000 each.
Costly Addition. “ But how can any country spending a mere £50,000,000 a year on its air force afford this costly addition to its modest seventeen squadrons? “And just what will such bombers be able to do as a deterrent that United States heavy bombers in the Far East are not doing already 1 “
It is hot necessary for me to ‘read the remainder of the article to the House. I point out, however, that Air Marshal Harding, who recently commanded the Royal Air Force, made it very clear that Australia was far from prepared for war. The Admiral in charge of the Royal Australian Navy protested against the abandonment of the naval air arm. Apparently, the Government does not heed its own advisers. Australia, on past performances, cannot trust the present Government with the conduct of a war effort. It is well known that the mission of the then Attorney-General, Dr. Evatt, to the United States of America in 194’2 was to obtain aid from President Roosevelt, because Australia had been left defenceless. The right honorable gentleman later went to London, and made a plea to Churchill to give us aircraft. The defenceless condition of Australia in those days was the legacy that the Labour Government inherited from the preceding Menzies Government. Lord Montgomery also warned Australia recently that another war would mean the use of the hydrogen bomb. This is no time to trust our future to a government that consistently vacillates.
It is all right for Australia to become a party to various treaties, but unless we have sufficient equipment and are defended as we should be, we may face a worse position than confronted us at the beginning of World War II., because hydrogen bombs will be brought to our shores so quickly ‘by modern means that there will not be time to wait until the democracies, particularly the United States of America, can come to our assistance. Let me conclude on this note.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member was one of the guilty persons before the last war.
The Western democracies should set out immediately to relieve the plight of the starving peoples of South-East Asia. The House should not forget that nearly 1,000,000,000 people live in countries to the north of Australia, and that many of them are in constant fear of starvation. They are easy victims for glib promises, and they are certainly revolutionary material. In Indonesia/ which is our nearest neighbour, there are 80 people to the square mile, and in Malaya 300 people to the square mile. They are hungry for land, and want the right to live. Australia has three people to the square mile. While those conditions prevail, there will always be a danger to the Western world. Let the democracies immediately begin to send some of their huge surplus supplies of food, including wheat, to the starving peoples, so that those unfortunates can be won over to the side of democracy, and will come to understand democracy better. Let us give them, in that way, the opportunity to live decently.
– Order ! ‘ The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I rise to order. I notice that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Greenup) has read his speech. I point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is at least the second occasion to-night on which a speech has been read, and I ask you for a. ruling on the matter. Are speeches to be made, or read? Frankly, I consider that it is time that this matter was put to the test. I do not include the honorable member for
Dalley when I say we have certainly heard speeches read here which have not been written by the members who delivered them. I .consider that to he wrong.
– I also rise to order. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has stated that speeches have been read in this chamber which have not been written by the members who have delivered them. I thought that the honorable member for Dalley was referring to copious notes.
– Order ! It is not what the honorable member thinks that matters at this time.
– The honorable member for Henty should have told the House that most of the speeches which are read on the other side of the chamber are written by the Liberal research group.
-Order ! I assure the House that I should be only too happy to apply the standing order which prohibits the reading of speeches, and if I do so, I think that we shall hear very little from Ministers. I have an idea that most speeches delivered by Ministers are read from typewritten statements which are usually handed to the press in advance. When I make that statement, I speak as one who has had some ministerial experience and has not complied with the usual rule. However, I shall be quite happy for the House to take this matter into consideration and reach a decision upon it. I suggest that next Tuesday will be a suitable time for the House, after the week-end in which to think over the matter, to come to a decision about its wishes. I shall defer my ruling until next Tuesday.
.- The events in South-East Asia by now should have brought all people in Australia to the complete realization of our danger, and convinced them that we must build, without delay, a barrier against Communist expansion. We are not alone in recognizing the dangers which are apparent to Great Britain and the United States of America. Our strategic position enables us to act as the Pacific link between America and Britain, but if we are to achieve any purpose in that direction, it may be well for us to take some stock of their foreign policies. We must sec whether the views of either, or both, of those countries correspond to our own and whether they are aware that the maintenance of our security is as vital as the situation demands.
America, by virtue of its isolation, is sometimes prone to take an abstract and theoretical view of the problems of the rest of the world. Yet America has the compelling attraction of the strongest of all the instincts of man, which is selfpreservation. Through this, America has exhibited its generosity to the peoples of the world by its support of many countries threatened with attack or subversion by the Communist powers. We are attached by all the ties of kinship and tradition to the policy of Great Britain, but there is a wide gap between the policy of Great Britain and that of America as far as they affect us and the present situation in South-East Asia.
The development of atomic and hydrogen weapons has made it essential for the United Kingdom to prevent a third a world war, in which it would be a ready target. Consequently, there has developed what I may describe as a hydrogen and atomic policy that must dominate Britain’s thinking on world strategy. The isolation of the United States of America provides a form of defence which permits it to view the Communist erosion of SouthEast Asia in a different light. If a shooting war started in South-East Asia, the United States would not immediately feel the might of Russian atomic power, and certainly not with the same devastating effect and fury as would be expected in, say, Coventry, Birmingham or London, fu view of those facts, I believe that the basic reasons for divergent views between the United Kingdom and the United States of America on foreign policy may be prompted by fear of atomic war on the part of the United Kingdom, and confidence in its isolation on the part of the United States of America. As part of its policy, the United Kingdom decided several years ago to recognize Communist China. There were no immediate rewards for that decision. The trade benefits which Great Britain may have expected to flow from its action have not eventuated, and China has not directed any more trade to Great Britain than it has directed, say, to the United States of America. Great Britain, of course, may take the long-term view that no nation has ever completely conquered China and that the Chinese may have embraced communism as an alternative to the corrupt rule of the former regime with the object of throwing it aside after its national purpose has been served.
A century in the history of China is of little consequence to a nation of that age, but Australia is presented with the facts of the present and the immediate past, and we cannot afford to take a long-term view of the situation. We are living on borrowed time and a year or two may determine the future course of our history. Although we may understand and appreciate the motives behind the policies of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, we should commit an act of folly if we ignored the lessons of the past and failed to apply them to out present situation. If we are to have a strong foreign policy, it must he based on a strong position at home. Therefore, we should be wise to examine the state of our defence preparedness, not with an eye to war, but with the idea of playing our part in world affairs as a partner with our allies. For years we lived under shelter of the Union Jack. We fondly imagined that our isolation and the might of the British fleet would provide our greatest ‘protection, but the loss of the Prince of Wales and the Repulse during World War II. quickly dispelled any remaining faith that we might have had in the British Navy. After World War I. and World War LT… and even until recently, it was generally agreed that the Middle East would be our theatre of operations in a future war. War was as remote as that! But now we must be convinced that the theatre of operations for Australia in any future war will be only a few flying hours away from our shores. Faced with that fact, we must bear in mind obviously that our friends will be attracted to us and ready to help us only if we give them a fair indication of our intentions. We cannot be indolent and fail to make provision for the future, and then, when an emergency arises, hollow for help and reasonably expect our cries to be answered at once.
Australia’s defence plans appear to be based on the strategy of having our first line of defence in the air, our second line of defence at sea, with the accent on submarine warfare, and our third line of defence on land. Only last night the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) made some scathing comments on our defence preparedness in the Northern Territory. I hope that the honorable gentleman was mistaken, because I have vivid recollections of the first enemy attack on Australia on the 19th February, 1942. On that day I happened to be on a ship in Darwin Harbour. We saw a number of aircraft approaching in the distance, and a few seconds later the Darwin post office was blown sky high and the Darwin jetty, and the two vessels alongside it, Neptuna and Barossa, were completely destroyed by bombs. Not until then did somebody have the wit to sound the air raid alert. There is a lesson to be learned from that tragic event for our military preparations for the future. Those preparations, I believe, should include the establishment of radar-equipped observers in posts throughout the islands to the north of Australia, from Singapore to New Guinea. The administrators of those territories, of course, would have to agree to the plan and grant us permission to enter their areas. Such posts would lie able to give our defence forces early warning of the approach of enemy aircraft.
If forward air bases are essential in northern Australia, it follows naturally that such bases must have land forces to provide local defence. What strength of land forces will be required? If we are to make more than a token gesture of defence, those forces must be far greater than our present economic situation can support. We should have to rely on the whole of our man-power, but that would involve the neglect of our industrial undertakings and the abandonment of our normal way of life in peace time. In any case, Australia is short of skilled workers at present, and the entry of any large number of men into the forces would seriously accentuate the shortage. Another factor to be considered is that a permanent army is a very expensive weapon. It would be interesting to hear from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) the exact cost of maintaining a battalion of 1,000 men in a permanent army. 1 believe the cost would be very high. But we must not talk in terms of battalions for the future defence of Australia; we must talk of divisions. Obviously, our maximum efforts must be concentrated on our air force, and if the air force alone is to be made strong enough, we must take away from our economic strength as much as we can afford to spare and leave the other two armed services out of consideration. The whole problem is one of man-power, which is a domestic problem that is unavoidable in a young and growing country.
We must also bear in mind the fact that, in the event of sudden action, we cannot expect any help from the United Kingdom. The fact that Great Britain has lost control of the Suez Canal means that we cannot hope for reinforcements to come to our aid promptly from the United Kingdom. British troops would have to travel by way of the Cape of Good Hope and South Africa. Even during World War II., when we had control of the Suez Canal, the Malayan campaign was an example of providing too little too late. We must, therefore, rely on our own ground troops. For these reasons I believe that if Australia is to provide men to maintain peace in distant places these men should all be air force personnel. We must do o.ur utmost to provide ground forces, but even so we can do little more than look after our own vital territories. The conception of Australia assuming the defence responsibilities of other nations involves a very grave risk in my view, and that comment applies particularly to the use of land forces. Nevertheless I believe that there is a means of overcoming the shortage of man-power without adversely affecting the economy of the country. The national service training scheme can be used to solve the problem in part. The Minister for the Army, and those who were associated with him in the introduction of that scheme, are to be complimented upon the success of their efforts. We could overcome many of our difficulties if, in addition to our permanent forces, we could back the national service training scheme by establishing a strong citizen force.
We must acknowledge that the campaign to enlist men in the permanent forces has failed. Nobody can be blamed for its failure. The simple fact is that men prefer the advantages of the 40-hour week and the amenities of civilian life to the discipline of service life, and nobody can blame them for that. I admire the men and women who have entered the permanent forces in recent months. The citizen forces could be built up by means of a vigorous enlistment campaign, which should be conducted by members of the citizen forces and confined, for a start, to the Army. I am convinced that, if members of this Parliament who have soldiered on since the end of World War II., and who have an intimate grasp of the current situation could be spared from their parliamentary duties, they could succeed in building up the citizen forces. In any case I believe that a strong force of officers and exofficers of the citizen forces could be used successfully to promote enlistment.
It is of no use for us to start at every shadow that crosses our international path, but it seems to me that there are two distinct danger spots in the world to-day. The first, of course, is in Europe, where Russia and its satellites are fomenting fresh trouble in Germany. The second is in South-East Asia. We may be sure that, if trouble occurs, it will occur in those two places at the same time. This rules out any possibility of Australia receiving practical help from the United Kingdom, because, as I said earlier, we have lost control of the Suez Canal. A simultaneous outbreak of trouble would also perhaps divide the United States of America. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to face reality and provide for our own defence, realizing that the port of Darwin is of just as much importance in world strategy today as the cliffs of Dover, and that we in Australia must play as prominent a part in international affairs as any other nation. However, instead of talking of war and anticipating war, I believe that we should examine our national approach to international problems and ask ourselves whether we are not, like Marie Antoinette of old, offering the cake of diplomacy instead of using our efforts to line with rice the bellies of the starving peoples of Asia. Rational views may prevail more easily with those peoples if they have full stomachs.
We must remember that we of the British Empire, with our allies in the United States of America, have survived two major upheavals in the last 30 years. Had there not been a British Empire in 1940 after the fall of Prance, there would have been no Gibraltar, no Malta and no troops in Egypt to oppose Rommel. Had Great Britain surrendered ignominously like France, the way would have been open for Hitler to advance upon Africa, India, Japan and Australia. But there was a British Empire, and we survived the struggle with the help of our allies in the United States of America, by whose efforts in association with ourselves, Australia was saved in the Pacific. I believe that, if we have the will to serve our country, and if we recognize the needs of other peoples, we in Australia, with the help of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, can and will solve the problems that confront us.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his statement on international affairs, committed Australia to certain activities in connexion with the proposed SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization. He suggested that the new organization represented a framework on which we might build at a later date. It was probably wise for him to put it that way, because we find that Indonesia, Ceylon and India are not prepared to join this organization, at least at present. We have to get our information about world happenings from the press, because, despite the fact that the Minister for External Affairs has travelled extensively in many parts of the world, he is either shockingly ignorant of world affairs or refuses to give us information at his disposal. The morning after the Prime Minister made his speech on international affairs in this House a statement appeared in the press that America would take military action if the de facto government of China attempted to attack Formosa. That would mean, in essence, that we should be at war with China. A great deal of blood and treasure was expended in Korea, and now we have the President of South Korea saying that Britain and France are Communist countries. He is appealing to America to let him get loose with atom bombs in North Korea. I have no doubt that the Americans will not give him such weapons. He is the man who leads the government in the establishment of which we spent so much blood and treasure in Korea.
When I first was in Canberra I used to meet the secretaries of the Indian, Ceylonese and Pakistani Legations. They said, “ We belong to the Western bloc, but apparently European people do not understand the Asian situation “. They all stressed that if food had been sent to Korea there need never have been a gun fired. They went on to say, “ It is of no use talking democracy to these people. The only democracy they know is enough food to keep body and soul together “. They also told me that later on Stalin, who was also an Asiatic, sent wheat and other food to China free of cost. Subsequently we saw the result of that particular action. Our friends of to-day may be our enemies of to-morrow, and our enemies of yesterday may be our friends of to-day. Japan was an enemy of yesterday to America, and is a friend of America to-day. When Japan struck in the Pacific we were absolutely without defences. I have been told by American officers and men that America would not have come into the war had the Japanese not bombed Pearl Harbour. They said they were not interested in a European war. As soon as Pearl Harbour was bombed, which was at the same time as British possessions in the Pacific were attacked, the Americans came to our assistance. As a result of the withdrawal of the 6th, 7th and 9th Australian Divisions from North Africa we were able to protect this country from conquest. To-day America, which is one of our allies, is building up the Japanese. The Americans have given Japan permission to produce jet bombers. Have we got permission, or the power, to build similar weapons here? We shall require them if we wish to defend this country. We read the astonishing report this morning that Germany is giving assistance to Israel. That is an illustration of the fact that yesterday’s enemies may be today’s friends. It shows that we cannot depend on the friendship of any particular people.
The Government apparently regards the proposal to join in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization as providing for our first line of defence. We must definitely defend Australia. Honorable members on both sides of the House have mentioned the possibility of long-range weapons being used to bombard Australia. Is it not possible for us to use long-range weapons in the defence of Australia, at a distance, before aggressors can reach this country? We have been told that the long-range weapons establishment at Woomera is something out of the ordinary, and that it will be able to fire atomic projectiles that are the equal of any similar weapons anywhere in the world. If that is so, should not appropriate action be taken to use those weapons in the right way, which is in the defence of Australia? Should we not also have a second line of defence as well as the main line of defence, which should be Australia itself? We saw a report in the press that Mr. Duncan Sandys, a member of the Churchill Government, . had given ( permission to America to enjoy the facilities of the rocket range at Woomera. Again, we had to wait for the press for that information. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) denied the truth of the report. The Prime Minister’s name did not appear in relation to that permission, and as the Minister denied the truth of the report, we must assume that the press misquoted Mr. Sandys. I wondered at the time what had happened to the British Commonwealth of Nations. I wondered whether Australia had become a colony again when I saw that a member of the British Government had told America that it could enjoy the benefits of the experiments conducted at Woomera.
The Prime Minister indicated in his speech that he had committed Australia to send troops overseas. It may be necessary to do so, but I intend later on to emphasize the aspect of home defence. Many years ago, so far back that I forget where the action took place, we sent Australian soldiers abroad. I do not know whether they were sent abroad on that occasion to defend Australia. Later on we sent them to the Boer War. I do not know whether they were sent to that war in order to defend Australia. Still later we sent troops to spheres of operation in both World War I., and World War [I. Many thousands of our young men unci many young Britishers of marrying age who had come to settle in Australia at the time of World War I. under the nomination scheme, were killed. Had they not lost their lives in World War I. we should now have a population of 20,000,000, 90 per cent, of British parentage. I do not know whether we saved some part of Europe in World War I., but I know that our boys were used as shock troops in that war. I also know that we set back the development of Australia by a century or two by losing all these young nien in World War I. Many of them were at an age when they would have married and settled down to rear children, and by now, had they not died in the war, their grandsons would have been living in Australia. In the last war we were defending ourselves. If Mr. Curtin had not brought the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions back to Australia from North Africa we should not be sitting in this chamber to-night. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mi-. Churchill, admitted in his memoirs that he wanted Mr. Curtin to send the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions to Burma. The idea was that if the Japanese took Australia it could be recaptured later. Fortunately that did not happen.
I mention these matters to emphasize that our main line of defence is the development of Australia as a bastion. We might have to fight outside. I do not know. But we have little with which to defend ourselves to-day. We had the astounding spectacle of the then Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) visiting north Queensland, and saying in a street in Cairns to the people of the north, “ Look at the great line of defence for the people of north Australia. Look at the aerodromes we have “. The aero dromes were there during the last war, but this Government has not spent one penny developing them, far less in maintaining them. The same Minister also put on a stunt called “Operation Tropical “. That operation merely proved that no military plane that we have in Australia could use any of the aerodromes in the north. The planes came to that operation from Adelaide and Sydney, and there was not one aerodrome in the north on which they could land. They had to go on to Darwin. This is the man who talked about the great ring of aerodromes in the north for the defence of the people of Australia. I hate to win votes as a result of such serious things, but he gave me many votes, because the people in the north realized that either he did not know what he was talking about, or was not telling the truth. I prefer to say that he did not know what he was talking about. I shall not accuse him of not telling the truth.
Many people in the southern parts of Australia never knew the seriousness of the position in the north during the war. One honorable member opposite mentioned Darwin. Do honorable members recall that 200 people were supposed to have been killed or injured in a Japanese raid on Darwin. The actual casualties in Darwin were more than 1,000. The Japanese just flew in and did what they liked. Darwin may be in the same position to-day under this Government as far as I know. Later, when the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions were brought back to Australia, and the Americans arrived with their materials and men, there were 100,000 men training in jungle warfare and barge landing on the Atherton Tableland. There were also Australian and American troops convalescing there after having fought in the islands. At that time, by an absolute miracle, Australia was saved from invasion. I agree with the Prime Minister and other honorable members that the position to-day is probably more serious than it was then. It is, therefore, more urgent than ever that we should be better prepared, and more prepared, than we were then. We are all discussing tie defence of Australia, and we are all interested in the preservation of the integrity of this country.
In considering our defence, we should remember the mistakes that we have made in the past. The Government is considering participation in a South-East Asia Treaty Organization; under which our soldiers, according to the Prime Minister, will be committed to serve overseas. However, this Government has not made any move to organize the defence of Australia on a permanent footing. Our defence organization should not be merely something set up for a war, and then allowed to lapse while all our equipment and installations are sold to private enterprise. It should be a permanent organization ready to swing into action at any time. No honorable member of this House has any knowledge of the power of modern atomic weapons. Therefore, it is quite possible that Australia, in an atomic war, might be in a better position to defend itself than Great Britain. That is because we have vast spaces into which we can disperse our people and industries, whereas the people and installations of Great Britain are crowded together within a very small area. As it appears that we are favoured in our defence by natural conditions, let us set about organizing a proper defence system in Australia. I do not believe that it is always necessary that Australian men should be sent overseas to defend Australia. If they go overseas it may be to assist the Motherland, or for various other purposes, but it is quite clear that until World War II. Australia has never been in any danger. During the Boer War we were not in any danger, and during World War I. we were not in danger. I suggest that honorable members on the Government side should carefully consider those statements. If they will do so they will perceive that the statements are quite correct. Those honorable members should also remember that during World War LT. Australia was saved from invasion by the defeat of the Japanese by Australian and American forces in the battle of the Coral Sea. During that battle our ships were in danger of defeat by the enemy, but bombers from bases at Mareeba, Garbutt Siding in Townsville and Charters Towers, were able to strike the decisive blow and vanquish the Japanese fleet.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), which is now the subject of discussion in this House, is perhaps the most important statement that has been made in the Parliament for many years. I have no doubt that it is the most important statement that I have heard during the four and a half years that 1 have been a member of this House. I suggest that the people throughout the length and breadth of Australia have been waiting for just such a statement. It was a masterly announcement, complete, decisive, definite and positive. It recognized in a far-sighted fashion the great danger that this country is in, and the means by which it may protect itself. There was no ambiguity about it at ail. The people now know that they are in great danger, and that this Government is preparing a means of defence by seeking the establishment of a South-East Asia Treaty Organization.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) spoke on the Prime Minister’s statement. I must say that I have heard speeches from members of the Opposition which have been very encouraging indeed. Those speeches have been given by honorable members politically opposite to us, but nevertheless they dealt with the matter wholeheartedly, wholesomely and straight from the shoulder, and indicated exactly where they stand. One cannot say that about the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. It seemed to me that the right honorable gentleman wanted to balance himself carefully on the fence. It was gratifying to hear that he was prepared to support, albeit grudgingly, a regional treaty for South-East Asia, and to commit Australia to the supply of men and materials. However, not one word of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition disparaged the Communist governments of Russia or China. He appeared to excuse them, and, in some respects, he blamed the democracies for shortcomings and neglect. I should have expected him to say something about the activities of the Communist governments of Russia and China during the past few years. It is unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition does’ not see communism for what it is, which is a challenge to the freedom of man; and not just another system of government. I, for one, was very disappointed by his speech.
Later I listened to another extraordinary speech delivered by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Of course one would not expect from him a speech of a kind different from the one he delivered to us. He followed the same old political line, designed to scare and divide the people. He trotted out the old bogey of conscription, merely in order to scare the people. Nothing in his speech indicated that he was prepared to stand by Australia in its peril. All he tried to do was to gain some party political advantage, and instead of facing up to the facts of the international situation he dealt with the matter along party lines. At no time did he place any emphasis on the danger that looms over the people of this country, noi- did he try to define a remedy. This is the honorable member who, in and out of season, has advocated less budget expenditure on defence, and more on other matters that he wanted to use for party political purposes. A speech like that of the honorable member for East Sydney is, at the present time, very dangerous, and is certainly not helpful to the preservation of Australia. I believe that there is a great need to make our people aware of the imminent danger in which they stand. This debate is an excellent method of acquainting the people of the fact.
Thank God that we have a democracy, and that in it there are all sorts of divisions of opinion. It is not unusual therefore to have divergent viewpoints expressed and published in various periodicals. However, that sort of thing creates confusion in the minds of the people, and so it is fortunate that this debate should take place so that the people may be made aware of the danger facing them. As a matter of fact one can see that more bitterness is engendered in some Opposition members through our industrial and economic difficulties, than through the actions of our mortal enemies, the Communists. That is un fortunate, because the people must be made aware that communism is an implacable enemy of this country and all that we stand for. I believe that almost all Australians are opposed to this dread scourge, and although they are divided on other things, they are united in their feeling on this matter. If they are not made aware in plain language of what may happen to us at the present time, one hates to think about what might happen to us in the future.
The Prime Minister mentioned in his speech that this is a fight for the spirit of man. That was one of the most important sentences that he has spoken. It is, in truth, a fight for the spirit of man. Communism, as all those who are opposed to it know, is a vicious dictatorship which not only crushes the economic rights of people and destroys their freedom in their ordinary life, but also takes away the soul of man and destroys his relationship with God. Indeed, it is a complete denial of the existence of God. There is no doubt that to some degree the Western democracies have weakened their moral fibre by departing in many respects from the laws of God. That is why I welcomed that part of the Prime Minister’s speech which states that this is a fight for the spirit of man. The second world war ended in 1945. During part of that war Russia was our ally. Had Russia been a true ally - I believe that it came into the war only to save its own skin - the world would have been able to look forward to a long era of peace and progress in which to build a better way of life for people everywhere. But from the moment the war ended, we have been in the throes of a general cold war, with little hot wars breaking out in isolated places. With normal co-operation from our previous ally we should have been able, to lead a peaceful existence’ in which all the people of the- world could have been able to do the things that they wanted to do. However, Russia took advantage of the demoralization of certain countries immediately following the war, and we all now know what happened to them.
It is not necessary to repeat how Russia overran many countries in Europe, or detail its present political position.
Indeed, Russia would never have stopped expanding unless it had been in its own’ interests to do so. Russia would have overrun every country in Europe. After Russia’s expansion in Europe was stopped an alliance was made between Russia and China, and assistance was given to the Chinese Communists. Today the greatest measure of collaboration exists between Russia and China. They are the great partners in the advance of communism. Their development in thb last few years has been extraordinary. In Europe there are 245 red divisions, with approximately 3,000,000 men under arms, and approximately 20,000 red planes. Those forces face the Nato force of between twenty and 30 divisions, which comprise approximately 300,000 men, and fewer than 4,000 aeroplanes. China alone has approximately 7,000,000 men under arms. That is a plan which has been followed by Soviet Russia in its efforts to implant communism throughout the world. Australia would be a great prize, and doubtless Russia intends that Australia shall go with the rest of SouthEast Asia unless it is able to defend itself. That must not be allowed to happen. Only by adopting the measures that have been suggested in this House can Australia prevent this tragedy.
A critical situation was caused by Communist aggression in Indo-China. I know as well as any other honorable member that there was no interference by the United States of America or by Great Britain and the reasons why they kept out of the struggle. We all know how the Geneva conference dragged on, but I wonder whether there would have been a cease-fire in Indo-China if Russia had not wanted to appease M. Mendes-France when it did. There is no doubt that Russia acted in that manner in order to hinder the ratification of the European Defence Community. As we all know, the greater portion of the population in the north of Viet Nam is Christian, but those people will never be given the right to cast a free vote in accordance with their consciences. Communism has infiltrated into southern Viet Nam, so we cannot expect much help from that area. There is every possibility that the whole of Viet Nam and, indeed, the whole of
Indo-China will be under Communist domination as a result of the cease-fire.
We have heard much about a policy of co-existence. We may think that we can live in our own backyard and that the Communists can live in theirs, but such a thing is not possible with Communists. That is a specious argument to use. It would be all right if the Communists stayed in their own backyard, but they do not stay there. Did they stay in their own backyard when they overran Czechoslovakia, Poland and other European countries ? Did the people in those countries have a free right of choice? Were the people of China given the right to choose the manner in which they wished to live? Can the people in eastern Germany express their own opinion? It is all right to. speak about peaceful co-existence if there is cooperation between the people who wish to live in peaceful co-existence. But one cannot expect that from the Communists. We all know that the Communists can go to any ‘Country in the world. From Soviet Russia they can infiltrate into our democratic institutions, but can democratic people go to Russia to ascertain their way of life? It is a one-way traffic, and there cannot be co-existence and collaboration under those circumstances. When Malenkov assumed control upon the death of Stalin, there was a great change in Russia’s policy. Although Stalin’s policy provided for infiltration into other countries it placed great emphasis upon military conquest. The military aspect is still played upon to a large degree, but the policy is more of a political nature than when Stalin was alive. The basic plan is to divide Great Britain and the other European nations, and it is quite apparent that Russia wishes to divide Great Britain and the United States of America. One sometimes wonders whether Russia is not succeeding in that plan. There is no doubt that, from Russia’s point of view, Malenkov’s plan has been very successful. Although, on the one hand, the Communists are pleading for co-existence and although they will cease fire in Indo-China, we know that they are continually infiltrating into and undermining other countries. They are even trying to give a face to
Christianity in Europe. In some countries they are alleged to have established Christian churches. I sometimes wonder whether those steps deceive people in relation to the real intention of the Communists, because such a step is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of communism which include a complete denial of God.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harbison) adjourned.
OFFICE Accommodation : Taxation Branch- Aekodkom.es - Communism.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I bring to the attention of the Minister for Works (Mr. Kent Hughes) the hopeless overcrowding of staff in the nerve centre of the Taxation Branch in Hobart. The accommodation that is provided for the staff is scattered over four parts of the city. The largest section of the staff is accommodated in a rented building in Davey-street. Another building, which is opposite, is used by the branch for the handling of mail. The other two sections are located elsewhere in the city. In the main office the employees’ have their desks side by side. The desks are more closely packed, in that office than are the desks in our schools. The heads of the sections are cheek by jowl with the employees who are under their direct control. The result is that there is no privacy for any one who wants to interview the head of a section. On health grounds alone, the conditions are such that the officers should be condemned, because they contravene many of the health standards that are common to all States.
The most important reason for raising this matter is that the efficiency of the branch in Hobart is impaired by overcrowding. In times of high pressure, when the branch is handling thousands of assessments, the position is an absolute nightmare to the head of the branch and to the heads of the various sections. The number of taxpayers in Tasmania, as in other States, has increased over the last ten years. Is anything achieved by the appointment of extra staff if there is not accommodation for them? The position becomes worse rather than better. The Government already is paying approximately £35,000 a year in rental alone for the buildings it occupies in Hobart and Launceston. The time has arrived when the Government should obtain buildings of its own. Much of that rental is paid to private firms, some of which are insurance companies. The federal members’ rooms in Launceston, which are the worst in Australia, are rented from a private insurance company. I urge the Government to ascertain whether it is possible to purchase the large five or six storey building in Collins-street, Hobart, which until recently was occupied by Tattersall (George Adams). That building is empty, and other organizations are interested in acquiring it. It is large enough to accommodate the whole of the Taxation Branch in Hobart. If the Government purchased that building, the employees would have elbow room, efficiency would be boosted, and the speed with which assessments are handled would be increased. It is almost inconceivable that a department which is bound to secrecy and which, if I may say so, is doing so much fiddling work should be scattered over four parts of the city. Because the office is overcrowded, the turnover of staff at Hobart is greater “ probably than in any other taxation branch in Australia. On behalf of all the taxpayers of Tasmania, I ask the Minister to investigate the matter. It is not merely a problem that concerns one electorate. It is a problem that concerns every taxpayer in Tasmania who is anxious to have his assessment dealt with as quickly as possible.
I mention also a matter that comes within the administration of the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley) who is a Tasmanian. It concerns the road between the aerodrome at Western Junction and the main highway from Launceston to Hobart. I have heard a rumour that this road is to be re-sealed and widened. If there is truth in the rumour, I need say no more, but I should like an assurance from the Minister that this important work will be put in hand without delay. As an access road to the aerodrome, the thoroughfare is a Commonwealth responsibility, and approximately £500,000 a year is allocated from the proceeds of the petrol tax for work on roads of this sort. The road is narrow, and, though surfaced with bitumen; is rough and dangerous, and its shoulders constantly require building up. An important freight-carrying service uses the thoroughfare extensively. Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, TransAustralia Airlines, and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited use it day and night for the transport of large numbers of passengers who arrive by air at Western Junction. I ask the Minister to let the citizens of Tasmania know whether there is any truth in the rumour that this road is to be improved.
– I do not know by what queer coincidence the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and I happen to have decided to discuss the same subject, I can only say that it has not been the result of connivance on my part. I also wish to direct attention to the conditions of work in the offices of the Taxation Branch at Hobart, and to press for improvement. I am aware that some people think it a form of sport to attack the Taxation Branch and its employees.
– They say that any squalor is good enough for public servants.”
Mr. FALKINDER__ That might be the honorable member’s view.
– It is not mine.
– The honorable member for Franklin is putting his party’s view.
– I am stating my own view, and I make no apology for speaking on behalf of the employees of the Taxation Branch. Action should have been taken long ago to ameliorate unbearable conditions in the Hobart offices of the Taxation Branch which I have inspected closely in company with Senator Marriott. A private employer who permitted his staff to work under such conditions would be liable to prosecution under the Tasmanian Health Act, and would have received much more vehement protests from union represen tatives than apparently have been made in this instance. The deplorable conditions existing in the branch have caused an unavoidable reduction in efficiency. To begin with, it is evident that proper supervision is lacking. The work of the branch in Hobart is conducted in four separate offices. This division of the staff is not conducive to sound administration and good conditions of work. The mailreceiving section for income tax returns is a considerable distance from the central officeand the returns are carried by hand to the central receiving point at the main office. I was shocked by the conditions in the records and filing section, which I examined closely. The records section, in 1944-45, dealt with 75,000files, which is a large number in any conditions. In that year the section had just sufficient filing capacity to cope with the work. It expects in the current financial year to handle 140,000 files, double the number in 1944-45, but it has only 10 per cent, more space than it had ten years ago.
Conditions in the index room have to be seen to be believed. The room is extraordinarily crowded and the employees have to stand on chairs and walk on the tops of filing cabinets about 8 feet above the floor to reach much of the filing space. All available space is completely taken up with filing cabinets. Some people might think that these conditions are amusing, but I found them horrifying. As I said at the outset, it is all very well for some people to make sport of those engaged in a particular occupation. No member of this Parliament would be the least amused were he required to work in such deplorable conditions as are forced upon the employees of the Taxation Branch in Hobart. I do not propose to mention anything that was said to me by a particular employee, because I do not want to put any member of the staff in an invidious position. I shall merely say that it is general comment among the staff in the branch that though they were willing to put up with crowded and inconvenient conditions in wartime, they think it highly unfair that they should be asked to endure much worse conditions in peace-time. I demand that action be taken to improve working conditions in the branch.
– I desire to mention a subject that I should have raised on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night had you, Mr. Speaker, been in the Chair when the motion was moved. In a statement that you made from the Chair yesterday in answer to a question that I asked of you on Thursday of last week, you said something that I believe to be incorrect. You remarked that the people of Australia had decided - I cannot recall your exact words, but I quote your sense - by vote at a referendum that the Australian Communist party should continue to be a legal party. That observation was not in accordance with the facts. It is true that one of the provisions of the legislation that was rejected at that referendum was designed to disband the Communist party, but it was merely one of ‘a number of provisions. You, sir, may recall that the opposition to the proposed law that was the subject of the referendum turned upon entirely different issues. In point of fact the people of Australia voted, not that the Australian Communist party should continue to exist legally, but that it should not be banned in the manner in which it was intended to ban it under the provisions of the proposed law. The two propositions are separate and distinct. Though I for one think that the Government’s proposals were good, and I thought them good at the time, that is -not the reason why I mention the matter this evening. My purpose is merely to have the record put straight, and to have it made clear that the people voted, not to preserve the Australian Communist party as a legal body, but to defeat certain proposals submitted to them by those who advocated a “ Yes “ vote. I read the following extract from the official case for “ No “ that was sent to every elector in Australia -
But the question is not whether you are against communism but whether you approve of the Menzies Government’s referendum proposals
The present Constitution and the existing laws give a Government prepared to deal with Communists all the powers it needs . . .
The Commonwealth Crimes Act contains provisions for the Courts to declare any subversive body an illegal organization and dissolve it.
Though my views on the referendum might have differed from those of members of the Australian Labour party, I do not expect that on this matter I shall be at variance with honorable members opposite. The people of Australia decided, not that the Australian Communist party should remain legal, but that if it were illegal it should be dealt with under the Crimes Act and not under the provisions of the proposed law. The official case for “ No “, which was sent to all electors, must be presumed to have been the basis of the people’s vote at the referendum. I believe that your statement, Mr. Speaker, was unintentionally misleading and not in accordance with fact, and that were it allowed to go uncontradicted on the record it might do harm to the antiCommunist cause. I ask you, sir, to review the matter in the light of the facts as I have put them and of the extract from the official document that 1 have read.
– For once, and possibly never again, I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I support his observations on the “ No “ case at the 1951 referendum. I thought yesterday that you, sir, were completely wrong when you remarked that the referendum turned on the question whether the Australian Communist party should continue as a legal body. The referendum turned on the points that have been mentioned by the honorable member for Mackellar. It is a good thing to review history now and again and to hear quotations from famous documents for the edification of those who would fain forget the importance of their message. The 1951 referendum on communism was historic, and I took a leading part in persuading the people of Australia that the Government was trying to write an act of Parliament into the Constitution and that the right of appeal to the High Court of Australia in the matter of communism or anything associated with it would be destroyed. ‘ I believe that yesterday you, Mr. Speaker, might have tried to short-circuit the whole story by telling it in one sentence. It cannot be told in one sentence. The honorable member for Mackellar has taken a perfectly proper course this evening. He has stated the attitude of the Australian Labour party on the referendum in question. That attitude was vindicated by the people. We on this side of the House believe that any one in the community, whether he be Communist or non-Communist, who is guilty of an act of treason, subversion, espionage, or any other act against the Constitution, should be dealt with under the Crimes Act or other relevant legislation and that if the law is not strong enough it should be amended so that effective action can be taken.
– May I say that, having heard the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), I think I can state the position correctly in one sentence, using a double negative: At the referendum the people did not declare the Australian Communist party to be an illegal party. I believe that to be the position. I can re-state my own views by saying that I have always regarded communism and treason as one and the same thing, and that I would adopt the one remedy for both. I would send all Communists to the hell whence they came, and their sympathizers with them.
.- About three weeks ago, my colleagues the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) directed my attention to the matter that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has raised. The Minister for Air discussed it with me during last session, and the Department of the Treasury and the Public Service Board have been investigating it for some time. The difficulty is that there is a shortage of space for government offices not only in Hobart but also in Sydney and Brisbane. Our problem is to overcome that shortage as quickly as we can; but that will involve considerable expenditure. As honorable members are aware, the Public Works Committee recommended that the construction of the new taxation building in Brisbane be proceeded with.
That work will be given priority. The Treasury has under review the position that exists in Hobart. If the Government purchased the building in Hobart which the honorable member for Wilmot has urged it to purchase, it would have to reconsider whether it should go ahead with the construction of its proposed building for office purposes in that city. Secondly, I do not desire to be brought into the fight that is now taking place between the Labour Premier of Tasmania and the Labour Premier of Victoria over the ownership of a certain consultation. The Australian Government could be used as a stalking horse in order to prevent private interests from obtaining that building with the result that a demand could be made for a price in excess of the real value of the building. The shortage of office accommodation for not only government departments but also for private interests, has arisen as a result of the lag in building that began in the capital cities in 1939. At present, considerable building is being proceeded with by private enterprise which should relieve the shortage of office space not only for private interests but also to some degree for government departments. I assure both the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Wilmot that this matter is now receiving urgent attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Long Range Weapons Establishment.
z asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
Is any further information available regardingthe reported discovery of radio-active minerals in the Mount Isa district in Queensland?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
In reply to the honorable member’s question concerning the discovery of radio-active minerals in the Mount Isa district, investigations by the Queensland Deportment of Mines have confirmed the existence of radio-active minerals in the area, but it is as yet too early to form any reliable estimate of their extent or potential value as a source of uranium. Assays of all samples have shown uranium to be present, but the minerals are highly complex and further tests are being made to determine their amendability to chemical treatment. A joint geological examination of all the reported discoveries is being undertaken by the Queensland Department of Mines and the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources, and with the results of the ore tests is expected to provide a firmer basis for conclusion as to the significance of the discoveries. The area is undoubtedly of considerable interest, but more than that cannot at the moment be said with any certainty. The Queensland Department of Mines, as the State authority concerned, is keeping the Atomic Energy Commission fully advised of all available information regarding the field.
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Will he indicate the programme for regular passenger and cargo ships trading interstate to Queensland, and if any additions to the present number operating are being considered in the near future?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following information : -
Passenger vessels regularly engaged in trade to Queensland ports are as follows: - Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns - Kanimbla, Manoora,Manunda. At the conclusion of their current voyages Kanimblaand Manoora, will be diverted to the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle service for the summer months, returning to the Queensland service about next March.Manunda will remain in the Queensland service. Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane - Ormiston. This vessel extends to Mackay on alternate trips during the tourist season. A number of cargo vessels are regularly engaged in trade to Queensland ports, although the ports of loading and of discharge may in some cases be varied to meet particular cargo requirements, these vessels and their usual trades are as follows: - Sydney. Brisbane, North Queensland ports - Alagnu, Bidelia, Nyora. Sydney and/or Newcastle and/or Port Kembla to Maryborough/Bundaberg or toRockhampton - Babinda, Enfield,. Caledon. Melbourne toRockhampton -Elmore. Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane - Caradale,Cardross, Carlisle,Culcairn, Daylesford, Dandenong. Hobart, Brisbane - Denman. Sugar ports to southern States, returning with steel or general cargo or in ballast - Bilkurra, Binburra, Boonaroo, Bulwarra, River Norman, Poul Carl,Hans P. Carl. In addition to the vessels mentioned, which are generally engaged continuously in the Queensland trade, River class vessels of the Australian Shipping Board and vessels of various types of private owners are allocated regularly by the Combined Traffic Committee to the sugar, steel, Callide coal and general cargo trades according to the needs of the particular trades. Calls at Queensland ports are also made by Windarra and Wangara . the Commonwealth vessels operating in the Darwin service.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 August 1954, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19540811_reps_21_hor4/>.