22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m.. and read prayers.
– I wish to draw the attention of the House to a photograph of an incident in the House yesterday, which is published in to-day’s issue of the “ Sun News-Pictorial “. It is well known that no photographs of happenings in this chamber may be taken without permission. I take a serious view of any breach of this rule. No such permission was given in this instance. I have asked the newspaper concerned for an explanation. When I receive it, I shall give the matter further consideration.
Mr. BARNARD presented a petition from 730 citizens of Australia praying that the House will -
Petition received and read.
Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a petition from 1,454 electors in the States of the Commonwealth praying that the House will take immediate steps to increase social service benefits for mothers and their children.
Petition received and read.
Petitions praying that social service benefits for mothers and children be increased were presented as follows: -
By Mr. GEORGE LAWSON from 1,011 electors in the States of the Commonwealth.
By Mr. MAKIN from 2,220 electors in the States of the Commonwealth.
Mr. BRAND presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that immediate consideration be given to the matter of increasing the rate of age, invalid and widows’ pensions to at least 50 per cent, of the basic wage.
Petition received and read.
– I think I should inform the House that Senator Paltridge will be absent from Canberra until early September, for medical reasons. He is undergoing some medical examinations and observation, but he will continue to administer his portfolios of Civil Aviation and Shipping and Transport. During his absence, the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) will carry out Senator Paltridge’s parliamentary duties in the Senate. Also, of course, as honorable members know, my colleague the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) is absent through illness. During his absence, Senator Cooper will act as Postmaster-General. But Senator Cooper, I regret to say, is expected to be absent for a short period, due also to illness. In the Senate, therefore, questions on postal matters will be directed to Senator O’sullivan, and in the House of Representatives to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron). In the meantime, the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) will act as Minister for the Navy.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs give the House the latest information available to him about the prospects of summit talks within the United Nations framework?
– The latest information I have on this subject is what was contained in the 12.30 p.m. radio news to-day. We have no confirmation of that, but I have no reason to believe that it is not true that
Mr. Khrushchev has rejected the idea of a summit meeting inside the Security Council or, I understand, otherwise, and has proposed a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly at a relatively early date. That was the radio news; I have no further information.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether the Australian Agricultural Council has reached .a final -conclusion in - respect, of a new wheat stabilization plan or whether it is proposed to have a further meeting to see whether a plan, more in keeping with the wishes of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and the growers themselves, can be produced.
– Already the Australian Agricultural Council has met and made certain decisions. These decisions have been submitted to the Australian Wheat Growers Federation which, in its turn, has asked me to refer back to the Australian Agricultural Council two problems. The first one is the yield of wheat per acre and the second is whether a profit on cost of production will be allowed in the local price.
I have written to each of the State Ministers for Agriculture, advising them of the contents of the letter received .from the federation and asking them when they will be prepared to meet and under what circumstances. As soon as I receive a reply from them I will let the honorable member know its contents.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether synthetic tops are being imported into Australia in large quantities, involving the expenditure of a considerable amount of dollars and overseas funds. Is this action causing unemployment in the Australian wool top-making industry and having an adverse effect on Australian woolgrowers? Are these importations desirable at a time when our overseas funds are at such a low ebb?
– I am not in a position to answer the honorable member’s question with precision. If it refers to such a product as orion, then I can say that orion is being imported -into the country at the request of the Australian textile industry, partly for the purpose of blending with Australian wool to meet the consumer demand and partly for the purpose of weaving here. The honorable member should not overlook the fact that Australian industry and1 employment are not entirely concentrated upon the domestic product of wool. There is a very large importation of cotton, for instance, and of various other textile basic requirements. I assure the honorable member that all that is being imported into this country is within the knowledge of industry generally. The Department of Trade “has the advantage of a very broadly ‘based consultative group within the whole range of Australian manufacturing and importing interests. Government policies are not to be found out of line, broadly speaking, with what these industrial advisers consider to be desirable in the interests of Australian industry and commerce.
– What is the latest advice the Minister for Primary Industry can offer honorable members on the initial failure to agree during talks between Australia and the United Kingdom on the renewal of the meat agreement? What is the reason for the breakdown in the discussions? Is there any real hope of an agreement being completed at a price satisfactory to both Australia and the United Kingdom? In addition, will the Minister indicate whether any discussions have taken place with regard1 to an increase of the free quota of 15,000 tons of meat under the agreement?
– There has been neither a failure nor a breakdown of the negotiations between Australian representatives and the United Kingdom Government on the continuation of the fifteenyear meat agreement. The Australian representatives put certain proposals to the United Kingdom Government, and that Government, as one would expect, in its turn made certain counter-proposals. Negotiations are continuing between representatives of the industry and the .government of the United Kingdom to find on what points agreement can in fact be reached. The two big problems are, of course, first, the price of beef for the three years of the agreement - from 1961 to 1964 - because for the next three years the price has been fixed at 5 per cent, less than the current price; and, secondly, the free quota. I am certain that the United Kingdom Government recognizes the problems facing the Australian industry, and I am hopeful that quite soon, perhaps in the next five or six weeks, we may be able to arrive at some agreement acceptable to Australian beef interests.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. What plans has the recently appointed Export Development Council for stepping up the flow of Australian exports to overseas countries? Are government-sponsored trade missions visiting all countries where there is a possibility of finding an outlet for our products, and is trade being solicited in countries irrespective of their political policies?
– The recently constituted Export Development Council cannot be said to have plans, because it will have its first meeting to-morrow. It is a group of very senior and successful Australian businessmen, who intend to give the Government and the country the benefit of their advice as to how we may best increase our export earnings. The Government has taken the initiative on quite a number of occasions in sponsoring trade missions overseas. One very successful mission was led by my colleague, the honorable member for Darling Downs, who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade. A number of other missions have been sent abroad, and there is an unceasing flow of Australian businessmen who quite frequently avail themselves of the resources of the Department of Trade and operate not as missions but as individuals. From all of this activity a good deal of additional business is accruing. If the honorable member’s question is designed to ascertain whether we are soliciting business in countries irrespective of their political policies, I think I can answer correctly by saying that the Government has organized no solicitation of business in the Communist countries, although there have been approaches by Communist countries seeking to do business with Australia. Some quite considerable business has been done in the last year with mainland China, which has become an important buyer of Australian wool-tops and greasy wool and some other products, which are, perhaps, too numerous to mention. Whatever we may sell to mainland China would be readily sold by European countries if we were not supplying those products.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. If a vote of wheat-growers is taken on the Government’s proposed wheat stabilization legislation, will a simple majority of votes recorded be the deciding factor, or will those who fail to vote be deemed to have voted in the negative, as was the case in ,the recent ballot of growers on the proposed dried fruits stabilization legislation? If the former and acceptable method is -to be adopted, why was a changed procedure followed when the dried fruits growers voted?
– There is no basis for comparison in the method of taking the vote. The dried vine fruits industry itself proposed the method of voting to apply-in its case, namely, that a proposal, in order to be accepted, would have to be agreed to by a majority of the people eligible to vote. This was a case in which the Commonwealth Government alone was concerned. The State governments were not involved. The question as to the method of voting and how many votes should constitute a sufficient number to carry the wheat industry stabilization scheme, are matters which are the responsibility, in each case, of the State government concerned. It could well be - and here, Mr. Speaker, I offer no opinion whatsoever - that one State would provide that the decision was to be made in accordance with a majority vote among all the people eligible to vote. That would be the responsibility of the particular State concerned. Other States might decide differently. This will be discussed by the Agricultural Council, so I do not think that there is any real comparison between the dried vine fruits scheme and the wheat scheme. In the one case we had an industry making representation direct to the Commonwealth; but in the other case, that concerning the wheat industry, the basis of voting is a matter for each of the State governments to decide for itself.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact that overseas shipping interests are requesting a further increase of 30 per cent, in freight rates on export beef? If it is a fact, what steps does the Government propose to take to protect Australian producers and consumers from this form of outright piracy?
– Negotiations are continuing between the shippers and the shipowners on a proposed increase of the freight rate on refrigerated beef exports. This is not a matter in which the Commonwealth Government has direct responsibility, nor can that Government, in fact, intervene as between the various parties; nor, so far as I am aware - and I think my colleague, the Minister for Trade, would corroborate this - have the parties asked us to take any action. The negotiations are continuing, and I am sure that the two negotiating parties will announce, as soon as it is possible to do so, what freight rates have been agreed to between them.
– Having noted, with appreciation, the comments by press and radio relevant to the recent visit of the Prime Minister to the north-west of Western Australia, and having personally toured the Kimberley area with a representative group during the parliamentary recess, I ask the Prime Minister whether he is able, at this stage, to inform the House whether the Government has any further plans to promote the development of this area.
– As my colleague, the Treasurer, indicated last night, various proposals have been put forward meriting very close examination. They are complex. We have them under examination. As my colleague pointed out, the principal fiscal measures announced last night did not represent a final view on this matter, but dealt with one particular phase while we had a chance of doing so.
– Has the acting Minister for the Navy received a report from the Naval Board concerning the inquiry into the damage to H.M.A.S. “Vendetta” in Williamstown dockyard? If so, can he make a statement on this subject?
– I have received a report from the Naval Board on that unfortunate incident, and I issued a statement on the matter earlier to-day. The essential particulars of it are that, after the accident to “ Vendetta “ occurred, a board of inquiry was set up at once. The board found that the cause of the accident was that, although the correct orders had been given from the bridge when “ Vendetta “ was moving from her berth with the intention of going to sea for trials, a mistake was made by the rating responsible for transmitting the orders from the wheel-house to the engine-room through the engine-room telegraph, with the result that the starboard engine, instead of going half astern, went half ahead. The correct order to stop the engines was given. An order was again given to put the starboard engine astern with the same result as before. The engines were again stopped and, because the ship was moving forward to a dangerous position, the order was given then for the starboard engine to go astern. Again, the same mistake was made and the ship moved forward. By that time, it was not possible for the officer in charge to do anything but stop both engines and drop an anchor. That was done.
It is quite apparent from the report of the board of inquiry that the mistake, though regrettable and costly, was a simple, human error. I have been asked outside the House whether disciplinary action has been taken in connexion with this incident. That is a matter for the ordinary disciplinary processes of the Navy, but I think I should inform my questioner that it is clear that there was no question of disaffection involved or any serious intention. As I have said, the mistake, although costly, was a very simple, human error.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer, and it is prompted by the recent investment by a large life assurance office in a hire-purchase company. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he intends to stand idly by while other life assurance offices make their resources and facilities available to hire-purchase companies, as he did while one after another of the private banks entered and extended this field of credit, or whether he proposes to use this Parliament’s constitutional powers over insurance companies to guide the form and scale of this new investment by them and the charges and interest rates imposed by the companies in which they invest.
– I do not know what our constitutional power or authority is in this matter, and I would not accept the honorable member for Werriwa as an authority on the extent to which we are able to use any such powers; but 1 shall have the matter investigated and furnish him with what information I can.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration concerning the establishment by the Department of Immigration of offices in Manchester, Belfast and Edinburgh. Has he yet received any report as to whether those offices are adding appreciably to the number of immigrants who are coming to Australia from Great Britain? If so, has he any intention of establishing further offices in other large centres of population which are still not covered?
– The offices in the United Kingdom to which the honorable member has referred are still in the actual process of being set up. I hope those in Edinburgh and Belfast particularly will be opened very shortly. As the honorable member will realize, this is, in the nature of things, an experimental move in an effort to decentralize our immigration activities in the United Kingdom and, I hope, to streamline our general recruitment of British immigrants. If the experiment proves successful, as from my own personal knowledge of the United Kingdom I think it will, I shall certainly take steps to expand this decentralization process still further. I have two other important centres in the United Kingdom in mind for the creation of further offices.
Representation in Parliament.
– In view of the fact that the population of the Australian Capital Territory is now 40,000, and that the electoral enrolment is approaching 20,000, will the Prime Minister give early consideration to amending the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act to remove all restrictions on the voting rights of the member for the Territory so that, in the Twentythird Parliament the member, whoever he or she may be, will have full voting rights? In considering this matter, will the Prime Minister have regard to the fact that the enrolment in the Australian Capital Territory is now considerably above the quota required to elect any one of the five Tasmanian members of this House? Will he also consider the fact that each 12,000 electors in the State of Tasmania elects a member to this Parliament with full voting rights, whereas the 20,000 electors of the Australian Capital Territory are denied a vote in the Parliament?
– The honorable member’s speech relates to a matter of policy.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry discuss the future of the tobacco industry in New South Wales with representatives of that industry and with the appropriate State Minister in order to find means of expanding and developing this industry? I ask the question because the Ashford district in New South Wales produces the finest leaf in Australia, and its production has been seriously retarded by a shortage of water in the river system serving the area.
– I shall not be so provocative as to say that the Ashford district produces the best tobacco in Australia, but I am certainly prepared to say that it produces some of the best. I think that, recently, its product has been selling at more than 10s. per lb. and that the district produces a small crop of about 160 tons. I know that production in the area has been decreasing because of the silting of the river. I shall refer the question to the Central Tobacco Advisory Committee and suggest that the committee takes the matter up with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, which is constitution allv responsible for the development of the tobacco industry in New South Wales.
– T ask the Minister for Health whether the State
Ministers for Health recently sought the aid of the Commonwealth in the field of mental illness. If so, can the Minister say what progress is being made, if any, in dealing with this important national problem? In addition, can the Minister say whether he has considered placing the tranquillizer, largactil, on the free list as asked by the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, so as to avoid the tragedy of ex-patients of mental institutions quickly deteriorating in health after hospital discharge because of their financial inability to meet the cost of this needed expensive treatment as ordered by their physicians?
– There is an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments under which finance is supplied for the assistance of State governments in the field of mental health. No recent advances have been made to me for any alteration of that agreement. The question of putting drugs on to what is commonly called1 the free list is decided by an expert committee which was set up to advise the Minister on that matter. Unless the committee recommends that a drug be included in the list, the Minister has no power to include it, but every representation that is made is considered by the committee. If the honorable member wants to have representations brought before the committee, all he needs to do is to write to me and I shall place his wishes before the committee.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health, representing the Minister for Repatriation. It relates to a statement during the Budget Speech last night, dealing with repatriation benefits, that it is proposed to extend eligibility for medical treatment under Repatriation Department regulations to nurses who served in the first world war. Does that statement mean that nurses who served in the first world war will be entitled to the same hospital treatment as war widows in repatriation hospitals in Australia? I might add that the honorable member for Boothby is, I think, a great advocate of this proposal.
– I understand that the answer to the honorable gentleman’s question is, ‘“Yes “.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. Is it correct, as recently stated in Adelaide, that on completion of the new twelvestory “Advertiser” building a major proportion of it will be taken over by the Taxation Branch, which is at present housed at the Adelaide, railway station? If so, will it have any effect on the representations that have been made by members on both sides of the House for a suitable Commonwealth building in Adelaide to house all Commonwealth departments? Honorable members are very concerned to know whether the arrangements that have been made will interfere with the erection of a proper Commonwealth building in Adelaide.
– I think the honorable gentleman will appreciate that there is a fairly solid programme for the provision of office accommodation for Commonwealth departments- in capital cities, including Adelaide. As the honorable gentleman knows, a suitable site in a central position has been acquired in Adelaide for the ultimate construction of Commonwealth offices. It takes a fair period of time to prepare plans and provide finance for such an undertaking. In the meantime, some arrangement had to be made, particularly for the Taxation Branch, which is overcrowded, and which is working under very, difficult conditions. The Commonwealth has contracted, to take a considerable amount of space in the “Advertiser” building. In my view that will not interfere with the programme to erect in Adelaide a building of the kind which the honorable member and other South Australian members have been advocating for so long.
– My question to the Minister for Air concerns the decision of the Royal Australian Air Force to close the Air Force station at Uranquinty. When this station is being disposed of can the Minister give preference to the State Government, if it desires to purchase the station, so that a Riverina rural university may be established there?
– lt is correct that the basic flying training school carried on by the Royal Australian Air Force at Uranquinty is to be closed down later this year. The school is to be moved to Point Cook. That move has been made possible because the advanced flying training school has moved to Pearce, in Western Australia, where suitable airfields and facilities for the operation of jet aircraft are available. That has released accommodation at Point Cook suitable for the flying school, and field’s there are suitable for the type of aircraft used in the basic training school. As 1 recently announced, the Uranquinty establishment will be disposed of. It is not my function to deal with the disposal of the land and buildings. That is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Supply, but I shall be glad to supply information regarding facilities at Uranquinty if I can thereby assist the honorable member, or anybody interested in the worthy cause of establishing seats of learning.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether it is a fact that the £2 annual tax which certain New Guinea natives have refused to pay is a uniform tax imposed on whites and natives alike irrespective of the annual income earned. Is it a fact, also, that a native labourer earning 25s. a month has to pay the same tax as is paid by the Administrator, who receives a salary of more than £4,000 per annum?
– As has been explained to the House on many occasions, this tax is not the only tax paid by residents of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea; it is one of many taxes paid by them. The particular personal tax is a tax of £2 a head irrespective of income. There is provision for an appeal against payment of the tax in cases of hardship, and if the tribunal agrees that it is beyond the capacity of the person concerned to pay, the tax is not then levied. No attempt is made to collect the tax from natives who are not. in receipt of income or who are living in remote areas. A comparison between a low-salaried worker and the Administrator is not an exact comparison, because there are many other taxes which the Administrator would pay and which the low-salaried worker would not pay.
– By way of supplementary question, I should like to ask the Minister: What are the legal methods for enforcement in the case of non-payment of the tax, say, in the case of the natives who have to pay it? Is there power to arrest them, or does the ordinary civil law relating to enforcement apply?
– I think the right honorable gentleman probably has in his mind recent incidents at Rabaul.
– Yes, certainly.
– Those incidents were the culmination of a course of events which began with an appeal to the courts for the enforcement of payment of the tax. A court order was obtained against the native, or natives, who had not paid the tax. That court order was executed, and the tax was paid.
– The native was executed, too!
– I really think that this cheap humour is in somewhat poor taste when the lives of people are involved.
– There is nothing humorous about it.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to maintain order.
– It was in pursuance of the execution of a further warrant issued by a court that the particular incident that the Leader of the Opposition has in mind took place. The first action taken towards the recovery of the tax is to have recourse to the court.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Reports indicate that large wheat surpluses are expected in the United States of America and Canada. Has the Minister any specific information about these matters, and is there any indication at this stage of the possible effect on our overseas markets of these surplus supplies?
– Preliminary reports suggest that there will be surplus production of wheat, both in Canada and particularly in the United States. As to the- second part of the question, my colleague, the Minister for Trade, is in constant communication with the governments of Canada and the United States in order to ensure that, so far as is practicable, sales of wheat by those two countries shall not interfere with our traditional markets.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question about the 1958 amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Is it a fact that the 1958 amending measure gives power to the Executive, in the absence, or expected absence, of the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, to nominate the judges who shall sit in hearings of the court? If this is so, does not the act give the government of the day power to fix the personnel of the court to suit its own purposes? ls there any parallel to this in respect of any other court in Australia?
– I do not agree that the correct interpretation of the measure is as the honorable gentleman has put it. I will have an authoritative answer prepared and will make it available to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. I should like, to know whether it is a fact that, as a result of the recent coup in Iraq, the entire archives of the Baghdad pact fell into the hands of the new pro-Nasser Government, and that Colonel Nasser will now have access to all records of the counter-subversion committee of the pact, including the names of its counter-intelligence agents, and lists of known and suspected spies and pro-Nasser operatives, as well as the combined defence plans of Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran, and numerous United States military and strategic recommendations.
– I have no knowledge of the detail of documents that may have fallen into the hands of the present Government of Iraq, although I would expect that such papers as were in the hands of the late government, as the government of a country that was a member of the Baghdad pact, might well have fallen into the new Government’s hands. As to the detail of the matter mentioned by the honorable gentleman, I have no information at all.
– by leave - I thank the House for giving me leave to make a brief statement on social services in amplification of the announcement made last night by the Treasurer that a system of supplementary assistance to certain categories of pensioners is to be introduced. We propose to introduce an entirely new principle into the payment of pensions. There are pensioners who, because they live in their own homes, or because of their other income or property, or because they live with relatives or friends, manage to live comfortably on their pensions. At the other end of the scale, Mr. Speaker, there are those who do not own their own homes, who have to pay for their accommodation, and who have no other means apart from their pensions. Those in this latter group have the strongest claims on any additional funds that are available for social services.
The Government recognizes that the payment of rent is the most common cause of hardship amongst pensioners who are entirely dependent on their pensions. Supplementary assistance of 10s. a week will therefore be payable to these pensioners if they are single, widowed or divorced, to married pensioners whose husbands or wives are not in receipt of pensions or allowances, and to service pensioners in the same circumstances.
Honorable members will probably wish to know the procedure the pensioners should follow to qualify for the special assistance. It will be necessary for applicants to lodge a claim on a simple form which has been prepared. Copies of this form will be available at all offices of the Department of Social Services and at all post offices from the end of this week. Payment of the allowance will commence from a date to be proclaimed after the Parliament has passed the necessary legislation. Nevertheless, claims should be lodged as soon as possible if payment is to be made immediately following the date proclaimed. A huge amount of work is involved in examining the claims and arranging for payment, and any last-minute rush could lead to delay in the mechanics of making payment available.
I am sure that all honorable members will applaud the Government’s spectacular action–
– The landlord will cop the lot!
– I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that all honorable members who have any understanding of the position will applaud the Government’s spectacular action– (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Shall I begin again, Mr. Speaker?
– Order! If honorable members do not refrain from interjecting, I shall have to deal with them.
– Why do you not stop the Minister from cracking jokes?
– Order! The honorable member will remain silent.
– I am sure that all honorable members will applaud the Government’s spectacular action in this experimental attempt to meet the special circumstances of people - men and women alike - who are most in need of additional assistance.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Statement for the year 1957-58 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to Section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1957 (Advance to the Treasurer).
That the Statement be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole House at the next sitting.
– by leave - In the last month the world has been faced by what could have been a major threat to the independence of two small countries in the
Middle East. To meet urgent appeals for assistance from the Lebanon and Jordan and to sustain confidence, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to send forces there.
The Australian Government has been kept promptly and most fully informed of all developments in the situation, both in the Lebanon and in Jordan. As honorable members know, the Australian Government has supported the action taken by the United Kingdom and the United States.
For several years, propaganda and subversion emanating from Cairo, and latterly also from Damascus, have been directed against established governments in the Middle East which have maintained normal relationships with the West. These hostile tactics were stepped up in the Lebanon last May, inflaming a domestic political controversy to the point where armed rebellion took place against the government of President Chamoun. It is not my purpose here to enter into a discussion of the internal problems facing the Lebanese Government, but I do say - and all the evidence points in this direction - that domestic political differences within the Lebanon were denied a domestic political solution by blatant interference from other countries.
This interference was of two kinds. The more insidious kind was subversion by hostile radio propaganda. In a country like the Lebanon, where two-thirds of the population are illiterate, the radio is a most formidable subversive weapon. The second kind of interference was even more serious. I refer to the large scale introduction of arms and armed men from Syria. In these circumstances, the situation in the Lebanon had ceased to be a domestic political one, and the independence and integrity of the country itself was threatened by hostile external forces. On 13th May, President Chamoun stated that “ massive Syrian and Egyptian aid “, including “ automatic weapons and grenade throwers “, was being supplied to the Lebanese rebels.
It was against this background that the Lebanese Government lodged a complaint with both the Arab League and the Security Council on 22nd May against United Arab Republic interference. The United Arab Republic agreed to a discussion of the matter by the Arab League, but no decision was reached in that group. As honorable members may know, the Arab League is composed of representatives of all Middle East and North African Arab states. A few days later, on 11th June, the Security Council resumed discussion of the Lebanese complaint and adopted a Swedish resolution to appoint a United Nations observer group to operate in the Lebanon.
After a month of inconclusive operations by the United Nations observer group, infiltration into the Lebanon from outside still continued. The Lebanese Government, considering that the machinery set up by the United Nations had not succeeded in eliminating the external threat to Lebanon’s independence and integrity, decided to seek the assistance of its friends within the framework of the United Nations. President Chamoun, backed in writing by his Cabinet, sought immediate and effective assistance on the Syrian border from the United States, United Kingdom and France. The United States complied with this request and landed a force at Beirut on the afternoon of 15th July. On the same day America reported her action to an emergency meeting of the Security Council, and undertook to withdraw promptly her forces from the Lebanon as soon as the United Nations could institute adequate measures to meet the situation.
In answering the Lebanese Government’s appeal for help, the United States took into account its independent evidence of the nature and extent of the infiltration which had been, and still was, taking place. Some of this evidence was produced by the United States representative in the Security Council on 16th July. On the same day the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom said that over the preceding few days columns of vehicles had been seen crossing the frontier from Syria near Tripoli in the north of the Lebanon, where the insurgents were in strength.
In the Security Council, Mr. Cabot Lodge representing the United States, quoted the following as a few of the countless acts of intervention by Egypt and Syria: -
In June, the Lebanese Druze rebel leader, Kamal Jumblatt, admitted that he was accepting aid from the United Arab Republic, and later he acknowledged Syrian aid, including radio transmitters and receivers.
On 8th July, a Lebanese aircraft attacked a large truck convoy in the Lebanon, near the Syrian frontier, and after an exchange of fire the convoy turned back towards Syria.
Syrian paratroops on 9th July were reported to be preparing to infiltrate into the Lebanon and seize the Beirut airport.
The United States State Department has published detailed intelligence reports from various sources covering a period from 11th May to 21st June, which clearly reflect external intervention by the United Arab Republic.
The extremely difficult task of the United Nations observer group was to report on infiltration into the Lebanon of men and arms from outside. Its limitations need to be clearly understood if its reports are to be kept in proper perspective.
The fact is .that the observer group, of less than 100, which commenced operations in the Lebanon on 19th June had access at that date only to 11 miles of the 172 miles of the border between the Lebanon and Syria. It had no observation posts established in any rebel-held area by the date of its first report on 3rd July. It was not until its second report on 15th July that the observer group claimed that it had access to “ all parts of the frontier “. Under these circumstances, it is clear that the observer group had not made - nor was it in a position to make - a definitive report on the state of the border at the time of the American landing on 15th July.
And there is this to be said. It is beyond doubt that a great deal of infiltration of men and arms had already taken place, even before the United Nations observers reached the Lebanon. The observers had to work through interpreters. The frontier area most vulnerable to infiltration was in the hands of the rebels, whose obvious motive was to ensure that the observers did not obtain evidence of infiltration. It is difficult, as I know from personal experience, for any outsider to tell the difference between a Syrian and a Lebanese, or to tell, after the event, where they obtained their arms.
However, in spite of all this, there is everything to be said now for establishing this observer group effectively on the border - late in the day though it is. But there is no warrant for arguing that serious external interference with the Lebanon has not gone on and was not going on up to and almost certainly after 15th Wy. The facts are known to the Lebanese Government and to the governments whose assistance it sought. Moreover, the Security Council, with no dissentients, as the Soviet Union abstained on the resolution, had, as long ago as 11th June, accepted that the situation warranted the sending of observers urgently “ to ensure that there was no illegal infiltration of personnel or supply of arms or other material across the Lebanese borders “.
King Hussein of Jordan, who has shown great courage in his handling of a situation which threatened him, and which still threatens him, has consistently supported the idea of Arab nationalism - indeed to the point where he discarded measures which Jordan had earlier adopted. He had replaced Glubb Pasha and British officers in the Arab Legion by Jordanian officers, and in October, 1956, he signed a military agreement with Syria and Egypt establishing a joint military command of the three countries under the Egyptian Chief of Staff. Jn March, 1957, King Hussein terminated the Anglo-Jordanian Treaty of 1948. King Hussein, far from opposing Arab nationalism, had given every evidence of making concessions to his reading of it. Whether that was wise or not is another matter.
However, in spite of this King Hussein and his regime refused to bow the knee to the United Arab Republic, which has been conducting a virulent campaign of subversion, bribery and hostile propaganda against Jordan in recent times.
Armed revolt against the King and Government in Jordan was planned for early July but was discovered and suppressed. Following the overthrow of the Iraqi government, a further coup was planned in Jordan for 17th July. The King and Prime Minister of Jordan requested immediate aid from the United Kingdom and the United States, stating that Jordan was faced with an imminent attempt by the United Arab Republic to create internal disorder and to overthrow the present regime.
United Kingdom reports confirmed the Jordanian assessment of the position and accordingly the United Kingdom Government flew parachutists into Amman on the early morning of 17th July. The British forces were to act only in agreement with the King and Government of Jordan. It was stipulated that they were neither to be used against Iraq nor for the purpose of releasing Jordanian troops for action against Iraq. As in the case of American action in the Lebanon, the United Kingdom assistance to Jordan was immediately brought to the notice of the Security Council, on 17th July, and the United Kingdom made it clear that, as soon as the Security Council could make arrangements to protect the lawful government of Jordan from the external threat, the United Kingdom forces would be withdrawn.
This survey must contain some reference to Iraq. I do not propose to deal with the Iraqi coup in detail except to say that there can be no condoning the murder by the mob of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, Nuri el Said, and leading members of the government - a government which had done more than any other in the Middle East to use its revenues for developmental schemes. Nuri’s policy of devoting the bulk of Iraq’s large oil revenues to longrange developmental projects may have been largely responsible for his downfall - rather than allocating some part of the large revenues to the short-range benefit of the average Iraqi, whose standard of living is low. I ventured to suggest this to him when I last met him in London last year, but he continued to believe that the statesmanlike policy was to build up the Iraqi economy from .the bottom, on strong foundations.
The new Iraqi Government has so far behaved with propriety towards other governments and has been accorded recognition by a large number of them, including the United Kingdom, the United States, the members of the Baghdad Pact, Canada, New Zealand, India and a number of other countries. In the light of assurances which the new regime has given and of the effective control which it appears to have over the country, the Australian Government has decided to extend diplomatic recognition to the new Government of Iraq.
The new government has not formally terminated its membership of the Baghdad Pact and no action has been taken by the remaining members of the Baghdad Pact to force any decision on the new regime. In view of the Defensive Treaty signed by Iraq with President Nasser in Damascus, there can be no confident expectation that the new Iraqi regime will decide to continue in the Baghdad Pact, which is now left with three Muslim members (Turkey, Pakistan and Iran) and the United Kingdom. Although the United States is not a full member of the Baghdad Pact, Mr. Dulles signed a declaration at the end of the recent London meeting of the Baghdad Pact members, the effect of which is that the United States regards itself for all practical purposes as being a full member.
Israel has maintained a correct attitude and has neither taken any action nor made any comment which would exacerbate the situation in the Lebanon and in Jordan. It must be assumed, however, that Israel is closely watching the situation on her borders, and would have cause for concern if encirclement by the United Arab Republic became a possibility. It would be tragic if any action were taken by any party which reactivated the Arab-Israel dispute.
It needs to be emphasized -
That American action in the Lebanon and British action in Jordan was taken only after specific and urgent requests had been received from the lawfully constituted governments of those two countries;
That these requests were made as a result of sustained indirect aggression from the United Arab Republic which took the form of hostile propaganda, incitement to violence, use of agents and the infiltration of arms and personnel;
That in each case the United States and United Kingdom respectively reported their action to the Security Council and undertook to withdraw as soon as the United Nations could provide adequate safeguards;
That the British and American forces have not been engaged in combat; nor do they threaten the political independence or integrity of any State.
I emphasize these facts as a preliminary to examining some of the extraordinary arguments of those who condemn the United States and United Kingdom decisions.
Attempts have been made - in Australia as well as elsewhere - to create the impression that the movement of forces into the Lebanon and Jordan was without justification in international law including the law of the United Nations Charter.
I believe that the legality of the movement of forces into these two countries cannot be in any doubt. There is nothing in the United Nations Charter and no principle of international law, which denies to the lawful government of independent States the right, whether by treaty or otherwise, to bring foreign forces into their territories for the purpose of defence against any situation which is inspired or supported from outside. Indeed, it would be an extraordinary and calamitous situation, full of the most disquieting prospects for many small countries, if the doctrine were accepted that it is illegal for the forces of one country to be located in the territory of another when a request has been made by the legal government. Those who are prepared to accept the responsibility of arguing this strange doctrine must be prepared equally to argue that there is no justification for American, British or Canadian forces being located in Nato countries in Western Europe as a deterrent to aggression and to be used in defensive armed action if aggression should occur.
There is also the fact of Russian forces in the countries of Eastern Europe, presumably there at the request of the governments of those countries. And, closer to home, there are United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australian forces in Malaya, at the specific request of the Government of Malaya.
Is it to be argued that, when a small country tells its friends that it fears for its survival and lacks confidence that a group of unarmed observers will be capable of preventing disaster, that that country should be left friendless and alone while investigations and discussions in the United Nations proceed? What assurance is this when the small country concerned knows that there is a Russian veto which will be cynically applied in the Security Council, and a General Assembly procedure which, in the nature of its workings, could offer no immediate help?
It must be remembered that it can take weeks - perhaps months - before the United
Nations could provide any effective help - if, in the face of the Russian veto, it could ever do so. A coup and a bloodbath could be brought about in a matter of days or even hours. I would remind the purist critics in this comfortably distant part of the world that they might be inclined to abandon their comfortable theoretical assumptions if their life, or death, depended on it, and the continued independence of their country.
It is not that the General Assembly has failed to condemn indirect acts fomenting civil strife and subverting the will of the people in any State. It did so in specific terms in resolutions as long ago as 1949 and 1950. In 1950 the General Assembly of the United Nations reaffirmed that whatever weapons are used, any aggression, whether committed openly or by fomenting civil strife in the interests of a foreign Power or otherwise, is the gravest of all crimes against peace and security throughout the world.
For a number of years the Egyptian Government-owned radio “ Voice of the Arabs “ has been openly broadcasting over its eleven transmitters virulent incitement to subversion and revolt against established governments in such Middle East and African countries as had normal relations with the West.
On four different occasions, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed resolutions condemning the use of such propaganda designed to provoke and promote threats to the peace. Such resolutions have gone unheeded so far as the Government of Egypt was concerned. The recent radio incitement in the “ Kill Hussein “ campaign has been Egypt’s answer to the United Nations.
I do not wish to be told that the Australian Government has no confidence in the United Nations, which is demonstrably untrue. But it is true to say that the Government is obliged - reluctantly if you like - but obliged, to recognize that there are situations for which the normal machinery of the United Nations is at present inadequate. Here in Australia we should reflect seriously on the implications for our own part of the world of relying solely upon decisions in organs of the United Nations for the physical protection of a country against an external threat. lt should be a cause for great satisfaction that two great democracies have now shown that, acting with a common understanding and approval, they will fill a vacuum in the capacity of the United Nations to act promptly with armed forces; and that they do so only within the principles and confines of the United Nations Charter.
It would be a melancholy and shameful function for the United Nations to have to content itself with an attempt to restore the situation after a defiant ‘ aggressor had already achieved his aims. Anyhow, the restoration of the situation would be a very doubtful business if the United Nations had to be relied upon to bring it about. As we failed to prevent or remedy the situation in Hungary, let us be thankful that the democracies acted in the Lebanon and in Jordan.
President Eisenhower said in his message to Congress that the United States acted pursuant to what the United Nations Charter recognizes as an inherent right - the right of all nations to work together and !o seek help when necessary to preserve their independence. The President emphasized that the action was taken at the request of the Lebanese Government pending the taking of adequate measures by the United Nations and that as soon as the United Nations had acted effectively the American forces would be withdrawn.
The United Kingdom acted to protect the lawful Government of Jordan from undeniable external threats; it acted at the request of that lawful Government and it made it clear that the British troops will be withdrawn once the Security Council had made arrangements to assure the protection of Jordan from external threat and so maintain its peace and security.
Until the discovery of oil in the Middle East over 50 years ago, the Middle East was probably the poorest area in the world. It is a matter of interest that the discovery of oil in the Middle East was due to the initiative of an Australian - William Knox D’Arcy - and was achieved with Australian money. D’Arcy had made a great fortune arising from his partnership in the original Mount Morgan mine near Rockhampton in Queensland. He put a substantial part of his resulting fortune into the D’Arcy Exploration Syndicate, which eventually found oil in Persia, from which grew the
Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which developed into Anglo-Iranian Oil. I mention this fact as a matter of interest to Australians and not as having any particular relevance to the present situation.
Since those early days, the search for oil in many countries of the Middle East has been greatly and successfully intensified - until to-day the Middle East, contains 69 per- cent, of the world’s known oil reserves. It supplies about 75 per cent, of Western Europe’s oil. The order of importance of the Middle East countries as oil producers is - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, in that order.
Australia obtained 48 per cent, of her oil imports from the Middle East in 1956-57. Of this nearly half came from Iran, one-quarter from Kuwait, one-tenth from Bahrein and one-fifteenth from Saudi Arabia. The quantity from Iraq was negligible. I understand that, since 1956-57, the proportion of oil coming to Australia from the Middle East has tended to increase.
To play up the importance of oil as the dominant factor in the present situation is to distract attention from the actual causes of it and from the principles at stake. There is no oil in the Lebanon or in Jordan - nor indeed within many hundreds of miles of either country. If it be thought that intervention was designed to protect the oil pipelines, the answer is that these can be cut in Syria anyway. The Mediterranean outlets of oil pipelines traversing the Lebanon and Jordan could be cut off in Syria. This in itself is enough to show that-
Egypt and Syria - the United Arab Republic - are political rather than economic.
Whilst. Middle East oil is important to the’ economy of Western Europe, it is equally important to the oil-producing countries of the Middle East to have a ready market for their oil. Very real human, social and economic problems would arise if the regulated production and sale of oil were to be interfered with. Millions of workers in Western Europe - as well as Arab workers - depend for their livelihood on oil.
Since Turkey lost her hold on the Middle East as a result of the first world war, Arab, nationalism, has existed, as a conception. Over the years local rivalries amongst Arab States and dynasties have militated against any overall Arab nationalist movement coming about. However, many States in the Middle East have had governments, which have been proper reflections of Arab nationalism. No State in the Middle East was more “ Arab “ than Iraq. Jordan was and is genuinely Arab, also Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. Indeed these countries can claim to be more genuinely Arab than Egypt, which has a population of mixed blood, of which the Arab strain is only a part. The Lebanon regards itself as an Arab State, notwithstanding’ its composite religious community.
The concept of Arab nationalism does not mean that all other Arab States should be brought under the hegemony of Egypt. The refusal of Jordan and the Lebanon to subjugate themselves to Egypt and Syria has been a major cause of the present crisis. lt is the inherent right of any independent Arab State to choose its associations according to its own interests. If it is legitimate for Egypt, Syria and the Yemen to operate in close association with Soviet Russia, it was no less legitimate for Iraq to join the Baghdad Pact with other Muslim States and no less legitimate for Jordan and the Lebanon to maintain normal associations with the West.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that what we are witnessing in the Middle East is an exercise in imperialism, with Egypt as the instigator - in an. effort to dragoon the other States of the Middle East into an organization of which Egypt will be the head, under the rather spurious banner of Arab nationalism. And the uneasiness in the Sudan and Libya, Egypt’s neighbours to the south and west, reflects the possibility that Egypt’s ambitions are not confined to the Middle East.
It also has to be remembered that the Muslim countries of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan - with a combined Muslim population of about 125 millions - although not Middle East countries proper, have unreservedly backed the Western action in. the Lebanon and in Jordan.
Both the United Kingdom and the United States have an established history of encouraging true nationalism and independence. Both countries have made every -effort to co-operate with Arab nationalism. The problem, however, is not one of living with Arab nationalism but of living with the United Arab Republic.
What is the West expected to pay as the price for living with the United Arab Republic? If the events that have taken place in the Middle East are any indication, the price demanded seems to be the demolition of the Baghdad Pact, the abandonment of Israel, the withdrawal of British protection from the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, and the loss of Aden. In other words, absolute withdrawal in favour of Egypt and the Soviet Union. I leave the House to say if these are demands that are .likely to be acceptable to the West.
In the course of what I have said I have explained the analysis which the Government has made of the causes of the present situation. The basic issue was, and is, whether small countries are to be undermined one by one and left by their friends to their fate. Every successful attack, however camouflaged, against the independence of such small states encourages others to repeat the process elsewhere. These attempts would not necessarily be confined to any one area.
In the Middle East, the Government firmly believes that an effective stop needs to be applied to pressures against the independence and the independent policies of small States. If this is to be done, the objective should be to put a brake on the propaganda methods of the United Arab Republic and to halt their continued subversion of other States in the fictitious name of Arab Nationalism. In the crises of the moment it is not to be forgotten that the prevention of Egyptian commando raids upon Israel and of interference with the innocent passage of Israeli cargoes through the Gulf of Akaba has been brought about only by the maintenance of an armed United Nations Police Force, the cost of which is borne by the international community, including Australia.
If these and other hostile activities are to be .brought to an end, the Charter of the United Nations, which is entirely observed by the Western Powers, must equally be observed by Russia, Egypt and Syria.
The task now before the United Nations is to see whether this can be achieved in practice through the machinery of the United Nations. We cannot have the slightest confidence that it will be achieved unless there is United Nations machinery which will enforce observance. For this is the result at which we must aim in the United Nations, and not -merely discussion for its own sake.
I pause here to remark that we ought to be clear in our minds about the difference between the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations in action. It is not a foreign policy to do nothing beyond refer questions to the machinery of the United Nations. The founders of the United Nations never intended it. If they had ever hoped that it would be practicable to bring about secure independence and justice by sole reliance on the machinery of the United Nations, the experience of the last fourteen years would provide the answer. It has been demonstrated that grave obstacles exist in the United Nations against executive action in defence of the principles written into its Charter.
When timely and effective action was needed, the United States and Britain took it, and this action the Australian Government endorses unreservedly. But it may yet be possible to settle the problems of the Middle East through the United Nations. It is the Government’s view that the effort should be made.
The Australian Government welcomed the idea of a summit meeting on Middle East questions inside the Security Council. The merit of this was more than a matter of continuity. Discussion amongst the leaders of the Great Powers would have taken place, if this had been achieved, in the Security Council against the background of the Charter and the resolutions of the United Nations. In this way the discussion would have dealt, as we believe it should, with first things first, namely the situation in the Lebanon and Jordan and the causes of those situations. It was our view that a place in the discussion should be found for those Middle East countries which are immediately and directly concerned. At the same time, nothing was to be gained by opening participation to all comers and there should have been a strict definition of interest and involvement.
It was not our view that the threats to the Lebanon and Jordan need be the limit of the discussion. Procedures are flexible and the opportunity should be taken of testing the possibilities of agreement among the leaders of the Great Powers on other Middle East questions.
Unfortunately, there have been differences of emphasis among the three Western Powers, while the position of the Soviet Union keeps changing. The latest development is that Mr. Khrushchev is alleged to have rejected the proposal for a summit meeting inside the Security Council, and instead has apparently pressed for a special meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
It is too much to hope that the deepseated antipathies, rivalries, and imperialist ambitions underlying past crises in the Middle East can be eliminated at one stroke. But it seems to the Government that what might first be done is to create an environment in which Governments can work out their policies free of external pressures. To this end, the Australian Government favours the creation of a United Nations Commission, composed of the representatives of governments and located in the Middle East. It would be charged with the responsibility of investigating, verifying, and publicly reporting to the United Nations all external acts or threats of interference and subversion, whether direct or indirect. Such a commission would remain in existence until the Middle East showed signs of permanent stability. The commission’s vigilance would need to be backed by a United Nations Police Force to act effectively in controlling threatened borders. The cost of such a police force would be insignificant in comparison with the cost of continued aggression and unrest in one of the most sensitive areas of the world, and the Australian Government therefore favours this course of action.
United Nations jurisdiction and action on these lines would create an atmosphere more favorable to the solution of one of the root causes of the explosive conditions in the Middle East, namely the ArabIsraeli problem and the absence of a settlement of borders. We believe that with some progress on the Israeli question it would be possible to examine whether the flow of arms can be checked and some more effective guarantee of nationhood provided than at present exists. To date, no Arab country has been free to decide, calmly and logically, its attitude towards Israel because of the emotional opposition which would be expressed by other Arab countries, all of whom have vied with one another in the degree of their antipathy to the State of Israel.
Introduction of United Nations machinery into the Middle East is only a beginning, the effect of which would be to create a less emotional and less explosive atmosphere. Basic political disputes would remain to be solved by negotiation. Even that is not enough. The aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East for economic advancement must be recognized. Economic development for the benefit of the peoples of the Middle East should be made a matter of world interest founded on the concept of inter-dependence. This inter-dependence exists and cannot be denied. The Australian Government favours the creation of an international organization to assist countries of the Middle East to develop their resources and develop mutually beneficial trade with the rest of the world. Progress in this direction would facilitate the re-settlement of nearly 1,000,000 Palestinian Arab refugees, with Israel making its due contribution.
In this way, genuine Arab nationalism could find the fulfilment of its aspirations in harmony with the interests of the Western Powers and to the mutual advantage of each other.
It cannot be said that the problems in the Lebanon and in Jordan have yet by any means been resolved, although, thanks to the prompt action of the United Kingdom and the United States, the fall of these two States has been averted and their independence saved. This in itself will be a heartening thing to many small States in many parts of the world which no doubt will have put themselves in the place of the threatened Middle East States. The next phase will no doubt be staged in the special United Nations Assembly meeting, the result of which no doubt the world will await with no little anxiety. It is a very great satisfaction to us to know that at this time of crisis the United Kingdom and the United States are standing firmly and confidently together - with some risk to themselves - in the face of threats to the integrity and independence of small nations.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Middle East Situation - Ministerial Statement, 6th August, 1958- and move -
That the paper be printed.
.- No matter how the circumstances are stated, the situation that has developed in our relationship to the Middle East is regrettable. The people of Australia would like this Government to have been more positive in its support of the United Nations and the authority of that organization. No matter how eloquent the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) might be in his statement of the detailed features of recent developments, 1 believe that his explanation was not conclusive or satisfactory when we consider his record and the record of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this situation.
The Government has vacillated badly. At first it had no opinion at all on the situation in the Middle East. Then the Minister for External Affairs dismissed the suggestion that the forum of the United Nations was the place where the grave situation in the Middle East should be discussed. The right honorable gentleman dismissed with a wave of the hand as absurd the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that the United Nations should take steps immediately to convene talks on the situation. Then, in a matter of days, the Minister reversed his views completely and stated that he was prepared to go along with the idea. The Prime Minister gave the latest version of Government thinking on this matter in a broadcast speech. In the first instance, his attitude was to link the fortunes of Australia with the actions that had been taken in the Middle East by the Western powers. Then the right honorable gentleman changed his opinion. The United Kingdom Government appeared to take a more popular line in conformity with that which had been adopted by both the United Kingdom Labour party and the Australian Labour party from the beginning of the crisis.
The Prime Minister of Australia now speaks as though he had long held the same beliefs. He has supported the suggestion that the United Nations should act in the grievous situation that besets the world and still needs to be resolved. It has been a pathetic record of incompetence on the part of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs who are charged with representing the views of this nation. From his first pronouncement, the Leader of the Opposition has shown consistency and a complete understanding in his thinking on the manner in which the nations should have conducted themselves under these threats to world peace.
In the present circumstances, is it any wonder that men and women throughout the world despair of nations resolving the problems of rival interests? Basically, it is not the national claims of peoples that give rise to the rivalries in the present situation but the eager desire of wealthy interests to conserve property rights, in this instance, oil in the Middle East. These tremendous and powerful interests dictate national policies and can even make men march in military quest. No matter how we view such a march of events, the movement of military and naval forces in the Middle East accentuates resentment and even hatred. It gravely offends the nations who wish to govern in their own right. It exercises a restraint on popular movements and denies the right of peoples to self determination. The uncertainties of recent weeks and the resort to the old tragic policies of violence which resulted in the killing of the King and the Prime Minister of Iraq must be deplored, but this situation will not be corrected by external forces interfering in localized uprisings. The actions of the United States of America and the United Kingdom have not earned any goodwill in the Middle East. If anything, they have done irreparable harm to the prestige of the free nations.
I should like to emphasize two aspects of the situation. One relates to a matter which was raised by the Minister for External Affairs concerning the intervention of armed forces in Lebanon. The right honorable gentleman did not emphasize one extremely important point in this connexion. Observers from the United Nations were in Lebanon before intervention took place. The Minister tried to excuse the circumstances by stating that those observers had only a limited opportunity to observe all the threats that might have been made to the security of Lebanon; but only a matter of days before, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations had actually visited, that: area. to< acquaint himself with the facts and to determine whether the force- of observers was adequate, in the circumstances, to inform, the. United Nations fully on. any threat to- the peace and security of that area. The SecretaryGeneral returned to United Nations headquarters absolutely satisfied that there was no immediate threat to the security of Lebanon at that juncture.
It is remarkable, therefore, that, within a matter of days, intervention actually occurred. I. believe that there could be no justification for. action of that kind at least until those who represented the United Nations on: the spot especially for that purpose had indicated definitely that the situation was threatening. The free world has yet to be told why an endeavour was made to avoid and deny the obligation that was owing to the United Nations.
Unfortunately, there is a disposition on the part of many of the major powers to by-pass the authority of the United Nations and to disregard its service to the world. I am very deeply concerned that the United Nations organization is only accepted by some nations as a channel of convenience when it suits them. At other times they absolutely ignore it. That attitude will not help resolve the problems of the world, nor will it gain for the United Nations the authority that it should possess in order to maintain peace and resolve problems which are common to many parts of our world and which are likely to lead to an uprising or intervention of some kind. That being so, we have reason to require that the United Nations organization shall be made all the more powerful and’ effective as an instrument of peace in world affairs.
There are certain matters that I should like to emphasize. One is the appallingly, low standard of life of the majority of people in the Middle East. Although, the. influence of the Western world has been considerable in that area, little seems to have been done to improve living standards. Here is one of the richest areas in the world. I have a paper prepared by the Leader of the Opposition in another place in which he has estimated the petroleum resources of the Middle East at 9,000,000,000 tons. The total proved oil reserves of that area are two and a half times as great as those of the United States of America.
Let us consider the unhappy lot of the millions- of people in the Middle East who have neither shelter nor permanent domicile. Those of us who have visited the Middle East have seen the tragic picture of the countless numbers who have only the pavement as a place to sleep. Disease and illiteracy in that area represent a terrible blot on the record of the world powers which have gained so much from it. The Minister for External Affairs acknowledged, in his speech, the- great extent of illiteracy in Middle East countries. Some new and better way of life is called for if the rights of these peoples as set out in the Charter of Human Rights are to be acknowledged.
When we consider the vested interests of the British, American, French and Dutch oil companies, we can realize how great is the power that lies behind the diplomacy governing these countries. Of course, we are aware that some near neighbours view with envious eyes these possessions. But even that fact has not justified the hasty action by military and naval forces which have been projected into the Middle East For our lifetime, the Arab countries will suspect our intentions. No matter how one looks at the Middle East, it is. clear that the Western nations have not enhanced their standing with the nationals of this part of our world. The Western nations have even driven such countries as Egypt nearer to the Soviet which is ever ready to capitalize on the mistakes of Western policy.
Some leaders of the Western world require to realize that we are living in a world of new ideas and ambitions. The peoples- of subject nations seek, first, freedom from foreign domination, whether it is exercised through out-dated colonialism or the patronizing hand of those who wish to gain material advantage. The spirit of nationalism is fired by a resurgence against poverty and a determination to provide a wider opportunity for the people to have a richer and better way of life. Who is there to say that that is not their just right?
It is regrettable that, at this moment, the major nations show such unwillingness to facilitate talks that would give to the world an assured way to peace and good understanding. It is to be earnestly hoped that there will be continued efforts to overcome the difficulties that have arisen. It certainly would appear that the world needs some new managers who will be nearer to the people and who will be able to express more effectively the ambition of the moment to make a better way of life available to everybody. I know some of the men who are the principal advisers in world affairs and I am not encouraged by either their abilities or their ambitions. The world needs a new team to work for peace.
Among those who differ from the viewpoint of the Australian Labour party are a number of people who strongly criticize our outspokenness about the attitude adopted by the United States of America and the United Kingdom. These people imply that we have little to say against the Communist leaders. Let us see where our liability lies. Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth and we would find ourselves committed equally with other members of the Commonwealth in the event of warlike activities. We acknowledge the part played by the United States in world leadership, but this acknowledgment does not require that we should accept the American attitude to every situation as consistent with our beliefs. Surely the United States is the first country the attitude of which we should examine for, in so many ways, it claims to speak for the free peoples of the Western world with which community of nations we claim to be identified. To whom should we speak, more frankly than to those who undertake missions that must inevitably involve us in their consequences?
We are nonetheless critical of those who pose their belief in peace and still disturb it. They do this by their war of nerves and the barriers that they erect to the expression of the will of the people in the most free and democratic way. Communism has much to answer for in denying free democracy to millions of people under its domination. Surely the issue has become whether the rights of humans shall be the first consideration or not. People desire to have their own way of life, with some attention being given to their needs and efforts. I have seen people, amid all the wealth represented by their countries’ possessions, existing in the direst poverty - in: dire destitution, disease, illiteracy and, in some countries, actual enslavement.
The peoples of the world have a new outlook on human rights and, in accordance with the United Nations charter, they are determined to strive for a better way of life. That applies to the Middle East just as it does to other parts of the world.
.- I find it somewhat hard to understand just where the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) stands. He commenced his speech by condemning the rebels in Iraq for the murder of the royal family and the Prime Minister. Yet, in his next breath, the honorable member condemned the action of the United States of America and the United Kingdom for moving into the Lebanon and Jordan in order to prevent similar occurrences in those countries, which were threatened with exactly the same situation as developed so spontaneously and so suddenly in Iraq. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said this afternoon, and as we know from our study of newspapers during the past months, ever since the Suez crisis occurred and President Nasser obtained influence among the Arab nations, he has used propaganda and bribery in an effort to subvert the controlling powers or governments of various countries in the Middle East. I have had an opportunity to read the texts of some of the broadcasts going out from the eleven radio stations in Egypt, calling on the people of Jordan to rise up and murder their king. Those broadcasts called on the people of Jordan to repeat what they did to King Hussein’s grandfather, Abdullah. “ Murder the king! “ was the cry over the radio stations under the control of Nasser. The same situation was developing in the Lebanon. Yet, whilst the honorable member for Bonython deplores the situation that developed in Iraq, he says that the United States of America and the United Kingdom should have kept out of Jordan and the Lebanon, and allowed more murders to occur. How does he reconcile those views with the Christian background that he professes? I fail to understand how he possibly can do so.
The honorable member claimed that the Secretary-General of the United Nations organization, Mr. Hammarskjoeld, went to the Lebanon and made an effective inspection with a very limited and small group of observers. He reported to the United
Nations organization that no action of a police nature would be required - that no intervention was necessary. The group of United Nations observers had access to only eleven miles of a frontier of 172 miles. As a result the remainder of the frontier was wide open, and does any honorable member declare that President Chamoun was lying when he claimed that the rebels were receiving machine guns, grenade-throwers, and other arms and equipment to support their attempt to overthrow the government? If you deny President Chamoun’s statement, how can you reconcile the fact that the leader of the rebels proclaimed to the world that he was, in fact, receiving such assistance from over the Syrian border? The situation in the Lebanon was critical. It is impossible to tell the difference between a person from the Lebanon and a person from Syria. There is this continual movement across the border. How could Mr. Hammarskjoeld claim, with any degree of certainty, that the Syrians were not crossing the border and supporting the rebels in their attempt to overthrow the Government of the Lebanon? We know that an attempt was made on the life of the President of the Lebanon when a road that he was travelling along was mined with’ an explosives-filled taxi-cab that had a wheel off. An attempt was actually made on his life. Intervention in the Lebanon by the United States of America and the United Kingdom has clearly prevented further bloodshed and murder in the Middle East area.
I feel that some comment should be made on the action of Mr. Khrushchev in refusing to meet Western leaders at the conference that was agreed to by the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Honorable members will recollect that Mr. Khrushchev first called upon the Western Powers for a summit meeting. When the Western Powers received Mr. Khrushchev’s note, it was realized that if Mr. Khrushchev’s suggestion was accepted it would be tantamount to an insult to the United Nations organization. Mr. Khrushchev wanted to ignore completely the United Nations organization. He wanted to ignore completely the smaller powers in the world. He wanted to wipe off the United Nations Security Council as something that did nol even warrant his recognition. Mr. Khrushchev said, “ Let the great, powerful nations meet together to decide what will happen in the Middle East “. Quite properly, the United Kingdom and the United States of America refused to meet Mr. Khrushchev in those circumstances. The United Nations organization was established to deal with such matters.
When the United Kingdom and the United States of America sent their troops into the Middle East they said that the troops would remain there only until the United Nations could give effective protection to those countries to prevent a coup taking place. Mr. Khrushchev has now decided that he will reject the proposal that was put forward by the United States of America and the United Kingdom, who said that a summit conference should be held under the auspices of the United Nations organization so that the United Nations organization, our real hope for peace in the world, will not be white-anted and destroyed. Let it not be claimed that the United States of America or the United Kingdom contributed one iota to whiteanting the United Nations organization by putting their troops into this area. Those troops have not carried out any belligerent actions. They have remained passive Certainly, they are armed and equipped, but they are not causing bloodshed. Rather have they prevented bloodshed. They are there temporarily - until the United Nations organization is ready to move. It was a most laudable action on the part of the United States of America and the United Kingdom to intervene and accept the responsibility of saving those countries from destruction.
We are aware that President Nasser, with the assistance of Syria, recently formed the United Arab League. With Syria and Egypt combined, and with the assistance of Russia, it is Nasser’s ambition to subvert the other countries of the Middle East to his will. He wants to become dictator of the Arab nations. He would hold the world to ransom. He wants to be virtual dictator of the Middle East and, as he has announced over the radio, those who stand in his way will be destroyed. If anybody in this Parliament supports actions such as those which have been taken by Nasser and by Syria, I fail to see how he can associate himself with the teachings of Christianity, or claim the Christian background that the previous speaker claimed for himself.
I feel a great deal of apprehension for Turkey in this crisis. We have read of the definite threat that was. made to Turkey by Mr. Khrushchev in October or November of last year. He told the Turks that they must be careful not to remove their troops from the Russo-Turkish border, because if they did they would leave themselves wide open to attack. That statement was published in the “ New York Times “ and received wide publicity. It has been repeated on a number of occasions by Mr. Khrushchev. Since the situation with which we are dealing this afternoon developed in the Middle East, time and again threats have been made by Mr. Khrushchev about what he would do to Turkey in the event of anything developing in the Middle East that could give him an excuse to attack that nation. I am apprehensive that the situation in the Middle East will be deliberately exploited by Soviet Russia for the purpose of destroying Turkey. As we know, there have been claims of build-ups of Syrian and Turkish troops along their borders. It would not be very difficult for Mr. Khrushchev or for any of his disciples, such as Colonel Nasser, to fabricate a situation which could result in an armed clash. History has shown that part of the policy of Soviet Russia is to foment war and at the same time to cry for peace. It is a wonder that Russia has been able to get away with such tactics for so long. Whilst causing bloodshed and fomenting war, it screams to the world for peace. I am apprehensive that a situation will develop on the border between Syria and Turkey which will cause Russia to move against the Turks. This is a reasonable assumption. In fact, it is a repetition of a statement made by Mr. Khrushchev himself, first in October or November of last year, and repeated from time to time in recent weeks.
We can only hope that if our country is ever faced with a similar situation, we shall be able to claim and get the support of countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. We have to bear in mind that Australia might well be faced with such a crisis in the not distant future. It is even possible that the situation developing in the Middle East could be related to the reported build-up of aircraft on the China coast, possibly for an attack on Quemoy or Formosa. It could be that this situation in the Middle East will be exploited by the Chinese Communists, because the tactics of the Communists in the past have been to move points of crisis from one place to another - from Europe to Asia, from Asia to the Middle East and then back to Europe. By these movements they have been able to distract attention from their real aim. If a situation should develop in which Australia required assistance, surely no one in this House would deny that intervention by either the United States or the United Kingdom would be urgently required. Surely such intervention would have our whole-hearted approbation.
That is exactly what happened in Jordan. The King of Jordan called to the United Kingdom and asked that troops be sent to his country. What was his reason? Did he want them so that he could wage war on another country? Did he want them so that he could wage war on some political party or section of his community? No. He wanted the United Kingdom to send troops to Jordan merely to protect every section of the community. That too is exactly what President Chamoun did in Lebanon. He cried to the world to send assistance in order to prevent bloodshed in his country. It was that cry that was answered.
We saw what happened on a previous occasion when the Prime Minister of a certain country called to the world to come to his assistance. That cry was ignored. What happened? Russian tanks went into Hungary, and countless thousands of men, women and children were machine-gunned in the streets. The government was destroyed and a puppet government was set up. That it was puppet government was shown clearly by Kadar recently when he announced that it was not for him to determine the answer to the problem, but that it would have to be determined in Moscow. We failed to answer the cry for help from Hungary, and we saw what happened to the people of Hungary. They have been enslaved ever since, with a foreign power imposing its will upon them. The people of Hungary have been deprived of the right of self-determination, and the younger generation of Hungarians have no hope of controlling the destiny of their own country.
That right was taken from them because the world failed to heed the cry that came from President Nagy.
How could we possibly forgive ourselves if we failed to listen to the cry for help that came from President Chamoun of Lebanon and King Hussein of Jordan. I believe that we in this House should be proud to associate ourselves with the United States and the United Kingdom in the actions that they have taken. Anybody who condemns those actions will find it very difficult to justify the stand he has taken. To condemn the support that was given by the United States and the United Kingdom is to suggest that you believe in bloodshed and massacre, and that you do not believe that people should be allowed to reach a peaceful settlement of their problems.
– That is all rubbish.
– A so-called Christian gentleman claims that that is all rubbish. It is true that he claims to be a Christian gentleman, but not once in this Parliament did he condemn the action of the Soviet Union in Hungary. Not once did he raise his voice to condemn the Red Army when it shot down and murdered the people of Hungary. How can he reconcile his Christian background with his present stand? Can he deny that President Chamoun was being defended? Can he deny that the intervention of British troops prevented the King of Jordan from massacre? Does he deny that the Arab radio stations have made appeal after appeal to the people of Jordan to rise and murder their king? If he denies that, we can supply him with transcripts of statements that have been made over President Nasser’s radio network calling for bloodshed, revolution and murder. If he agrees with a policy of bloodshed then he should renounce his church.
I conclude my remarks by saying that I am proud to think that I have British blood and that it was British people who moved into Jordan and prevented further bloodshed from occurring in that country. I am very glad to think that our great ally, the United States, was prepared to move into Lebanon and prevent further bloodshed and murder in that country. I am also very glad to think that the United Nations organization will have an opportunity now to take effective action to ensure that the problems of the Middle East will be solved without bloodshed and in a peaceful manner. It is my fervent wish that the people of the Middle East and the Arab nations of the world will have the power of selfdetermination, that the people of those countries will be able, without interference from Russia or any other power, to determine, shape and mould their own destiny, and that they can pass on to their children the same prerogative.
.- -1 should like first, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to deplore the attack made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) upon two Opposition members who hold views contrary to his own. I deplore, in particular, the aspersions cast upon their Christian background, and the sneering reference by the honorable member for Lilley to the fact that these honorable members are Christian gentlemen. This sort of thing, in my view, should be beneath the dignity of any member of this House. If the integrity of the religious beliefs of an honorable member is to be assailed because he differs from another honorable member, all I can say is that parliamentary government in this country is declining. ‘ I suggest to the honorable member for Lilley, therefore, that, in his calmer moments, he might reflect that his remarks about the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) were hot-headed and irresponsible. The present is not the time for hot-headed swashbuckling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. A very serious question confronts not only this Parliament but all parliaments of the world, and we shall gain nothing by making statements calculated to inflame passions and to call forth inflammatory speeches.
A diagnosis of the trouble in the Middle East leads one to the inescapable conclusion that the issues there are not of recent origin. They extend back over very many years. As a consequence, they are of a most vexed perplexity, and they cannot be resolved by a show of arms. It is true that a show of arms might temporarily resolve such questions, as they have been resolved on other occasions, but any peace arrived at by a show of arms would, of necessity, be a most uneasy peace, and certainly could not be expected to last. Also, we must accept the fact that the only agency that can intervene in the Middle East with any hope of achieving lasting peace is the United Nations. The Australian Labour party makes no apology for the fact that at all times it has maintained that the United Nations is the only body that can achieve permanent peace on a broad basis. All the efforts of this and other parliaments must be directed towards getting the United Nations to assume responsibility for the preservation of peace in the Middle East.
A summit conference under the auspices of that organization would be an immediate way of reducing tension, and I must say that 1 regret to-day’s news that Mr. Khrushchev, the Russian Prime Minister, has thrown a spanner in the works by announcing that he does not agree with the Western suggestions for the constitution of a summit conference. Any one who throws a spanner in the works, whether it is President Eisenhower, Mr. Macmillan or Mr. Khrushchev, merits criticism. Any one, from any country, who is prepared to put obstacles in the way of bringing peace and contentment to the people of the Middle East must be indicted. I regret, therefore, that the Russian Prime Minister - perhaps for reasons that are, from his point of view, legitimate and reasonable - has seen fit at this stage to put further obstacles in the way of the achievement of a more settled and better stabilized situation in the Middle East. I hope that it will not be long before the difficulties advanced by him are resolved and a summit conference is held.
There are numerous reasons for concentrating on action through the United Nations. The main one is that the Middle East cannot be stabilized, either now or in the future, by any agency other than the United Nations. Unless there is positive intervention by the United Nations, the danger of war will accompany every change, or attempted change, of the status quo in any country in the Middle East. Another reason why we should ask the United Nations to take a lead in the Middle East is that it would be in the West’s own interests to do so. If the United States of America and the United Kingdom are not supported by the United Nations, they will be left with military commitments for an indefinite period as a result of the actions that they have recently taken. This, in itself, constitutes an ever-present danger. It presents a multitude of risks. If the
United Nations is not prepared to send police forces to Lebanon or Jordan, what will happen if the Lebanese rebels attack the American forces in Lebanon, or if Jordan tries to unseat the revolutionary government in Iraq? There are all sorts of possibilities. They all point in the one direction - towards a Middle East war that could possibly lead to a world war! But even if there is no outbreak of violence by armed forces in the countries that I have just mentioned, the presence of foreign troops supporting unpopular governments in the Middle East which are not representative of the people in the countries concerned inflames the emotions that are riding the tide of Middle East unrest. Nothing is so encouraging to nationalism as is the sight of a foreign uniform. I hope, therefore, that the United Nations will decide, very promptly, to send police forces to displace the American and British forces that have been sent to the area.
The West has intervened in the Middle East because, in the past, its policies have not been formulated to meet the pressures of Arab nationalism, which have, unfortunately from our point of view, been very skilfully exploited by the Russians. I do not suggest that Russia is without blame. The Russians have plenty to answer for. But we, also, have a lot to answer for, inasmuch as we have allowed ourselves to be outsmarted by Russian propaganda in the Middle East. Unfortunately for us. Russia’s ambitions in the Middle East are being achieved, not by Russian encroachment, but by the encouragement of Arab nationalism. At every conceivable opportunity, the Russians have jumped on the bandwagon of Arab nationalism, and there has been no need for Russian military measures. By these methods of penetration and propaganda, the Russians are achieving results equally as telling as they would have achieved by military expedition.
The Russian policy of support for Arab nationalism has brought shouts of approval from the Arab world, and upset the position of the Western nations in the Middle East. Russia’s policy of propaganda and infiltration has undoubtedly paid substantial dividends. I deeply regret this, because I can see only too clearly the consequences of a turn of events so favorable from the Russian point of view. Both the Baghdad pact and the Eisenhower doctrine are impotent to deal effectively with the kind of activity undertaken by the Soviet in the Middle East. The purpose of the Baghdad pact, of course, is to deal with military aggression, and it is woefully ineffective on the propaganda front. If we wish to catch up with the Russians, Western ideas for countering Russian strategy must be drastically re-shaped. We should not allow ourselves to be manoeuvred into unprofitable opposition to Arab nationalism. Unfortunately, we seem to have been unable to prevent ourselves from being outmanoeuvred in this way. Statements made by public men in the Western world about a certain industry have angered the Arabs, who no longer look with friendly eyes on the Western powers. The Russians, on the other hand, by soft-soaping the Arabs, have placed themselves in the box seat from the propaganda stand-point.
At the present time, discussion centres on the proposal for a summit meeting. Whether we like it or not, to agree to a proposal for the holding of such a meeting implies a recognition of Russia’s right to participate in an agreement by the big nations on the Middle East problem. The proposal for a summit meeting came from Mr. Khrushchev. Any argument about whether the meeting should be held within or outside the United Nations is certainly very cogent. That a summit meeting should be held is vital, but I should prefer it to be held within the United Nations; otherwise the stability of the Middle East will depend directly on relations between the great powers. We do not want that to happen, because the viewpoints of the great powers have the very nasty habit of changing from time to time in the light of circumstances not previously envisaged.
Russia’s right to participate as an equal of the Western powers in a settlement of the Middle East crisis cannot be denied. She is as near to the Middle East as South America is to the United States of America. Not only is her influence in the Middle East to be expected, but also we have observed with our own eyes happenings that have been by no means pleasant. If Russia’s influence cannot be exercised in co-operation with the Western powers, it will be exercised in another direction. That is why we should seek to confer with Russia at a summit level.
Britain is eager to have summit talks. Mr. Macmillan has given an excellent lead in that direction. He has realized that the British people and the major political parties of Britain want summit talks, and in his support of such talks he has expertly displayed the mind of the British people. He is prepared to go anywhere for the talks, but there is no doubt that America is facing the prospect with very much reluctance.
There should not be any scope for dissension amongst the Western nations on the Middle East issue. Unfortunately, there has not been the co-operation that we would desire. The differences between the United States, Britain and France have been most disturbing and have given Russia an opportunity to charge the West with evasion. Mr. Khrushchev, in his reply to-day to the Western notes, indicated that he wanted summit talks under conditions different from those that were proposed originally. So he himself is now guilty of evasion, and the charge of evasion cannot be laid only at the doors of the three great Western powers. The plans of the Western powers have not been co-ordinated; their intentions on the question of summit talks have not been as close as we would have wished. We must face the facts and realize that there is profound disagreement in regard to the object of a Western policy on the Middle East.
On occasions, America’s attitude towards the Middle East is very difficult to understand. She will not sign the Baghdad pact, but she has assumed the responsibilities of a member of the pact without becoming a full member. Why, I do not know. The pact is not strengthened by America’s readiness to support it; her reluctance to commit herself formally to it is puzzling. What is the reason for America’s strange attitude?
Events over the past week or so point to the fact that the Middle East crisis has got no worse. Indeed, I am hoping that it is taking a turn for the better. The election of a new president in Lebanon has somewhat eased the position in that country, but it is unfortunate that ex-President Chamoun, who brought a lot of the trouble on himself in the first place by wanting to alter the Lebanese constitution in order to secure re-election to the presidency, cannot be induced to leave the country as early as possible. General Chehab has just been elected to the presidency, and he will take office in a few weeks time. I should have thought that, in the interests of the preservation of peace in that unfortunate country, President Chamoun would have got out as quickly as possible. Apparently he is so intent on preserving his dignity that he does not intend to leave until his term of office expires. He is prepared to remain and perhaps plunge the country into further bloodshed. On the question of bloodshed, 1 profoundly disagree with the threats of assassination that have been made by Nasser over the Arab radio. I should say that President Chamoun’s decision not to leave the Lebanon until his term of office expires is* on a par with Nasser’s pronouncement about bloodshed. I hope the great powers will say to President Chamoun. “ In your own interests and in the interests of peace in Lebanon, get out within a day or two “. I am certain that such an approach is necessary; otherwise, we are likely to have a recurrence of the trouble that was experienced a few weeks ago.
It is very heartening to all supporters of the United Nations that the advice of firebrands throughout the world to the effect that hostilities should be commenced against the new Iraqi Government was not heeded. There were many people in this country who suggested that we should immediately attack the new government. King Hussein of Jordan would not have needed much encouragement; he would have led an expedition personally. But wiser counsels prevailed. That has been very pleasing, because hostilities against the new Government of Iraq could have been a spark that ignited a world-wide conflagration. I repeat that it has been very pleasing to see some semblance of sanity and statesmanship amongst the people who count, and that that very stupid advice regarding the commencement of hostilities against Iraq was disregarded.
Luckily from our viewpoint, the new Iraqi Government has avoided an antiWestern attitude; it has shown that it is quite prepared to live up to the obligations that were incurred by the previous government. I hope - in fact, I am sure - that if the new Government of Iraq is given no provocation, relations with the Western Powers will once . again be placed on an even keel. It seems that national feeling in Lebanon will simmer down if commonsense prevails. Let me say again that I hope Lebanon and Iraq will be given no provocation that will lead to a recurrence of the recent trouble. The West may not receive the same favorable treatment from Iraq and Lebanon that it has received in the past, but we must acknowledge the fact that conditions have changed somewhat in recent months.
Certain developments may occur in Jordan which at first may not be palatable lo the West. It is by no means certain thai the hold that King Hussein has on the Jordan throne is secure. It may well bc that the concerted attitude of the people of that country will force him to abdicate. If that happens, I hope there will not be a further outcry from the firebrands that we should immediately rush to his rescue. Any position that may arise should be considered calmly and dispassionately in the light of all the available evidence.
If there cannot be general agreement on the problems of the Middle East, at least we should endeavour to isolate the danger spots. I am satisfied that, by the application of commonsense and sweet reason, we can isolate those spots in Lebanon and Iraq. We should insist on no more military expeditions. The main issues of the Middle East problem can be resolved, even to a partial degree, only by a summit conference. It is true that the way to a settlement bristles with difficulties. The three basic causes of unrest in the Middle East are poverty, the Arab hatred of Israel, which is most unfortunate, and Soviet-Egyptian intrigues. They constitute difficulties of the greatest magnitude. The way to any settlement will be uphill and rough, but any further delay in the holding of a summit conference will only create greater difficulties than those which already confront us. The centuries-old poverty of the Middle East, contrasted against the incredible wealth of a few, such as the rulers of the oilproducing areas who possess innumerable Cadillacs and sit on golden thrones, must cause unrest, lt is unfortunate that the United Nations has not given some sensible advice to those people who flaunt their wealth in the face of their compatriots.
The sovereignty of Israel must be guaranteed. We must not, under any circumstances, throw Israel to the wolves. I appreciate the feelings of the Arabs towards Israel, but irrespective of those feelings, we must not say that Israel should be sacrificed in the interests of Middle East unity.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Once again, the House is indebted to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for the presentation of a statement. In this instance, he has given the House information about the present situation in the Middle East. Once again, the presentation is in concise and logical terms, giving the facts and realities of the situation which faces us, and the thoughts of the Government upon them. I feel that members of the Opposition have lost sight of the fact that the Government has never suggested that the United Nations should not be considered in this matter or that the United Nations should not be the body that ultimately determines the solution of the situation. In fact, as has been pointed out, both the United Kingdom and the United States reported to the United Nations the action that they had taken, and asked the United Nations to take over the responsibility which undoubtedly belongs to it.
Therefore, I am at a loss to understand certain statements made by members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) said that there was no proof of the existence of a threat to the established government of Lebanon. I feel that that statement was answered quite conclusively by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). He referred to the fact, which is now known to all, that United Nations observers were not allowed to go into most of Lebanon to see whether or not there was infiltration. Thus, even the United Nations observers and the Secretary-General himself would appear to be in exactly the same position as a person who went into a house where a burglary had been reported, saw only two of ten rooms, and then came out and said that there was no evidence whatsoever that a burglar had been in the house.
The action of the United Kingdom and the United States was really a taking-over of responsibility which was not accepted by the United Nations at that time, upon invitation by those who knew and appre ciated the situation as a result of first-hand experience. The honorable member for Bonython said that the major nations have shown a reluctance to get together to discuss this problem. He said that he knew quite a number of the people concerned. I imagine that he does not know Mr. Khrushchev. The inference that I draw - I may be wrong - is that he was referring to the leaders of Western countries, particularly of the United States and the United Kingdom. I would say not that they have shown a reluctance to get together at a summit conference to discuss international problems, but that they have shown a reluctance to hold a conference until they are at least convinced of the sincerity of Mr. Khrushchev, and are informed of the factors to be discussed at that summit conference. Our experience is that Russia has broken every promise she made at Geneva. Therefore, there are doubts as to the sincerity of the Russians in regard to a summit conference.
The honorable member for Bonython said that the United Nations should assume the responsibility. That is a view which he has in common with supporters of this Government, and with the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States. They are desirous that the United Nations should accept responsibility for this situation. They desire to see that the situation does not deteriorate to such a degree that there is no responsibility to assume.
We know the situation in regard to Hungary. It was my privilege last year to attend the final meeting of the eleventh General Assembly, when the matter of Hungary was discussed. This has been referred to by the honorable member for Lilley. Honorable members will recall that in the final debate, 60 members voted against the Russians, thereby condemning them for their actions in Hungary, ten members supported the actions of the Russians, and ten members abstained from voting. There was a vast majority of members against the Russians, yet that majority did not save the life of one of those Hungarians who revolted.
The Minister for External Affairs said -
Is it to be argued that, when a small country tells its friends that it fears for its survival and lacks confidence that a group of unarmed observers will be capable of preventing disaster - that that country should be left friendless and alone while investigations and discussions in the United Nations proceed? What assurance is this when the small country concerned knows that there is a Russian veto which will be cynically applied in the Security Council, and a General Assembly procedure which, in the nature of its workings, could offer no immediate help?
I think that the answer is there. We believe that the United Nations must accept responsibility and that in the United Nations lies hope for the peace and security of the world. But we believe also that within the framework of the constitution of the United Nations there must also be room for action to be taken by ourselves in certain circumstances, when we realize that the United Nations cannot act in time to prevent loss of life.
There is the evidence of a situation that has developed over a period of years. I regret to say that in this cold war we have allowed the Russians to take every possible advantage. We have been trying, one might almost say, to be complete gentlemen in the world situation, although faced by characters of the type of the Russians. As my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Lilley, pointed out, when there was a call for help from Hungary, we did not answer it, and I am sure that the relatives of the many Hungarians who lost their lives did not feel the slightest degree of consolation at our having left the matter to the United Nations. My only criticism of the United States and the United Kingdom in the present situation is that they did not act earlier. I believe that they, particularly the United States, should have acted when President Chamoun first called upon them for help. Although now it is only conjecture, it is possible that if they had acted then, the coup in Iraq would not have occurred.
Let me read to the House a report on the situation -
The West shook off a long torpor that had afflicted its attitude toward the worsening situation in the Middle East. The summary dismissal of Lieutenant-General John Bagot Glubb by Jordan’s King Hussein, the rioting on Cyprus, the general state of things on the Mediterranean rim, seemed to have aroused Britain to its suddenly perilous position in the Middle East. Reports of Egyptian officers training in Poland, of heavy shipments of Soviet arms, brought renewed doubts that the stubbornly held policy of declining an arms race was serving its purpose. With Communist arms, Premier Adel Gamal Nasser’s vaunted dream of creating an Arab empire to thrust the West from the Middle East and North
Africa as well, seemed suddenly more reality than paper threat. The urgency was expressed in a pulling together of policy, a tentative reshaping of plans. In Paris, U.S. Ambassador Douglas Dillon made clear the U.S. attitude toward France and North Africa. AH three big Western powers moved to concert policies elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Premier Guy Mollet urged the big three Foreign Ministers meet in Paris to discuss Middle East policies, suggested that the time was coming to ask for a U.N. embargo on the sale of arms to either Arab or Jew. Britain warned both sides that it would take “ swift military action “ if war broke out across the tense IsraeliArab borders. The U.S. asked the U.N. Security Council to send Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold to hold an urgent fact-finding mission to Palestine, and President Dwight Eisenhower solemnly warned that the U.S. would consider any outbreak of hostilities there “ a catastrophe to the world “. The West has not yet achieved a sense of direction. But it was an advance of sorts that it had acquired at least a sense of motion.
I feel, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that that report was published on 2nd April, 1956. Yet, two and half years later, we of the West have not learned our lesson. The United States, the United Kingdom and France have not yet evolved a firm and dominant policy in regard to the position of Europe and particularly that of the Middle East. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has pointed out, we have allowed the Russians to out-manoeuvre us in this field of propaganda. We have allowed them to take, step by step, without a shot being fired, that which they desired. In this cold war, I am glad to see that at last we have taken a firm stand and have said, “ Thus far and no farther “. As has been pointed out, not a shot has been fired in the landing of British and American troops. They are there to perform the task of sustaining the areas to which they have been sent, until the United Nations is prepared to accept its responsibility in relation to those areas.
I welcome, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the suggestion of the Minister for External Affairs, and of this Government, regarding the establishment of a commission to go into the matter of the problems and difficulties of the Middle East. There are many problems to be considered. In regard to the holding of a summit conference, I think that Khrushchev has realized that he is not going to have everything his own way at such a conference and that that is the reason he is now backing out of it. Had there been a summit conference as he desired it to be held originally, he would have been able to capitalize on the charge he made against the United States and the United Kingdom.
Many factors are involved in the Middle East situation. There are, for instance, the matters of Lebanon and Jordan, and even of Iraq. There is, too, the matter of Israel and what is to be done in relation to its borders. I feel that these are matters which must be considered by a commission established as a result of the meeting of heads of nations at a summit conference. Perhaps there will be a compromise between Israel’s present frontiers, which were won in the 1948 fighting, and those resulting from the 1947 United Nations partition plan, which set up the State of Israel. There must be recognition of Israel by the Arab States. That, possibly, will be a most difficult problem to solve, but the State of Israel has now been established and the sooner we take firm and positive steps to see that there is consolidation of its position, together with recognition by the Arab States that nothing must be done to upset the existence of Israel, the better. /mother of the main problems of the Middle East area is the right of refugees to an immediate and generous payment for their lost property. There is, too, the need for re-settlement of the refugees. I feel that in this respect the world has allowed the matter to go by without full consideration. In the beginning, when the problem was new to us. there was a degree of world sympathy, but now the passage of time has resulted in it being forgotten by many countries. I believe that this is one of the running sores of this area which must be cured; otherwise, it will keep re-opening to fester as it is at the moment. I can appreciate that these refugees present to people like Nasser one of the greatest weapons for use against the West, because their plight enables Nasser and others to say “ There you are! The nations of the West established the State of Israel. They pushed you people out of your own country and now they have no concern whatever for what happens to you.” The United Nations refugee group is doing a magnificent job, but 1 believe that this is a problem that must be solved completely. If it is allowed to run on, it certainly will continue to add to the trouble and difficulty that is facing this part of the world at the moment.
Linked with recognition of Israel by the Arab States must also be the raising of the political and economic blockade against Israel. Another matter concerning this area that could be considered by the proposed commission is that of the oil that is produced there, and internationalization of the oil control and the oil areas. This is one of the things that will continually cause a degree of trouble in this area. There must be appreciation of the fact that this is something that concerns the whole world, first, as has been pointed out, because of the revenue that these countries derive from the sale of oil, and secondly, because of the impact that such oil has on the western industrial sphere. Therefore, I believe that there must be a realization of the international aspect of oil production in this area.
All these are problems which must be considered. They will not be solved overnight, but will require mature consideration. But, Mr. Deputy Speaker, these are the things that I am sure Khrushchev would not want to be discussed at a summit conference, because he knows that discussion of them would be to the advantage of the West and would cut down the value of the propaganda that he is using against us at the moment. One of the things that I cannot appreciate from certain people in this country is the attitude thai everything that Khrushchev does is right and everything that the West does is wrong. For instance, we have the situation that has been revealed in Iraq. There has been the threat on the life of King Hussein. There is the trouble in Lebanon - the attack on the established government and the integrity of that country, not only from within - I should say that the percentage of trouble from within would be of a minor nature - but also from without. Yet, these people of whom I am speaking say nothing about that. We have the United Kingdom and the United States going in to try to stabilize the position in the Middle East until responsibility can be assumed by the United Nations. Immediately that happens, these people condemn the action of the United Kingdom and the United States. Russia goes into Hungary and butchers thousands of innocent people. Russia vetoes in the Security Council the suggestions that are put forward. Russia blocks peace and progress in the international field. Then, when Khrushchev makes a statement about a summit conferen.ence, these people, say, “ What a magnificent person Khrushchev is! “ lt appears to me that these people will say that everything outside their own country is right and everything in it is wrong. Let us realize that we in Australia have a tremendous responsibility to so many other people. We have a glorious opportunity to make our contribution. Let us make it by standing firm for those things that are right, even if we have to face the threat coming from an armed and aggressive communism, so that we too may have dignity and strength and be worthy of the heritage that has been given unto us.
– I think that the House listened with a great deal of interest to what the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) had to say until about the last three minutes of his speech. It is rather a pity, that, having been analytical in his approach to this problem, he should then have allowed to creep in the same silly approach that has been made by so many supporters of the Government to the attitude that has been taken by honorable members on this side of this House. I thought that some of the language used by the honorable member was unbecoming a man with the knowledge that he possesses. In fact, some of the statements he uttered during the last three minutes of his speech were deliberate falsehoods if they were directed to honorable members on this side of the chamber.
Let us have a look at the facts of this situation in the Middle East.
– The honorable member would know them, of course!
– The honorable member for Gippsland is not too old to learn. If things are as bad as some supporters of the Government appear to believe they are, and if light is to be cast on the facts during this debate, it will be as well for us to see where we are going. If we adopt a policy of responding to the government of any small country which is disposed to call for aid from outside merely because its existence on a party political level is threatened, we shall establish a principle in world affairs which is a complete negation of everything we stand for. But that is what has happened in respect of Lebanon.
According to the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) nothing occurred in Lebanon between June and 15th July. The 15th July became an allimportant date because on that day President Chamoun made his appeal to the United States of America to send troops to protect his government. The American troops came in on that day, which was the very day on which the United Nations achieved control of the whole frontier of Lebanon. What has happened since? The new President-elect, Chehab, has asked that all the American troops should be withdrawn by 23rd September. To my mind there was more politics behind Chamoun’s request than anything else. If we as free nations are going to fly to the aid of the government of any small country which is politically doomed, we shall play right into the hands of Russia. Above all, we shall destroy the confidence that should be built up around the United Nations. If President Chamoun had called for assistance a month earlier and we had responded, the Government’s case would have been much stronger. But in view of the fact that the American troops landed on Lebanon soil on the very day that the United Nations effected control of the whole frontier - -
– What rot! The United Nations observers operated on only a pa/: of the Lebanese frontier.
– The honorable member is condemning the decisions of the United Nations. The United Nations decided what was best to be done in this matter, and the honorable member either agrees with that decision or he does not.
– Well, I do not agree.
– The honorable member does not agree with the policy of the United Nations. That happens to be the difference between members on this side of the House and those on the Government side. They d’o not agree with the proposals of the United Nations in the interests of peace in the world. If we move away from the United Nations and the decisions which it makes, more situations will arise like that of Lebanon. The United Nations had made a decision and its observer group had covered the frontier. That is not my statement; it is what the Minister for External Affairs said. Those observers had taken up their position on 15th July, and on that very day the American troops began to arrive. Their arrival was in complete disregard of the decision of the United Nations in the interests of peace. Now President-elect Chehab is advocating that the American troops should leave Lebanon by 23rd September. If we as free nations move in accordance with political issues on a question such as this we do the very reverse of that which we should be doing if we sincerely seek world peace. Every nation is entitled to call for help and is entitled to it, but the policy followed in Lebanon by America has been dangerous.
The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) referred to discussions which he heard in the United Nations Assembly. It was my privilege to be in Great Britain a few months ago with one of my friends who is now interjecting, and it became obvious to us that the honest people of Great Britain will not tolerate what is happening at the present time. They, as well as the majority of people in this country, are very upset because of what is being done by the heads of governments in the free world. The honorable member knows full well that even in America the people are opposed to some of the policies that Mr. Dulles is offering.
– The press will lap this up!
– We need to be careful. Government members should not have the idea that only one side is at fault in the Middle East situation. Let us consider where we are going. The nations of the world at present are divided into three blocs, not two. There is the Russian bloc controlled by a dictatorship whose policy is foreign to everything that we believe in. The second bloc is composed of the Western Powers; and the third bloc consists of all those small nations which are looking to one or the other of the first two blocs for a lead towards better conditions and freedom for their people. If we in the Western bloc fail to give a lead to those nations we will play right into the hands of. the Communist bloc, a group which is not answerable to anybody.
Let us make no mistake about the Communist bloc. There is no division of opinion as to where it is going. It is after world domination without war, and it does not care how it achieves it. It will play any card in the pack to try to encourage the smaller countries to think that its policy will be more beneficial to their people than that of the Western nations. Unless Great Britain, the United States of America and France can give more consolidated leadership than they have given in this last crisis in the Middle East or in the Suez crisis they will allow the forces of communism, which are not answerable to anybody, to capitalize on their failure to unite the free peoples in a common policy.
There is no question about where Khrushchev wants to go. He will follow any course which suits him. In my opinion, at the present time Mr. Dulles can see only one course - that eventually there must be war with Russia. If we follow the line of reasoning which we and the people of Great Britain believe is right, we will do everything we can to prevent a third world war. The people of Britain know full well that if the holocaust of a third world war comes, Great Britain will be destroyed without being able even to participate in it. In his speech the Minister said -
I would remind the purist critics in this comfortably distant part of the world that they might be inclined to abandon their comfortable theoretical assumptions if their life, or death, depended on it, and the continued independence of their country.
That is exactly the position of every one in the free world. There is no difference between us. Australia at present is no safer than any portion of the Middle East. The people of Great Britain know full well that their position can only be properly covered by a combined honest approach on the part of the leaders of the free world in an attempt to outmatch the leadership of Khrushchev and the Communist countries. As I have said already, Khrushchev has not to answer to anybody or consult anybody as to where he is going. He says the word and his orders are obeyed.
I want to put to the House as firmly as I can that in every part of the free world, particularly where there is a free government such as ours, there is a tremendous responsibility to learn what our own people are thinking. I thought that the honorable member for Lyne would continue on the trail that he began to blaze. He began by criticizing the Western Powers for the way they have dilly-dallied over the Middle East without coming to a decision and challenging Khrushchev to a summit conference. But they would not have Khrushchev at such a conference until they felt that they could accept the Russian word. In those circumstances a summit conference will never take place. If any one thinks he can believe either the spoken or even the written word of a Communist at any time, he has another think coming. We must meet the Communists on whatever ground they choose. If we are going to do the job which must be done in world affairs we shall not continue to dilly-dally and merely say that we may not be strong enough to meet the demands of Khrushchev. If we follow that line, we show to the small nations, this third group of which I have spoken, the weakness of our approach to world problems.
It is essential that we meet the Communist as he comes and defeat him at his own game in this battle for world domination. If we are unable to do that with our present leaders, we must change our leaders and get men who can do it. After all, if this problem is to be resolved on a political level, then, make no mistake about it, we cannot hope to resolve it until we have achieved consolidation of thought capable of outmatching the doctrine of the Communist party led by Khrushchev. We can do that.
No one will ever convince me that if the nations of the free world put their minds to the problem they cannot outstrip any form of despotism or dictatorial control. If we put our brains to the task, if we strip ourselves of all petty thinking in our approach to these problems, if we approach them on a national, indeed on a world level, we have the ability to outmatch Khrushchev at any level, at any conference, at any place. If we are unable to approach the problem in that way, we are failing to face up to the responsibilities we have as a free nation. If we cannot rise to that level, the smaller nations, which are watching developments all the time, will have nothing to do with us for, believe me, they are not going to back a loser.
Let us examine the situation with which we have been confronted since Khrushchev first threw out his challenge on the question of a top level conference. At the beginning, we did not know whether we wanted it or not. France, Great Britain and America expressed differing points of view. Then there were differences of opinion as to where such a conference should be held. France suggested that it should be held at Geneva, and the other two nations were not too sure where it should be held. Next these three nations could not decide on what should be their common line of approach and their common policy at a meeting with Khrushchev. Rightly or wrongly, the press in Sydney published a feature article stating that one of the reasons why the three nations would not agree to a summit conference was that they were not sure that the American President could stand up to the shafts of Khrushchev. What must the reaction of the small nations be to that?
Not so long ago the Russians had a conference with these Middle East nations. The Russian delegates dangled before the representatives of those smaller nations all sorts of rosy promises, without attaching any tags, that the Soviet would do the right thing by them. The Russians made these offers in an endeavour to induce the small nations to go over to them because they felt they could outsmart us in political diplomacy. They are doing just that, and unless we can show these smaller nations, this third bloc, that we have leaders capable of out-matching Communist leaders such as Khrushchev, we are in effect proving to those smaller nations that we are not as powerful, not as strong, not as capable as the nation led by Khrushchev. I repeat that the small nations do not back losers if they can avoid it.
What has been the effect of the present state of world affairs? Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the Americans were a peace-loving people, a nation of isolationists. That is the background of the American people. The people of Great Britain had been masters of the seas for many years. They were able to muddle through on any level, and finally win the last battle. That is the history of the British nation. They won the last fight because it was the important one.
But those days are gone. In those times there was no Khrushchev. Communists did not dominate a great part of the world as they do to-day. India, starving then as she is to-day, was not having dangled before her by the Communist bloc promises of great improvement in conditions in a year or two. Those are matters tnat we, as a free nation, have to face to-day. Those are matters that the Western bloc must face. We have a tremendous responsibility. The best that is in every one of us must be brought to the surface if this challenge is to be met and won. No man or woman in the free world wants the doctrine of domination in which the Communist party, the Fascist party or any other dictatorship party believes, to be spread unchecked throughout the free world. Unfortunately, it is not the Labour party which is saddled with the great responsibility of providing for the free world the answer to this challenge. If we had that responsibility, believe me, we would provide the answer! I am convinced that the representatives of the workers throughout the world, not merely in Great Britain and America, will be the ones who will finally produce the answer to the spread of communism throughout the free world. If the challenge is not met, we can imagine what the position will be in the next decade. For the moment, 1. am putting aside altogether any thought of the Middle East. If we do not meet the challenge, I can visualize just what the position will be with Communist-dominated countries producing with all types of. machinery available, introducing automation and producing without regard for profit, pitting their strength against those of us who at present think only in terms of profit. If ever there was a time for the free people of the world to face up to the test and bring to the fore those brains which can outmatch the Communist dictatorship of Khrushchev, it is now. It is essential that we meet that test immediately. It is essential also that there be a clear understanding between the leaders of Great Britain, America and France.
T remind honorable members that not so long ago there was a change of government in France. What would have been the attitude of the governments of England and America if they had been asked to send armies to France to back the government that was going out of office there? What would have been the attitude of the other peoples of the world if, when civil war looked like developing in France, we had sent armies to protect the outgoing government? Yet a somewhat similar position obtains in connexion with Lebanon to-day. I put it to honorable members that the issue to-day is far greater than the mere question of what happened in Lebanon. The present situation highlights the question whether we free people of the world can provide the answer to Communist domination, whether we free people of the world have brains capable of outmatching Communists led by Khrushchev. If we do not find the answer, then Khrushchev will just go on and on. lt is true that Khrushchev is not going to attend a summit conference. In other words, Khrushchev has played with the situation until he has got us into such a position that he is able to say, “ All right, I will not be bothered now “. We must do our utmost to put Khrushchev in his place, to accept the challenge he has thrown out. We must use all the brains at our disposal to prove to the small group of nations, to this third group to which I have referred, that we have the capacity and the leadership to give the world the things it wants, and that the Communists, led by Khrushchev, who seek continually to manoeuvre us into making mistakes, have not that capacity and leadership. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has said, nothing inflames a nation more than lack of leadership and lack of cooperative thought. Unless we can display leadership, unless we can show strength, we shall achieve nothing more than inflame the thoughts of the smaller nations and we shall do nothing more than turn them from us to the Communist doctrine. That is the position in the world to-day. lt is our responsibility now to approach the question with strength and to provide the answer to the real problem confronting us.
.- There are some people who, looking at the present dispute in the Middle East, attribute it in its entirety to the working of nationalism. There is a second group of people looking at the present dispute who attribute the problem, in all its manifestations, to communism. There is a third group of people who simply pass the whole problem to one side as a manifestation of imperialism. Then there is a fourth group of people who compound either two ot the three, or the whole three. I respect the views which are propounded by various people even though I say to the Parliament this afternoon that I regard them as atrociously superficial.
The fundamental cause of the dispute in the Middle East to-day, as I see it - and this is simply a sighting from an historical point of view - lies in the creation of the state of Israel. Having said that, may I say in all sincerity that I recognize the state of Israel to-day as a political and economic reality. I want to make it perfectly plain that I shelter no animosity at all to those of the Jewish faith. I would be disturbed if any one levelled at me the charge of antisemitism. Xenophobia is a phobia that 1 despise intensely. I believe our plain course to-day is to deal with policies, not to confuse policies with personalities. That is why I say to the House this afternoon that I think it is completely futile to try to get an accurate understanding of the sentiment that prevails throughout Middle Eastern countries to-day unless we are prepared to recognize a few historical landmarks over the last half century.
Let me go back to the time when the Ottoman Empire sprawled across most of the Middle Eastern countries, and the British High Commissioner in the Middle East, Sir Henry McMahon, was directed by the British Government to woo the Arabs away from the Turks. The means whereby he was to woo them was to assure them that they would be granted independence at the end of the war. Sir Henry McMahon conducted extensive correspondence with the Shereef of Mecca. That correspondence is to be found in the archives not only of the British Parliament but also, I dare say. of this Parliament. Then, Sir, many thousands of the Arabs deserted the Turks, and in 1917 there came the Balfour declaration. I have always considered that two of the great tragedies of the British people are embedded in Balfour declarations, the one of 1917 and the later one that was a prelude to the Statute of Westminster. However, that is only a matter of opinion, and I present it for what it is worth, even though there are probably numbers of people who will not subscribe to my view.
What was the reaction of the Arabs to the Balfour declaration, which provided for the establishment of a home for the Jews? They believed, in short, that they had been double-crossed. At the end of the war the United Kingdom accepted a mandate over Palestine, and for nearly a generation, under intense provocation, the United Kingdom administered that mandate. Honorable members will recall the activities of the Stern gang and of the Irgun Zvai Leumai the hanging of British sergeants and the placing of booby traps on their bodies, and the outrage represented by the bombing of the King David Hotel, which was typical of the provocation under which the British administered the mandate.
In 1947 the United Kingdom referred the Palestine controversy to the United Nations, and the United Nations decided to partition Palestine, bearing in mind that about 10 per cent, of the people living in Palestine in those days were Jews, the others being people broadly described as Arabs. When the Palestine partition was made and the state of Israel created, hundreds of thousands of Arabs became refugees. They poured into Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Nearly 250,000 of them took up an existence in the Gaza strip, and half of those living there to-day are under the age of fifteen years.
The act of partitioning Palestine and making nearly 1,000,000 Arabs refugees supplied fuel to the flame that had been burning in the Middle East for 30 years prior to the actual partitioning. Is it hard for us to understand the resentment of the Arabs at being moved from their homes? I think we would be lacking in a sense of humanity, and certainly in understanding, if we neglected to observe the bitter resentment that has become embedded in Arab minds throughout the Middle East. It has, in effect, become the cement that has joined them all together, even though there may be vast and substantial differences of opinion among them on other aspects of policy.
The Arab fear of Israel has been, in a sense, a developed fear, and the fear is still there. When Sir John Glubb returned to England he had this to say -
Fear of further Israeli expansion is an everpresent anxiety, particularly in Jordan, Syria and. Lebanon. The impression that the Western Powers are more likely to support than to restrain Israel is a powerful incentive to Arabs to seek help from Moscow.
If there lingers any doubt in any person’s mind concerning Arab hostility to Israel, let me cite this extract from testimony given by Henry A. Byroade, former United States Ambassador to Egypt, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and now American
Ambassador to South Africa. Appearing before a Congressional committee, he observed -
The Arabs’ first hatred and renewed passions are against Israel. But, on second thought, they say, “ Well, there would not be an Israel but for the United States”. And they find a U.S. cartridge shell and they say, “ Well, look, who is really our enemy? Who has done this? The U.S. has done it”.
There are many thousands - indeed, I would strongly suspect, many millions - of members of the Jewish faith to-day whose consciences are greatly disturbed at what I regard as one of the most shocking instances of man’s treatment of his fellow being. One of them, Dr. Elmer Berger, executive director of the American Council for Judaism, visited the Middle East in 1955, and at that time wrote a series of letters to the president of the American Council for Judaism and the chairman of the board of the same organization. Writing from Jordan, this is what he had to say regarding Arab refugees -
The atmosphere here was less friendly, although there was no semblance of violence. I heard America cursed. These people know - probably from Communist sources - that the United Jewish appeal gives Israel millions every year and that Israeli “ refugees “ are budgeted at around 3,000 dollars a year per family while they here receive seven cents a day. Here, very nice distinctions between Jews and Zionists made little impression. Here I was faced with the same question: “ If you are Jews, why don’t you do for us Moslems, who have been oppressed by Zionists, as we Moslems did for Jews when the Christians persecuted them five centuries ago? “
Dr. Berger goes on ;
How would you answer, after you had explained that we believed in a universal faith and were different from Zionism which pursued a political pattern? How would you advise a man, who had rotted seven years on a stinking hillside, to have more patience and perhaps the light would dawn on enough people so that if these refugees could not go home, they might at least have the’ elementals of life?
The disturbance of these Arabs from Palestine following the creation of the state of Israel supplied the Soviet Union with the perfect situation. I think it is worth bearing in mind that when Israel was created the Soviet Union permitted the Skoda ammunition works in Czechoslovakia to supply to Israel arms that were used in the subsequent war against the Arab countries. Then, even when the Soviet’s vote for partitioning was given in the United Nations, the Soviet Union’s representative, Mr. Gromyko, was looking towards the future. This is what he had to say, even though he voted for the partitioning of Palestine -
The Soviet people still entertain a feeling of sympathy for the national aspirations of the Arab East. The U.S.S.R. is convinced that the Arab States will still, on more than one occasion, be looking towards Moscow expecting the U.S.S.R. to help them.
Indeed the Arabs have looked towards Moscow, and to-day the Arab states are receiving arms from Soviet sources. Here was this change in policy prophesied, in a sense, by Gromyko when he cast his vote in favour of partition in 1947.
In effect, the Middle East has become a mecca for communism. The Soviet has impacted itself on to Middle East nationalism, nationalism stirred to such a grievous and intense height that we find it difficult to understand. In effect the Soviet has cashed in on both sides helping to sow the seeds of discontent between Arab and Jew, on the one hand cultivating the Israelis against the Arabs, and on the other hand now cultivating the Arabs against the Israelis.
The subversion within the Middle East has to be read in detail to be believed. I should like to quote to the House one example of the complete and utter thoroughness of Soviet methods. I cite the case of a Moscow-trained Archimandrite, with five assistants, sent into the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem in order to subvert that church. The Soviet has sent its agents into every country of the Middle East. Why was Sir John Glubb Pasha given but two hours notice to leave Jordan after he had spent 27 years in the country, he who had demonstrated his affection for the Arabs to the extent of even adopting an Arab boy as his son? It was a case of Glubb Pasha going or the coup being wrecked if he remained. Of course he left, and then the trouble began, a further example of the pathetic results that follow compromising with the Soviet. The Middle East is a classical situation that fits snugly and firmly within the Marx-Lenin scheme of things.
I shall read to the House a brief excerpt from a letter dealing with the Middle East written by Khrushchev to the British Labour party executive only last October -
There is no doubt that a new armed conflict in the Near East would damage Great Britain’s supply of oil and other raw materials and would make more difficult her trade links both with the countries of the Near and Middle East and those of South-East Asia- All this would cause difficulties in British industries and would have its effect on the employment of British workers. Moreover, it would lead to a further deterioration of Britain’s financial and economic situation and consequently would lead to a great political dependence on the U.S.
There we see the nerve centre of the Soviet in relation to the Middle East - oil. What would be the position of the United Kingdom if oil supplies from the Middle East were cut off? About 20,000,000 people would be thrown out of work! What would be the position in Western Europe? How many millions of people would be thrown out of work there? No work, no money, and no food - precisely the classical situation as predicted in the whole of the writings of Marx and Lenin. Is it any wonder that the utmost anxiety is felt to-day in the United Kingdom and in every democratic capital in Western Europe?
In the few minutes left to me T propose for the consideration of the Government - and I hope for the consideration of every honorable member - that we shall never see peace in the Middle East until there is, first, a return by Israel to the boundaries decided upon and determined when partitioning was carried out. I believe that the creation of Israel was a folly, but it would be completely unreal to say that Israel is not an economic and political reality. Israel to-day is a reality and the Arabs must recognize that fact. But Zionist aggression stemming from Israel is frightening the Arabs in a way that we find difficult to understand or comprehend. Secondly, a multi-lateral agreement between the United Kingdom, United States of America, Israel and all Arab countries is necessary to guarantee Israeli borders to ensure that there will be no manifestation of the Messianic movement of Zionism. Thirdly, every hand must be turned towards a resettlement of the almost 1,000,000 Arab refugees now living in desperate plight in Middle East countries. Fourthly, what might be described as a Jerusalem plan should be drawn up. The Colombo plan has operated with great success in South-East Asian countries, and here is a situation in the Middle East of people living in intense poverty and great wretchedness, an ideal set-up for the establishment of such a plan. Surely those conditions present a challenge to our sense of fitness and are a negation of every element of humanity. We must embark upon such a plan in order to give hope to those people and to show them that the future is not completely bleak. Here is a challenge to us to portray to the world and to posterity the elements of justice and equity, because if this world is to survive justice and equity must be portrayed.
These people must be helped. It would be ironical if, in a land from which Christianity and the many forces of the spirit stemmed, Christianity were blotted out by the sands of our own ignorance, indifference and utter selfishness.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) speaking for a period not exceeding one hour.
– I am much obliged to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for proposing the motion to which the House has just acceded, and also for having made so full a statement on the Middle East situation, resulting in certain important concrete proposals towards the end of the speech, to which I propose to refer. However, I think it best to address myself, in order, to the analysis by the Minister of the situation.
The first question with which the Minister dealt at length is really a complicated question, and I feel that he has not stated the correct issue that has to be determined in connexion with the despatch of United States forces to Lebanon. In one sense the question is academic. That is to say, all of us hope that the meeting of the major powers, together with the members of the United Nations at the level of the General Assembly, which is now the programme, will make the question one of academic importance. Still, there has been a great deal of discussion about it and a tremendous difference of opinion in the House of Commons and in this country, and I should like to state as clearly as possible, without overstating the case, the way in which I think the matter should be regarded.
What is being done by the right honorable gentleman was illustrated quite early in his speech when he said this - lt is not my purpose here to enter into a discussion of the internal problems facing the Lebanese Government, but I do say, and all the evidence points in this direction, that domestic political differences within the Lebanon were denied a domestic political solution by blatant interference from other countries. «
That was the charge made. There is no doubt about it. That was the charge made by President Chamoun. President Chamoun was the presidential office-holder in the Lebanon but, for various reasons, including particularly his desire to hold the presidency for a longer period than was acceptable, at any rate to a large minority of the Lebanese people, his re-election was opposed. That certainly started off a movement of a rebellious character directed against him. But that is not the charge that came into the field when the matter came before the Security Council. The charge there was that massive Syrian and Egyptian aid, including automatic weapons and grenade throwers, was being supplied across the border to the rebels for the purpose of overthrowing and destroying the existing government.
Well before the United States forces entered the Lebanon the matter had been brought to the Security Council, which is the constitutional organ to deal with such matters. It is a mark of the great care in the United Nations, especially amongst the major powers, that they did go to the Security Council before acting in the application of force or the threat of force. It is of no use to go back to another illustration, but the trouble over Suez was caused not because Great Britain and France did not have good reason, on technical grounds, for their grievance against Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal apparently, at the * first glance, without compensation.
There was a perfectly good and legitimate claim for compensation. At first it looked as though no compensation would be offered, although any court of an international character would no doubt have decided a claim for compensation in favour of the claimant. The mistake made was that, when Nasser was not forthcoming with the payment, Great Britain and France took the law into their own hands. They used their forces, first of all in deployment based on Cyprus, and finally the Suez invasion took place. Then the appropriate body of the United Nations, and ultimately the General Assembly, overwhelmingly decided that that was contrary to the Charter. I am only illustrating a point, but on this occasion the application to the Security Council, which is the primary body to deal with international security, although its jurisdiction does not exclude that of the General Assembly, was brought forward by the Government of Lebanon and supported by the Government of the United States.
Well, it was a question of fact. Was the charge true, or was it not true? Was there massive infiltration across the border both of personnel and of arms, or was that part of the propaganda campaign conducted by one side against the other? The general approach of the Security Council to such a matter is to inquire into it. So it decided to send an observer group to the Lebanon to examine the facts for itself in order to determine whether or not action should be taken by the Security Council to ensure that there should not be any infiltration of that character against the State of Lebanon. By what power? By the United Arab Republic which, of course, consists of Egypt and Syria. The observer group went to the Lebanon.
A great deal of the Minister’s speech consisted of information which has not been included as a report by the observer group. The speech included information from reports obtained by various governments, including the United States Government, and also criticisms - the right honorable gentleman will not object to the phrase “ strong criticisms “ - of the observer group. Three reports of the observer group have been finally released by the Security Council, and an examination of them shows that the allegation to which I have referred has not been proved. Therefore, the case for intervention by armed forces, which was the very case presented both by President Chamoun of the Lebanon and the President of the United States of America, seems to me to fall to the ground. The technical arguments that might apply on other occasions cannot apply if the Security Council has the matter before it. If the council sends its observers to the spot to report to it and if, in their report, the basis of the charge is not established, it seems to me that the entry of the forces is not an entry justified within the meaning of the Charter.
I do not wish to read the reports at great length, but they all fit into the tenor of the first finding of 4th July. This is it -
In dawn-to-dusk operations the Croup’s observation patrols had reported “ substantial movements of armed men within the country and concentrations at various places “. However, the Group noted that it was not possible “ to establish if any of the armed men observed had infiltrated from outside “; and that there was “ little doubt that the vast majority was in any case composed of Lebanese “.
The arms seen by the observers-
And this is the interesting thing - consisted mostly of “ a varied assortment of rifles of British, French and Italian makes “, some hand grenades, occasional machine guns, and 120-mm. mortars of a French type also used by the Lebanese Army. The Group reported it had found it impossible to establish where these arms had been acquired. At the same time, it drew attention to the fact that the people have traditionally born arms in these areas and that possession of arms was “ common practice “ throughout the country, despite the Government’s efforts to curb such habits. It was also pointed out that persons move freely across the frontier merely on the presentation of identity cards without requiring passports and visas.
That is from the official report of the United Nations. The group also reported that its task was “ one of considerable complexity “. This point must be mentioned because the Minister correctly emphazied it, and it is taken from the report of the group -
For one thing, of the total Lebanese land frontier with Syrian of about 174 miles, only some 11) miles were controlled by the Government. Again the nature of the terrain near the frontier with mountains going up to 9,000 feet greatly restrict? access by road.
That was the substance of the first report; and the second report was substantially to the same effect. In the meantime, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Hammarskjoeld, regarded the matter as of such importance that he went to Lebanon. A charge had been made against the United Arab Republic of a serious kind. Its actions were termed “ indirect aggression “ because Arab forces were said to have infiltrated across the border of Syria which adjoins Lebanon. Mr. Hammarskjoeld inspected the observers and he was responsible later for an increase in their numbers from 100 to 200. These were independent persons, not sent there by any government but by the United
Nations Organization itself. The chairman of the observer group was a Mr. Plaza, the delegate representing Panama. I believe that ten different countries were represented in the observer group, lt is true, as the Minister has said, that they obtained their information only through the assistance of interpreters. One would not suppose that there would be any other way by which they could obtain detailed information. Finally, this last report was published and it was summarized somewhat briefly in the press to this effect: -
The United Nations observer group in Lebanon reported yesterday that the illegal infiltration of arms into Lebanon was limited and largely confined to small arms and ammunition.
In a report to the Security Council, the Group said: In conditions of civil conflict when the frontier is practically throughout its length open and unguarded, some movement of this kind may well be expected.
In no case had the observers “ been able to detect the presence of persons who have indubitably entered from across the border for the purpose of fighting “.
There was no evidence ot radio con. act between the scattered opposition forces or any coordinated military planning.
I submit that, on a fair analysis of the full reports of the observers, the SecretaryGeneral did everything that was humanly possible. Independent observers were appointed from a large number of members of the United Nations to go to the spots with official representatives. As the Minister for External Affairs has said correctly, it was not a large observer force, but it numbered 100 at first and later became 200. The Secretary-General of the United Nations visited the area and made a personal endeavour to ascertain the facts. Undoubtedly, his view was that the charge of massive infiltration by Egypt and Syria was not proved.
It is easy to say afterwards what should have been done, but if one examines the Charter what should have been done is obvious enough. When a second appeal was made to the United States of America by President Chamoun, because the first observers’ report was unfavorable to Lebanon and the claim was put that that report was incorrect, the proper course was to establish for the information of the Security Council that that charge was true. That was not done. That is what I mean when I say, as I said previously, that the United States of America, however worthy were its motives, took the law into its own hands without waiting for a decision by the United Nations. That was the effect of its actions. A tribunal, international in character though not fully official, negatived the charge, but by that time from 5,000 to 10,000 troops had been landed. How can we have that sort of thing going on in international affairs without undermining the authority of the United Nations? As it is, it is a blessing that nothing serious has happened in that respect. I make no imputations against the motives of the persons concerned, but that was not the correct way to treat the United Nations.
The obligation resting on all members is to carry out the decisions of the United Nations organization and to respect its judgments, lt is perfectly true that many countries do not do that. There have been some notable cases of failure to do so and, perhaps, the most shocking was that concerning Hungary. But it is important that those who have been observing the principles of the United Nations should continue to do so. The actual principle involved here arose in the Suez affair when Lord McNair, a member of the British House of Lords, and a member of the International Court of Justice, made some pointed comments. I believe that this has been almost completely forgotten by those who have looked at the matter now under discussion purely from the professional, military or diplomatic points of view. Lord McNair had this to say before the invasion of Suez and when deployment of forces was taking place between Cyprus and Suez -
I have been puzzled by the massing and display of armed force in the Eastern Mediterranean that we have witnessed during the past five or six weeks. Fifty years ago, yes. At that time armed force was a remedy of last resort which governments could use at their discretion in aid of their diplomacy in order to attain the ends which they regarded as essential. At that time the law made no attempt to regulate the occasion upon which armed force should be used and was content to endeavour to regulate the operation of that armed force when it was being used.
Under the laws of war, there was an international regulation but the decision to use it was treated usually as beyond the competence of international tribunals unless they were specially set up. Then Lord McNair stated -
During the last 50 years, there has been a complete transformation in the attitude of the law- meaning international law - towards the resort to armed force.
Lord McNair quoted certain cases and pointed out that the Charter is supreme. Other agreements between governments have been cited but the Charter is supreme because it is the constitution governing all other charters. It states that the obligations of the Charter are paramount to the ordinary obligations of international agreements. The obligations set out in paragraph 4 of Article 2 are -
All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state . . .
T do not claim that the motives in this case are absolutely clear from doubt, but I think I have given the correct interpretation. The safeguard under Article 51 of the Charter is this -
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective selfdefence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken bv members in the exercise of this right of self-‘lefence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council. . . .
The Security Council has to deal with the matter but, in the meantime, there is a right of self-defence. If the words are carefully examined, however, the term “ self-defence “ relates to an armed attack from outside the country. I believe that is the correct view on the principles of the Charter and it is the supreme document. The obligations it imposes are also supreme. Why, at that period of history and in those difficult circumstances, was there such a large display of force? Provocative statements were made concerning the existence of arms with atomic capabilities. These were events which suggested the possibility of a world nuclear war. Tragedy of an unprecedented magnitude looms when great powers, whether of the west or the east, move their forces around.
The view that I have stated is, broadly speaking, the view of the leaders of the British Labour party. When, in these circumstances, we criticize a country, as we are bound to if we are honestly to carry out our duty, that criticism is directed at the government in power in that country. Honorable members will recall that on this occasion, as on the occasion of the Suez incident, there was an acute difference of opinion between the Government of Great
Britain and the representatives of the Labour movement. I repeat that, in Australia, we cannot safely lay down a rule that we shall be subservient to the decisions of great Powers, even the Powers which are closest in their kinship to us. Many instances could be given in which agreement with such Powers has been impossible. During the last war such a difference of opinion occurred with regard to the relative importance of the Pacific zone and other theatres. We cannot do as the Minister has suggested and always follow both the United States of America and the United Kingdom. If we were to attempt to do that, what action would we take with regard to China, the Government of which has been recognized by Great Britain but not by the United States of America? Although the claims of kinship must always be taken into account, it seems to me that these matters ought to be discussed in a civilized way in order to ascertain the true rule of international law. In my opinion, when the Charter of the United Nations comes to be recognized, in fact as well as in argument, as the supreme law in international affairs, nuclear war will disappear as a danger to the world, and we shall not have to be concerned with the use of force in order to prevent force. I have no doubt that we shall ultimately wear our way to that goal, perhaps after great struggle and much sacrifice.
I now wish to turn to what I think is the more important question. This concerns certain aspects of the Middle East problem. I say again that the conclusion of the Minister’s speech was by far the most important part of it because there he made suggestions which have to be taken into account, although his proposals may need considerable modification if there is to be a United Nations commission for the Middle East. The Australian Labour party drew up plans for that very purpose at one of its recent conferences. It emphasized that only by an attempt to bring all the nations of the Middle East and the major Powers together in co-operation through the United Nations could a permanent solution - or even a partial solution - of the present tremendous difficulties be achieved. We would certainly do our best, so far as we are able as an Opposition, to bring about such a solution.
However, before I deal with that most important point, I want to refer to two or three other matters that were mentioned by the Minister. One is his long elaboration of the claim that oil is not the all-important question in the Middle East. He said, in effect, “Why, some of the Middle East nations do not possess any oil deposits at all “. He mentioned Syria, Jordan and Egypt. All the others, incidentally, have oil. But even most of those States which have no oil deposits, have oil running in pipes through their lands, and the custody of oil is a very vital responsibility. But oil is not only of physical importance to industry in the Western world; it has become of supreme importance to the standard of living of communities right through the Middle East. For that reason, one cannot pooh-pooh the importance of oil. Nothing could be more important.
I shall give only one illustration of the effect of the development of the use of oil in modern times. It concerns the AngloIranian Oil Company Limited which Australians should know well because it is now the owner of all the shares that the Commonwealth Government possessed in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Limited used to be called the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited. The following quotation, which is a reference to the Iraqi-Turkish defence pact of January, 1955, is very important and is an answer to the Minister: -
These officials, it emerged, have abandoned the idea of “ defending “ the whole of Persia and considered it sufficient that the line of the Zagros Mountains, across the south-western corner of the country, should be held, so as to prevent troops “from the north”-
That would be the Russian troops I assume - from reaching the oil field area. In the “ western “ picture of the third world war, Persia as a whole was to be abandoned to the “ enemy “ except insofar as her territory would serve a military purpose.
Then follows this passage -
It is just this view of the role of small nations that has exasperated the people of Asia, and made them despair of any reasonable co-operation with their western neighbours. They are no longer prepared to be used a9 horns in some international game, no matter how impressive its title or how illustrious its sponsors. The system by which certain powerful nations, dominated the rest of the world economically, and so politically and socially, is coming to an end, and its chances of survival will not be increased because it is described as international co-operation. It is the underlying motive that counts. International relations cannot be guided solely by vested interests and commercial morality. It is useless to set up international organizations to ensure peace, trust and goodwill between the nations, unless we tarry these principles into our everyday dialings with our neighbours.
Here is the point at which the “ new internationalism “ breaks down. Fundamentally, it does not visualise the nations, people and communities of the world, living together as peaceful friendly and self-sufficient neighbours, each working out its own destiny without interference from others; rather it aims at the establishment of a world authority to stabilise a financial and economic system that is in danger of breaking down because it is unworkable, and to ensure that it is not threatened from outside by imposing it on those parts of the world that have so far escaped it. It is the system that compels poverty in the midst of plenty; that demands austerities and economies when the world is richer than it has ever been; that insists on “ full employment “ and “ the dignity of human labour “ when technology has virtually made the machine independent of man. The driving ambition of the system’s operators is world power, and their weapons are the control of natural and financial resources.
The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company originally included an investment by the British Government of £5,000,000. By the end of July, 1955, when the name of the company had reverted to that of one of its original subsidiaries - British Petroleum Company - its shares were worth nearly £7 and the paper value of the British Government’s original £5,000,000 investment in the 1920’s was nearly £400,000,000.
It is abundantly clear that the income from oil is tremendously important in the Middle East. In very few countries of the Middle East do the people have a full say in government. In Jordan, which used to be very democratic, only about one-third of the people have an effective franchise, and Iraq is another illustration.
With regard to Iraq, if one makes the air trip up the Persian Gulf, past Basra and Baghdad, in the great valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates and up to Turkey, one sees much work going on of an impressive nature. Large sums of money have been expended on works, but according to United Nations experts, the real problem in agricultural development is the system of land tenure. This will be readily understood when it is realized that 85,000 landholders, or 68 per cent, of the total number of landholders, own only 8 per cent, of the total area under cultivation; but at the other extreme 33,000 holders of over 1,000 hectares own 85 per cent, of the area. The Minister for External Affairs has pointed out that the Government of Iraq, which was overthrown in a most tragic manner, had been endeavouring to carry out a policy of nationalism. No doubt the Minister was correct in what he said up to a point, but the economic question is becoming vitally important to these countries because of the potential wealth of the tremendous oil deposits beneath their soil.
I want to quote some of the remarks made about the situation in the Middle East by Mr. Walter Lippmann, who is, I think, one of the world’s foremost experts on international affairs. Dealing with Iraq, he says -
What happened in Iraq, the keystone of the Baghdad Pact and supposedly the one firm and reliable pro-Western Arab country? Was King Feisal’s Government the victim of external aggression as were Czechoslovakia and Poland and Hungary? It was not.
King Feisal’s Government was overthrown swiftly and totally by a conspiracy of Iraqi officers.
Sir John Glubb, who commanded the Arab Legion in Jordan, said very much the same thing in a recent article. Mr. Lippmann continues -
So, we would be deluding ourselves if we believed that the friendly Government of Iraq was subverted by foreign agents acting contrary to the national sentiment of the country.
He says, in effect, that the revolutionary Government of Iraq is acting in accordance with national desires. Considering the horror of the killings in Iraq, it is shocking that within four or five days the new government - that is, the murderers - had won almost world-wide recognition. For the time being all was forgotten. Why? Surely one might have expected some period of probation before recognition. Some governments wait years for recognition. But in this case the government, having been responsible for the death of the group referred to by President Eisenhower as martyrs, merely went quietly for four or five days and then got what they wanted.
It is impossible to be sure about the degree of democracy in any Arab country. The one country in the Middle East that is steady from the democratic point of view is Israel. Under unspeakable difficulties the people of Israel have torn a living from a tiny block of land. They have been tremendously successful. They are courageous people and, despite the interesting speech by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), I hope that there will be no alteration of boundaries introduced into the problem. Apart from that aspect I was very impressed with the honorable member’s speech.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman think that it would be best to return to the partition boundaries?
– The boundaries have acquired a new character because of what has happened in the last ten years.
Dealing once again with the remarks of Mr. Walter Lippmann, he refers to the great dilemma in which the President of the United States of America found himself when he sent troops to the Lebanon. He says -
My own view is that the agonizing dilemma in which the President found himself was due to a fundamental error in the conception and design of our Middle Eastern policy.
The error is in believing that the way to stabilize the Middle East is to align as many Middle Eastern countries as can be persuaded to join in a military alliance against the Soviet Union.
This is an error for two main reasons. One is [hat it is absurd to suppose that a great power like Russia ran be excluded from a region which is as close to her and as important to her as is Central America to the United States.
That is a very true statement, but a very courageous one for a writer to make in a time of great excitement. The Lebanon and Turkey are on the borders of Russia, and I do not think anybody would dispute that Russia has a responsibility in respect of territories that might become a threat to her. That is the view Mr. Lippmann takes, and he says -
The other reason-
That is, for the error - is that the intention of the Arabs is not to be aligned with us or with the Soviet Union, but to be neutral and to profit by dealing with both sides.
Anybody who is familiar with the bazaars of Cairo will know how they can profit by dealing with both sides. Mr. Lippmann continues -
The policies, based on this misconception, have have blown up and are in ruin. They were based on theories which are contrary to the facts of life and they were certain to fall.
The alternative is to propose a settlement in the Middle East based on the principle of neutrality.
I commend those remarks to the Minister for External Affairs for his consideration. Perhaps he can mould an alternative line of action by the Government. Mr. Lippmann continues -
This is what Egypt professes and probably wants. And for the little States, like Lebanon and Israel, the principle of neutralization guaranteed by all the great Powers and by the United Nations offers the greatest promise.
We should seek a settlement by negotiation, recognizing that both the Soviet Union and the United Arab Republic are Powers and have interests with which we must reach an accommodation.
The same writer concludes -
There are three conceivable possibilities
One would be to restore the Middle East as a sphere of influence for Britain, France and the United States of America, with Russia excluded.
Lippman states -
This cannot be done. It is too late. We are not strong enough to do it.
He goes on to state the other possibilities, as follows -
A second would be to let the Middle East become a Russian sphere of influence. This would be an unnecessarily abject surrender. We are not so weak that we must accept it.
The third possibility would be to neutralise the Middle East as between the two great military alliances, and to build upon this over-all neutralisation specific agreements about the oil business, about the security of Iran, Lebanon and Israel.
This would not be easy, and it requires a higher order of statesmanship than we are now accustomed to, but it is not impossible, for it does not run contrary to the vital interests of any of the nations concerned.
That brings me to the Minister’s proposal for a United Nations commission, which is stated in his speech. He said that it may be possible to settle the problems of the Middle East through the United Nations, and he then dealt with the position as to the present Middle East dispute, and with the idea of a summit meeting on Middle East questions inside the Security Council. He said that the merit of this is more than a matter of continuity, that discussion among the leaders of the great powers must deal with the aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East, and that their desire for economic advancement must be recognized. He said that economic development for the benefit of the peoples of the Middle East should be a matter of world interest founded on the concept of inter-dependence, and that this inter-dependence exists and cannot be denied. The Minister stated that the Australian Government favours the creation of an international organization to assist countries of the Middle East to develop their resources and to develop mutually beneficial trade with the rest of the world. He then went on to deal with other aspects of the problem, and some of his views on those may be open to question. But that is a start, and it seems to me that the matter should not be allowed to drift.
I want to refer the House to two other matters. One is the Middle East crisis over the Suez Canal and the proposal of the Australian Labour movement to establish a United Nations Middle East organization aimed at the establishment of a social and international order requiring regulation by the United Nations of matters such as power, water potential, food production, and the details of that economic arrangement which would have to be determined. The thought is contained also in the guarantees mentioned by Mr. Aneurin Bevan in a recent debate in the House of Commons. He outlined four principles which were the basis of the United Kingdom Labour Opposition’s proposals for a policy on the Middle East. They were -
Under the present tri-partite agreement between the Arab States, Israel and Britain, France and the United States, which has been treated almost as finished, there is provision that they will restrict their purchases of arms, and so reduce the possibility of a serious armed encounter. The further principles outlined by Mr. Bevan are -
That corresponds, broadly, to the plan of the Australian Labour party and to the plan announced by the Minister for External Affairs.
The last statement of policy of that character in relation to the Middle East came from a meeting of the British National Council of Labour about three weeks ago. The council consists of representatives of the Labour party, the Trades
Union Congress and the Co-operative Movement. This is what it said -
We do not believe that the problems arising from the growth of Arab nationalism can be solved by armed intervention.
At the time of Suez we called for the creation under UN auspices of an effective system to guarantee peace and security in the Middle East. It is now more than ever clear that underlying the nationalist upsurge there are social and economic problems which can never be solved without a radical re-appraisal of foreign policy applying to the area.
In our view, this reappraisal must aim at removing these social and economic tensions which are the basic obstacles to a reconciliation of the fundamental interests of the Arab peoples with the vital interests of other peoples in many parts of the world.
That is based on the same principles as the Minister states, and it is satisfactory to us on this side of the House. I think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), some time ago, stated1 some portion of them in a comment of his own.
I want to make it clear, again, that I think a special position must be retained for Israel in the Middle East. Israel, I think, is the bastion of democracy in that area.
– It is the only democracy.
– Yes, it is the only democracy in the true sense. It is a democracy in the sense that all the people have a share in the government of the country. It is a matter not merely of words but of actuality.
Those considerations seem to me, Mr. Speaker, to make it possible that good may come out of this perilous situation involving great debate, discussion and difference of opinion. As the Minister for External Affairs has told us to-day, the latest news is that, instead of the summit conference taking place at the level of the Security Council, it is to be held, I presume, in the broader field of the United Nations General Assembly.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think that that is a good idea?
– I do not know. I do know that if the Security Council is treated merely as a conciliation body, it becomes quite different from the Security Council. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) knows quite well that it may become, and often does become, a conciliation body when a veto is either threatened or exercised. There is no veto, at any rate, in the
General Assembly. It has come to decisions in very important disputes. A body of 80 members is a large one, but it is perhaps true to say of the larger body, in the words that we may read displayed in the Victorian Parliament House, that, in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety. We want safety. This body of representatives of 80 nations is really a world forum or tribunal. Wc have to give it a go. If they do not succeed at that level, in my opinion, they have to meet again until they do succeed.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise in this somewhat somnolent House to answer the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who has put to us his views on a very important statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). I find the task of answering him, in one sense, more difficult and, in another, easier than I had expected, because, quite frankly, Sir, I do not know what I have to answer. His speech recalled to me memories of sleepy days in the law school listening to long and abstruse dissertations on imaginary circumstances in international law in an atmosphere far removed from the realities of the difficult and dangerous world in which we live.
This afternoon we listened to a comprehensive, closely reasoned statement of the views of this Government on the recent crisis in the Middle East. Australia is not directly involved in this, but the things that are happening there can very well affect our future, as they can affect that of the whole world. What has occurred there and what could occur there may have a profound effect, and the Australian people are entitled to know the attitude of their Government on such a crisis.
That attitude was very clearly stated by the Minister for External Affairs this afternoon. If, for my own purposes, I were to summarize the Government’s attitude, I would do so in this way: We support the United Kingdom and the United States in the action they have taken in Jordan and Lebanon, at the request of the governments of those countries; after duly informing the United Nations of their intentions and stating their readiness to withdraw if and when the United Nations was prepared to take over. We support the independence of the small nations of the Middle East. We applaud the unity of the United Kingdom and the United States in this crisis and in the common action which they have taken. We see in many of Egypt’s actions what my friend, the Minister for External Affairs, has referred to as “ an exercise of imperialism “ by Colonel Nasser. We favour United Nations action in this crisis, and we hope very much to see the establishment of a United Nations commission, backed by the strength of a United Nations police force, in the Middle East. We very much favour a summit conference within the framework of the Security Council, as was suggested by Mr. Macmillan, and we deplore the rejection - of which the House has heard to-day - of this suggestion by the Russians. That is my own summary of the Government’s attitude in this crisis.
The Australian people are also entitled to know the attitude of the Opposition. For nearly an hour we listened to the Leader of the Opposition, and I must confess that he has left me still in complete ignorance of the attitude of the Opposition - a state of ignorance which I am afraid I share with all members of the Opposition including, I believe, its leader. The people are entitled to know where the Opposition stands. Those who listened to the right honorable gentleman are probably in the same state as I am in. We do not know the Opposition’s attitude. We have been treated to a long and learned dissertation on the structure of the United Nations. We gathered from the right honorable gentleman’s remarks the general impression that he disapproved of the action of America and Britain because it should have been taken in some other form, or because the Security Council should have been given the chance to do it first. Does he not realize that if the pleas of Lebanon and Jordan had not been answered promptly the governments of those countries would have been completely overwhelmed, that more murder would have been done, and that more destruction by force of established and settled governments would have occurred? Then, I suppose, he would have gladly joined in a condemnation of those actions before the Security Council, when it was all over and too late. If ever there was a doctrinaire, unreal and unreasonable approach to the problems of the world, we heard it for 50 minutes to-night from the Leader of the Opposition.
This crisis in the Middle East blew up quickly and without notice. There was a revolution in Iraq. The Government of Iraq was overthrown by force and murder, a matter which we greatly deplore. The new government, however, fulfils the canons of an established government under international law and, as the House knows, it has now been recognized by this Government. The state of Lebanon faced a revolt inspired and largely assisted from outside its own borders. It appealed to the United States for military aid, and its appeal was promptly answered, the United States informing the United Nations of what it was doing. The established Government of Jordan feared a similar coup, and appealed to the United Kingdom and the United States, and its appeal was promptly answered, again with due respect being paid to the United Nations, and an undertaking being given to withdraw when the United Nations was itself ready to take over.
In other words, action was taken in answer to the request of a friend, and at the same time opportunity was given for the United Nations machinery to work. If the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition had been adopted, it would be too late for the United Nations to do anything but make empty complaints. There can be no question about the legality of the action taken. There can be no question about the right of a nation which fears aggression to ask for the assistance of its friends.^
We have no complaints about the legitimate aspirations of Arab nationalism. However, we are opposed to the overthrow of governments by force, by subversion encouraged from outside and assisted by the supply of arms, and by propaganda from ill-intentioned neighbours. The free world has much to fear from the sort of disaster which could have occurred to Lebanon and Jordan. If those small nations were obliterated, it would mean the destruction of governments able and willing to withstand the advances of Communist aggression. It would mean the destruction of alliances which the nations of the free world have made with those small nations, and which form a considerable part of the defensive line against Communist aggression in the Middle East. These are realities. We stand to lose heavily by the sort of thing which could have hap pened if the pleas of Jordan and Lebanon had not been answered. 1 do not suggest that Colonel Nasser’s imperialism has any direct association with Russian ambitions, but there is no doubt that the state of turmoil, anxiety, confusion and unrest, which it causes in the Middle East, creates a state of affairs in which Communist aggression can flourish and is eminently qualified to progress. It is significant that the propaganda of Russia and the propaganda of Egypt in the months preceding this crisis bore a very striking resemblance.
This crisis can be seen in true perspective only against the whole struggle of the free world to survive against the menace of Communist aggression. Only against that background can it be clearly seen. Communist aggression menaces us by direct threats of war, and by the shaking of atom bombs and inter-continental missiles in our faces. It threatens us with subversion and by propaganda, continuous and insidious. Unhappily, its propaganda is effective. It has a considerable influence on some well-intentioned people whose understandable longing for the preservation of peace in the world sometimes overshadows their judgment.
It is profitable, I believe, to recall in this crisis the main lines of Communist propaganda in recent years. The House will remember the so-called peace campaigns - the persistent campaigns to suggest that Russia is the only true desirer of peace, and that only the free nations, the great democracies, stand in its way. That enormous lie should have been nailed for ever in the tragedy of Hungary. Honorable members will recall the propaganda for disarmament, the calls to “ Ban the A bomb “ and “End A bomb tests”. Unfortunately the man in the street, the average Australian, is not very well-informed about the long and persistent efforts in the General Assembly of the United Nations and, more particularly, in the Disarmament Subcommittee of the United Nations to find some possible common ground with the Russians on which to begin a discussion of disarmament. It is not generally known that for years the efforts of the free nations to reach a real basis for discussion of disarmament with the Communists has been met with evasion, shifting of ground and every artifice and avoidance known, to diplomacy. But the man in the street should recall one imaginative gesture of our time which could so quickly have cut the tensions of the world. I refer to President Eisenhower’s “ open skies “ offer. He said to the Communist world, “You may have freedom of aerial inspection of our country if you will grant the same to us, and on that basis disarmament and the abandonment of atomic weapons can proceed “. That was the greatest imaginative offer of these post-war years. What happened to it? It did not get to first base. Honorable members will recall more recent lines of Russian propaganda. Immediately before the revolution in Iraq there was the demand for a summit conference. We want a summit conference; the United Kingdom wants a summit conference and I believe the United States of America wants one. But we want one that will succeed, and for that reason the United Kingdom and the United States of America asked for an agenda. Honorable members will remember Russia’s evasions and avoidances of any practical attempt to put the meeting on the road.
Now, more recently, we know of the renewal by Mr. Khrushchev of his demands for a summit conference. Again an imaginative gesture came from the free nations, this time from Mr. Macmillan, who suggested holding this summit conference within the framework of the Security Council. At first it appeared that the Russians would accept, but to-day, to our dismay and disappointment, we have learned that this too has been rejected. It appears that Russia has fallen back on the complaint that Nationalist China is on the Security Council and could exercise a veto. The question of veto in this one instance does not matter because as we know, the suggested terms of these discussions were that resolutions should not be put, and, therefore, the veto could not be exercised.
This has been put forward by Russia as an excuse for avoidance of a meeting on this occasion. It was not put forward a few weeks ago. Apparently, it has been thought up at the last minute. I do not want to go into the whole business of the recognition of red China but I remind the people who clamour for it, like honorable members opposite, that recognition of red China achieved nothing for the Attlee Government but neglect and insult. That is one reason for not recognizing Peking. A second is that it could only be done at the cost of sacrificing Nationalist China because the Communists have made it clear that there can be no dual recognition. Such an action on the part of the 40 odd nations which have consistently refused to recognize red China would look like a blow to the free nations of South-East Asia. It would be an act of betrayal of the millions of people in Formosa, and it would have the very adverse practical result of breaking an important link in the chain of Pacific defences, a chain on which depends the security of my friends opposite and of all our people. These shortly, are reasons against the recognition of red China.
The free world faces a long and arduous struggle. A vast revolutionary movement has engulfed about a third of the world and menaces the other two-thirds. Although I am not sure that all my interjecting friends on the other side realize it, this revolutionary movement is based on an evil philosophy. Anybody who has any philosophic or practical understanding of the meaning of freedom knows, and any Christian should know, that it is an evil philosophy. This is the movement which menaces the two-thirds of the world remaining free. Is there any hope for the free peoples of the world in this situation? I believe that there is. Where does that hope lie?
– With you?
– No, not with me alone but, I believe, in people recognizing the danger clearly - not closing their eyes to it and not taking a passing advantage from association with those who practise communism. It lies in the free nations preserving their freedom and their way of life and in being ready, if necessary, to fight to preserve them, to be ready to meet the threat of force with force. These things must be done against the day when the peoples of Russia and China, through the spread of education and the slow rise in the standards of living in those countries will produce a generation which will demand some hope of peace, which will force a change in the attitude of their governments, and will set aside this insane and evil ambition of world conquest and domination. It may take many years; it may be our children or grandchildren who will see it, but I believe that it will come. In the interval, we should recognize the great debts which we and all small nations, owe to the United Kingdom and more recently, to the United States of America which now bears most of the burden of the military defence of the free world. I said that we must be prepared to meet force with force. But, at the same time, we must encourage every sign of any softening of attitude on the part of the Communist powers. We must take every opportunity to reduce the tensions and to open the door to more peaceful relations, no matter at what level those opportunities occur. For example, there has begun a freer movement of artists between the two worlds, an exchange of books and information and, more particularly there have been discussions between scientists of the Communist world and the free world in Europe, in Antarctica and, more lately, in Geneva. It is on that level, I believe, that the first progress is being made. Of course we hope for summit conferences and are disappointed at the latest rebuff. But in the meantime it is gratifying to know that in the lesser fields some progress is being made.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Mi. WARD (East Sydney) [9.9].- The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) said that the Australian people are entitled to know where we stand. I take it that he means, in this particular matter, where the Government stands. I think it is about time we knew where the Government stands on this particular issue. We are supposed to live in a democracy. The American troops first landed in Lebanon on 15th July. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was then engaged in his leisurely jaunt through the hills of Gippsland in Victoria on his “ meet the people “ campaign. The world was on the verge of nuclear warfare, but the Prime Minister, in his usual complacent manner, just as he adopted at the outbreak of World War II. the slogan, “ business as usual “, declared that his tour of the electorates must go on.
Let us consider what has actually happened in this country. The various Government speakers have not all advanced the same line of argument, .but let me remind the House that the Minister for Air has said that Australia is not involved.
Then what becomes of the statement by the Government that it stands behind the United Kingdom and the United States of America in the action those countries have taken? It is a very good thing for Australia if the Minister is correct in saying that this country is not involved, because even if we were actively involved in a conflict overseas our defences are in such a deplorable state that we could not contribute one man or one ship. We would not, therefore, be making any contribution towards a resolution of the difficulty.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) made a statement some weeks ago. We have to keep in mind that this international crisis has existed for many weeks. It is just over three weeks since the first troops landed in the Middle East, but in all that time there has been no meeting of the Parliament and no meeting of the Cabinet. On many occasions there has not been one Cabinet Minister in this capital city of Canberra to deal with an emergency that might arise. The Minister for External Affairs said* that it is hard to get Cabinet together at such short notice. He said, “ If Mr. Menzies and I had been in any doubt about the matter we would have had a Cabinet meeting “. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), however, is a little more frank - or, should I say, naive. The Minister for Primary Industry, who has ideas concerning personal promotion in the Government, said, “ There would be no great advantage in having a Cabinet meeting, because Australia was not being called upon to make any decisions “. Then what becomes of our Australian independence, this independence which we are supposed1 to value so much? Where is this independence if, as the Minister said, there is no sense in having a Cabinet meeting because Australia is not being called upon to make any decisions?
Although it was announced in this Parliament some time ago that the Government intended to introduce a roster system, to ensure that on all occasions at least one Minister would be present in Canberra, there have been periods of weeks on end when not one Minister has paid a visit to the capital. It is quite evident, therefore, that the Government does not take the matter at all seriously. The Prime Minister refused to call the Parliament together. The first public pronouncement made by the Prime Minister with regard to the situation was made, interestingly enough, over the commercial radio stations. There was a purpose in this. The Prime Minister has been conducting - no doubt free of charge - “ man-to-man “ talks over private radio stations. But it was decided to interrupt these “ man-to-man “ talks, and he was given the opportunity on this particular evening, with the co-operation of other commercial radio stations, to make his first statement with regard to the Middle East crisis.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission was not invited to participate in the broadcast. There was a quite obvious reason for this, it has been the generally accepted practice in this country, when matters of vital concern have arisen and there has been a wide difference of opinion between the Opposition and the Government, that if the Australian Broadcasting Commission makes time available for the Prime Minister to give the Government viewpoint, it must also give the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to reply. Not only was the Government not prepared to have a Cabinet meeting or call the Parliament together: it also applied the gag to the Opposition, preventing it from giving its viewpoint in the same way as the Prime Minister gave the Government viewpoint. Yet the Minister for Air said to-night, “ We want to know where the Opposition stands “. The very last thing the Government wants to publicize is the viewpoint of the Opposition with regard to this crisis.
Consider the contemptuous attitude of Ministers of this Government. When questioned about the Government’s neglect to hold Cabinet meetings, the Minister for External Affairs said that he had been in constant touch with Mr. Menzies. He said that they met for half an hour in Melbourne on the night of 18th July to frame their joint statement on the Middle East situation. We saw the world on the verge of war, with the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs meeting for half an hour to discuss the matter.
The Prime Minister has made some rather interesting, but contradictory, statements regarding Australia’s position. I say quite plainly that Australia must not sacrifice its right to express its viewpoint on these most important matters. The Prime Minister made this statement -
Australia was an independent nation with the right to express its own views on international affairs. . . . But Australia was independent only in the legal sense. . . . The notion that Australia was truly independent was a “grand conception “.
The Prime Minister denied that Australia meekly followed Anglo-American policies. But, he said, for Australia not to support Britain and the United States would be quite juvenile and positively dangerous. This did not mean, he continued, that Australia did not count in world affairs. Have honorable members ever heard or read such a mass of contradictory statements? As a matter of fact it is rather interesting to note that whenever some action is taken overseas that may involve Australia in hostilities and possibly the loss of some of her servicemen, Government supporters contend that we should offer no criticism of the policies pursued and actions taken by other nations in which we have had no part or were not consulted. Merely to say that we disagree with the policies adopted by America or by Britain does not make us anti-American or anti-British. Any such contention is sheer rubbish.
In America to-day there is a great volume of public opinion that would not approve of the action that has been taken. There has been as much criticism, in the newspapers and elsewhere, in the United States and Britain of the action taken in the Middle East situation as there has been in any other country. It is quite evident, therefore, that the Governments of those countries are not speaking and acting with the approval of the great majority of their peoples. The President of the United States acted before he consulted Congress. The Prime Minister of Great Britain acted before he had secured the approval of the British Parliament. When the matter finally went to the House of Commons there was not by any means a unanimous decision. In the House of Commons, on a purely party division, the Conservatives and their allies, lining up against the Labour party, were able to gain an endorsement of the action taken by the Government, but only by 314 votes to 251. There were 251 members of the House of Commons not prepared to endorse the action taken. In the United
States of America to-day you have a Republican President and Democratic control of Congress and the Senate. So that even in the highest ranks of government in America there is this difference of opinion with regard to policy. In the United Kingdom practically every by-election that has been held in recent times has either resulted in a victory for the Labour party or shown an enormous increase in the Labour vote. This indicates a rejection of the policies being pursued by the Government of that country.
Let me now consider the reasons for intervention. We hear the Minister for External Affairs and other Government supporters trying to explain the matter away and saying that the oil question is not involved in this struggle for the Middle East. Let me say quite frankly that many authorities to-day, both American and British, make it quite clear that if there were no oil in the Middle East there would not be one American or British soldier in the area. I recognize the importance of maintaining British oil supplies, and if there were any question of an interruption of those vital supplies Britain would have a much stronger case for intervention. She would be obliged to take some action to safeguard the very life blood of her industries. But such arguments are advanced by the tories, in this country and elsewhere, whenever they want to muster support for intervention; even when there is no threat to essential supplies. They made similar statements with regard to the Suez Canal crisis. They declared that there was likely to be an interruption of shipping which would adversely affect British industries. The only time the Suez Canal was effectively blocked was when the blockage occurred as a result of British and French action in sinking ships in the canal.
What the Liberal Government is concerned about is investments - not merely the matter of getting oil, but the profits from it. The Government is not concerned merely about the supply of oil to Britain; it is much more concerned about who is to control the supply of oil and profit from it. The Minister for External Affairs has told us that there is no oil in Lebanon or Jordan, and that therefore, the oil question could not be involved in the present crisis; but does any one suggest that if there had not been a forcible overthrow of the Government in Iraq there would have been any British or American troop movements into Lebanon or Jordan? They were moved in because of what had happened in Iraq. Let us see what the “ New York Times “ said on 18th July. It said -
The United States and Britain have decided to limit their intervention in the Middle East for the present to Lebanon and Jordan.
Intervention will not be extended to Iraq as long as its new revolutionary Government respects Western oil interests.
Not a question of respecting the agreements to ensure the supply of oil, but of respecting the oil interests, the financial interests which control the oil in those countries!
And the Minister for External Affairs, when referring to the revolution in Iraq said that “ the rulers of Iraq had been slaughtered like dogs in a gutter “. Then he made a further reference in which he said -
The Labour party has never condoned murder or assassination. But let us examine for a moment what the situation is to-day. If the Government believes that this was a Communist plot, that the Communists were responsible for the revolution in Iraq - and that is what many Government supporters have said - why has the Minister for External Affairs announced in his speech to-day that the Government proposes to recognize what he described as this bloodthirsty, murdering government in Iraq which he said was responsible for these crimes? It does not propose to do so years after the event; it proposes to recognize the new Iraqi Government a few weeks after the revolution. Why does the West propose to recognize the Iraqi Government? Because it has now discovered that the new government in Iraq is prepared to recognize and respect the agreements into which Iraq previously entered regarding the exploitation of oil in Iraq’s territories. It is just a lot of hypocrisy to talk as members of the Government have been talking on this matter. It is well known that in these Middle Eastern areas there is Arab nationalism. It is not a question of communism, because it is generally recognized, by those who are frank enough to face up to the situation, that the Moslem religion is more antagonistic to the Communist philosophy than is probably any other religious thought in the world to-day. As far as I am able to ascertain the only country in the Middle East that does not outlaw communism is Israel itself. The Minister for External Affairs talks about his friend, the ex-Premier of Iraq, as he did here previously. He describes Nuri el Said Pasha as his friend. I read an article in which this gentleman was described as “ Iraq’s strong man.” It said that for almost 40 years he had carried a revolver wherever he went, and in addition had two car-loads of bodyguards who trailed him night and day. It said that he had been ruling for more than a quarter of a century as virtual dictator, and that he brooked no opposition. It also said that he frequently closed down newspapers, banned political parties and, as recently as 1954, rigged an election that gave him a majority of over 90 per cent. It said that ranged against him were the Arab nationalists, the socialists and intelligentsia who wanted more and faster social reforms and the break-up of Iraq’s notoriously vast estates.
– Where is that from?
– From the Sydney “ Sun “ of 18th July. The honorable member who has just interjected probably thought it was from a Labour source. The “ Sun “ editorial of 1 8th July said -
British Prime Minister MacMillan says his troops in Jordan are there not to overthrow the Iraqi revolution but to free King Hussein’s hands to do that from Jordan.
Heartened by this backing, Hussein says he will now sweep Communism out of the Middle East.
So, the purpose of the intervention in those countries is quite obvious, and to-day we find that, according to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, Iraqi elections were farcical. But we heard the Minister talk about the “ lawful “ governments of those countries. He said that the troops had intervened to protect the lawful governments against external threats as a result of subversion from outside. But, as T have said, according to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. Iraqi elections in the past have been farcical Robert Callander, the “ Sydney Morning Herald’s “ staff correspondent, said in that newspaper’s issue of 26th July -
The overall picture I received in talks with Western Embassy Officials and every responsible Arab in Jordan was that only the most ruthless administration of martial law was keeping King Hussein in power.
It was Mr. Aneurin Bevan, the Deputy Leader of the British Labour party, who said he strongly disapproved of a policy of sending British soldiers into Jordan to keep King Hussein on his throne. That is a viewpoint that I share. If this Government really believes in establishing democratic government in Jordan, why is it not doing something about it? The article to which [ have referred says -
There has been a wave of frantic arrests as Communists, wavering soldiers, middle class business men, radical refugees and cafe conspirators are rounded up by secret police and Arab Legion Loyalists.
Even the Arab Legion, once loyal to King Hussein, is now riddled with Nasser disciples.
And the Minister for External Affairs had the audacity to say that the revolt could not properly be said to be a reflection of Arab nationalism! The Prime Minister said that Middle East troubles to-day were nol primarily economic but were fomented from outside to extend the Soviet jurisdiction of power - not economic justice. The Reverend Alan Walker, with whom the Prime Minister was associated a few years ago in the “ Call to the Nation “ movement, and who has visited the Middle East on two recent occasions - 1954 and 1957 - said that nationalism, not communism, lies behind the present situation in the Middle East. Sir John Glubb, who was in charge of the Arab Legion until dismissed by King Hussein, said -
In every Arab country young men, includin? army officers, have been the spearhead of internal revolution, not because they have Communist sympathy but simply because they are inspired by the spirit of nationalism.
I say here, as a member of the Labour party, that we have to respect the rights of other peoples, including the right of selfdetermination. We must not be deluded or misled on every occasion on which conservative thought here or abroad wants to swing us in behind a campaign of military intervention. We must not be intimidated by the continual, cry without the production of evidence that something is being done by international communism. On this occasion there is any amount of reason to argue to the contrary. But the Minister for External Affairs said he could see no point in the Russian proposal for a summit meeting on the Middle East crisis. T say quite definitely that whether the conference is held inside or outside the United Nations it will be a good thing for the people of the world, because it is the only possible chance we have of maintaining world peace. I can see reason for objections to the Security Council alone dealing with the situation. According to the Russians, they object to Nationalist China being allowed to sit on the Security Council to deal with this matter. Time will not permit any further arguments, but I say that the Government stands roundly condemned for its handling of this particular situation.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
, - After listening to that characteristic outburst of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) who spent the first ten or fifteen minutes of his time in criticizing personalities and asking where the Prime Minister was and why Cabinet had not met, we found that at the end he had not time to discuss the real international problems which are worrying most members of this House. Like his leader, he followed the very bad example of quoting at length what some journalist or columnist had said. Apparently, again following his leader, he was devoid of his own ideas on the subject. It is difficult always to be right and we cannot believe what every columnist says. One of them wrote the other day that as the result of the visit of Khrushchev to Mao Tse-Tung, red China would probably attack Hong Kong and that anyway the reds would cut off Hong Kong’s water supply and food supply. He was apparently somebody who had never been to Hong Kong, because the Hong Kong water supply is inside Hong Kong’s territory. He must have been referring to Malaya or Singapore.
However, despite what I feel has been a most lamentable attempt on the part of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to add anything, of value to the debate to-night, I believe that the debate has been very enjoyable because of three speeches by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). Strangely enough the honorable member for Moreton was praised by the Leader of the Opposition, and I congratulate him on having made an impression on the right honorable gentleman at last. Those three honorable members all displayed sound knowledge, unanswerable logic and a humanistic outlook in connexion with the suggestions they made, not for a solution of the problem but on points that must be considered by those who will be responsible for solving the problem. They are points which are being considered by everyone in Australia who is really interested in what is going on.
I know that the problems are difficult. I know that they have not been solved; but the attitude of every honorable member is that, although we have not been successful in the past in reaching a solution, perhaps we did not try hard enough. With greater experience and greater determination and, let us hope, with greater knowledge and wisdom, we may be able to find the answer if we try again. I agree with those honorable members who have said that we have been far too busy dealing with these problems on almost an hour-to-hour or a daytoday basis. We have not had even a short-term policy, let alone a long-term policy, but it is very encouraging to find such a concensus of opinion that these problems cannot be left any longer.
The Minister for External Affairs put forward certain proposals regarding the appointment of a United Nations commission. If that could solve the problem - and I think it is one of the best ways of trying to do so - it has the support of every honorable member on both sides of the House. I do not want to go over ground that others have covered, but I believe that we can summarize the points at issue. The first is the delineation and assured maintenance of Israel’s borders. The second is the settlement of the Arab refugee problem.
Might I remind honorable members who are pressing for action by the United Nations and others that the United Nations this year demurred very heavily about paying the cost of looking after those refugees. I remind honorable members also that the United Nations organization has not brought forward any concrete proposals possible of success to re-settle those refugees; but Great Britain, which has been decried by honorable members on the Opposition side to-night, has handled 2,000,000 refugees in Hong Kong, a city of 2,600,000. I do not say that the British have solved that problem entirely, but the manner in which they have tackled it, without any help from the United Nations, is a great credit to the administrators of Hong Kong.
May I remind honorable members also that Viet Nam, admittedly with American aid, has re-settled 1,000,000 refugees from the north. I have seen that re-settlement with my own eyes recently. It is nothing short of miraculous. It is useless to say that the Arab refugee problem cannot be solved simply because the United Nations has not so far reached a solution.
The honorable member for East Sydney said that if all oil supplies were to be cut off, we had every right to interfere, but if the oil interests were concerned, they were only looking after their own profits. I could not see the difference between his two thoughts. Like the rest of the honorable member’s speech, that portion was so muddled that it was difficult to determine what he was driving at except his criticism of personalities. The oil producers - or, if you like, the Arabs - are just as keen on keeping the flow of oil going as are the Western consumers because Russia has plenty of oil of her own and if she took over Arabian oil, she would not want to buy it except with an eye to depriving the Western world, and everybody knows what that would mean. Therefore, the question of oil supplies and their maintenance is one of the matters which must be tackled.
All sides agree that due recognition of Arab nationalism is of importance although it is not necessarily synonymous with Nasser imperialism as some honorable members on the Opposition side seem to think. As for Iraq, I do not think that anybody in this House can tell me what will come out of that situation ultimately. I think all agree that a situation is deplorable when there is resort to massacre and mass murder. Perhaps, we will know more about it ultimately.
I do not know all the reasons for the incidents. I do not feel sufficiently advised or informed to know exactly what caused them. There were probably many causes, but very definitely one was the voice of Cairo mentioned by the honorable member for Lilley. That was the voice which had been breathing fire and slaughter, murder and assassination against King Hussein for the past six months if not longer. This kind of propaganda is another matter which has to be taken into consideration. You cannot have somebody over your border inciting forces to murder whether the victim is to be a king, a prime minister or a leader of a parliamentary opposition. That sort of thing is not approved by any one in this House. I think we will probably discover what the Iraq attitude is from the manner in which those in power deal with the former Foreign Minister, Mr. Jamali. who is known to some honorable members of this House. He was arrested at the time of the coup. These matters, with the question of the development of power mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs, more or less summarize the problems which have to be solved.
I think that the Minister gave a very sound analysis of the situation in his speech. He analysed why Australia has backed Great Britain and the United States of America when they responded to the call for action against what might be described as external aggression. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet, but external aggression will stink just as much in our nostrils even if some more pleasantsounding name is given to it.
The Minister also gave the reasons for supporting a meeting of heads of States within the framework of the Security Council. When that policy was announced I thought that Khrushchev would duck it, and he has. He was afraid of working within the framework of the United Nations Security Council. He wanted to get on to a platform in Geneva or somewhere else where he could obtain the best effect for his bluster, bluff and bloody revolution - the propaganda with which he has been frightening the lives out of the people who come within his power. I think it is about time that action was taken, and I am delighted to see that the United States of America and Great Britain are cooperating in a firm policy to protect more free people from being blustered and bluffed out of their inheritance by the propaganda methods which are being used by the Communists. I know that we have given way. We have sought appeasement. We have tried to do those things because we are peace-loving people; but we have reached the stage where it has to stop.
Finally, the Minister dealt with the United Kingdom and United States of America policy and the suggestions which should be put forward as a method for solving the current problems. On the other hand, the only speech I thought was really worth while from the Opposition was that of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). Unfortunately, he, like a lot of other members of the Opposition, seemed to be like the proverbial mixed-up kid. He stated very clearly that the Communists were embarked on world conquest, and said that we had to defeat the Reds at their own game. Then, apparently not understanding that the main card that the Communists have in their pack is that of bluff, bluster and fear, he proceeded to say what would happen if bombs fell on London and frightened the life out of all decent thinking people. He went on to denounce Mr. Dulles - again the kind of action which helps the Reds with their propaganda. In other words, he stated his thesis and then undermined the whole show. He said that the smaller nations were not going to back a loser and that the more weakness that is shown by us the more they will feel that they have to be on the side of the Reds - the winning side, whether they are Arab nations or the nations of South-East Asia.
Finally, he made most deplorable deductions with the very best of intentions. If his speech reflected the outlook of the Labour party, that outlook might well be represented in the words of the old song which bade us lie down under the champagne spring - in this case it would be Red champagne - and let it trickle down the throat till the blue birds sing. There is no hope, courage, or leadership in the proposals that have been put forward by the Opposition.
I do not think that anybody imagines for a moment that this Arab problem has blown up suddenly like a khamsin, a desert dust storm. I suggest that, fundamentally, although Arab nationalism has a lot to do with it, there is one more important factor that does not seem to have been mentioned. The Communists have denned peaceful co-existence as world conquest without war. The Communists have had three phases of conquest. They started with force and fraud which won them their satellites in Europe, North Korea, North Viet Nam, Tibet and other areas. Then they began to be afraid that force might be dangerous because it might start a bigger conflagration. They are more afraid than we are of such a conflagration because they have more to lose in many ways and they have trouble within their own borders. I do not fear an atomic war. I fear the cold war much more because people do not recognize it.
– You. do not fear atomic war?
I do not fear it for various reasons which I have not time to go into at the moment. But 1 fear the cold war. As I said, force and fraud were first. Secondly, the Communists went on to an ideological campaign but their actions in Hungary which mocked their words ruined this campaign. In 1955, at the Communist conference, they decided to concentrate on the trade weapon as their main armament in the cold war. We can see what happened as a result of the use of that weapon in the Middle East. They gave Syria promises of trade, followed by technicians, infiltration, subversion and propaganda. They hoped to make Syria another satellite. But they made certain blunders in carrying out their agreement with that country. They have now decided that it would be much better for Syria to become a country of subversion, attached to Nasser’s Egypt.
They have applied the same policy of aid and trade to Egypt so that Egypt no longer controls its own cotton. It sells its cotton by barter to Russia which then sells it in Egypt’s own markets to obtain foreign exchange. That process can be traced throughout other countries. What happened in Iran in 1956? What happened in Pakistan in connexion with trade negotiations and in many other countries of which one has not the time to go into details to-night?
I want to remind honorable members that the pattern of aid and trade in the cold war is not confined to the Middle East. It has been repeated in the Far East and it is winning because, as I have said, we have shown nothing but weakness. Do honorable members think that the overseas Chinese believe that we are going to stick to them and see that they are not overrun by the Communists, when we do not even recognize red China by having a legation in Taipei; and when we allow the Bank of China to carry on subversive infiltration and black-mail unhindered in Singapore and Malaya? In other words, we are repeating what we have done in the Middle East and the Far East and it is time that we stopped and thought about it. 1 hope that Britain and America, having got together and shown firm policy in the Middle East, will do likewise in talking to Peking, which respects strength and exploits weakness. 1 do not think that the people of this country realize the danger that we are in. All of us have been satisfied for too long to be like the proverbial ostrich which sticks its head in the sand and leaves its valuable tail feathers at the mercy of the raiders. We do not realize that our destiny is bound up not only with our far lines of communication such as the Suez Canal, but with the destiny of South-East Asian nations as well. Their destiny and prosperity are, to a large extent, ours. We feel perhaps that, in supporting the Colombo plan, we have done enough. We have not done enough. There is a lot more that we can do and should do. To sum up, what is happening in the Middle East is being repeated in the Far East - the region of the world in which we live. War is being waged just as ruthlessly and fiercely as a shooting war but it is harder to recognize it as a dangerous war because it is insidious, dividing people within a nation, making businessmen dissatisfied with the government on trade deals, dividing one nation from another and attacking their economic security, first of one, and then of another. As I have said, the destiny and prosperity of Australia are closely linked with the destiny and prosperity of our next door neighbours. A short-term policy ignoring the facts of the trade weapon in a cold war could possibly result in a short cut to national suicide. From now on, whether in the Far East or the Middle East, let us make an effort to solve, not side-step, these problems whether they are short-term or, more important, long-term % problems. In considering development and trade in the Middle East we should start with a regional economic conference on a co-operative basis in the Far East. Whatever else we do, let us recognize that Communist policy is doped carrots for unsuspecting donkeys and death dealing clubs for decent people and democracies.
– (MrLawrence). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) were improperly spoiled at various stages by his rather slighting and arrogant attitude to arguments put forward on this side of the House. The honorable gentleman has. served with distinction in many fields. He has a great contribution to make in debate. He could show to his party some of theleadership which he asks others to show in what is technically called the “ free world “. His arguments, which were vagueand generalized, produced no answers to the questions before us. He asked what was. the policy of the Australian Labour party. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) put it quite clearly. We cannot be subservient to the policy of others, even to the policy of our closest friends. That is the principle that must be observed in the world to-day.
I start with the basic assumption that most of the people who are running the older countries of the world are wrong in. their attitude to human beings. Turning back over the last ten or twelve years since the end of World War II., I see the crimes, that have been carried out in the name of power politics by practically every nation, with any power at all. I see carried, out by the people whom we treat as friends actions that ;t”e absolutely unsupportable by any rule of humanity, Christianity or justice. That is the role with which the Government parties have associated themselves. We find ourselves associated with people whose policies are despicable in the extreme, people who have been associated with the blackest crimes for which humanity has been responsible. Consider some of the things that have happened in the last few years. Take Hungary. Russia was. responsible for what happened there. That is one side of the picture. Consider the action in Suez, where, out of the blue, bombs were dropped on Egyptians. Egypt may well be one of the poorest and most depressed nations in the world, but the 8(“r Egyptians whom the British admit that they killed, or the 8,000 whom the Egyptians claim were killed, were all human beings, entitled to the kind of moral and humanistic approach which the honorable member for Chisholm said the people on his side had brought to the study of international affairs. Mere expressions in this House of support for a humanistic approach mean nothing; they must be supplemented by our actions in this House, outside in our domestic policies, and in the international sphere when we express our opinions there. The Liberal party has no humanistic approach to the basic problems of organization in our own country. In the last few months we have seen people flogged by the decision of a Liberal government in Victoria and hanged by the decision of a Liberal government in South Australia. We have seen this Liberal Government line itself up almost immediately with murderers in Iraq. These things are insupportable. These are the things against which I protest.
Let us look at what happened in 1953,. when the Korean truce was being negotiated. Chiang Kai-shek, dedicated to the proposition that he should reconquer 400,000,000 Chinese, was doing his utmost to keep the Korean war going, to see that no armistice was signed. That was absolutely indefensible. Syngman Rhee, one of the people whom we consider to be on our side, the leader of a country that Government supporters define as a member of the free world, was allowing Communist prisoners-of-war out of the cages so that an armistice could not be negotiated. He was attempting to continue the war. We saw the Chinese launching vigorous attacks during the last stages of the armistice negotiations in an endeavour to conquer a few more yards of hilltop which could be of no earthly use to them except as a bargaining point in the armistice negotiations. Hundreds, even thousands, of Chinese were lost in the last few weeks of the negotiations. To these people, human life means nothing. I say they are wrong.
The United States is a great nation which has contributed a great deal to the world, particularly over the last few years. The American people have been generous in the extreme, and we are grateful for their support, even though it did take them a couple of years before they decided to assist us both during the first world war and the second world war. But I look back to 1953, when the Rosenbergs’ were executed. I see the two men who were leading America at that time. President Truman was the man who had the great moral courage to issue the order that the atom bomb should be dropped on Japan. Not many men have been faced with the necessity to make such a decision, but he made it. He had that sort of courage. The Rosenbergs were under sentence of death when President Truman was handing over the reins of office to President Eisenhower, but he did not have the moral courage to act mercifully and reprieve the Rosenbergs, despite the fact of world-wide demands for mercy, not only from Communist leaders. Even the Pope sent a plea for clemency. President Eisenhower, the man who1 now leads the American nation, and to whom we are almost dedicated, judging by our Government’s” actions, to support without any criticism whatever, also did not have the moral courage to lay down a principle of mercy in the case of the Rosenbergs, although he had the courage to carry out the assault on Europe, the greatest military operation of history.
I say that we in Australia are a different people, with different attitudes. Generally speaking, I would apply that remark to most of my friends on the Government side also. Our parents or grandparents - not many of our families have been here for more than one hundred years - came to this continent to find a new way of life, to free themselves from the shackles of the old world1 and to get rid of those prejudices and human failings which had made man’s lot on this planet such a miserable one.
I agree with the honorable member for Chisholm that it is leadership that we want. Australia, taking its stand on the principles of humanity, justice and understanding, being free from the shackles of satellitism - which is a term I apply to this kowtowing and following of other people’s policies - can bring to the international scene those very qualities that are needed. If we do so, we will be respected more for the position that we take up than for our weight in battleships. In a world war we can contribute very little in man-power, munitions, and materials, but we can offer to the world at large the sort of humanistic leadership that the people on the other side of the House like to talk about but do nothing about. It was a different matter when the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was Minister for External Affairs and Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister. That is the sort of leadership we want now. It must be made clear to the peoples of the world that the small independent nations have every right to speak up and to be heard, no matter what their strength in numbers.
Who are the two great protagonists in the world to-day? On the one hand, we have America, with a population of 180,000,000. On the other hand, we have Russia, also with a population of 1 80,000,000. That is a total of 360,000,000 - perhaps 10 per cent, of the whole world. They are holding the rest of us at bay. We have come to the stage where it is unlikely that those two countries will come to blows. The Russians are well aware that within twenty minutes of an attack on the United States the Strategic Air Command would be on its way to Russia with atom and hydrogen bombs. The Americans are equally well aware that within 20 minutes of an attack on Russia, the Russians would be likewise on their way to America. That is not the problem to-day. The problem that faces the world to-day, whether it be in the Middle East or in our near north, is the obliteration of poverty, suffering, and want. We must associate ourselves clearly with any move in that direction.
Let us examine the position in Iraq. Iraq has a long and troubled history. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said that the troubles in the Middle East were . directly traceable to the establishment of the State of Israel. For 6,000 years the Middle East has been the centre of this kind of struggle. This is what the “ Encyclopaedia Britannica “ says about Iraq -
In 1258 Mesopotamia paid for the policy of Nasir. Halabu Khan, grandson of Jenghiz and ruler of Persia, inspired by his queen and by his general Kitbugha, picked a quarrel with the last Caliph, Mutasim, killed him, sacked Baghdad, and made Iraq .into a wilderness. Next year, it was the turn of the North. Two murderous campaigns wiped out the principalities and most of their populations and the Mongol flood Tolled on into Syria.
The whole network of canals and the great civilization that had been built up there was destroyed. That was 700 years ago this year.
– Were there any Communists then?
– As far as 1 can make out there were no Communists then, but there were generals and emperors. What about Iraq to-day, a country that we have been so eager to recognize, with a population of a little more than 5,000,000? All political parties have been abolished and prevented from organizing in any way whatever. That has been the position for the last six years. The press is censored. There are 10,000 political prisoners in Iraq. Torture is regularly employed.
– Is this a part of the free world?
– Yes. We have recognized these people within ten days or so. Nuri el Said spent three times as much on his police force as was spent on education. Parliament was rigged. It was feudal landownership that controlled the country. Concentration on capital development depressed living conditions. It sounds like Stalinism. There have been three revolts in the last twenty years. In 1936 the young Turks carried out a coup d’etat. They lasted only ten months, and then Nuri el Said came back again. In 1941 there was a pro-Nazi coup d’etat. That lasted for four months, at the end of which time Nuri el Said was back in business. He has been Prime Minister fourteen times. We have just about got to that stage in this country. In 1948 there were riots in Baghdad against the Anglo-Iraqi treaty signed at Portsmouth. The rioters held the capital for several weeks. There was no talk of interference on that occasion.
The position that this Government has taken up is full of contradictions. I have no time for those who line people up and shoot them. I am strongly opposed to such barbarous behaviour. I do not care whether it is indulged in by Iraqis, Hungarians or Arabs, or even in Victoria or South Australia, where people are hanged and flogged at the behest of Liberal governments. I protest against such behaviour wherever it occurs. The new government in Iraq has no more right to be recognized than any other, but if it is a stable government, the Australian Government is right to recognize it. However, this
Government does not apply the same principle to the recognition of other countries. We have only to consider the position of continental China, which will be one of the running sores in international affairs until the American people come to some sense of reality and we acknowledge that we cannot ignore one-sixth of the world’s people who occupy one-sixteenth of the world’s land surface. In fact, we in Australia do not even recognize Russia at the present time. What an impossible position for us to be in! How can we possibly solve the world’s problems and make any progress while this situation exists? We cannot if we work on those premises.
This Government with its continual adoption of the policy of the United States of America in particular, and of the United Kingdom, without determining any attitude of its own in these affairs, will get us nowhere. The Labour point of view should be expressed as strongly and as often as possible in order to convince the people of Australia that the Australian Labour party should have public support for its policies. As I have said, satellitism can only continue with the policies that have been adopted for 6,000 years, and have proved a miserable failure.
What are the things that we can do? The United Nations needs some sort of forces with which it can police its orders. The Minister for External Affairs said that it may be weeks or months before the United Nations can go into action. How long is is to be before we do something? What is Australia’s position? This is the fourthwealthiest nation in the world. We have spent fabulous sums on defence in the last few years. What assistance could we offer if the United Nations called on us? We might perhaps offer a battalion of men, but I doubt it.
– We could offer the warship “Vendetta”!
– Yes, we could offer the “ Vendetta “. We could offer a brigade of tanks, which we could not move, because the railways could not handle them. We ought to take more positive action to see that countries such as Australia can fulfil the role in which they are needed. The Secretary-General of the United Nations suggests, in his statement on the international force, that the nations with per manent seats on the United Nations Security Council should not be participants in the provision of the force, and that is reasonable enough. No country wishes to be occupied by Russians, Americans, Britons or Frenchmen, particularly, or by Chinese.
– By which Chinese?
– Or even by Formosans. These are people who are suspect before the bar of history. First of all, they are too strong, and their past record is not too blameless. Therefore, the task rests upon the smaller nations, of which Australia is one of the wealthiest, despite the administration of the present Government. Australia is one of the countries that have spent enormous sums on defence and ought to be in a position to provide the kind of force required.
What forces would be needed to police the borders of Lebanon, Jordan or Israel? We have heard that 172 miles of the border of Lebanon is in dispute. Four or five light mechanized divisions could satisfactorily police and control such a border. We cannot continue to allow world affairs to be upset through our failure to acknowledge the central facts. The same considerations apply to the 330 miles of Israel’s border in dispute. I do not blame the Israelis for the incidents that have occurred along that border. The Arabs sneak across it and shoot up the Israeli farmers, and the Israelis, quite reasonably, take action as a consequence. This has been going on for years, and the nations that created Israel have done nothing to prevent it. For years, this Government did nothing to try to help the Israelis to obtain proper free passage through the Suez Canal for their ships. These are serious matters, and the trouble spots of the world will continue to fester so long as we refuse to acknowledge the salient facts.
In this situation, perhaps we may be able to create a third A.I.F. The first A.I.F. was known as the “ Australian Imperial Force “. We could perhaps offer to the United Nations a body that will be known as the “ Australian International Force “. I think that this, in a small way, is one of the constructive actions that we could take. And in the greater matters of debate in the United Nations, we must be free and independent.
There are other matters of international affairs to which we could turn our attention. The honorable member for Chisholm mentioned the people to our north. It is a matter of serious concern that we have neglected to support the Government of Indonesia in its attempts to make Indonesia a reasonably well ordered, modern country. We have left Dr. Soekarno to carry on alone with very little support in the face of tremendous difficulties. Indeed, he has received nothing but severe criticism from many authoritative sources in this country. Indonesia could well be one of our bastions. The true friendship of the Indonesians would be much more valuable than anything we could achieve by the expenditure of vast amounts on defence.
I suppose, in view of the Government’s attitude to international affairs, that this can be only an abstract discussion, because anything that Opposition members say will be little noted on the Government side of the House, and anything that Government supporters say will amount only to kotowing to people on the other side of the world. This is ironic, because we are perhaps creating another Kenya to our north. I have just spent a fortnight in New Guinea. One can pay only the highest of tributes to the devotion to duty of the public servants in the Territory who are doing a difficult job on a shoestring. In the last few days, we have seen what can be regarded only as a tragedy and a disaster - the shooting of natives in the the carrying out of Government policy. This, is absolutely indefensible on any ground.
– Order! The honorable member is supposed to be discussing the situation in the Middle East.
– I thought I had made it clear that human beings, no matter who they are, and no matter whether they are under our dominion in the islands to the north of Australia or under the dominion of the Arab League in the Middle East, must be treated as human beings. I simply remind Government supporters that, to our immediate north, there is a situation to which they should turn their very close personal attention. We have on our own doorstep a problem which we must solve forthwith or we will have another Kenya or another South Africa. That statement im plies no criticism of the people in the’ Territory who are trying to carry out official policies. The facts of life are there, staring us in the face, and it is up to every one of us to face them. It is just as important that the people of Papua and New Guinea should be treated as human beings and equals as it is that the people of Iraq, who are probably in an equally depressed state, should be so treated.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I have not been misrepresented by somebody else, but I have misrepresented myself in a worse fashion than ever before in the whole of my political career. I was speaking rapidly when I was talking about the Communists. I have been told that I asked why we have not a legation in Communist China. What 1 meant to ask - and what I have always wanted to know - is: Why are we not represented in nationalist China?
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) is an idealist, and idealists are very dangerous people. He spoke about the 800 Egyptians who were reputedly killed in the bombing of Port Said during the trouble over the Suez Canal, but can he imagine what would have happened had the British not acted then? It is a question of the cheapest cost. Had the victorious Israeli army been allowed to overrun Egypt, there would have been a conflagration throughout the Arab world. If ever a world war threatened, it threatened before Britain intervened in the Suez Canal dispute. Since that incident, there has been no world war.
As 1 have said, the idealist is a dangerous man. The honorable member said that the world is divided into two opposing powers - the United States of America and Russia. That is not a true statement of the position. The world is divided between freedom and slavery. The greatest danger that we in the free world face to-day is presented by people like Bertrand Russell and Toynbee - people who, wittingly or unwittingly, destroy the will to survive and let darkness loom up over the world.
We have heard this evening the views of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) - one of Australia’s potential Cabinet Ministers. Whenever the honorable member discusses foreign affairs in this
House,- he sickens me. Do honorable members recall how he talked at the time of the outbreak of the Korean war and at the time of the Suez Canal dispute? Do they recall how he accused this Government of intervening in the Suez trouble, and how he asked what right we had to poke our noses into the affairs of other people? Yet, to-day, the theme of the honorable member’s remarks is exactly the opposite. Has he learned his philosophy from the double-talk of the Communists? Where has he learned it? If ever any member of this House spoke in support of Russia and its policies, the honorable member for East Sydney has done so this evening. In a democracy we are handicapped by the fact that we have an Opposition that can say what it likes and divide the nation. To-day the nations of the world are divided. That is the reason why we cannot come to terms and agree to combat communism. This state of affairs results from the actions of the honorable member for East Sydney and similar people.
One point that has not been raised in this debate by the Opposition or anybody else is the right of Russia to intervene in the Middle East. The trouble in the Middle East is not between the Arab world and the American and British world. It is between the free world and Russia. By what right has Russia intervened? She has no interest there. She is not threatened. Her frontiers are a long way from there. Her borders are far removed from any place where there has been intervention by Britain and America in the Middle East. Why do certain members defend the Russian point of view? What right has Russia to go there? She has no sphere of influence there. She has no right there whatever. That fact is noi acknowledged by the Opposition.
A curious feature is that something similar, but worse, is happening in Tibet. Not one member of the Opposition has mentioned Tibet. The significant point, in my view, is that Russia is not engaged in Tibet. Irrespective of where she is engaged, she finds her apologists in the Opposition. That is an ugly thing to say, but it is very significant.
The United Kingdom and the United States have intervened in the Middle East.
They have a long history of freeing nations and giving them self-determination; yet they are accused of imperialistic aggression in the Middle East! We know, the Opposition knows, and the world knows, that when the appropriate time comes those American and British troops will be withdrawn. But no credit is given for that. Those ‘ countries are called imperialistic aggressors. Is it not time that the truth was learned? Does anybody on the Opposition side believe that the United States will stay in the Middle East? Does anybody believe that the United Kingdom will maintain troops in Jordan? No, everybody knows that those troops will be withdrawn, but the members of the Opposition are prepared to align themselves with the falsehoods and distortions of the Khrushchevs against their own race, against their own philosophy, and against free men. That is why the world is divided and that is why we cannot formulate a policy to unite the people. To-day in Great Britain the Gaitskells and the Bevans have got behind the Government’s policy, but here the Opposition’s thinking is a long way behind ours.
We know that during the. last two years Nasser has been inflaming the Middle East. At whose behest has he done that? Who gains by it? There is no Western imperialism in the Middle East. Nasser’s activities are not confined to the oil-producing countries. He is just as active against Libya and the Sudan, where there is no oil. The Opposition’s attacks are directed entirely against the Americans and the British. There is no suggestion of Nasser’s being wrong. Is that because members of the Opposition think it is their duty to oppose the Government on foreign policy? Surely in foreign policy we should be bipartisan. The bullying character of Egypt has been demonstrated during the last few years, but not one member of the Opposition has attacked Nasser.
– That is quite wrong.
– I have not heard him attacked by the Opposition. There is very grave significance in the rapid recognition of the new Iraq Government by the Soviet and Egypt. How did the Arab Republic and the Soviet know so rapidly the composition of the new government? It might have been Fascist in character, might it not, in that country where democracy does not have free play? Why were those countries able to recognize this new government so quickly? Had they taken a part in developing it? That is a point which should be examined very carefully.
I agree with the view of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) on the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird). It is the only contribution to the debate so far from that side of the House that I respect. I was unfortunate enough to miss the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), otherwise I should probably have had a much easier speech to make.
– Unfortunate, you say?
– Yes, unfortunate. The honorable member for Batman did say that the world was faced with the desire of the Communists for world domination. I do not know whether he was stung to fury by interjections, or whether he was just missing the party line. That was an admission that I was pleased to hear from him. I am quite certain that in his own mind he agrees entirely with our thinking. He said that the world was faced with a demand by communism for world domination, and that we should meet this threat with leadership and beat them at their own game. How can leadership in the Middle East be achieved? What does he suggest we have failed to do? He said that he did not like aggression or the landing of troops. Are we to stand on the sidelines while small countries are overrun, one by one, by Nasser, the stooge of Khrushchev? What leadership did he expect to be given? Did he expect money to be given to the small nations? It is easy to talk rubbish. This is a realistic world. You must have a plan which other men understand. In most countries what other men understand is strength. How do you show strength? You show it by the movement of troops.
The honorable member for Batman spoke about hatred of a foreign uniform. He said that it was dangerous to assist small nations, and that they had no right to call for help. He expressed pleasure and surprise: that the position in the Middle East had improved during the last week. Why did. it improve? It improved for only one reason - because American and British troops were there. Had no American and
British troops been there, what would have been the position in the Middle East to-day? It is quite easy for the Opposition to say, to the United Kingdom that this action or that action is wrong. Opposition members have no responsibility whatever. What do they say about the hatred of a foreign uniform in Korea? What would have happened in Korea if the United Nations had not sent troops there? Opposition members always argue in the way which best suits their case. They have no responsibility. The action of the United Nations forces in Korea saved that part of the free world, at least. It did more than that. It showed aggressive communism in China that the free world might be prepared to take action. Each time troops of the free world have been landed a situation has been cleaned up. Russia wants world domination, but it wants to extend darkness and slavery over the world without war.
Several times members of the Opposition have expressed disapproval of calls by small nations to the great powers for help. I think that that is a fair statement of what they have said. But in 1941-42, when a Labour Government was in power in Australia, did it not apply to the United States for 25 divisions? When Lebanon applies for American troops that does not suit, but we Australians are different! We can apply to America for 25 divisions! How many times have I told1 members of the Opposition that it is time they emerged from their foggy thinking and got away from double talk?
The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is one of the respected members of the Opposition, but he is somewhat naive on questions of foreign affairs. I think he said that he supported Israel and that Israel should stay. Of course it should stay. It is established and accepted. It must stay. But the Arabs say that it must go. How is that problem to be solved? The honorable member supports Israel, but the Arabs want Israel out. What is to be done? How is that difficulty to be solved? In international problems, Opposition members attack the people who have responsibility, and do not come to their aid.
I was very impressed by the speech of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). He contributed a great deal to the background of the Middle East problem. lt is not oil that has caused the trouble, although oil is an important factor in the Western economy. The Western people must consider any factor which threatens their employment and well-being; but oil is not the cause of the trouble in the Middle East. It is an indirect cause. The real trouble is the economic war being waged by Russia. If Russia can cause any economic ill to the Western nations she will do it, and nothing will hurt Great Britain and the rest of Europe more than the loss of Middle East oil. The oilfields in the Middle East have been developed by European capital and labour and, consequently, the people of Europe and Great Britain are entitled to a share of the oil produced.
The subject of a summit conference has been mentioned, and criticism has been voiced from the Opposition side to the effect that the United States of America and Britain continued to boggle about having a summit conference. I read with some consternation reports in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ reproducing views of the overseas press on the situation in the Middle East at the time Khrushchev was demanding a summit conference. The report stated that one newspaper in England, perhaps it was the “ Manchester Guardian “, carried an editorial under captions such as “ Khrushchev wins propaganda victory “ and “ The West is too slow to move “. I have my own views of the popular press and they coincide very much with those of His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral. I could not help thinking of the way in which the leader writer of that newspaper was misleading the public. He suggested that Khrushchev had won a great propaganda victory. A year ago Khrushchev murdered the Hungarians. Subsequently he horrified the world by the murder, while under safe conduct, of Imre Nagy. Evidently that leader writer thought that public opinion was so fickle that the people would forget the past and believe his suggestions.
That is an illustration of one of the great dangers of democracy - this extraordinary idea of believing what columnists write. Australian Labour party members quote columnists with authority, but to my mind they are one of the great handicaps we have to face. Can any honorable mem ber for one moment believe that the public forgets so soon the murder of Imre Nagy while proceeding under safe conduct, and all the rest of the miserable events in Hungary and believes the word of Khrushchev three weeks later? Of course not.
Personally, I feel that we must face the future with determination because we know that nothing will stop the Russians until they are put in their correct place - nothing at all. We have the deterrent bomb and so have they, but to my mind there will be no atomic war. But if we have the deterrent bomb, let us use it as a deterrent.
There is an Achilles heel in comunism - the spot where it is most vulnerable. Honorable members may have noticed that every Communist nation is terrified once there is a breakdown in the dogmas of Leninism and Marxism. When that happens the whole structure breaks down. To my mind our energies should be directed to shattering those dogmas. I am convinced that that is the only solution. I believe that the Western nations, Britain and America, should withdraw their troops from Europe. I am confident that any conventional troops which the Allies can put into Europe will never be sufficient to stop the conventional troops of Russia. If the British and American troops are withdrawn from Europe and the Western nations insist that Russia withdraw her troops from the satellite countries, then once any Russian troops cross the frontier they should be bombed. In my opinion that would provide a breakdown of the Russian regime. In the Communist satellite countries we have already seen the Communist regime breaking down, and it would not take a great deal to make that crack spread throughout the Communist world.
The Chinese Communist leader, Mao Tse-tung, has realized the danger of revision. In every speech that Khrushchev makes when he visits the different satellite countries he talks about the sacrilege of Titoism. Why are the Communist leaders so hostile to Tito? They know that if the Communist dogma is broken the whole rotten structure will fall to the ground. The best course for us to follow is to take the bold action I have suggested of withdrawing our forces from Europe. Without the presence of the red army the structure of communism would break down in Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Every effort should be made in that direction.
With regard to the Middle East, 1 believe that British and American action has been wise, although various complications will have to be dealt with. I feel that in foreign affairs some realism must be talked, and we should not try to take political advantage of the Government or of our opponents. In the Western world we are faced with the fact that we have a parliamentary Opposition, and that is a healthy thing to have. But there are times when the nation gets together, and this is a time when the nation should be united and not be led astray by the sort of talk we have heard here to-night and will probably hear in future debates on foreign affairs in this House.
I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs on his very able exposition and very well constructed report on the situation in the Middle East.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webb) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Some time ago I drew the attention of the House to the fact that advertisements were appearing in the daily newspapers of this country soliciting the investment of funds and guaranteeing rates of interest to investors as high as 121 per cent. I pointed out that the ability of these investment companies to guarantee such a high rate of interest meant that each company had to invest the money which it secured at a considerably higher rate than 12i per cent. Alternatively, it had to practice a manipulation of funds which it received in a way detrimental to the economy of the country and to what can be considered as legitimate trading methods.
I asked the Government to take some action to investigate the bona fides of these companies and their methods of operation so as to safeguard people in Australia from investing their money with them. They claim that they can guarantee high rates of interest, but, in reality, they have no basis for such a guarantee in the funds at their, disposal. Actually, their assets are only sufficient to purchase advertising space id the newspapers.
The Government has taken no action; but the Melbourne “ Herald “ recently published an announcement in many of its issues, as follows -
Advertisements seeking application for deposit money or subscription of registered notes.
As from Monday, July 21, such advertisements cannot be accepted unless they contain for publication an up-to-date certificate by a chartered accountant or licensed auditor showing the amount of security in tangible assets that will be available to cover all liabilities including notes or deposits. In the case of holding companies, a consolidated figure will be required.
THE HERALD & WEEKLY TIMES LTD.
This newspaper, apparently - as far as lies within its limited capacity - is seeking to protect the investing public from the operations of the companies that I have described. What I want to know from the Government, however, is this: Is any private newspaper entitled to refuse legitimate advertisements? If the advertisements are not legitimate, and if it is necessary for this newspaper, in the interests of the public, to print this announcement in its columns, why has not the Government taken some action? Why is the Government leaving to private enterprise the responsibility, as it were, of protecting to a limited extent - because it can do so only to a limited extent - the people of the country against very doubtful methods of securing money for investment purposes, when the Government could provide full protection?
I do not wish to discuss the matter at any great length. The evidence shows that there is, apparently, a need for an investigation of these companies and for the public to be protected against such organizations. lt appears that a private enterprise is endeavouring to do a job that should really be done by the Government. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is at present at the table. He is, I believe, an authority on all kinds of matters, and I ask him to-night to say whether he agrees that the Government should either take action to protect investors or say to The Herald and Weekly Times Limited, “You are not entitled to put such an announcement in your columns, and you must accept advertisements from these particular investing companies “.
.- I wish to direct the attention- of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to a matter relating to medical examination of persons called up for national service training. The national service training scheme, which, as is well known, has cost the taxpayers just on £200,000,000 and has degenerated into an expensive national farce, should, I believe, be looked at carefully from all aspects, particularly that of medical examinations of those called up for training.
A couple of months ago a young man came to my office and said that he had been called up for a medical examination prior to undergoing national service training. He said that he had booked his passage to go abroad, where he intended to spend a couple of years. His reasons for wishing to go abroad certainly were not such as to warrant an exemption from national service training, but he reiterated several times, to me and to officers in the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of the Army, that he was suffering from certain physical disabilities that would make him medically unfit for the national service scheme. Despite his statements in this regard, the Department of the Army and the Department of Labour and National Service insisted that he be medically examined. He was, therefore, examined by a specialist and certified fit to undergo military training. He subsequently entered camp and, seven days later, was certified as medically unfit by the Army.
The point I wish to make is this: This young man had stated constantly that he was unfit, but, after being examined by a specialist, he had to cancel his projected trip to Europe in order to undergo national service training. Then, after entering camp, he was told that he should never have been sent there, and within seven days he was discharged. I brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), and in a letter to me dated 11th July. 1958, the Minister said -
T am informed that Mr……………… was examined by a consultant specialist to the Army -and that as a -result of the examination he -was classified as medically fit for service. My department, therefore, had no option but to proceed with arrangements for his call-up in the normal way. I understand that he reported for training on 13th May, 1958, but was later reclassified as medically unfit for service at a review medical examination held on 21st May, 1958, and was discharged. I am not in a position to comment on the reasons for Mr…………. ‘s discharge after reporting for training since he was then deemed to have been enlisted in the Army. In any case I would not be free to disclose information obtained in the course of the medical examination as this is regarded as confidential.
He then went on to deal with the inconvenience that had been caused to the person concerned.
The point I wish to stress is this: What kind of medical examination is being carried out of persons called up for national service training if, after being examined by a specialist of some kind, a prospective trainee can be certified as fit, only to be declared unfit by the Army seven days later. The young man in question had saved up and paid for his trip abroad, and he had to cancel his booking. He had made certain arrangements, in this and other countries, which he had to postpone after being told that he must undergo national service training.
I suggest that there is something wrong with a system under which cases of ‘this kind can occur. In the case under consideration the man concerned was probably not affected materially, except, of course, that he was put to great inconvenience. I read the other day, however, that a man conducting a one-man business and earning £45 a week was told to close his doors in order to undertake national service training. That man could very easily be placed in a similar position to that in which the person to whom I have referred has found himself. It is too late to do very much about the specific case that I have brought up. It is, however, an indication of what may happen in other cases, and I am not at all satisfied with the report given to me by the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister has set out the circumstances of the particular case, but he has not given any intimation that steps have been taken to see that such a position will not arise in the future. I do not know who the specialist concerned is, but I suggest that the department should consider his position carefully, because I believe that once a man is in the Army and the Army authorities let him out on medical grounds he is almost a case for the grave.
The man concerned has been caused great inconvenience. The system in operation now is such that he might quite easily have been excused so that he could go abroad. 1 thought in the first place that he had reasonable grounds for objecting to his call-up. I repeat that if other prospective trainees are being subjected to the same kind of medical examination, the system should be carefully looked at by the Government. Great inconvenience can be caused, and persons can suffer heavy losses and have their businesses destroyed. It is monstrous to think that some persons who are unfit for service are being called up, and, after a loss of time and suffering great inconvenience, are being discharged as medically unfit.
I ask the Minister for the Army to look at this case, and I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to consider carefully the position of the specialist concerned and, if necessary, remove him from the list of consultants. This is a serious matter which should be investigated, not merely glossed over departmentally, so that a repetition of these circumstances may not occur in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I was unable to provide the honorable member with an answer to his question before the House rose. In a letter dated 23rd May, I answered him in the following terms: - 1 have consulted my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, who has informed me that the answers to your questions are -
Section 3 of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Act 1942 provides that the Act shall be read and construed subject to the Commonwealth Constitution and so as not to exceed the legislative power of the State and proceeds to lay down a rule of interpretation of a not unfamiliar kind for the constitutional safety of the Act. It is not difficult to see that the object, not only of this provision, but of the exclusion of motor vehicles owned by the Commonwealth from the definition of “ motor vehicle “, is based upon a desire to abstain from attempting to impose any obligation under State law upon the Commonwealth. It is evident, moreover, that the Commonwealth could be relied upon to discharge any liability incurred by it in connection with the use of a motor vehicle and therefore that it stood altogether outside one of the chief reasons for enacting the compulsory insurance provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Act 1942. I point out that the sentence referred to in the honorable member’s question meant that the Commonwealth did not need to take out insurance to be able to discharge its legal liabilities. The sentence was not directed - as the question seems to me to imply that it was directed - to the question whether the Commonwealth ought to accept liability for damage caused by unauthorized use of its vehicles. 2 and 3. A submission on this matter will be made to Cabinet and will be considered at an early date.
s asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I am not aware of any delays in the issue of quota licences caused by this re-organization.
e asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Wool Bureau Incorporated is the American wool promotion agency financed partly by funds contributed by United States wool-growers and partly by appropriations from the International Wool Secretariat. As the honorable member is no doubt aware, the International Wool Secretariat is comprised of representatives of the Australian Wool Bureau and the Wool Boards of New Zealand and South Africa, which are financed by wool-grower organizations. The funds of the Wool Bureau Incorporated of America are therefore all drawn from wool-growers. Mr. Eugene Ackerman, the author of the article quoted, was the first president of the Wool Bureau Incorporated. He retired from this position on 1st January, 1954.
The matters raised are the concern of woolgrowers of the four countries concerned and it is not the policy of the Government to intervene in them.
I think there can be no doubt that wool-growers generally consider that the wool promotion activities being carried out by the International Wool Secretariat in a number of overseas countries are proving of great benefit to their industry.
Cattle in Papua and New Guinea.
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The work of the livestock stations is at present the subject of examination as part of an investigation into the cattle industry of the Territory by Mr. A. L. Rose under termsof reference given to him by the Minister for Territories.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– My colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, advises: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 August 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580806_reps_22_hor20/>.