22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to report to the House that the photograph of an incident in the House to which I referred yesterday appeared in the “ Courier-Mail “ also. I am taking similar action with regard to that newspaper.
Mr. RIORDAN presented a petition from 750 members of the Pensioners’ League of Queensland praying that Parliament will give immediate consideration to the question of increasing pensions to no less than 50 per cent, of the basic wage as the minimum.
Petition received and read.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs give the House further information about the talks between the major powers in conjunction with a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations? Is any more information available as to the procedure to be adopted? Will no votes be taken during the deliberations of the General Assembly? As the right honorable gentleman knows, the normal procedure provides for a two-thirds vote, transmitted by way of recommendation; but whether or not such a vote is taken, will there be an opportunity for talks; under the auspices of the General Assembly, between the great powers and Middle East and other nations affected by the proposals?
– We have not yet received very .much information on this subject. There is some indication that efforts may be made to hold a special General Assembly next week - perhaps fairly early next week. In anticipation of that, a telegram has been sent to Dr. Walker, who is at present taking a short period of very well-earned leave, asking him to come back to New York and organize our Australian team. I think the assumption is that the ordinary rules of procedure will be adhered to. They are. of course, well known to the Leader of the Opposition and to honorable members generally. We have received no information yet as to the making of any special provisions, nor do I see how such provisions could be agreed to in advance, because the matter is in the hands of the General Assembly itself. So I am assuming at the moment that the normal rules of procedure would apply, under which a two-thirds majority would be necessary for any resolution to get through in connexion with, of course, a matter of importance. If we get anything more on that I shall take the earliest opportunity to inform the House.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Trade. I refer to the recently established Export Development Council. Can the Minister say why, when primary production is responsible for most of our export income, and when many of our primary products are becoming harder to sell, the primary producer representation on the council is so numerically small?
-Of course primary production is the principal source of our export earnings. But the primary industries are very thoroughly geared to the management of their own affairs. The Australian Wheat Board, and the Australian Meat Board, as the honorable member would be aware, as well as various other primary industry marketing boards, are quite au fait with their own problems, and I think the judgment is that there is reasonably adequate representation of the primary industries on the Export Development Council. The more knotty problems of export actually touch the attempts of the Government to aid industry to exploit opportunities for the sale of the more complex commodities.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service what action is being taken by the Government to correct the serious unemployment situation. ls the right honorable gentleman aware that there has been a substantial increase in the number of persons registered with the Department of Labour and National Service for unemployment benefit as well as in other categories of people who are registered with the department for employment but who, for a variety of reasons, are not eligible to receive unemployment benefit? I further ask the Minister whether he is aware that the unemployment to which I have referred is largely due to factors which can be directly attributed to the depressed state of the building and textile industries?
– There is, of course, some unemployment in this country but, although no doubt it is serious for the individual who may be unemployed at any given time, it cannot be described as serious in an economic sense, as would be understood by most sensible people.
– At what stage does it become serious?
– I suppose it would certainly become serious when the unemployment level was about 5 per cent., which the honorable member for Parkes stated, when speaking on behalf of the Labour party, that he regarded as a state of full employment. I think it is generally known, Mr. Speaker, that this Government has pursued an economic policy designed to maintain an overall situation of full employment in this country. Over the whole period of its terms of office it has been remarkably successful in that regard. Even in this difficult year, a year in which we have seen a decline of £164,000,000 in the export income of this country, we actually have fewer unemployment registrants, although the mid-winter period is normally the slack period of the year, than we had at the end of January. During the intervening period we have gone steadily ahead absorbing the addition to the work force from our own natural increase and from immigration.
– How does it compare with last year?
-Order! The honorable gentleman must not interrupt.
– The honorable gentleman asks me how it compares with something last year. T can tell him how it compares with the parallel situation in the 1930’s, when honorable gentlemen opposite were in office, and when unemployment in this country reached 32 per cent, of the number of registered trade unionists. We have managed to cope with a difficult export situation and other economic problems very much more successfully than that. Having regard to the fact that we have gone ahead steadily absorbing these additions to our work force and that we have been coping with a normally slack period of the year, I think that the position is remarkably stable. A deficit Budget in itself should make a contribution to the strengthening of consumer demand and, in that way, strengthen the demand for labour used in the production of consumer and other products.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that the bulk of the tobacco leaf for the 1957-58 season has now been sold. In view of the fact that there has been some dissatisfaction among growers with the auction system in the past, can the Minister give the House any details of the Victorian tobacco leaf sales? Are the results of those sales satisfactory and likely to promote the expansion of the tobacco industry in Victoria?
– I think it is correct to say that the greater proportion of tobacco in Queensland and Victoria has now been sold. The sales in Western Australia commenced this week. I do not know how the Western Australian sales are progressing, but in Victoria there has been a clearance of about 90 per cent, of the leaf offered and the price has, I think, been highly satisfactory, at an average of about 131d. a lb. The honorable gentleman can go back to his constituents with the satisfactory statement that there has been a high clearance of leaf and that the price received can be regarded as satisfactory - perhaps even highly satisfactory. The Government’s policy is to foster the development of the industry through increasing the percentage of Australian leaf that has to be used. I think it can be said that the tobacco growers can look forward to a continuous period of expansion under the incentives that have been provided by this Government.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to a report from the Denver Research Institute of the University of Colorado which claims that a new process has been evolved for the manufacture of shale oil at a greatly reduced cost? Has he read the following statement by the Director of the Institute, Mr. A. S. Johnson junior?
This is a vital discovery for the United States and the entire free world, particularly for countries like Australia, which have serious oil problems.
In view of the serious problems arising from unemployment in mining districts, will the Prime Minister have this matter fully investigated and, if it is found to be economically feasible, will he re-establish the shale oil industry with the object of providing employment and thus dealing with an important fiscal matter?
– I have not myself seen or read the document referred to, but I will certainly see that it is brought to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for National Development.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has he any explanation to offer the House of the recent visit paid by Mr. Khrushchev to Mao Tse-tung? Is it a fact that the Chief-of-Staff of the Soviet armed forces accompanied Mr. Khrushchev? Does the right honorable gentleman see any significance in Mr. Khrushchev’s choice of a travelling companion?
– I do not think that any man born of woman could say what significance attaches to any move by the Russians. The last visit between the two Communist leaders was paid by Mao Tsetung to Khrushchev in Moscow eighteen months or two years ago, and it has been rumoured for two or three months that a return visit was in prospect. Certainly, the secrecy with which the recent visit of Mr. Khrushchev to Mao Tse-tung was conducted until after their meeting was finished makes one wonder, but I would expect that the meeting would be a reasonably normal get-together movement on the part of the two great Communist powers. There has been a good deal of heart searching about Yugoslav revisionism. I think it has given a great deal of anxiety - which is a pity - to the two Communist leaders. As to the significance of the Chief-of-Staffs going to Peking, we know very well that the two Communist leaders are in what we might call military cahoots. I would expect the participation of the Chief-of-Staff, therefore, to be a fairly normal thing. I would expect that a fairly large staff accompanied Khrushchev - on the trade side and in connexion with other matters.
It is also possible, of course, that the talks with Mao Tse-tung had some influence on Khrushchev’s thinking in connexion with his change of mind for the fourth or maybe the fifth time about how to conduct or create an international conference to discuss the Middle East. The fact is that a summit meeting, if that is what it was, proposed by Khrushchev inside or outside the Security Council would, of course, have excluded Communist China, and that may have been one influence in the proposal to discuss the Middle East in a special meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations. ‘ But as to anything beyond that, I think it is just anybody’s guess.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health regarding the overcrowded temporary prefabricated ward for the treatment of psychiatric patients at the Dawes-road General Repatriation Hospital. Will the Minister take up with the Minister for Repatriation or, if he is not available, his officers, the question of what is to be done about that ward? Is it to be rebuilt or completely forgotten? I remind the Minister that I raised this matter early in the last sessional period of the Parliament. I have repeatedly communicated with the Minister for Repatriation by letter and telegram. He always promises me an early reply, but I have never received one. In the meantime, the patients who go to Dawes-road hospital for treatment want to know whether the Government intends ever to make up its mind to do anything about this shockingly neglected ward.
– I will take up the matter to which the honorable member has referred with the Minister for Repatriation and ascertain the position.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. It has been stated that there is to be an international conference on the Antarctic. Has the right honorable gentleman anything to say to the House on this matter?
– Some months ago, President Eisenhower proposed an international conference for the co-ordination, one might call it, of scientific work in the Antarctic and non-militarization of the region. To that end, informal discussions have been going on for some little time between the representatives of the twelve countries which participated in the work in the Antarctic during the course of the International Geophysical Year. The objective is to call an international conference, as I have said, in an effort to evolve a treaty to achieve free trade, one might call it, in science, and non-militarization. So far, there has been no decision as to the date of the conference, its composition, or the matters that will be discussed. I expect that these matters will come to a head in the course of the next six months. I cannot comment further upon them
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is a fact that during his term as Prime Minister the Australian £1 has depreciated more than the currencies of most other nations? Will the Prime Minister advise the Parliament and the 5,400,000 electors of Australia whether the extent of depreciation of the Australian £1 since 1947 exceeds 54 per cent.? Is it true that, by comparison, the depreciation of currency in the same period in the United States of America was 20 per cent., in Great Britain-
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. He should ask his question.
– Is the Prime Minister proud of his stewardship in this matter?
– The answer to the last question is “ Yes “. As to the first part, I shall be very glad to have the figures checked.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether a constant stream, of Soviet propaganda emanating from Wellington, New Zealand, is being circulated amongst prominent people in Australia.
Opposition Members. - Oh!
– I know that you all are waiting for a copy. 1 further ask the Minister: Does that propaganda contain material which is very damaging to Australia and Australian interests? Is there any way of dealing with this continuation of the propaganda war in Australia?
– As the honorable member has suggested, for some considerable time, I think a number of years, a constant stream of propaganda in the form of a printed sheet has emanated from the Russian Legation in Wellington, New Zealand, lt has been addressed personally to a very large number of people in Australia, including members of the staff of the Department of External Affairs. I expect that it has been addressed also to many honorable members. The sheet in question contains outright and rather crude propaganda, a great deal of which is directly antagonistic to Australian interests.
I know of no way of stopping it, except, perhaps, by public protest. The honorable member for Macarthur may have seen copies of the pamphlet. I repeat that it is of the crudest nature. I expect that it is directed not only to Australians, but also to a large number of New Zealand people. However, I have no idea of the number of people who receive the pamphlet. Certainly many hundreds, and possibly a great many thousands, receive it. Now that the honorable member has brought the matter prominently to notice, I shall, in consultation with the Prime Minister, give thought to whether anything can be done through the New Zealand Government to stop the propaganda.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister who is acting for the acting Minister for the Navy. Is he aware that there is a constant stream of dismissals from the Garden Island Dockyard? Is it a fact that, while these dismissals are taking place, the department is letting work out to private contractors? In view of the warning of the international crisis in the Middle. East, does not the Minister think that Garden Island, our national dockyard, should be kept at full strength? Can he inform the House whether the destroyer “ Arunta “ is to be put away in mothballs and refitting work on this modern destroyer discontinued despite the Middle East crisis?
– Order! The honorable member should ask his question.
– Can the Minister inform me about what action be has taken to see that these highly skilled artisans and their assistants are absorbed in other employment in the dockyard?
– 1 am not aware that anybody has been appointed Jo aci for me in my capacity as acting Minister for the Navy. I am not aware in detail of any of the matters that the honorable member has raised. He asked, among other things, if 1 understood him correctly, whether I would ensure that any one who was unemployed at Garden Island dockyard would be given work that was being done by outside contractors. I know very well that the honorable member claims a very great and deep knowledge of and association with the shipbuilding industry, and I would have assumed that he knew that it would be quite impracticable to cancel at short notice the work of contractors and sub-contractors in outside industry who are supplying materials to be incorporated in work that is being done at the dockyard. So I should think that what he has suggested is quite impracticable of performance on short notice. I shall look into the matters that he has raised in due course.
– Is the Minister for Health in a position to tell the House about the means by which sufferers from chronic or pre-existing illnesses can qualify to enter hospital benefits societies and obtain benefits from them?
– The Treasurer announced in his Budget Speech that the Government proposed to extend all the benefits of the National Health Scheme to sufferers from pre-existing and chronic ailments who are at present excluded from full- benefits on account of those ailments.
In brief, the proposal is that the Government will arrange a guarantee so that the funds with which these people insure will be able to make payments to them similar to those made to persons who are insured under other conditions. I shall be introducing legislation into the House in which all the details of the mechanism for doing this will be explained. The intention is that the National Health Scheme shall cover all those people who have been excluded up to the present by reason of pre-existing or chronic disease.
– 1 ask the
Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that twenty-six member nations of the International Labour Organization have already ratified convention provisions pertaining to the great social reform: - equal pay. Since the Minister’s last statement on this subject held out little hope for the implementation of equal pay or any positive action in respect thereto by this Government, 1 now ask the Minister whether the Government will follow the example of those twenty-six nations by legislating for equal pay in the first instance for its own employees. Alternatively, will the Minister table his statement for debate by the House so that the negative attitude of the Government on this issue can be fully ventilated?
– I shall check the number of countries which have acted in the manner to which the honorable gentleman referred. I am quite certain that he is familiar enough with industrial conditions inside this country to know that our wage structure differs very materially from those of most of the countries that he would have in mind. The Australian wage, as is well known, is made up of various parts. There is the base wage and there is the margin, and it has always included a social concept of “ needs “ as determined by the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission.
– Not any longer.
– Oh, yes. It is true that the commission adopts, as its basic consideration of the wage which can be awarded, the principle of the highest wage that it is within the capacity of industry to pay-. But the commission does not ignore the “ needs “ factor when it comes to consider what is a reasonable wage and, indeed, the highest wage which can apply in those circumstances. I challenge the statement made by the honorable gentleman that we have a negative attitude in this matter. We have not only a positive policy but, I suggest, the only sane and realistic policy which it is open to a Commonwealth government to pursue. Indeed, it is the policy which has been followed by other Commonwealth governments, irrespective
Df their politics, in earlier years. It is to have these great industrial issues determined by our own appointed tribunal, the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. It is a bad day for Australia when these matters become political footballs to be kicked around from one side to the other, and our industrial economy is disturbed in the process.
It was open to the trade unions, had they chosen to do so on any one of the last four occasions, to apply to the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission for the application of equal pay, or equal pay for equal work - whichever way they choose to put it. It is significant that on none of those occasions have the representatives of the trade unions made any such application, although they have given lip service to the principle of equal pay. When I read that it is proposed by a representative of the Labour movement - not the official movement, I gather, but one of the various offshoots which exist at the present time - that there should be some sort of parliamentary inquiry into this matter, I say that the most effective inquiry which could be held regarding the practicability or otherwise of adopting this principle for the Australian wage structure would be an inquiry, with evidence and argument, conducted before the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. I recommend that course to those who advocate the adoption of this principle.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. As we are aware, No. 1 Bomber Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, under the command of Wing-Commander Robertson, recently returned to Australia from Malaya. Has the Minister received any indication of the value of its operations in fighting the
Communist terrorists in Malaya, as assessed not by the Opposition in this Parliament, but by the Malayan authorities?
– Yes, I have received two indications of the value of the work of the squadron. The first came from the senior Air Force authority in Malaya, the Commander-in-Chief Far East Air Force, who wrote to the Chief of the Air Staff in the highest congratulatory terms about the work of No. 1 Squadron during the eight years of its establishment in Malaya. As to the attitude of the Malayan authorities, I am glad to tell the honorable member that when No. 1 Squadron passed through Sydney recently on its return from Malaya and was entertained at a civic reception by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, His Excellency the High Commissioner for Malaya, of his own motion, attended the civic reception and expressed on behalf of his government and people very great satisfaction with the work that the Royal Australian Air Force had done, and No. 1 Squadron in particular, in assisting the Malayan people to deal with the Communist emergency in their country.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the House of the efforts he has made, or is making, to ensure that the hardships being suffered by parents who are endeavouring to rear young children are recognized by the Government? Will he also inform the House whether any submissions, recommending the payment of increased child endowment, were made by him or his department to the Treasurer or the Cabinet prior to the introduction of the Budget for this financial year?
– The honorable member for Lang, who bears a royal name and who keeps very closely in touch with me from day to day, knows perfectly well that the whole scheme of social services is constantly under examination and is at all times given the careful consideration of the Government.
– Can the Minister for Trade say whether it is a fact that difficulty has been experienced by some superphosphate manufacturers in obtaining adequate supplies of lindane, an insecticide used, when mixed with superphosphate, for killing certain types of pasture pests? Have arrangements been made to see that adequate supplies of this important material will always be on hand and that there will be no departmental delays in issuing import permits for it?
– I do not think it is correct to say that there have been difficulties in securing import licences for lindane. The essential character of lindane and the purposes for which it is needed are fully understood within my department. All business organizations must act within a reasonable time when making applications for import permits. I rather fear that in some instances sufficient time has not been allowed. My department has a prodigious job to do in dealing with the large number of applications for import licences, but I understand that superphosphate companies have been advised that not only will adequate supplies of lindane be approved for import, but also that reasonable stocks will be allowed to accumulate beyond present requirements.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether Army personnel are issued with leave passes when they proceed on leave? If so, are the orders in respect of the issue of leave passes strictly observed? Is the Minister aware that some time ago a young sergeant of the Citizen Military Forces was killed in an accident at Newcastle, and that his widow and two children have been denied compensation because the Department of the Army claims that the soldier was on leave at the time of the accident, although the soldier’s widow denies that claim? Will the Minister institute inquiries to see whether the soldier was in fact on leave and, if so, whether he had been issued with a leave pass? Will the Minister review the evidence in the case to see whether compensation can be paid to the widow of Sergeant Shepheard and her children?
– I shall certainly have another look at this matter. Only yesterday I read about the appeal that was made in regard to it, and there seems no doubt that at the time of the accident the soldier was not under the control of the Army.
– Had he been given a leave pass?
– I understand that at the time of the accident he was not supposed to be where he was. I shall put it that way without disclosing the whole facts of the matter. The case is an unfortunate one, and I shall certainly look into it and deal with it as sympathetically as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In recent months, margarine manufacturers have made a determined effort to deceive the Australian public by advertising and promoting the sale of an inferior margarine. The manufacturers seek to create the impression that this margarine is suitable for table use, their purpose being to produce and sell quantities in excess of the quotas laid down by the New South Wales Government. Will the Minister take this matter up with the Australian Agricultural Council to see whether all margarine can be branded as either table margarine or industrial or cooking margarine?
– I have noticed a considerable increase in the production oi industrial margarine, or other margarine, at it is so frequently called, in the month oi May. In May of this year, I think production increased from 37,000 cwt. to 47,000 cwt. That increase has caused the dairying industry, and the various Ministers for Agriculture, considerable concern. Consequently, they have recommended to me that the matter of other margarine be listed for discussion at the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether, in connexion with flour exports from this country, he has been able to make any progress towards recovering some of the markets for our flour that were lost, as he has stated, through unfair competition from other countries. Is the Minister aware that the position has been consistently deteriorating, and that in many instances flour mills are working one shift only, and in some cases have closed down altogether?
– The Government has been very conscious of the loss of some of our traditional markets for flour, those markets to the north of Australia in particular, and it has been very active in negotiating with both the governments of the countries which have been historic importers of our flour and the governments of those countries which have ousted our flour from those historic markets by government-subsidized competition, other subsidies or unfair trading practices. Quite considerable progress has been made in the negotiations, as is illustrated by the fact that we have not been driven so completely from the markets as might well have occurred if some success had not attached to the negotiations and the representations that were made.
I was glad to be able to announce, in conjunction with the Minister for Trade and Commerce in Ceylon, who visited Australia to discuss this and other matters with me, that the Government of Ceylon had agreed to buy, on commercial terms, 20,000 tons of Australian flour during the remainder of this calendar year. This was a fairly important achievement, seeing that we had not made a commercial sale of flour to Ceylon for about, I think, sixteen months, although Ceylon had been one of our more important flour markets for years. Beyond that sale, which applies to this year, it has been agreed between this Government and the Government of Ceylon that, before this year is out, there will be an attempt to establish a more enduring long-term arrangement that will ensure the continued sale of Australian flour, on normal commercial terms, to Ceylon.
– Can the Minister for Health inform the House of the progress being made with the Commonwealth’s poliomyelitis campaign? Can he also state whether stocks of Salk vaccine in Australia are sufficient to enable the present campaign to be maintained? Is it intended to step up the manufacture of this vaccine to allow for the extension of age groups to be treated in the future?
– The inoculation of the child population in the age groups up to fourteen years, which was commenced at the beginning of the cam paign, ‘has now been virtually completed, except, of course, for those children who have been bom since, but arrangements are being made to inoculate them. This campaign has resulted in the inoculation of about 90 per cent, of the child -population. Considering that it is a voluntary campaign, this figure is very satisfactory indeed.
The National Health and Medical Research Council has now recommended that the campaign should be extended to cover people between fifteen and 44 years of age, and most of -the States have .completed the administrative arrangements necessary to carry out that programme; .in fact, :they have begun it. 1 understand, although it is a little early to speak precisely, that the response is quite good.
There are at present adequate stocks of vaccine for all the inoculations which we expect to have to carry out in Australia, but I cannot, of course, guarantee that there will never be any hold-up in the production of the vaccine. Although the vaccine can be produced in quantity, the honorable member will understand that in such a highly complex process, where live virus is grown in the vaccine and subsequently destroyed, there is not only the complicated process of manufacturing the vaccine but all the testing which is done subsequently to ensure that the vaccine is perfectly safe. It may be that in the future, as in the past, there will, on occasions, be a hold-up in the vaccine, but this will be due not to the fact that insufficient vaccine is being manufactured but purely to the elaborate safety tests which are carried out before it is put into use.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact that the policy of the Liberal party of Australia, of which he is a member, is the. encouragement of free enterprise and open competition? .If this is a fact, .on what grounds does he justify the curtailing of the production of margarine at a time when butter is so highly priced that it is beyond the means of the average wage-earner, and particularly of pensioners and others dependent on social service benefits?
– It is perfectly true, as the honorable gentleman has said, that it is the policy of the Government to foster free enterprise, but it has never favoured an open slather which could quickly cause the destruction of large established interests. Our policies have always been interpreted against the background of giving some protection - perhaps substantial protection -to those already in the business of producing primary commodities. I know the attitude of many Opposition members to this problem. I think that there are about. 80,000 families dependent upon dairying for their living and well-being. In the opinion of honorable members on this side of the House, it would be completely unthinkable that the interests of those people should not be given substantial protection. I am ashamed of the honorable member for thinking that their interests should not be protected and that ‘thousands of people should be compelled to find other employment.
– I wish to make a brief personal explanation about a matter in which I have contributed to an error that is in fact misrepresentation. Yesterday, I addressed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a question relating to the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory. I feel that in phrasing that question I contributed to an error in reporting, which, in fact, misrepresents the position. I made the point that the electoral enrolment in the Australian Capital Territory is greater than the quota of votes required to elect any one of the five members of this House who come from Tasmania. I then went on to point out that each 12,000 electors in Tasmania elected to this Parliament a member with full voting rights, meaning to include both senators and members of the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, that point has not been made clear in the reports that have been published, and this could have reacted against members of this House who represent Tasmanian electorates.
Head Tax - Killing of Natives. Mr. HASLUCK (Curtin - Minister for Territories). - by leave - On the afternoon of 5th August the Assistant Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, Dr. Gunther, reported to. me from Port Moresby that two villagers had been killed and one wounded in an affray with an Administration party at the village of Navuneram in the Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain. I immediately sent an urgent message to the Administrator, Mr. Cleland, expressing the grave concern of the Government and asking for his personal investigation and report. Consequently Mr. Cleland arranged to go to Rabaul by the first available aircraft. His investigation is proceeding.
The information already given to me is that the Administration party consisted of the District Commissioner, five officers of the Department of Native Affairs, six European police and 80 native police. When they arrived at the village they asked the villagers to assemble. Thereupon about 100 villagers retreated to previously prepared positions and commenced to throw stones. During the subsequent affray the police were instructed to fire over the heads of the people and a total of 54 shots were fired. Subsequently it was found that two natives had been killed and one wounded. I have no detailed information regarding the precise circumstances in which these fatalities occurred and were discovered.
The death of these people is an occasion of deep regret and concern, and will be fully investigated. There has never been any reservation in the mind of the Government on that point. Nevertheless, as there has been some distortion of the events surrounding the fatalities, may I bring the following facts under the notice of the House. The village of Navuneram was only one village out of many, and in all the others there had been no objection to paying the tax. Proceedings against those who refused to pay the tax were initiated in the courts, and the Administration party was sent out to the village after repeated defiance of the orders of the court and after a smaller and unarmed Administration party of fourteen men had been successfully resisted by a band of 80 men some five or six days earlier. The Administration party, on 5th August, was under attack before any order to fire was given. The order was to fire over the heads of the villagers and the intention was clearly to quieten the people without inflicting harm. Having regard to this command, the fatal consequences, deplorable as they are, would appear to have been accidental and certainly not premeditated.
The Administration, Sir, is now faced with two questions, lt has the continuing responsibility for the maintenance of law and order, and for preventing open defiance of the law and violent resistance to authority. At this stage I shall not comment on that problem, but shall confine my remarks to the question arising out of the fatalities.
In keeping with standing instructions and practices, the death of these two persons will be the subject of inquiry before a coroner, conducted in the same way and with the same duties resting on the court as in any other death by violence. I would respectfully suggest that until the inquests have been held, no body other than the coroner should attempt to take to itself the functions of a coroner.
It well may be, however, Sir, that there are aspects of the incident which cannot be inquired into by a coroner and which call for separate examination. Although a final decision on that question should not be made before the inquests have been concluded and the Administrator has completed his investigation, the Government itself is ready and willing to have the fullest possible inquiry by some one holding judicial office and acting under special terms of reference. We would take care in arranging any such inquiry that the appointment and the terms of reference were such as to ensure confidence in the proceedings and acceptance of the conclusions.
That is all I wish to say on the matter before the House at the moment, but before closing I should like to add a few words on an attendant matter. The officers of the Administration concerned in this incident are men of long experience and sound reputation, who have devoted their lives to the advancement of the welfare of the people of Papua and New Guinea. I know that other members of this House have a recent and personal knowledge of the individuals concerned. I have a persona! knowledge of their work and their character and I know what each of them has already accomplished on behalf of Australia in one of the most difficult tasks which Australia has laid on any of those who serve her. This knowledge gives me the utmost confidence that these officers would act honorably and with a clear conscience in the line of duty. They are too fine a body of men foi me to have to seek excuses for them. I only resent and condemn the eagerness with which the ignorant and the mean-spirited have come yelping out their blame before any inquiry has been made.
– by leave - At this stage, Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to discuss this matter at length. It came before the Parliamentary Labour party in this Parliament as the result of a protest made by the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour party in Queensland, whose telegram of protest I forwarded to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) with a request for an inquiry. The facts set out in the telegram demanded an inquiry, and an inquiry is to be held. So far so good. The Minister must not suppose that he can dismiss this matter in the dogmatic tone of his statement. It is quite unsatisfactory. However, I agree with his praise of the officers in the Territory. I think they are a fine body of men. The point we have to consider is what is occurring in the Territory in relation to the poll tax which has been imposed, and I should like to see the inquiry extended far beyond the particular incidents to include the question of the poll tax and the method of taxation generally in New Guinea.
– And the method of collection.
– Finally, the method of collection. The poll tax is imposed upon every person in the Territory but, in the case of natives living in their villages, apart from their places of work, the situation is very different from that which exists in the towns. In other words, in order to pay the poll tax the natives have to seek work in the villages. I understand that the wage paid per month to adult workers is 25s. - per month, mark you! The people of Australia, and not the Minister alone, are responsible for the Territory, and they are very eager to see that the best treatment is accorded the native population of New Guinea for whom we are trustees. The Minister’s tone is not that of a trustee but of a man who resents criticism. I have heard no criticism that could be resented except, perhaps, the demand for an inquiry. I want the inquiry, if possible, to be extended.
– Will the right honorable gentleman make it clear that the wage figure of 25s. per month is in addition to accommodation, food and so forth.
– Yes. I am glad the right honorable gentleman has made that correction, but the natives have to work for probably six weeks in order to earn sufficient money to pay the tax. I think that statement is correct.
Now we come to the method of collection of the tax. Is this the way to collect it? One cannot imagine taxes being collected in Australia in that way. Some blunder has occurred in this matter, but I do not know where it has occurred. Perhaps it has happened because the directions given to the officer concerned have not been satisfactory.
We should not be content with a statement of the character made by the Minister, the concluding words of which refer to “ ignorant and mean-spirited people who have come yelping out their blame “. The position is just the opposite. It is the ignorant, mean-spirited, proud and arrogant who will not face up to this matter. The Minister may take my statement just as he likes. “ Yelping out their blame! “ What a phrase to be used in a case which has to be explained to the people of Australia!
I have intervened only because I want the inquiry to be broadened in scope, and I do not think the Minister should try to prejudice the request by quoting hearsay on hearsay as to what occurred. I shall cite one illustration contained on page 2 of the typed statement which, to my mind, is sufficient -
The Administration party . was under attack before any order to fire was given.
That is a question for inquiry, not one for the Minister to decide. The statement continues -
The order was to fire over the heads of the villagers and the intention was clearly to quieten the people without inflicting harm.
Again, something repeated from the Minister’s informant to the Minister. Finally, the Minister stated -
Having regard to this command, the fatal consequences would appear to have been accidental and certainly not premeditated.
Obviously the fatal consequences were not premeditated. The whole method of collecting this tax, which should never be collected in this way, I submit, seems to be the element which requires careful investigation in order to avoid any likelihood of a similar occurrence in the future, that is, if the tax is maintained in this Territory of which we are trustees, not only as Australians but also as a member of the United Nations.
– Before the close of this matter I ask for leave to ask a question which I think has a very important bearing on the statement made by the Minister.
The honorable member for Adelaide seeks leave of the House to ask a question bearing on the ministerial statement. Is leave granted?
– 1 do not object to leave being granted to ask a question, but I do object to leave being granted for a further statement to be made. Honorable members will have ample opportunity to debate this matter. [Leave granted.]
– by leave - The question I ask has a very important bearing on the coronial inquiry which is about to take place, and the people of Australia are rightly concerned. Will the natives of New Guinea have representation at the coronial inquiry? What type of protection will be afforded the natives? Is there a learned New Guinea native who will be responsible for watching the interests of his fellows? If not, what representation will the Administrator provide as a protection for the natives concerned? In the interests of the Australian people, and to safeguard the future satisfactory control of New Guinea, it is vital that the Minister ensures that the natives have strong representation at the inquiry.
– by leave - I give the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers), and the House in general, an assurance that legal representation will be provided for the native villagers at the inquest to be conducted by the coroner. In order that the position may be quite clear, I mention that the villagers in this particular area of the Territory are not backward people. They have been in contact with civilization for several generations. They are people of some substance who, in the ordinary transactions of their business and commercial affairs, are. accustomed to seek recourse to legal practitioners, quite apart from any action they may initiate themselves, in order to brief counsel.
I assure the House that the Administrator will be instructed to see that the natives are represented at the coroner’s inquest by independent legal practitioners.
– Chosen by the natives, if necessary.
– Acceptable to the natives. I stress that this particular group of natives, unlike others in the Territory, is completely capable of safeguarding its own interests.
f 1 1.34]. - I move -
That the. House, at its rising, adjourn until 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday next.
I should explain to the House that an exhibition of the paintings of Sir Winston Churchill is to be opened in King’s Hall by His Excellency the Governor-General at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday next. As most members of the Parliament would wish to be present at that function, it was felt that it would be convenient to arrange for a later meeting time than usual. The motion is submitted, therefore, for that purpose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
. - I move -
That Order of the Day No. 1- Supply “ Grievance Day “ - be postponed until a later hour this day.
In this regard, too, a word of explanation is desirable. This would normally, until 12.45 p.m., be the “ Grievance Day “ period, and I confess that it is with some reluctance that I submit this motion to the House. But, as honorable members will be aware, because of the importance which it was felt attached to the debate on the international situation, we requested the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee to make broadcasting time available to this chamber for the duration of this week. It would: be unreasonable for us to conduct “ Grievance Day “ business, when, we have, effect, requested our colleagues, of the
Senate to remain off the air for the course of this week. The motion is submitted for that reason.
.- Whilst appreciating the reason for the Minister’s action in seeking the postponement of “ Grievance Day “, I, as a private member, would not like this action to be taken without objection, because “ Grievance Day “ is one occasion when, very briefly and very irregularly, we get an opportunity to raise matters which we do not wish to bring into general debate. Whilst it may be important on this occasion, for the reason that the Minister has mentioned, to take the action sought, I hope that it will not be taken as a precedent, because the next “ Grievance Day “ will be on 21st August, which will be in the middle of the Budget debate, and I have not a doubt in the world that we shall be told then that there is no need for “ Grievance Day “ because we can say anything we want to say during the Budget debate. This means that this month honorable members will not have an opportunity to speak on a number of important matters relating to their electorates. I know that the Middle East situation is grave, and that this is an opportunity for members to state their views for the people at large to hear. But, quite frankly, I should like to air, for my electorate to hear, one or two matters relating to the Government’s treatment of residents of my constituency.
I repeat that I hope that this will not be taken as a precedent. I hope that we shall have a “ Grievance Day “, because the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House offers only limited opportunity to bring up matters of importance. I regret very much that because of the grave situation we are discussing we are not to be given a “ Grievance Day “, which is the one opportunity of private members to voice matters of importance. It is no good begging the question. This Government continually curtails opportunities for “ Grievance Day “. The Government does not like criticism and reduces it to a minimum by cutting out opportunities for private members to voice it. I express my opposition to this procedure, which is so constantly adopted by the Government. On this occasion I accept the Minister’s explanation with reluctance. There is little that I can do about it. I remind the Minister that, important as matters may be in other parts of the world, there are very important matters in my electorate which require explanation by the Government, but again I am denied the opportunity of raising them.
– in reply - One statement made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) should, I think, be corrected, namely, that “ Grievance Day “ provided the one opportunity that honorable members had for raising certain matters. Of course, he indicated earlier in his own remarks that other opportunities do arise, and will arise, particularly during the course of this session. He mentioned the Budget debate. There will also be a debate on the Estimates. In addition, a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on at least two nights of the week, has become the practice of the House. The honorable gentleman himself can hardly claim to be aggrieved in this matter, because I understand that as recently as last night he availed himself of such an opportunity. I do say quite sincerely to the House that I recognize the importance of providing in Parliament reasonable opportunities for debate by private members. In my discussions with my opposite number on the Opposition side of the table, that aspect is uppermost in the minds of both of us when we come to consider the business.
– It has not borne much results.
– The honorable member for East Sydney can hardly complain. I think that over the last ten years he has occupied more space in “ Hansard “ than has any other man in the history of this Parliament, and no doubt he will continue to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 6th August (vide page 135), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper: -
Middle East Situation - Ministerial Statement, 6th August, 1958 - be .printed.
.- During the course of this debate on the Middle East crisis, there is always a danger that the fundamental facts relating to it will become obscured, so 1 think that we should just have another look at them. In the first place, the Iraq revolution was against a government which was admitted by almost everybody to be autocratic. It was a government that would not allow political opposition or freedom of expression. Until the revolution, the West accepted the view that there was no case for intervention in Iraq’s or Lebanon’s internal struggles, because there was no evidence of any considerable infiltration of arms from Syria.
But after the revolution took place, the attitude to this matter changed. The United States said that American marines would be landed in Lebanon to protect American residents. Of course, it was realized that that story was rather weak, when it was appreciated that the ratio of marines landed to American residents was about two to one. It was then said that the landings were the result of an urgent appeal by President Chamoun, and were justified by article 51 of the United Nations Charter. It will be remembered that a similar appeal from Jordan was announced as the reason for the despatch of British troops to that country, and it was also claimed that that action was justified by article 51. Let us have a glance at article 51 and see just where we stand in regard to it. It reads -
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective selfdefense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of selfdefense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Therefore, if we take a literal interpretation of Article 51, the United States had no right to send troops to Lebanon unless an armed attack was actually occurring. But even if Article 51 could be stretched to include the imminent danger of an armed attack, it could only mean that any infiltration of arms and men was on a scale large enough to warrant the term “ armed attack “. But we have to remember that the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his team of observers numbering, according to the latest figure, 200, said there was no large-scale infiltration of arms and men. Therefore, that wide interpretation must fall down, in view of the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
It is obvious, I think, that a strict interpretation of the report means that armed attack must have actually occurred and, as I say, Article 51 was also invoked in the case of Britain’s help to King Hussein. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, said that in addition to the king’s appeal, he had received information that a revolution was planned in Jordan. But even if he was right in that regard - and there was nothing to say he was right - that did not establish the right for external intervention. The facts are that there was no reasonable suspicion of danger threatening Jordan from outside. We must remember this aspect of it. Syria, from where the armed attack was supposed to come, has a strong Turkey on her northern border. Consequently, if Syria had attacked Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq, would it not have been followed by an armed attack on Syria from Turkey, and would it not also have meant, immediately that took place, that Western forces in overwhelming strength would have come in? What is more, Western forces would have been justified in coming in by the legitimate use of Article 51 because the armed attack had actually taken place. ft is not suggested, surely, that Iraq, with a newly established revolutionary government, would have attacked Lebanon or Jordan, because that government had just assumed office, as it were, and would not be looking for an external war. As a matter of fact, the new government had already said it wanted to maintain friendship under existing agreements with the Western countries. Consequently, it appears clear enough from the evidence before the United Nations and elsewhere that there was no real danger of armed attack on either Lebanon or Jordan. The truth is, of course, that the landings were decided upon because of the fear that the revolution that had started in Iraq would spread to other Arab countries in which there was deep discontent with existing governments. There was also the fear that the interests of the foreign oil companies in those countries would be jeopardized.
– There is no oil in Lebanon.
– The honorable member should wait awhile and hear what I have to say. There has been talk about moral obligations to support loyal friends, but the friends in each case are men whom their people want to get rid of by any means in their power. This was indicated in Iraq by the brutal murder of the King and the Premier. We, as a party, are strongly opposed to the murders-
– Why did you not protest before?
– I did not hear the honorable member protest until after the deed was done; we could not very well have protested before it was done. The point is that the strong anti-Western feeling was caused by the friendship of the Western Powers with certain corrupt leaders in the Arab States who have lost the confidence of their people. That is the unfortunate position, and the landings that have occurred have actually worsened the antiWestern feeling. I shall just draw attention to one or two press statements which clearly indicate that to be so. For instance, the “ Manchester Guardian “ stated -
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the American Government was stricken with panic. The West’s footholds were crumbling away; action was required - any sort of action. Now we shall begin to learn the cost.
Even if pipelines are not blown up, even the Soviet Union does not exploit Western folly with the talk of volunteers and rockets that it used so skilfully at the time of Suez - or with riskier manoeuvres - even if the worst does not happen, the United States has now destroyed its credit in most of the Moslem world. The Arab friends that are left to America maintain regimes as doomed as was that of King Farouk. It is sad that within less than two years she has so rashly squandered the credit that she earned as the protector of Arabs against what they took to be imperialist aggression.
There were similar expressions of opinion by other newspapers. For instance, the “ Toronto Globe “ stated -
If under Article 51 it is all right for the United States to intervene with force to prop up a friendly regime, what is to prevent a government with different tendencies from calling in Russian or Chinese troops to help it stay in office?
It was wrong in Lebanon and it was wrong in Jordan and we say - as we have said before - that it was also wrong in Hungary when the Russians came in and brutally attacked the Hungarian people. I think the “ Toronto Globe “ draws attention to that. Other expressions of opinion by the press were on similar lines, and 1 think that that is generally the opinion of the people who really understand this situation. What we have to realize is that there is a sweeping desire in Western Asia - the Arab countries - for the creation of a federation of Arab people and, joined with this, a desire for self-reliance and independence I think that Glubb Pasha, who for a long time was in Jordan, is a man whom every member of this House should take notice of. This is his view of the situation. Referring to Britain, he stated recently -
As a trading nation her interests are to ensure untrammelled passage of her ships through the Suez Canal and freedom of her traders to do business. There does not appear to have been any adequate reason why such interests should bring her into opposition to Arab nationalism. Her legitimate interests, it is true, would be exposed to serious injury were Arabs to become satellites of Russia. But Arab nationalists have no more desire to be dominated by Russia than by the West. To be independent, progressive and modern is their ambition, and there is no fundamental reason why the West should be opposed to such development. lt could not be said that any doubt could be cast upon Glubb Pasha’s integrity in regard to a statement such as that. What we have to realize is that for decades the Arab people have been the playthings of empires and great powers. Egypt, for 70 years, was under the domination of Britain, and it is only since World War II. that British troops have been removed from Egyptian soil.
The landings were claimed at one stage to be justified on the ground that the revolutions were Communist-inspired, but the facts are that the Communists are imprisoned in Egypt, and the Communist party has been suppressed and declared illegal in both Egypt and Syria. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pointed out yesterday that the Moslem religion of the Arabs is alien to communism. If it is said - and it was said, as a matter of fact, by a Minister yesterday - that this revolution was Communistinspired, why is it that Britain, the United States, and now the Australian Government, have been so quick to recognize the new Iraq regime? As a matter of fact, we could say that if there are any leanings towards Russia, it has been in consequence of the foolish policy of the Western Powers. The Arab people themselves prefer to be a neutral group of nations between the two big groups that are so bitterly opposed to one another, unfortunately, at the present time.
I think that we need to learn a lesson in regard to these matters. We should realize that our attitude has to change towards these nations which are underdeveloped and which in the past have been exploited. That statement does not apply only to the Arab countries; it applies also to the people of Asia. They are now looking for a place in the sun. They want to be recognized as nations, and they are not prepared to allow the exploitation of their countries to go on as it has in the past.
There is a method employed in the West Indies to catch monkeys to be used for Salk vaccine. A coco-nut is chained to a tree. A hole is cut through the coco-nut in which are placed two lumps of sugar. The hole in the coco-nut is only big enough for the monkey to get his open hand in. He has a sweet tooth and likes sugar, so he puts his hand in and closes it around the two lumps of sugar. Then, because his hand is closed, he cannot get it out through the hole in the coco-nut and as a result he is captured. In effect, it means that he will not let go the sugar. Many people in Great Britain and the United States as well as other countries at the present time have that same attitude.
– You are condemning our own people.
– I am not condemning only our own people. The wealth which has come from oil is shared between the land-owning monarchs and sheiks on the one hand and American and British oil companies on the other. Oil is the biggest business in the world. It is dominated by a cartel of seven international companies headed by the Standard Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum companies. The directorates of these companies are like the tentacles of an octopus reaching through not only their own subsidiaries but also other giant companies such as the banks. Two of these are the Chase National Bank of New York and the Mellon Bank. Steel companies are also involved, such as United States Steel Corporation, General Motors Limited, Standard Brands, and so on. One could enumerate many other organizations through which the. vast power of the oil companies stretches in almost every direction.
Kuwait has immense oil reserves which have been exploited by the Kuwait Oil Company. Fifty per cent, of the shares of this company are owned by British Petroleum Limited and 50 per cent, by the Gulf Oil Company of the United States of America. The profits are split on a fiftyfifty basis with the Sheik of Kuwait. But while the sheiks and the monarchs on the one hand and the British and American shareholders on the other are getting huge profits out of oil, the Arab people are living in degrading circumstances. The vast mass of the people are peasants and labourers, living on as low as £20 a year. They sleep on pavements. Many of them have never known what it is to have a bed. Those are the conditions which the people in Arab countries are now wanting to overcome.
Oil is produced in the Arabian countries at a low cost as a result of exploiting these people. But that does not mean that the world gets cheap oil. The five principal companies in the United States of America, plus the British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell companies agree on prices, restrict production where necessary and divide the spoils from any new oil field. The Economic Commission for Europe last year admitted that no matter where oil was found the price was based on the exceptionally high Gulf of Mexico quotations. On that basis, a barrel of crude oil in the Middle East sells at 12s. 6d. even though it costs only 2s. 6d. to produce. Thus, it pays the American companies to import 1,500,000 barrels a day from the Middle East and deliberately restrict production in the United States of America by 2,000,000 barrels a day. As a result; consumers all over the world pay the penalty in fabulously high prices for oil and petrol.
The Standard Oil Company does 20 per cent, of the world’s oil business. It has 322 subsidiaries, and in 1954 made a profit of £2,000,000,000. Its gross annual revenue exceeds that of the Canadian Government. That is a rather interesting fact. In 1955, the United States oil companies had their most profitable year. In that year, 34 major oil companies produced about 58 per cent. and refined 65 per cent, of the world’s crude oil and made colossal profits as a result.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), during the course of his speech yesterday, said that he favoured the creation of a United Nations commission composed of representatives of governments and located in the Middle East. A similar proposition was recommended by the Brisbane conference of the Australian Labour party. Dealing with the Middle East crisis that conference decided -
Such a social and international order requires international regulation and development by the U.N.O. of-
Power and water potentials for food production and raw materials for industry, in such undeveloped countries as request it.
Existing surplus food resources and supplies at present restricted by financial’ and marketing practices.
International trade routes and means of communication.
I think there is something in what the Minister said yesterday, and I sincerely hope that the suggestion is followed up. I hope that such a United Nations commission will be established and will function in the way that the Minister proposed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The speeches which have been delivered in this debate by members of the Opposition have been remarkable for what they left out. The things which were not said were perhaps even more significant than the things which have been said; because these omissions show quite definitely the trend of thinking on the Opposition side and convict honorable members opposite of an air of unreality - a failure to realize that Australian interests and lives are now in jeopardy and a lining up on the side of those whose interests are not ours and whose enmity is directed towards us. In no speech were these omissions more remarkable than in that of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) himself. I shall endeavour to show this to the House in a moment.
It is important to recall the facts of what has really happened in this Middle East crisis. Particularly, it is important to endeavour to formulate some coherent policy as to what is now to be done. I believe that the right body to. handle this is. the United Nations Organization and I. believe that we should get into the position where the United Nations can handle it effectively. It is no use just going through the. legal form of saying, “ We will put this into the hands of the United Nations “, because if the United Nations is hamstrung by Russian veto and Russian intervention then simply to raise the catch cry, “ Let the United Nations deal with it “, is to say, “ Let nobody deal with it at all “.
Under the sanctimonious pretence of favouring international order, the Leader of the Opposition has actually been advocating international disorder. Under a pretence of trying to build up the United Nations he has been trying to do the things which would destroy the United Nations as an effective force. That is shown, as I shall endeavour to point out to the House, quite clearly and beyond controversy by what was left out of his speech. He endeavoured to show that the United States of America and Great Britain had been wrong in landing troops in Lebanon and in protecting the Government of Jordan.
Let us look at what happened and remember the facts which are the core of the thing and would have been evident to any honest analyser of the situation, of what has happened in Lebanon and in the United Nations. Some months ago, the Government of Lebanon, being apprehensive of subversion asked the United Nations to give it protection, and on 11th June, on the motion of Sweden, a United Nations observer group in Lebanon, known by its easier title of UNOGIL, was set up. That group went into Lebanon as a result of a Swedish motion. Its operations in Lebanon were impeded and were, to a large extent, ineffectual. The Government of Lebanon made an appeal for further help. In response to that appeal the United States did send help to Lebanon, after notifying the United Nations. This action was clearly within its rights. It was responding to the appeal of an established government. It was sending troops to afford protection for an interim period until the United Nations could take action. As we all know, eggs cannot be unscrambled, and there must be some way of acting quickly and effectively. Three days after the landing of its troops, the United States brought a resolution into the Security Council to the effect that a United Nations force should be sent into Lebanon and the United States forces withdrawn, lt envisaged a caretaker force of United States troops until the United Nations could take. over. This resolution, as I said, was brought into the Security Council three days after the troops landed.
As honorable members know, there areeleven members of the Security Council. One member, Japan, abstained from voting on the resolution, and nine members voted for it. It was carried overwhelmingly, but it was vetoed by the Soviet. Here is the nub of the situation: Would any honest man who was not a lawyer appearing for a client - because that is what the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) looked like last night - or would any Australian, looking at the matter from an Australian point of view, have ignored this aspect or have glossed it over? The Leader of the Opposition has been the head of the United Nations. He knows very well what happens in that organization. He knows very well its forms. He sets out a legalistic argument in this House, and then he omits the main fact, which is that there was an attempt made by the United States to put the matter in the hands of the United Nations and thai that attempt was frustrated by a Soviet veto. The Leader of the Opposition appeared almost in the position of a counsel representing, a client who he knows is guilty hut whom he wishes to excuse by bringing in irrelevancies and by suppressing facts. He made a kind of tendentious counsel speech at the table in favour, not of Australia, but of some client.
But that is not the end of it, because on that same day in the Security Council a Soviet motion was put forward to the effect that the United States troops should be withdrawn and1 that Lebanon should be left to its fate. Sweden and Japan abstained from voting on the motion and eight voted against it. The motion was lost. If the international organization means anything at all. it means this: You surely back the real thought in the minds of the members of the organization. On the same day there was a Swedish motion, which again was lost.
I now go forward another four days, to 22nd July. On that day a Japanese, motion was put forward in the Security Council to the effect that the United Nations observer group in Lebanon should be expanded so that it could carry out its work effectively, and that United States troops should be withdrawn. Of the eleven members of the Security Council, ten voted in favour of that motion and the Soviet vetoed it. Was this not a relevant circumstance which any honest Australian, speaking at the table of this House, would have mentioned? We heard here a man who poses as a champion of the United Nations. What does he say against the power that is endeavouring to destroy the United Nations as an effective force? He says just nothing! The silence tells the story.
I believe that this situation has to be handled effectively by the United Nations, and our problem is to get it into the hands of the United Nations in such a way that it can be effectively dealt with. I have pointed out to the House that to advocate the invocation of a legalistic form when we know that that form is ineffectual because of the power of Soviet veto - the one frustrating the ten, the one against the world - is to advocate not international order but international disorder. That is, apparently, the real desire of the Leader of the Opposition.
Let us turn now to the proposal for a summit conference, or a conference within the United Nations. I am one of those who believe that we should be holding a summit conference, but I believe that such a conference should not be held in such a way as to destroy the authority of the United Nations. I feel, in other words, that when we come to this summit conference we should say this, “The business of this conference is to find a way in which the issue of the Middle East, and other issues that might subsequently arise, can be effectually handled by an international organization. In other words, the business of this conference is to prevent a continuance of the United Nations as an ineffectual body and to give it some real powers, because this world desperately needs an international organization with real power and authority”. At the present moment the United Nations is, in a way, a danger, in the way that a rotten rope would be a danger to a mountaineer. To rely upon it, to believe that it is effective in itself, involves danger and the possibility of disaster. What we need, if we are to go mountaineering through these perilous peaks - as, indeed, we must - is proper equipment, a proper rope on which we can rely, a real and effective international organization.
It seems to me that when we come to this conference, whenever it may be held, what we should say as our main theme is that the business of the conference, whether it be a conference in the Security Council or in the General Assembly or a conference of three, four or six great powers, is to find a way of setting up the effective international organization which alone can save humanity from impending disaster.
It is here, I think, that the manoeuvres of Khrushchev should be appraised at their true value. He has called for a summit conference, but when it has been put up to him he has run away from it. In other words, I believe he put forward his proposals, not with any genuine idea of arriving at a solution, not even with any genuine desire for a conference, but hoping that, in our folly, we would give him the propaganda point of being able to say, “ I want a conference and the West does not “. Now that the West wants a conference, what do we see? We see the Russians running away from it. We see Mr. Khrushchev being quite a reluctant conferee at the table. First, he says, “ I will not go to the Security Council. That is not good enough “. At first he said that it was too big - that he wanted only three, four or five great powers. Now, it is too small and he is going to the General Assembly.
It is here, I think, that one must appraise the import of a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition in the House this morning, and the reply that was given, because the rules of the General Assembly which, I feel, under the charter cannot be altered even by the assembly, provide that on substantive motions a two-thirds majority is necessary. It may well be that Russia, having counted heads, now knows that she will have the numbers - not perhaps to achieve a majority, but to prevent a twothirds majority against her, and to prevent any effective action from being taken. In other words, once again we have the same stall, the same kind of thing that has happened with Russia’s “ Ban the Bomb “ campaign over the last ten years - a campaign which was entirely in bad faith. While the Soviet was screaming “Ban the bomb “ it was taking, in the Security Council, the United Nations and everywhere else, action deliberately designed to prevent any effective control of atomic weapons coming into being at all. In other words, they were saying one thing for propaganda purposes, and doing precisely the opposite. I believe that, with a summit conference, we have the same kind of fundamental setup - the eagerness to go into the conference being trumpeted abroad but the raising of objections when the Soviet is confronted with the real possibility of a conference. An endeavour is made to incorporate it in the framework in the United Nations, not because the Soviet believes in that body or wants to make it effective, but solely because the Soviet knows its legalistic weaknesses are such as to provide a refuge against the impact of international opinion and international authority. These are the facts of the situation, and the omission of them by the Leader of the Opposition shows, I am afraid, which way his mind is working and where his real inclinations lie.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), even in a debate of this nature, which is of a serious kind, cannot refrain from airing his pet hatred - his paranoiac hatred - of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Before he uses his mind - which is not inconsiderable when applied to a subject - he finds it necessary to stand in front of his brief and hurl accusations of communism, fellow travelling and association with Khrushchev at the Leader of the Opposition. He does this instead of analysing, in the twenty minutes at his disposal, a subject of this importance in a way that will be helpful to the Parliament. In the first place he says, in effect - if I may refer to the few words at the beginning which I caught - “ We are lining up on this side. You are lining up on the other side, and the argument will continue in that vein “. He sets that mean for a lot of people on the other side of the House who are incapable of assessing a situation on its merits. They would rather say, “ We are the Liberal side of thought. They are the Labour side of thought, and out of that situation we can get very little in the way of a solution of the problem “. As a matter of fact, in this debate we are not unlike the three tailors of Tooley-street, who addressed a petition to the House of Commons, beginning “We, the people of England . . . “, because these things have already been resolved, or are about to be resolved, in a higher sphere. We have been informed by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) that he feels sure summit talks, in some form or another, will take place, or that there will be some alternative discussion designed to reduce the area of disagreement on this most important subject.
For these reasons we should, in the few moments available to us, at least try to analyse, from our point of view, things as we see them. It is completely wrong for any supporter of the Government to assail Labour members with such accusations as, “You are thinking contrary to what your country has done “. It is equally wrong to say that because we take an opposite view we must be fostering a sentiment which is alien to the Australian way of life and that we could, in short, be doing the job for the Communist party. If you are going to get anywhere you have to look at this situation in the Middle East as representing the misdeeds of the past plus the mistakes of the present, and out of that extract some formula for the future. I was delighted to hear the responsible Minister at the table say just that. I was, however, dismayed later to hear him say that the nationality issue - the question of Arabia for the Arabians, and of Asia also - was not vital in this discussion, because I believe it to be extremely so.
I was pleased to hear the Minister probing through the United Nations for a solution of this problem, and if I may express my personal view of the matter as briefly as I can, I would say that I applaud his first contention and disagree with his second contention. I agree, as has the Leader of my party also, that we must go in and do something. Of course, we will not be very welcome. It will be another landing - another bridgehead. The United Nations - indeed, any white man - would at present be most unwelcome in Arabia or in Asia generally. This springs from our wretched colonial history. We have inherited a legacy which makes it impossible for us to get any contacts there. That is why, as an average Australian, I felt that the setting up of bridgeheads - no matter what specious argument might be used to justify it - in Lebanon and Jordan, was exactly the thing that the Arabs expected of us, and was exactly the wrong thing to do.
We have witnessed the spectacle of. a struggle throughout the whole of Asia, and to-day every one - the ethnologist, the historian and the plain politician - agrees that the resurgent Asian is most critical and most observant. They agree that he is so touchy on all these subjects that he watches, with bated breath and the greatest interest, every action of the European - indeed, of the free world. With the example before us of what has happened to the white man’s attempt to hold on to territory - as exampled most tragically by the French - we should have known better than to bother about bridgeheads as a means of protecting the status quo in the oil areas, or in the area which is roughly known as the Middle East.
I have here a book which is written by a young lieutenant in Algeria. It is a most poignant and well-written document and, from my reading of it, I would think the author was a de Gaullist. His name is Jean Jacques Servan-Schrieber, and he says the most significant things about the white man’s last foothold in the colonial possessions in the Afro-Asian sphere. He points out, in the course of some splendidly analytical writing, that the first problem is neither oil nor the development of these backward nations. The first is to have an understanding of these people, one against the other, the European, the white man, vis-a-vis the Arab, the Afro-Asian, wherever he is, vis-a-vis Nasser or Chamoun, even, or those people in the Middle East who are in the nationalist set-up no matter which way you look at it. He points out that, after pouring 500,000 soldiers into Algeria, getting the cream of the French military services, the air force, the special kinds of tanks and the special kind of trained commandos, and after years of fighting in Algeria the French found that they had not been able to touch the heart or the soul or the mind of any Moslem in the area, just as we have not been able to touch the minds or thoughts or hearts or souls of Arabs in the Middle East. The French were forced to create an infiltration commando corps called the “ Black Commandos”, who dressed as Arabs and tried to get into the minds of the Arabs in Algeria to see what they wanted and what way they thought, so as to end the terrible criss-cross fire of slaughter - senseless slaughter, with people killed because they have spoken to Frenchmen, Arabs slaughtered because they have spoken to other Arabs who were friendly to Frenchmen.
All of this has its repercussions, or could have its repercussions, in the Middle East. The root of the matter goes very deep, and the way to solve the problem is not by using the corny idea of landing troops. In the old days hatred of colonialism arose from the technique of sending a gunboat. There would be a few more or less septic natives in the middle distance creating some trouble, and the old governor of the area, British or French, or whatever nationality he happened to be, would get on the telegraph with, “ Send me a gunboat “.
Psychologically, what is happening now is the same. You can wrap it up in the United Nations. You can talk about the appeals of Chamoun. And who was Chamoun? Chamoun was the President of Lebanon, who was trying to buy himself, even by force of arms, another term, and he got internal civil trouble. If I were a Lebanese to-day I would say that the interference of the Americans at Beirut was entirely unwarranted, that there was no question of section 51 of the Charter applying, because the question of armed aggression, of massive infiltration even, did not arise. The talk of what happened in Syria, and how much was coming through the Lebanese border, had not been borne out by the facts. In fact, the investigation was not completed and, so far as it had been taken, the evidence was very slight, as admitted by the special research and investigation committee that went into the Middle East to see what could be done.
It is an interesting point that when we are trying to win an argument about the way in which we will solve these problems we get blinded to the fact that things happen in a similar way all over the world. If you are going to assail the Syrians under Nasser, and the United Arab community, for putting on the most desperate level of urgency, the propaganda to the Arabs to rise and kill their rulers, create diversions and revolt, you have also got to remember the sad historical fact of what Radio Free Europe did in the Hungarian situation. If you are going to face up to the situation, and try to get peace in our time and a United Nations that will really work, you have got to face up to these things. Radio Free Europe even directed the insurgents in Hungary where to find arms. It was a directorate of force from outside the Hungarian community. Nobody on the other side of the House found anything wrong with that, and in the fumblings we make on both sides of the. House to see that there is some elementa justice left in the world and that some understanding eventually comes out of the terrible struggles that are shaking the Asian and Afro-Asian communities, the facts should be looked at with more intelligence.
I believe it is fatal to put footholds into the Middle East or Africa or anywhere else. The experience of the American troops in Lebanon and the British troops in Jordan shows what can happen. They live in a vacuum. They have no contact with the people they are protecting. What are they protecting? They are alleged to be protecting the aspirations and ideals of the peoples of the area, and at the same time those who sent them there are quite nakedly reserving for themselves a protectorate over oil pipelines, wherever they may be, and the oil deposits themselves. You have to face up to that, of course, because oil involves very many millions of pounds and the employment of so many people in so many parts of the world. But our heritage has been a rotten one. What we have got out of the Middle East have been things that we have either acquired by some means or other or stolen. We have reached the position where to-day the British people must have oil in order to survive. Everybody realizes that. The British Labour party realizes it, but the realization does not break down that party’s conscience on that matter. The British Labour party points out, with all the sincerity of which the Opposition in the House of Commons is capable - and the position is repeated in this House - that there is something wrong with the whole situation, and that it is no good just bringing in, by the hair of the head, the question of Russia. Russia, by force of circumstances, has been extremely lucky in that everything breaks her way in regard to the Middle East, because she declared, years ago, her sympathy with the aspirations of the smaller nations and the nationalist groups, rightly or wrongly. She has done that, you know.
– She has not shown much sympathy.
– Well, whether she has or not, I am merely saying what the general declaration is. Whether her sympathies are the sympathies of Glubb Pasha, or the sympathies of T. E. Lawrence, or the sympathies of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, i have not time to debate. But in the broader sense, I believe sincerely that there is something in the attitude that the Russians, by the fortuitous nature of circumstances, can win things out of the situation without forcing the deal. In looking for the root causes of the anxiety in the Middle East it is not necessary to attribute everything to the irritation of the Russian tactics. If we go back in history we shall find that we have been hoist by our own petard, because in the past it was the irritation of the Turkish domination and the Turkish suzerainty in the Middle East and, later on, the movement amongst the various sheikhdoms produced by British foreign policy, and later by the French and the Americans, that brought about this situation. We have reaped exactly what we have sown.
To blame the position on Russia, to say that the United Nations should have done this or that, to say that certain things are bad, is not an answer. Even my statement that we should not have gone into the Middle East, that the move was such a perilous one, does not in any way provide an answer. But if what has happened were followed by a combined, united effort for peace, as would be found in the United Nations, it might be argued that there was some justification for intervention. I cannot see it, and I cannot, in all conscience, accept the slur that it is any acceptance of the Communist party line that prevents me from seeing it. I believe that something that an Australian can hold with pride is that we are an anti-colonial race.
The answer to the problems of the Middle East are, of course, first, a recognition of the burning aspirations of the countries of the Middle East for nationhood and, secondly, an honest desire, with proper authority, to see whether we cannot so provide that there is no longer the great and terrible divergence between the standards enjoyed by the sheikhs and the kings and the awful miseries of the Arab people generally. We have only to look quickly at what happens, I have here some figures extracted from the “ Canadian Forum “, which has run recently a series of brilliant articles on the Middle East by Professor Bagley. I have not changed the dollar figures into sterling figures because of the fluidness of the argument that comes from ‘ accepting dollars. In Iraq, 175,000,000 dollars accrued to the government, or the community, or to the nation because of oil. The figure for Saudi Arabia is 350,000,000 dollars, and for the little sheikhdom of Kuwait, 375,000,000 dollars. When one sees, as many men in this place have seen, more closely perhaps than I, the conditions of the Middle East, the terrible situation in which men are expected to live, one realizes why they so revolted the Australian serviceman that now he refers in derogatory terms to the Port Said Arabs whom he met as “ Gyppos “. Surely it is a responsibility of ours, as members of the United Nations, to help to lift the standards of these people. Is not that one of the contracts we sign ourselves into when we become signatories to the Charter of the United Nations, workers for the dignity of man under the Charter? To say that oil has absolutely nothing to do with what has happened in the Middle East is completely wrong, because if there were no oil written over the history of the Middle East there would be no problem there vo-day, and there would be no outside forces in either Lebanon or Jordan. Secondly, to say that nationalism is only part of the issue because of the furious and extravagant and Hitler-like nationalism of Nasser does not necessarily make nationalism unacceptable to those people who have had nothing. If we consider the way in which the nationals of those countries have been treated, even by their own people, if we consider that the white man is in there merely to get the oil and get out, and get his profits and get out, we can see the natural basis of this trouble. It is not a problem that we can quietly dismiss. We cannot make a scapegoat of Russia by saying that all this trouble is the result of irritation caused by the Russians, although they may be improving the shining hour for themselves, just as we have done for ourselves, and America and France have done for themselves over the last century. We must get back to the true situation.
– Do you suggest that they are not getting anything out of it? The economies of all those countries are based on that.
– I do not say they are not getting anything out of it, but I point to the difference, the discrepancy. If we create some sort of a commission to control the resources of the Middle East, as the Minister has suggested, we shall run into trouble immediately. There will be another battle of the “ haves “ and “ have nots “. We should need almost an army of occupation to make the Middle East nations accept this goodwill business of helping themselves. A great deal of imagination and forethought is required.
I rose mainly to try to keep out of this debate the suggestion - it would be futile to discuss it in any way - that any view different from that held by the Government of the day must be inspired by some sinister force which is un-Australian. If some day, because of stupidity, we are joined in a third world war there is no doubt where the Australian people, particularly those whom the Labour party represents, will stand. It has been our stern, solemn and very unprofitable duty for a long time to point to the things in British foreign policy which have been transplanted to the foreign policy announced at this table and sold to us as an Australian point of view. We cannot believe that the Russian shadow over the Middle East has a great deal to do with the present disturbance there. You must probe very deeply. Colonial man, European man, democratic man - the great pioneers of the past - have a lot to answer for. They have presented their descendants, the inhabitants of the free world to-day, with a problem which we find almost impossible to solve, as witness the millions of men fighting for France in Algeria, and the withdrawal of all the French forces from Indo-China.
We must recognize that this is the age of Afro-Asian man. Afro-Asian man is no longer a slave, a rickshaw driver or a coolie; he has his universities, his aspirations and his nationalism. He has his governments of various sorts, whether they be Communist or Socialist. You will note that very few of the Afro-Asian countries follow the complete capitalist line, because they have been the victims of colonialism.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has suggested that the Leader of the Opposition is a figure of horror who is propounding a doctrine not held by others. There are millions of fairminded and liberal - with a small “ 1 “ - people in this community who are thinking along the same lines as the Leader of the Opposition. They believe that the solution of our problems does not lie in hatred - in lining the nations up, putting jerseys on them and saying, “ You are red and we are not “. That sort of thing will lead to a third world war.
Before I sit down I wish to emphasize one thing which always holds me in some fear. The two landings - the two bridgeheads, the two fallings from the air of men of Europe and America into Asia again - began the first leg of what could have been a third world war. We must always remember, whether we like it or not, whether we are assailed for saying it or not, that the reticence of Russia in refusing to provide the third bridghead prevented, at any rate for the time being, a third world war.
We have to consider the beginning of summit talks. The United Nations has asked for summit talks, but summit talks to-day, because of a certain intransigence on both sides, are falling by the wayside. However, I am confident that something will come out of it all and that some area of agreement will be reached. The veto that is slung in our faces so often was at one time the star of debate. When we were on the government benches and the members of the Liberal party were on this side of the House, they gloried in the veto. They said, “ Give us the veto so that nobody can put anything over us “. To-day, of course, with a meretricious political twist, they talk about the “ terrible veto which is exercised by Russia “ - although it is exercised by other countries as well. It was the best we could get out of the bargain at that time to establish the United Nations.
Man has been killing man from time immemorial, from the days of Genesis. Slowly but surely we are building up a front against war, but it will continue to rise, fail and fall again until man arrives at a formula. In a crisis of this nature we should not look at the Middle East from the narrow, miserable political viewpoint of for and against. We should think in terms of the needs of the people of that area.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 1239 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I genuinely felt that this debate, which has been introduced by the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on the situation in the Middle East, would have produced from the Opposition suggestions as to how this very critical situation might be overcome. 1 think I had reason to be genuine in that belief because you will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that a week or so after the original development, there were cries from the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for the House to be called together. Appeals were made to the Government and round about that time, the Australian Labour party executive, sitting in Sydney, issued a statement which purported to suggest that the Government had evidence in its possession which it was nol prepared to give to the people.
Therefore, one might logically have expected that now that the Parliament has met and the matter is under discussion, those suggestions that the Government had knowledge of events which it was not prepared to share with the people, would have been « exposed’ by the Opposition. But such has not been the case. One would also have expected that the Opposition would have been at great pains to back up that charge and also make suggestions, as I said before, as to how this problem could be overcome. Instead, we have had only the usual propaganda from speakers on the Opposition side They have offered nothing constructive and nothing helpful to deal with the situation.
We have noticed their usual tendency to criticize the United States of America, in particular, for its action in landing troops in Lebanon. We have heard criticism of this Government for endorsing that action. There has been every inclination on the part of the Opposition to run away from the suggestion that Russia might be involved, in some way, in this very delicate situation. Generally, we have heard from the Opposition a re-hash of all the circumstances leading up to the situation but very little consideration of the present position and practically no suggestion as to how the Middle East problem might be properly dealt with in the long term. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made an accusation to the effect that not only was the Government not prepared to have a Cabinet meeting or call the Parliament together, but 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.
I suggest that the Government has a responsibility to put to the people the situation as it knows it, and as much information about that situation as security allows. That was done. Every opportunity was given to the Opposition to ventilate its views, and that was done also through various newspapers. There has been no justification, then or now, to warrant calling Parliament together to produce a debate so destitute of ideas, from the Opposition’s point of view, as this one has proved to be. To my mind, consideration to some extent must be given to past events, and I believe that the Minister gave in his statement a very true and accurate report of the events which led up to and surrounded this particular problem. I think I am justified in believing that that was a true and accurate report, because 1 have heard no opposition to it from the Opposition benches. Honorable members opposite have accepted that report. Admittedly, they did not accept some of the conclusions, and that is one of the rights of members of this House, but the facts leading up to the events have not been challenged. In fact, they cannot be challenged because they are accurate. We know them to be facts.
They have been amplified; and I pay tribute to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for his very clear exposition of what occurred on and around 15th July, which was the critical period. He made it very plain that the United States of America went into Lebanon at the request of the Government of that country. American troops went in on the understanding that they would be withdrawn as soon as they were replaced by a United Nations police force. The United States Government notified the Security Council of the action that had been taken.
The honorable member went further - and it will bear repetition - to point out that on every occasion when some agreement could have been arrived at and the support was almost unanimously in favour of some of the propositions, those propositions had been prevented from being put into operation because of the Russian veto. Still we find Mr. Khrushchev making an appeal to people to bring this matter before the United Nations and for the United Nations to deal with it. Yet the very basis of the suggestion for clearing up the problem quickly - that is, to allow the United Nations force to go into Lebanon and the Americans to withdraw - was vetoed by the Russians. The Lebanon position has been further aggravated by the fact that it has been suggested that the United Nations observer force had not been able to indicate that there had been outside aggression in Lebanon. In that connexion, the Leader of the Opposition stated in the House last night -
The observer group reported that it was not possible to establish if any of the armed men observed had infiltrated from outside.
I understand that that report was made on 15th July coincident with the American forces going into Lebanon. I direct the attention of the House to the words - it was not possible to establish if any of the armed men observed had infiltrated from outside.
That observer group - and I do not reflect on its ability - had not been able to establish something, but the observers did not say equally definitely that there had been no infiltration from outside. The fact of the matter is that they were under a very severe handicap. It has been pointed out in the House that, on a frontier of some 174 miles, they had access to only eleven or twelve miles. It is rather interesting to note that they did not have access to the frontier. The suggestion is that the frontier was held by rebel troops. If that were so, is not that, in itself, an indication that the situation was not peaceful inside Lebanon? The point is that later, the observer force was increased to 200, and the observers were able to give more attention to the situation because the frontier was thrown open to them. I direct the attention of the House to a statement that was made yesterday by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in which he- gave an entirely -erroneous interpretation of the facts. The honorable member said -
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.
The United Nations never had control of the frontier. The United Nations had an observer group there, but the observers were unarmed. They did not know any of the country. They were dependent on interpreters and it might be expected that if troops had infiltrated within the borders of Lebanon, they would not go round flourishing their arms and advertising their presence. It is obvious that they would go underground. So, the observer group had a most difficult task to perform. It has not been questioned that they fulfilled it very well within their powers.
I repeat that the group reported that it was not possible to establish whether any of the armed men observed had infiltrated from outside. Against that, there was the appeal of a small nation asking for help and saying that infiltration had occurred, that the existence of its Government was imperilled. There was no suggestion at that stage that it was a political matter at all. Lebanon asked for something that was humane. As the honorable member for Hume said last night, the very people who went to the assistance of that small country were the people who answered the call of members of the present Opposition in the early days of the last war.
It is fair and reasonable for a nation which can render such help to these small nations to make it available. I am sure the honorable member for Blaxland did not mean exactly what he said when he uttered the following words yesterday: -
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 patty 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.
I challenge those final words. That was not what happened in respect of Lebanon. The call for help In Lebanon came from a government which claimed that it was likely to be overthrown as a result of infiltration from outside. There was no suggestion whatever that the threat to overthrow was o’f ‘a political nature.
In the opinion of this Government and in my own personal opinion, America was fully justified in answering Lebanon’s appeal for help. It is all very well for the Opposition to be critical of the entry of American and British troops and to be critical, as it is entitled to be, of this Government for any support it might lend to that action; but surely if it wishes to be critical, it .should offer some constructive idea as to how the situation can be improved. -I have listened to the debate fairly carefully, but so far as I know the only suggestion that has been made came from the Leader of the Opposition when he said, in effect, “ Yes, the Minister has made a suggestion. The Labour party, in conference, had a similar thought some time ago.” I do not wish to detract from the value of any such thought on the part of the Opposition, but it seems to me to be a peculiar circumstance that the Opposition, after crying for the Parliament to be summoned and having complained that it should have been summoned earlier so that it could deal with this difficult situation, was only able to say, “ We think the Minister’s suggestion is not a bad idea. We will give it some support. As a matter of fact, we had thought of it ourselves.”
Something further must be done to relieve tension in the Middle East. That tension will not evaporate entirely until the two nations particularly concerned, Lebanon and Jordan, feel that they are safe from outside aggression. There is no doubt that after what happened in Iraq they had grave fears about their own security. It seemed to them that their rulers would be murdered in cold blood as were the Iraqi rulers. There is no doubt that the intervention of America and Britain prevented that occurring. But whether it will still occur unless the United Nations is able to supplant American and British troops with a police force is problematical.
We believe that the next logical step is for the -United Nations to meet. We strongly support the idea that was put forward originally by Mr. Khrushchev for a meeting of the great powers. But, as the honorable member for Mackellar remarked, that was obviously a bluff on the part of Mr. Khrushchev, because immediately it was accepted - and ‘I am pleased that it was readily accepted ‘by the United Kingdom and the United States of America - he ran away from it very quickly and said, in effect, “ 1 do not like the idea of a Security Council meeting. Let us have it before the General Assembly/’ The only regret 1 have is that immediately the offer was made Britain and America did not accept it and call his bluff before he had time to think of anything else.
It has been suggested by several people, including the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), that there is no justification for believing that Russia is involved and that her interests in the Middle East provoked the disturbance that occurred. If that suggestion is correct, why is Russia so eager to be involved? If she has no oil in the Middle East, is it not logical to believe that she might be very much concerned about seeing that no one else uses it without her allowing them to do so? Is not that possibility a reason why she wants to be very deeply concerned in the affairs of the Middle East?
We must have regard to a long range policy. The short-range policy is to stop immediately any enlargement of the present dispute by giving to the small nations that were threatened a feeling of security and by enabling them to work out some longrange solution with the other nations in the Middle East that are concerned. From the viewpoint of the West, it is necessary to have a long-range policy to deal with the situation. Trouble in and around this area is as old as history itself, but it is not too late to prevent a recurrence of what has happened in the past. I do not think the Parliament should concern itself so much with a discussion of what has happened and with trying to ascertain who was right and who was wrong; what we must do is to try to derive the utmost benefit for the people concerned. That can be done only by adopting a constructive long-range policy and by preserving peace until full effect can be given to that policy.
The Minister for External Affairs has advanced a proposal which I have no doubt will be endorsed by the other nations concerned. Although he did not specifically mention it, I believe he had in mind an acknowledgment of the larger Arab Union. It is quite logical for the Arabs to want to get together, provided they have no aggressive intentions towards their neighbours or people who have interests in that area. The Minister suggested the establishment of a United Nations commission, with a police force. That force undoubtedly would be able to exercise a measure of control over the infiltration that may occur from time to time and which unquestionably has already occurred. He also suggested that the Israeli problem should be solved. When all is said and done, it must be solved. It has been suggested in this chamber that we should ensure that the independence of Israel is maintained and that it is just too bad if the Arabs do not like it; but that does not constitute a solution of the problem. The real solution lies in getting both the Arabs and the Israelis to agree upon a settlement of their differences. Even though it may be very difficult it is not impossible to do these things.
The Minister suggested, moreover, that an international organization should be established to assist Middle East development. That would go a very long way towards providing a solution of the Middle East problem. In that connexion, I again pay tribute to the clear thinking of the honorable member for Mackellar who said that to achieve these things it will be necessary for us to go to the United Nations with a proper plan for putting them into effect. At the present time it would be futile to go to the United Nations and simply suggest that such things should be done. But, if this end is approached in the right way, it can be achieved.
.- The matter that we have been discussing to-day is possibly one of the greatest problems that ever faced the modern world. I agree with former speakers that this debate should be entered into without heat or rancour. We may all consider ourselves authorities on these matters but it does not hurt us, even in our humble way, in deference to the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), who has just spoken, to make, in his words, a rehash of the circumstances. To use the honorable member’s words again, most probably a review of former circumstances would prevent a recurrence of what has happened in the Middle East.
The Middle East, most probably, has been the subject of some of the most conflicting foreign affairs decisions that have ever been made. Middle East affairs have been so complex that, for the ordinary individual, it is very hard to follow the meaning of events of years gone by and right up to the time of the Suez crisis. I think it is safe to say, Mr. Speaker, that in any debate on the Middle East, the question of oil and its effect on world affairs arises. I think it is also safe to say that if the trouble in Lebanon could be stripped to its very basis, it would be found that oil is the paramount issue. It has been so in the Middle East almost since the very day on which oil was discovered there.
Looking back over past events, it would be correct to say that when the Egyptian seizure of the Suez Canal took place in July, 1956, it decisively changed the state of world affairs as they related to the Middle East. Since the Suez affair, every incident that has taken place in the Middle East has caused acute anxiety throughout the world. Perhaps the most salient point that has emerged from the Middle East cauldron is the fact that if another world war is to be averted and if peace is to be achieved, then policies must be altered in order that the people of these countries can obtain a far greater share of the wealth that literally spurts forth from the soil that they walk upon. As I am reminded, people should come before oil.
Emancipation of the masses is and must be the first and foremost essential of any policy. This is the only means of dissolving the hostile forces that present such a threat to world peace. It can be truly said that the Russian blunders in the European zone have been offset by the blunders of the Western Powers in the Middle East. This has prevented either side from taking full advantage of the other’s difficulties. It would appear that Russia’s problem is how to withdraw from eastern Europe without loss of prestige and security.
The problem that faces the Western Powers in the Middle East is that the retirement of their forces and the lessening of their influence in this sphere is inevitable. How can this be accomplished without further intrusion of Soviet interference in these countries? The two problems are identical and, in my humble opinion, can be solved only by a mutual “ hands-off “ agreement between Russia and the Western Powers, both sides having the ultimate aim of aiding the social and economic development of the Middle East without military, political or economic gain to either.
Military neutralization should be the goal at all times. This would prevent Russia from being in a position to interfere with the production and marketing of Middle East oil. On the other hand, it would assure Russia that the Western Powers would not develop and maintain bases in the Middle East which would be a threat to its vital spot. The money thus being spent on the military ventures in these areas could be used for urgently needed social development - a feature which is sadly lacking in the Middle East and which is the prime cause of the growth of communism, and the consequent increase of Soviet influence. It would also be a great step towards removing the threat of atomic war and would revitalize the principles and tenets of the United Nations which the Australian Labour party supports.
In debating the Middle East position it would be absolutely impossible to overlook the real cause of all the trouble which, as I stated before, is oil. It is true to say that since oil was discovered in 1908 there has been constant turmoil in the Middle East. The discovery of oil meant great wealth to the few but little improvement in the living standards of the masses. These conditions have caused, without doubt, a great collision of interests among the Great Powers. In fact, it would be true to say that the anti-western feelings of the Arab people are the product of the last 30 years of exploitation.
The creation of the State of Israel was another cause of great unrest. In this regard, Mr. Speaker, I have no quarrel, but the fact remains that much dissension was caused through the failure of the Powers to prevent attacks upon Israel and enforce a just peace between the Arabs and Israel concerning Israel’s boundaries. At the time of the Israel partition, oil had become a major factor in British Middle East policy. As more and more oil was discovered, the policy became more- rigid, with a determination to retain control, especially when the American oil interests commenced their infiltration. The rapid growth of American oil interests in the Middle East, the apparent repudiation of America’s commitments to Israel, and the endeavour of the U.S.A. to seek the support of the Arabs by supplying them with arms and war material forecast major disaster for Western policies.
One would have thought that the discovery of the huge oil basin in the Middle East would have led to some agreement between Britain and America for the formulation of a joint policy to consolidate and further the interests of both countries, with due regard to the social and economic advancement of the Arab peoples in particular. Such was not the case, however, for each country sought its own individual gain and competitive conflict became the order of the day. The American oil interests gained considerable benefit, due to the action of their government in substantially helping to solve the Anglo-Persian dispute. Thus, the American and British oil interests became jealous competitors and the: two countries set out to vie with each other for Arab friendship at the expense of Israel, the only democracy in this zone.
So intense was the competition for oil that it led to a remarkable display of foreign policy by America. In an attempt to capitalize on the Egyptian conflict of 1951- 52 and the Anglo-Persian oil trouble; it decided to support all sides. It gave support to Egypt, so alienating Britain and France, whilst at the same time backing Britain and France in some respects, thus antagonizing the Egyptians. It furthered this extraordinary state of affairs by giving help to Israel, thus creating a detrimental effect on th: Arabs. At the same time, America supplied enough arms to the Arabs to raise hostility among the Israelis. These actions, of course, caused a breakdown of Western prestige in the Middle East and enabled Russia to capitalize upon the ferment that had been created.
Perhaps the worst feature of diplomacy, if one can so describe it, was the re-arming of Iraq. This caused Egypt to seek and obtain arms from Russia, thereby giving the Soviet political influence in the whole Middle East area - a feature which brought Israel and Egypt to war with each other, and ultimately precipitated the Suez crisis and the nationalizing of the Suez Canal. We saw, due to this incident, a breakdown of relations between the Western Powers on the- Suez question, and we saw the Western alliance fall apart. All of this happened at the very time that Soviet influence in the European zone was crumbling. In fact, the- Israeli-Egyptian affair and the Suez crisis demonstrated that the time had passed when peace could be achieved’ through war. Those incidents merely resulted in a strengthening of the hand of Nasser and’ an extension of Soviet influence. In addition, they led’ to a great deterioration of British influence in the Arab world and a dangerous weakening of the Western alliance-.
The unsolved’ problems arising from past events in the Middle East are the prime causes of the problems of to-day. It is true that the United States and Great Britain have a huge commercial investment in the’ oil-fields of the Middle East. Any interference with that investment, I say with all sincerity, would be felt very keenly in Australia. But is is also true to say that the economic life, of both, countries depends very largely on access to- the huge petroleum resources of the Middle East countries. If they are to have continued access to these, oil reserves, then, a- more Christian attitude must be adopted. If alliances are to survive, all differences must be settled. If Communist, influence is to be overcome, the living standards of the Middle East masses must be raised considerably. A. fair share of- the liquid wealth must be channelled back, into these countries for. the specific purpose of raising the standard of living. A former speaker from the Government side of the chamber asked for suggestions, and I make the suggestion, for what it is- worth, that the raising of Middle East living standards could be done effectively by the establishment of a developmental authority under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, and the imposition of a levy on all oil shipments from the East. Such an authority could take over and operate all’ the Middle East oil pipelines and charge a fee for its administration. The proceeds from both levies could then be devoted to an approved economic development scheme for the entire area.
A scheme such as this, Mr. Speaker, I venture to say, would remove all the problems of the Middle East and be the greatest bulwark the Western world could erect against Soviet influence. The costs involved in such a scheme would be small compared with the losses that would result from military conflict. In addition, such a scheme would give the Middle East countries a strong vested interest in their own resources’ and would mean that the liquid treasure of the Arabian’ countries would be shared among them, thereby enabling the less fortunate countries to participate in the benefits that would be derived from the distribution of the funds, instead of revenues being monopolized by the countries from which the liquid wealth streams.
The Lebanese affair, whichever way we look at ‘it, is an oil affair. Unless policies change, there will be other similar affairs, with the ever-present menace of a world atomic war, and with death and destruction as the prize. The living conditions of the people of the Middle East are, perhaps, the greatest contributing factor to the threat of war. This statement is confirmed by the fact that of a population of 22,000,000 people in Egypt, 20,000,000 are miserably poor.
Summing up, 1 suggest that it is logical to say that oil can be the salvation of world peace if the great wealth that it produces is used for the emancipation of the people. On the other hand, oil can result in the destruction of the world unless the policies of the oil monopolies are re-shaped drastically. Reviewing the events of the past, Mr. Speaker, it is safe to say that -neither the West nor Russia is intensely interested in the governments or the people of the Middle East. If the West and Russia were so interested, the conditions that exist in Middle East countries to-day would not have been possible. The interests of Russia and the Western Powers have been, first and foremost, to maintain and control the flow of oil and partake of the great financial return it affords.
If we can take any notice of the news, Mr. Speaker, it seems that there may be more trouble over oil in North Africa. In an article in to-day’s Melbourne “ Sun “ it is stated that seven oil companies have announced that they are planning to build, as soon as possible, a 2,000,000 tons a year refinery near Algiers to handle Sahara oil. If the policies of those companies are identical with the policies that have been maintained over the years in the Middle East, then the world is due to see quite a lot more trouble than it has seen already in North Africa. The people of Algeria may come to realize the extent of the wealth that is going from their country. Since the people of the Middle East and North Africa are largely illiterate, the radio is the most effective means of conveying to them the nature of the raw deal that they are getting. No doubt in the near future we shall see more unrest in North Africa, with a consequent threat to world peace.
In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, there are three things of which we must take notice and which we must advocate. The first is the need for de-militarization; the second is economic adjustment for the people of the Middle East and North Africa generally; and the third is the need to give all the support we can to the United Nations, so that it may maintain control and enforce its decisions in the Middle East. If we can do those things and lend our aid to their achievement I am of the opinion that all the trouble in the Middle East gradually will disappear. Of course, those things cannot be done in a day, and nobody would be so unwise as to suggest that they could; but the trouble in the Middle East eventually will disappear if we do those things. If we do them we shall have a vision of everlasting peace in that area.
.- Two speeches that we have heard from the Labour side of the House to-day have had one feature in common. It is that every word of both speeches was read. As both speakers are able to speak fluently on subjects with which they are well acquainted, and able to express themselves freely without notes, it is quite apparent that they knew very little about the subject on which they spoke to-day and that their speeches were provided for them.
– What a lot of rot!
– Of course, there was a lot of rot in the speeches.
– The honorable member thinks that he is the only person in this House who knows anything.
– It is as well that some one knows something about this subject. What has been abundantly clear in the course of this debate is the poverty of thought and knowledge of the subject on the part of the members of the Opposition who have participated. This debate is concerned with a most important subject - peace in the world. But in order to have peace in the world, one must have friends in the world. Fortunately, Australia has friends who will assist it in bringing about peace in the world. The attack from the Labour benches has been made, not upon those who wish to put an end to peace, but upon those who are our friends. Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of Labour policy was the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), not in this House but over the air, to the effect that Australia should be allowed to have its own policy, a policy which, apparently, exists only in his own mind, a policy which follows neither that of the United Kingdom nor that of the United States. Where such a policy would lead us, in the hands of the Leader of the Opposition, we can only guess, but we may be sure that it would result in a very unhappy ending for us. There can be no question of that. If we are to have peace in the world we cannot have constant surrenders to pressure from hostile nations. The time must come when one is prepared to stand up for what one believes in, for the freedom of the individual and his loved ones. We cannot always be retiring from place after place, facing crisis after crisis. If we do, we shall ultimately fade out of the picture altogether. The only way that we can have peace in the world is to make powerful friends. Australia has always been willing to extend the hand of friendship to countries such as the United States of America and, of course, to our beloved Great Britain. Friendly proposals for disarmament have been submitted to the Soviet Union, but these proposals have always been evaded. There has been equivocation on the part of the Soviet Union. Has any member of the Opposition said one word against the Soviet Union in the course of this debate? No, but it is well known that the trouble that we have in the world today is due to the machinations of Russia and to her desire, per medium of the cold war, eventually to conquer the world and enslave all humanity. This should be realized by those anaemic members sitting opposite who have been so feeble during the course of this debate.
The United States of America and Great Britain, believing, as we do, that it is important to make friends in the world, to-day have many friends. One of the great things about friendship is loyalty. If you have friends you must be loyal to them and you expect that they, in turn, will be loyal to you. If you seek support from them you expect to receive it, and likewise, you expect to give your support if your friends need it. Honorable members opposite should realize that the United States of
America and Great Britain have many friends in the world. We are not feeble in the free world. We hear nothing but adverse propaganda from the Opposition, which would lead one to believe that Russia is completely overcoming us. That is not the position at all. We are a proud people and we can hold our own, and we intend to continue to hold our own.
There can be no question that Lebanon and Jordan were being infiltrated. That is apparent even from the report of the United Nations observers. That report was a puny one, because one can hardly expect people who do not know a country’s language to go into portion of that country, ask the inhabitants whether they are being infiltrated, and receive a correct reply. Quite likely the person being questioned is one of the infiltrators, and he will naturally answer, with a broad grin, that the country is not being infiltrated. When one seeks evidence of infiltration one does not have observers on the surface. Does a secret service or a security service work on the surface? It does not. It goes into the bazaars and gets its information from the underground. Surely the test of infiltration is what the government of the country says. The government of the country knows whether or not a sudden coup is likely to take place. In addition, in this case, there is another very clear test. The United States of America has ever been slow to take up arms. In the first world war she was not the first off the mark, nor in the second world war. She declined to take part in the Suez crisis. But in this case the United States was convinced that infiltration was taking place in these countries, and I feel sure that if honorable members opposite were honest with themselves they would agree that the United States of America was rightly convinced in this regard.
What has been happening with regard to radio broadcasts? There can be no doubt that there have been many broadcasts suggesting that the rulers of the Lebanon and Jordan should be murdered, and1 those broadcasts emanated from the official government stations in Egypt. What is that but a form of infiltration, an endeavour to subvert the loyalty of the people of those countries, and persuade them to murder their rulers? Is it to be said that, because somebody has made a profit from oil, or because some people are hungry, murder is justified? One would think that it was so. to listen to honorable members opposite, but if anybody does think so, he is very wide of the mark.
There is ample evidence that arms have been supplied by Russia to Egypt and Syria with the deliberate intention that those two countries should use them to extend their influence in the Middle East and to get rid of governments in the Middle East that are not sympathetic towards Russia. That is the background to the request of our friends in the Middle East for the United States of America and the United Kingdom to come to their assistance. The governments of the Lebanon and Jordan are lawfully established governments. What has happened? There has been peaceful intervention and war has been averted. There has been no murder and no bloodshed. The picture in the Lebanon and Jordan to-day is very different from what recently happened in Iraq, where there was murder and bloodshed. The United States of America and Great Britain have said thai what they are doing is only a first move, and that they are in those two countries for peaceful purposes. They have said that the matter should be dealt with in the United Nations. They have agreed to withdraw their forces as soon as the United Nations forces are ready to take over. They have agreed to the fullest debate on the matter within the United Nations organization. This is a great opportunity for the United Nations to do something for the peace of the world and to enhance greatly its prestige.
In the short time available to me I do not propose to attempt to discuss the matters put forward by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) with regard to what the United Nations might do about future control or government in this area But T think all honorable members should pay tribute to the Minister for the effort that he has devoted towards this problem. This is a great opportunity for the United Nations to show that it does mean something in the world, and that it is capable of bringing about peace. Let us look for a moment at what this intervention has so far prevented. It has, of course, stabilized for the time being the governments of Jordan and the Lebanon in the sense that revolutions have been prevented. If the people of those countries want to change their governments, they can do so in a peaceful way, but not by way of revolution. That is the immediate position. Now let us look at the long-term position. It is quite ridiculous to suggest that there is no shadow of Russia over this area. The hand of Russia is not even concealed; it is openly clear that the hand of Russia is operating in this area. Russia is seeking control of the Middle East. Russia is seeking to exploit Arab nationalism. The way in which Russia would exploit Arab nationalism would be to do away with the political systems of those countries, take charge of the government, exploit the economic resources and enslave the people. That is a very familiar pattern of Russian totalitarian rule. By stabilizing the governments of those countries, we are endeavouring at least to hold that happening off and to keep things on an even keel.
Another effect that the Russians would wish to bring about is the opening of the gateway to Africa so that she might march into Africa and preach communism there. Furthermore, Russia wants to take charge of the oil supplies in the area. It is childish to talk about the question being simply one of profit from oil. If they get the opportunity, the Russians will take charge of the oil supplies in the Middle East simply in order to deprive the Western countries of Europe of oil, cause mass unemployment in those countries and not only reduce living standards but cause widespread starvation with a view to bringing the Western nations to Russia’s feet and so, within a short time, enabling Russia to win the cold war.
Those are the issues involved in this Middle East trouble. Those are the issues which members of the Labour party apparently do not realize or deliberately close their eyes to. Have we heard from the Labour party one word of disapproval of Russia’s action in supplying arms to Egypt and Syria? Have we heard one word of protest at the intimidatory broadcasts or against infiltration into those countries. Not one word of condemnation of these things has been uttered by members of the Labour party.
– Some were from Britain and the United States of America as well.
– As I said earlier, the only knowledge of this subject which the honorable member has is what he has read from what has been’ prepared for him. I take no notice of interjections from him because he is- completely uninformed on this subject.
Let me revert now to the point with which I was dealing at the outset of my remarks - the necessity for us to work in conjunction with the United States and the United Kingdom. That policy has been repudiated by the Leader of the Opposition and numerous other speakers in the Opposition. I remind them that in a statement which the Labour party issued intconnexion with resolutions passed at its conference in Brisbane in March, 1957, there is not one word of reference to international communism. But it is notable that the Labour party always dodges the responsibility of dealing with the question of Australia^ attitude to international communism. One of the decisions arrived at by that conference is that co-operation with the United States in the Pacific is of crucial importance, and must be maintained and extended. How are we to achieve cooperation with the United States in the Pacific if we constantly attack the United States?
To support my argument, I need only mention the speech delivered by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). He made many derogatory statements about the United States. It was not so much what he said as the manner in which he said it. He veritably opened the floodgates of wrath. Any American listening to him last night could not help but.leave this House thinking, “ Australia will not have a bar of us “. I emphasize that the honorable member for East Sydney was talking about our friends, the people with whom we must work, the people to whom we must be loyal. How are we to maintain peace in the world if our friends are dealt with constantly in that manner by honorable members who should be responsible persons?
.- I do not propose to traverse the events of the last few weeks in the Middle East. I want to concentrate on a few ideas about what we are to do in the future, how we are to prevent a repetition of political revolution and economic disruption - to put it from the negative way, which the Government parties advocate - or, to put it from the more positive way, which our side- does, how we are to, facilitate: the politicals and economic development, of that region.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) did not come forth with a single idea as to what we are to do from now on. His only idea was that we must maintain every beach-head, otherwise you let your friends down-, you retreat from your position of strength. Sir, if is a bleak future indeed for the Middle East, for our allies, and for ourselves, if the only future in that’ area is to be the continued stationing of troops by our allies there.
We must surely look forward to the time when the Middle East is able to develop itself politically and economically, as other more fortunate parts of the world are already able to do. I am not particularly concerned with what is going to happen in the immediate future when British and American troops withdraw from the area. That is only one stage of what will be a problem for the rest of our lives unless we do something positive about it.
I want to say straight away, in favour of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), that his statement yesterday was the most constructive speech I have known him to make. In the last one-sixth of the speech, the last two of the twelve roneoed sheets which he read - because, like the honorable members castigated by the honorable member for Balaclava, he read his statement - he came forward with some ideas which held out fair hope for the region. I hope that in his concluding speech in this debate the Minister will develop those ideas still further.
It required some courage on his part, and on the part of his advisers,, to recognize that the policy which they had hitherto supported and espoused in this House was not without fault. In reply to the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), who is interjecting, I might say that I am not attributing courage or enlightenment to him.
The Minister for External Affairs has re-thought the position of Australia and its allies in the Middle East. In no previous speech has he ever mentioned Iraq-. He never forecast that there would be any change of regime in that area. One would have thought that the writing was on the wall in King Feisal’s palace in Baghdad just as obviously, though cryptically as it was in
Belshazzar’s palace nearby in Babylon, and there were Daniels to interpret the message, too, but they were not heeded.
Although, as in most areas of the world, political changes are sometimes desired in the Middle East, the only way to bring about political change there in recent years has been by revolution. That applies to every one of the Baghdad pact countries except Turkey for the revivified Turkey which arose from revolution at the end of the first world war is a true democracy. In Turkey, governments are changed at the ballot box, and the government of that country, which is indirectly one of our allies, has in fact the assurance that it has popular support behind it. But no government of the other Middle Eastern countries in the Baghdad pact - Iran, Pakistan and Iraq - has or had that assurance.
The Minister has to face the fact that the idea of a pact in the Middle East - the Baghdad pact, to which he has made many references in the past - has failed, and he has now come forward with an idea for a United Nations commission and a United Nations police force for the Middle East. I believe that we on this side of the House completely support that idea; yet, on the Minister’s side of the House, there has been this useless repining that we are retreating, that we are lowering the flag, that we are showing weakness in the face of our inevitable enemy. Sir, it is not the badge of friendship, it is not the test of a good ally, that one must inevitably acquiesce in whatever one’s allies do.
I am not traversing what has happened in the last few weeks in the Middle East, lt may have been inevitable. It may be that it has given a breathing space to the United Nations, and to ourselves and all other people interested in the area, to come up with some better solution than would have come about but for the British and American intervention. On the other hand, as American commentators freely admit, the immediate future in Lebanon, and especially, in Jordan, may be bleaker in some ways because of that intervention. But, Sir, let us look to the foreseeable future in this area. One does not get anywhere by denying that, oil comes into it or that the question of Israel comes into it. The Minister does not deny that they come into it. The first five-sixths of his speech dealt very largely with such issues, and with a rationalization of what has happened in the area in the last few weeks. I suppose that one must admit that there is an amalgam of both oil and Israel in the area.
Arab nationalism has received this astonishing boost in the last twelve years because of the creation of Israel, to the preservation of which we all are committed. We are concerned in this area because it is the region from which the countries of Western Europe - America’s allies and our customers - get their oil. The United States of America has all the oil it needs within its own borders or in territories close to it. Russia has all the oil it needs within its own borders. Of course, they both are interested in the Middle Eastern oil - America in order to see that her allies in Nato have sources of oil supply, and Russia in order to play the cold-war trade game by saying, “ You have denied us and our allies strategic goods. We will make it difficult for your allies to get them from the Middle East.” The last countries that are ever considered in this contest, of course, are those in the Middle East. They should be considered, both politically and economically. The Minister has, for the first time, come up with some suggestions for dealing with them, and I applaud him and hope that he will develop the theme further in his concluding speech.
The Minister refers to the independence of small states. I should like him to refer to the independence of peoples or nations rather than of states or regimes. Let us face it: The states in the Middle East, in general, have been artificially created, and the regimes in the Middle East are mostly undemocratic by any standard known to us and our allies. When the Ottoman Empire broke up after the first world war, these states were created for the first time. Egypt was made a, British protectorate and given a king - a descendant of Mohammed Ali - by the British early in the I920’s. Iraq was set up as a mandate, for which the British selected a king - Feisal the First - and was the first mandated territory to be admitted to the League of Nations early in the 1930’s. Trans-Jordan was another British mandate, for which the British chose Feisal’s brother, Abdullah, as Emir, and was given the status of a kingdom, and independence, immediately after the second world war. Syria and Lebanon - the territory of the Crusades - were given to France as mandates after the first world war, and were given independence after the second world war.
There is no economic or historical reason why two of these countries should be republics and three of them kingdoms, and why their boundaries should have been fixed as they are. The people of those states - we have to face it - do not regard their boundaries as having any particular sanction. Nor do they regard their regimes as having any particular sanction. It is true that Lebanon and Syria have had more democratic regimes than most countries in the United Nations have had, but I hardly think that one could say that Iraq, Jordan and Egypt have had particularly democratic regimes. In those three countries, the only way to change a regime is by a revolution.
We ought to face the fact that if we are to have political peace in the Middle East we must make it possible for the people and the nations or nation concerned to be consulted. Many of the people, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and some in Lebanon and Arabia, regard themselves, I am told, as one nation. Whatever we may think of Nasser and whatever we may say about him, Radio Cairo is no more vituperative under Nasser than it was under Farouk - the only difference is that Nasser is better regarded than was the sybaritic Farouk. By most people in those areas, Nasser is regarded in a higher light than any Arab since Saladin. Those countries, because of Israel, which, in their eyes, corresponds to the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem 800 years ago, and because of the economic domination of Western countries, are looking to somebody who will give them political and economic self-respect.
I do not condone in any way - one should not have to say this, but it is necessary to deny the charges that have been made so shrilly by the honorable member for Balaclava - political murder, assassination, impalement, decapitation or mutilation. As a matter of fact, I am not prepared to justify the guillotining of Louis the Sixteenth or the decapitation of Charles the First or the shooting of Abraham Lincoln. The hands of none of us are clean, if one goes back into fairly recent history. But, Sir, revolution is the only way to get a change of regime in that area, and if the United Nations commission which the Minister mentioned - and 1 think it is desirable - is merely to congeal the boundaries in that region, it will be mischievous. It is difficult, within the framework of the United Nations, to go behind states, because the United Nations is still based on the old seventeenth century idea that every state is sovereign and that one does not look behind its facade. If the suggested commission is to bear fruit, if we are to have political stability in that area we at least must be sure that any government with which we deal governs with the consent of its subjects.
In the whole of the Middle East there is no government, except in Israel or Lebanon, or possibly Syria, of which that can be said. I say possibly Syria because the last change in that country was the result of a plebiscite, and I have no more faith in French or Syrian plebiscites than I have in Russian. There simply is no point in voting “ No “ in a plebiscite.
The other point for which we must have regard is the economic development of this area. Surely that is something in which Australia can have a sympathetic interest. Just as the countries of the Middle East know that their oil is essential to Western Europe, so does Western Europe know that Middle East oil is essential to meet its requirements. The oil-producing and the oilconsuming countries know that the pipelines to Tripoli and Beirut, and the Suez Canal, are essential to both producers and consumers. So we in Australia know that the people in Western Europe, the people who have invested in, and helped to develop Australia, want our products. Reciprocally, we know that we have to dispose of our products there. Western Europe has a stake in the Middle East as well as in Australia, and Australia, with the Middle East, has a stake in Western Europe.
As one of the most trusted and trustworthy allies of the United Kingdom and the United States, Australia ought to place before those nations the proposition that the interests of producing countries, whether they produce primary goods or oils or minerals, must be safeguarded by the countries which consume and process and transport their products. We already concede that the United Nations should safeguard the regular conduct of international political relations. We should now realize - and I believe the Minister for External Affairs has had a glimmer of it - that the United Nations must more and more safeguard the regular conduct of international economic relations. The consuming and investing nations should learn to trade with producing nations without trying to dominate them politically and ideologically.
We in Australia know that our income from exports has dropped by one-third in the last twelve months and that it is going to drop further during the coming year. In other words, our income from exports will drop by more than 40 per cent, in the course of two years, not because the quality of our products has declined; not because Western Europe and our other customers do not want so much of our produce; not because we have less to sell, but purely because of artificial fluctuations in the market.
Ever since oil was discovered in the Middle East in the early part of the century, and particularly between the two wars and after the second world war, Western Europe has consumed oil at a geometrically progressive rate. However, Middle East countries are irked by the fact that they are subject to international arrangements, agreements or treaties which they did not freely conclude, which were not concluded between equals in power or equals in interest, and which are regarded as being as immutable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. Surely it is necessary that the Middle East countries, primary producing countries like Australia and New Zealand, should have their interests more fully considered by the consuming, processing and transporting countries of Western Europe. As our interests are so much in common with those of the Middle East countries, and, moreover, since we are in deservedly good standing with our allies, the United Kingdom and the United States, we should see that that attitude is put before our allies in a proper way because the future of the Middle East, the future of our allies and, therefore, our own future depend on some proper accommodation being afforded those countries.
Let bygones be bygones. There have been faults on both sides, but the future is not without hope. I believe that the Minister for External Affairs, in suggesting some new machinery, a United Nations commission or a United Nations police force for the area, has made a worthy contribution. With our mobile brigade and the Lockheed transports which we shall obtain at the end of the year, the only two modern, practicable and realistic features of our defence policy, Australia is in a good posture to make some contribution to a United Nations force. With our advice to our allies - friendly advice for the future - and with our own disinterested contribution in the form of technical assistance and military supervision, we can play a greater role than has been realised hitherto in restoring the Middle East to its original potential as a garden of Eden.
– The House, and indeed the country, must be grateful to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for his clear, definite and factual presentation of the melancholy series of events which have occurred recently in the Middle East. However, an air of unreality has been introduced into the debate on this subject by the Opposition. Last night we were treated by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) to a speech which was, in fact, a theoretical exercise in dialectics which never at any time came to grips with the realities of the situation.
All that the House could gather from the speech - as far as it could gather anything at all from it - was that the right honorable gentleman considered that the actions of Great Britain and the United States of America were wrong, and that the whole matter should be left in some vague sort of way to the United Nations. If the actions of Great Britain and America are to be condemned, as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, then that condemnation must be also extended, though he was careful to refrain from referring to it, to the actions of Russia and the United Arab Republic, especially the United Arab Republic. Does any one really believe that those countries have not been interfering by threats and subversion with the governments of two independent countries? The whole post-war history of the Middle East makes such a contention manifestly absurd. Subversion, open and covert, has continued. Nobody takes the contrary view, and I do not believe that even the right honorable gentleman himself honestly and sincerely subscribes to the view that subversion has not been practised on the greatest scale.
This subversion has been carried on also by government-controlled and governmentsponsored radio broadcasts which have, on numerous occasions, incited the inhabitants of other countries to murder and insurrection. In plain terms, as every one knows, though it was airily brushed aside by the Leader of the Opposition, there has been in fact a virtual campaign of terror waged against established independent and lawfully constituted governments in the Middle East, designed to overthrow them.
These things are of great concern to us in this country, because this is part of the great issue of our time. The endeavour to preserve the independence of small countries is part of the effort to preserve freedom everywhere in the world, and it can hardly be doubted that the tide of freedom - whatever hopes we may have had for it in earlier years, whatever exertions we may have made in two wars to fight for it - has of recent years receded over great areas of the earth. I point only to a few of them. The House will readily recall the events in Lithuania, Esthonia, and Czechoslovakia, the mass murders and deportations, and more recently those in Hungary. I remind the House also that it is only a very short time since Australian soldiers were fighting in Korea, again in the defence of a small country.
I repeat that the preservation of the independence of small countries in the Middle East is part of this process, and is of great moment and concern to all of us here. In the Middle East we had here two more small, independent countries at risk and under attack. Their lawful governments asked for help, and it was given. Are we now to understand that the Leader of the Opposition and, presumably, his party, condemn the giving of this assistance, in spite of the fact that the independence of two countries, whose survival, as I have attempted to show, is .material to our own interests, was at stake?
But let us look at the other side of the picture. Suppose the United Kingdom and the United States had refused to go to the assistance of those countries. Does any one believe that they could have survived, or that they could have been saved by the United Nations, where Russia’s veto was already freely and effectively in operation? Of course not. And what other consequences would have followed? We may well ask: Who, in the immediate area, would have been next on the list? Would it have been one of our allies - Iran, or Turkey, or our sister dominion of Pakistan, because it may well have been? Would not these countries have felt, and would they not have been justified in feeling, that if they were in danger they could not rely on the Western Powers? What immediate consequence would have flowed from such a situation? The Baghdad pact would, of course, immediately have been completely ineffective. Worse than that, it would have been the beginning of the end of Nato. I ask honorable gentlemen opposite whether that is what they want, because we are entitled to infer from the line of policy they follow that they would at least have no objection to such a course of events.
I repeat: Is that what the Leader of the Opposition is in favour of? Let us look a little farther afield. What would have been the effect on, for instance, our allies in Seato of failure by the United States and the United Kingdom to act? Would they not have felt equally justified in regarding us as completely worthless allies? Is not this all part of the destruction of the whole defence of freedom, in which we are vitally interested?
So I say, Sir, that it was not only expedient but imperative that the United Kingdom and the United States should take the action which they took. But there is a positive side to this, as well, because only the action of the United Kingdom and the United States has’ made effective United Nations action in this area possible at all. Nobody, of course, imagines that, without the action of the United Kingdom and the United States, the United Nations would have been able to achieve anything. Does it not follow that if the United Nations had been, in this important matter, rendered completely ineffective, it would not have been long before it was regarded as ineffective in almost every other regard?
So, if we are to subscribe to the doctrine that the United Kingdom and the United States were wrong in their actions, we must also subscribe to the doctrine that the United’ Nations is of no account. The action that these great powers took has not only had these results, lt has also stopped the openly advocated programme of murder and violence in the Middle East. Is it condemned by honorable gentlemen opposite because that has been one of its consequences? It has given time for the United Nations to act, because it was quite plain that, without time, the United Nations would have been unable to act. Do honorable gentlemen opposite condemn it on that ground? It has given the world a breathing space, in which effective action to secure peace can be taken. Do honorable gentlemen opposite wish us to understand that they oppose and1 condemn it on that ground?
Great powers still have great responsibilities, and, in this instance, I believe that they have been well discharged. It is quite unreal to imagine that because the United Nations exists and is still - I think we will all agree - in its formative stages - great powers can abdicate the responsibilities which they have exercised for centuries - and by which they have on more than one occasion maintained peace and freedom in the world - and leave a vacuum which obviously cannot be filled by deliberations in an assembly without the effective action of the forces of those great powers. lt would be impossible to traverse - and I do not intend to do so - the whole of the events that have taken place. They were placed before us with great clarity by the Minister. The choice we must make is whether we are to have real and effective action or whether we are to give away, for a theoretical consideration, the chance of really achieving some hope of stability: whether, by supine appeasement, by relying on purely theoretical considerations, we are to allow to develop a situation which will be one more step in the destruction of free nations throughout the world. That is the plain choice. I put it to the House that there was no other choice for Britain and America if anything effective was to be done, if peace was to be preserved and if freedom was to be safeguarded or if the United Nations itself was to be made .effective, than to take the course of action which they did, and those who condemn that are out of touch with all the realities and facts of life.
– There are Comms, too.
– If the honorable gentleman wants to appear on a gigantic international unity ticket, that is all he has to say. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Australia may not be a powerful nation. We may be some considerable distance from the scene of the Middle East but we can - and I believe we have - offer sensible advice and support to those nations which represent in this world the forces of freedom, order and civilization - Great Britain and the United States. It would be fateful for this Government to follow the unreal ineffectualities which to-day constitute the foreign policy of the Australian Labour party.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, before proceeding to deal with the matter before us, I should like to say - and I am sorry that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) is not present to hear me say it - that nobody has prepared my speech for me, and I shall not read my speech. 1 think that the honorable member was rather crude in the comment he made about the reading of speeches, because many members of his own side have based their speeches on prepared notes and we know very well that many members find such notes very handy indeed. I have no prepared notes. What I have, Sir, is knowledge of this subject.
The gist of what has been said by supporters of the Government is that the Australian Labour party just wants to follow the tail of Russia.
– What are the honorable member’s views?
– I remind the honorable member for Mallee that, from its inception, the Australian Labour party has been a pacifist party. I make no excuse for that. Labour has always been a pacifist party, and I hope it always will be so.
– Peace at any price!
– Not at all! It will be remembered that after the failure of the Menzies and Fadden administrations to protect the peace of this country in World War II., Labour came to office and told the people that every man and every facility we had must be utilized for the successful prosecution of the war. In view of that, how can the honorable member suggest that Labour wants peace at any price? I do not subscribe to the theory of peace at any price. What I am concerned about is the best method by which to preserve peace, not only in our own country but throughout the world. I do not condemn the United States incursion into Lebanon and Great Britain’s incursion into Jordan, in view of the position that had arisen in the Middle East. Although many honorable members on this side of the House feel strongly that that was a wrong action to take, I am not prepared to say that it was a wrong action, because those countries answered what they believed was a request for assistance. If Great Britain and America, in the light of information supplied to them by their representatives in the Middle East and their secret services felt that it was incumbent upon them to honour promises that they had given to the small countries of the world per medium of the United Nations, I am not going to condemn them for doing what they believed was the right thing to do.
– The honorable member should come over to our side.
– I do not want to go over to your side. While I have my own opinions as to whether Great Britain and America were justified in doing what they thought was right, I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and other honorable members on this side of the chamber if they thought that it was a wrong action, were entitled to voice their views. Whatever opinion is expressed here can make no difference to what has taken place. We know that.
I am very concerned about some of the speeches that have been made on this subject. Some honorable members have argued that a summit conference should take place. What does that really mean? Does it mean that the leaders of Russia, England, the United States, France and India should confer and decide the Middle East issue? Would they then say to Lebanon “ You will do so and so “, to Iraq “ You will do this “ and to Egypt “ You will do that “? That is my idea of what a summit conference would amount to, and when that happens you come back to the old idea of power pressure, not only from a political point of view but power based on the offensive forces of a country. I for one still hold the view that Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq or any other country has a democratic right to elect its own government, to decide by whom it shall be ruled, and what type of rule there shall be.
– And they have the right to invite people to help them.
– They have the right, but when honorable members talk about a summit conference to decide the issue, that is a different matter.
I agree with the opinion that was expressed by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) last night, and which has been again voiced in this chamber to-day, that but for the oil resources in the Middle East, British and American soldiers would not have been needed there.
– Does the honorable member really believe that?
– The presence of oil in the Middle East is the principal reason. Many countries are interested, first, in the oil that comes from the Middle East and, secondly, in the maintenance of shipping facilities from the Pacific area to Western Europe. The income from oil has enabled the control of Middle East countries to be maintained by kings and sheikhs. The -. Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and other oil companies have entered into agreements with those rulers to pay them royalties on every gallon or ton of oil procured in their countries. What has been the result? We read in the press recently that the head of a small State in the Middle East is a multimillionaire, reputedly the richest man in the world. That is not because of what the country itself has produced, but is due to the royalty on oil. I contend that if the head of a State becomes enriched from oil royalties while the people continue to live poorly, there is little chance of that country becoming a democracy, because in a democracy the people are entitled to a fair share of the production of the country.
I do not know how it is possible to overcome that state of affairs. I do not know how countries that possess the oil resources can be persuaded to distribute a proportion of the royalties amongst other countries in the Middle East. How can this be done under a democracy if we contend that what is in a country belongs to it? It is obvious that we have to do our utmost through some authority to reach a proper understanding of the problem.
During this debate it has been stated that Syria has no oil. We know that Syria does not get its revenue from oil, but it certainly receives a handsome amount for allowing oil pipelines to pass through its territory. If Syria were to say that it no longer wished the pipe lines to cross its country it would be no longer possible to allow them to remain. An alternative route would have to be found and another country might reap a considerable benefit from it. Would it be proper for the ruling section of that country to say to its people, “We are going to keep all the proceeds from this pipeline and we will not share them with you “? If that section decided that it would not offer its people, down to the poorest man in the country, some share in the proceeds and so improve their standard of living, it would sow seeds of dissension in that country.
I will not argue as to the truth or otherwise of the statement that there has been infiltration by Egypt into other countries. I am well aware, as all honorable members are, that when the farmer ploughs his field and gets the soil in perfect order and sows seed, he will reap a good harvest. Literally that is what is happening and has happened through the years in the Middle East countries. The ruling classes have kept the people so poor and forced them to have such a miserable existence that when these riches have flowed into the country and the poor people have received no benefit from them, the soil has been prepared for a harvest of trouble when the seeds of knowledge are sown in their minds that they have been dealt with unfairly. Perhaps, that harvest may come very quickly.
Propaganda of this kind has been responsible for a lot of the present trouble in those countries and much of it has emanated from Russia. I have no time for Russian communism. I make no bones about the fact that I do not believe in communism, and I know that my colleagues in the Labour party do not believe in it. The suggestion has been made that our leader and other prominent people in the Labour party have been working on the same lines as the Communists. Make no mistake about it. The fact is that the Communist party has copied some of the main lines of Labour party policy. Some people may think that the opposite is the case and that the Labour party has adopted Communist party methods. That is not so. Socialist policies which we advocated many years ago have been used by the Communist party to further their cause and as a result the Labour party is often misunderstood. We do not want communism; neither do we want it to spread. I suppose that no country in the world has a greater respect for the freedom of the individual than has Australia. When war came, men from all walks of life, including the labourer, the bank clerk, the business manager, the farmer and the land-owner all united to fight to preserve that freedom. People of other countries who saw our men frankly stated that the Australians were distinctly outstanding. They regarded them almost as a race apart because of their belief in the rights of the individual. The ranks of the Labour party are filled with men like that. I suppose that more men in our fighting forces enlisted from the ranks of the Labour party or the trade unions than from business and professional occupations. I suppose that was only natural. I am not making any invidious comparison when I say that.
The Labour party believes that the peoples in the Middle East should receive fair treatment. We believe that when any country there gains a benefit from either its own product or that of another country which comes into it, the whole of the people should share in that benefit.
A suggestion has been made that the problems of the Middle East should be referred to the General Assembly of the United Nations. What decision could that body make? Could it say to Lebanon, “You must have so and so. You either have to keep your present rulers or have an election and get some others.” Do honorable members think that the United Nations Organization will say that to Lebanon? I am sure that it will not, any more than it will say to Jordan, “ You have to do this or that”. We should look again at the tangle we are getting into in connexion with this matter.
The immense help which the British Government has given to advance the State of Israel has been rightly pointed out. But during the last day or two, reports have appeared’ in the newspapers that Israel has objected to Great Britain flying arms and ammunition over its territory to Jordan in response to a request from King Hussein. Israel has said to Britain, “ If you send arms to Jordan and leave them there, the people of Jordan will have something with which to fight- us later “. It is quite clear that the opinion of members on this side of the House that a mistake was made by Britain’s intervention is supported by the opinions of others and by current events. What will be the outcome of this particular problem? The Government has advocated that there should be no alteration of the boundaries of Israel and no encroachment on its territory. But how can that be ensured? It can only happen if we have power to say to Israel’, “ We will protect you “.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and: the Minister for External Affairs (Mc. Casey) have both suggested that there must be a departure from the Baghdad Pact. Only this afternoon the honorable member for Werriwa- (Mr. Whitlam) pointed out that the Minister realizes now that the Baghdad Pact is not able to achieve what was expected- of it. No- one knows what will happen to Iraq. The Minister is proposing the establishment of a United Nations commission to go to the Middle East, with a police force if necessary, in order to insist upon the protection of the countries there. Why is that necessary? Although we may think that a proposal we have to-day might meet the position, to-morrow, as a result of a turn of the wheel, we may find that something entirely different must be done.
Honorable members on the Government side say that members of the Opposition have not made any suggestion as to how to overcome this problem. My reply is that members on the Government side have not made any such suggestion either. One or two members on the Government side have advocated that we should carry on as in the past and use force if necessary in Jordan. According to the news - not coming from Labour party sources but from world-wide places - we- hear that no matter what is done, King Hussein of Jordan will have to step down from his throne and allow another form of government to be established in that country. Problems like that are cropping up all the time in the Middle East, and we must call on the most capable authority available to deal with them.
The power of the veto in the Security Council has been illustrated to-day in the speeches of honorable members on the Government side. They have pointed out that although ten members of the Security Council might agree on a particular policy, one member can veto the proposal. That is the real weakness of- the Security Council. The proposal then is to go to the General Assembly of the United’ Nations- organization where the veto does not- operate. A large number of countries will be represented there to- deal with the- Middle East problems. But how will they deal with’ them quickly? I am1 not sure. I do not know just how. the discussions will proceed. But 1 do agree with the concluding remarks of the Leader of the Opposition- (Dr. Evatt) last night, when he said that if the General Assembly meets and is unable to settle the matter, then it must keep on meeting until it can do so. If. honorable members on the Government side suggest that such a contention is wrong, then what would they say should, be done instead? Do they suggest that the General. Assembly should be wiped out? Do they believe that matters of such vital importance as the one we are discussing should be dominated, by two or three countries, as was the case in the past, or do they believe that we should devise some method for. dealing with, these problems, satisfactorily? We claim freedom in this, country. We claim the rights of the ballot box. We have extolled Israel and its democratic system.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I- do not doubt the sincerity of the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson). I feel that during the whole of this debate honorable members on both sides of the House have been groping for a solution of a problem that they feel must, be solved, in the interests not only of the Middle East and of Australia but of the whole world. The honorable member for Port Adelaide said he was not a believer in power politics. It seems to me that in 1958 the power politics of old have given way to the power politics of the Security Council. What we now have is an old idea in a new dress. When the honorable member suggests that if the Security Council or the General Assembly cannot solve the problem they must keep on trying, I would disagree and say that what the nations of the world must do then is to seek an alternative to the United Nations. We must institute some organization that we can depend upon to act in a hurry and in the best interests of. peace in the world.
– Why a new organization?
– I say that because twice in our history we have felt that we have been let down, first by the League of Nations, which was born in idealism and died in frustration; and, secondly, by the United Nations, which has struggled violently to impose its will upon the world, although it is obvious to most of us that it has not succeeded.
When considering the Middle East problem it is necessary to go back a little into the past. Before we go back in history, however, let me say that it is most heartening to find that people throughout the free world have expressed, through the medium of Gallup polls, their agreement with American action in Lebanon. When one considers the figures for polls taken in such places as Canada, Australia, Denmark and America, one finds an overwhelming majority of people in favour of the action of America in sending troops to Lebanon. Tn answers to the question, “ Have you a favorable or unfavorable impression of what President Nasser is trying to do in the Near East? “ the figures followed much the same trend.
This is most heartening, because we have reached a stage at which, unfortunately, many Australian people, whom no one could brand as Communists or even as being a little pink in their leanings, are being, fed so much propaganda that they think the only thing that counts in this world is peace. I direct that remark particularly to the honorable member for Port Adelaide, who said that it is the duty of the Government properly to protect the country from war. Let me suggest that it is also the duty of the Government properly to protect the people from a line of thinking that might lead them eventually to sub mit to anything rather than take any risk of war. 1 hope time will allow me to enlarge on that point later.
During the last eighteen months the Western countries have embarked on two ventures that have met with a great deal of criticism, sometimes from their own people. The first was the action taken at the time of the Suez Canal crisis. I think it would be safe to say that the majority of the Australian people are now of the opinion that the only criticism that could be levelled at Great Britain and France with regard to their action at that time is that they failed to go far enough. The second important event that occurred in connexion with the Middle East was the announcement of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which proved the first morale builder for the West to emerge for many years, lt was the first indication that the Western world, or at least that part of it represented by America, had the will to survive and to see the rest of the world survive.
Honorable members should remember that Western resistance to aggression in Korea was, in the main, financed and manned by Americans. What happened in Korea showed the Soviet that even a minor war was* unprofitable in its outcome, and that it had to turn to other means to gain its- ends. As a result, we have seen a series of political and economic moves which, I regret to say, have left the Soviet well in front of the Western Powers. Russia has now undertaken throughout the Middle East and in other parts of the world a series of barter deals, which have not varied in their operation or in their results. In 1957, Russia took the cotton crop from Egypt, and then used that cotton to ruin the Egyptian sales by underselling. Similar action was taken in Burma, when Russia negotiated by barter for the Burmese rice crop. She then undersold the Burmese in their own market in, I think, Ceylon. These are the moves that have to be countered if we are to have any hope of winning in the political and economic spheres.
Mention has been made of the Baghdad pact. Since 1957 straight-out attempts have been made to destroy the Baghdad pact. Honorable members may recall that in that year the Soviet accused America of urging Turkey, to attack Syria. She was so keen on that line of propaganda that she circulated the message to all the Socialist parties in Western Europe, asking them to support her in this claim. It is well to remember that those parties gave Russia a rebuke - with the exception, I think, of Italy’s Socialist party. The Dutch Labour party even replied with the accusation, “ It is you who threaten peace, not the U.S.A.”
Let me now turn to the position in Lebanon. I would direct the attention of honorable members to the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) which seems to me to form the basis of this debate. He said -
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.
Our aim and our object in Lebanon is merely to see that that country continues as an independent nation with a properly constituted government. I should hope that the efforts of the Western Powers will be used in that direction in whatever part of the world a lawfully constituted government is threatened.
Many speakers have suggested that the crux of the trouble in the Middle East is the oil concessions. It was pointed out that the countries in question have no oil and that there are no oil deposits near their borders. Even if they possessed vast oilfields, or even if they had potential oilfields, I think it is well to remember the actions taken in Korea and Indo-China. In those countries the allied nations acted not because of oil but because of the threat of the spread of communism throughout the world. It is easy to give excuses to explain an action that has been taken, but we must be careful to base such excuses on pure fact. To criticize America and say that her actions are motivated by the oil wealth of the Middle East is to be unfair to a nation which has, in the post-war years, done more than any other nation in history to give financial aid to underdeveloped countries. She certainly has no imperialist aims, and it could well be said that the help which she has given to other countries indicates that she is far more interested in world peace than, perhaps, some nations to whom we are accustomed to give more credit.
These occurrences throughout the world have their effect on the Australian public, and we must guard against the attitude that one should accept anything rather than urge risky preventive action on the part of the Western Powers. It would be possible to reach the stage where one would sit idly by and watch the world being engulfed by the Soviet rather than take direct action to prevent it.
I should like to direct the attention of the House to a speech made in New York by Madame Chiang Kai-shek. Whether or not we think red China should be recognized, the message delivered by Madame Chiang Kai-shek on this occasion should be conveyed to every citizen of Australia, if not of the Western world. In accepting, at Ann Arbor, an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Michigan, she said -
Freedom and the values of human dignity, which we were taught to cherish above all else, have begun to be secondary to biological survival.
It is a tragedy that some powerful minds have allowed themselves to be enmeshed in arguments over means such as relaxation of tension, appeasement and finally slavery-better-than-annihilation, grovelling in the hopeless hope that life would be spared them.
These intellectuals …. confuse the need for peace with survival at any cost.
They nullify and perhaps unwittingly desecrate the principle of human dignity which has been the motivating force against tyranny. They are ignoring the fact that if total darkness should fall upon the world it would be they who have made the Communist conquest possible by destroying the will to fight. They would be achieving what Communist imperialism could never have hoped to achieve if the will to stand firm had been kept high.
When we have situations like that in the Middle East, and those of Korea and IndoChina we should remind people who urge the banning of hydrogen bombs, and who say that they threaten our very existence, that the existence of such bombs is the only reason why the Western Powers have not become engaged in a third world war - the reason why we can still sleep safely in our beds. I think that the people should be led, by means of sincere propaganda, to the conviction that there are consequences worse than death and annihilation; and that the decisions which the Western world must make in the future must be made in the full knowledge that not only those who are choosing to fight the war, but every one of us, must be prepared to accept death, if the choice is to be death or freedom.
.- I rather regretted the suggestion of the honorable member for Perth that it might be desirable to replace the United Nations with some new organization. If this debate has indicated anything at all, it has indicated clearly that every one associated with this great organization must continue to press for its supremacy in all matters affecting international peace, and1 understanding between the nations. In 1945, when 40 nations assembled in San Francisco to establish the United Nations organization, every one present wished to create a machine that would enable mankind to find ways and means of preventing hostility and antagonism between the nations breaking out into active warfare - with disastrous consequences to mankind generally. I suppose that that desire has never been better expressed than in the preamble to the United Nations Charter - . . To unite cur strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest. . . .
Since then the United Nations has grown to a membership of more than 80. Gradually most of the countries of the world have become affiliated with it. If they use that affiliation to guarantee the observance of the principles of the charter there is a great hope that peace can be secured for mankind. Having created an organization for the express purpose of obtaining international peace, those who are associated with it must at all times, and under all circumstances, insist that the United Nations deals with any friction which may break out in the international field. If that does not happen, the United Nations must accept the fate of the League of Nations. That body refused to use its power against great nations which acted in defiance of its principles, and ultimately broke down. It took no action when Japan invaded China, when Italy invaded1 Abyssinia, or when Germany, Russia and Italy intervened in the internal affairs of Spain. It failed to use the powers at its command and ultimately ceased to become an effective force in international affairs.
One thing which emerged from World War II. was a determination on the part of nations which had lost heavily of both lives and wealth to ensure that never again would mankind be engulfed in such a conflict, ft is because I believe that any hope for world peace rests upon the supremacy and preeminence of the United Nations that I believe it should forthwith condemn the action that has been taken in the Middle East. Unless it condemns action taken contrary to its principles it will give other countries an opportunity to act similarly and of their own accord.
On many occasions in the last 13 years the United Nations has stepped in to deal with international strife and bring the parties together. As a result, treaties and peaceful settlements have been arranged. Sometimes it has been possible to secure, first, an armistice, and then ultimate peace. That policy must be followed at all times. The difficult situation in the Middle East demands that the United Nations alone should take any necessary action to bring the parties together for the purpose of finding a solution of the problem. Indeed, the procedure which is adopted in settling industrial disputes might well be followed in settling international disputes also. Once you can get the parties talking together, and can keep them talking together, there is always the chance of a solution being found; but unless you bring them together so that each may put his side of the matter and so that all the parties may have the opportunity to reach a better understanding, then international frictions, hostilities and antagonisms will continue, with the result that in the end mankind will find force used to solve this problem of the Middle East.
I can hardly comprehend the reasoning behind the Minister’s statement that oil has nothing to do with the present situation in the Middle East. I think the statement by the honorable member for Moreton that the sole cause of the trouble is the existence of Israel is an over-simplification of the Middle East dispute, because the position in that area is a complicated and complex one. There are quite a number of causes to which the trouble may be ascribed. Oil has some relation to the dispute. InterArab’ hostility has another relation to the dispute. The coercive attempts to form a United Arab Republic are another cause of the dispute. Another cause is the existence of Israel. But underlying all these things is another cause which is gradually showing itself, and in spite of repression, coercion and suppression, is gradually becoming stronger and stronger. That cause is the efforts being made by the great bulk of the Arab people - the fellahin, the proletariat, living under conditions which we in Australia cannot fully comprehend, and who are struggling against great odds today - to raise their standards of living and conditions of life.
It may be that this last cause could well be one of the reasons why changes are taking place in the governments of the various Middle Eastern countries. I think it is obvious to everybody that when trouble starts in the Middle East those who have oil interests there immediately become fearful that their interests will become involved and be prejudiced. So action is taken. When you consider the hostility between the different Arab groups you can understand the suspicion one section of the Arab people holds for other sections. For instance, there are the rivalry between the Hashemite dynasty and the Saudi dynasty, the efforts being made on the part of Egypt and Syria by force and other means of pressure to compel other Arab states to join them in the United Arab Republic, and the suspicion generally that the nonoilproducing States of the Middle East have for the oil-producing States, and vice versa. All of these are causing tensions which mount as time goes by.
One has to bear in mind that, whatever is done to find a solution of the problems of the Middle East, there are certain difficulties which have to be overcome. Patience has to be exercised, and a new type of machinery has to be created to deal with a new type of problem which, up to the present, has not been dealt with by the United Nations.
The honorable member for Moreton mentioned the Palestinian refugees and Israel. He expressed great regret over the Balfour Declaration - a declaration which, I believe, was one of the highlights of the public spiritedness of the people of Great Britain at that time. When the State of Israel was created and started to function in 1949 the British troops who had been stationed in Palestine under the League of Nations mandate were withdrawn. In the very hour that they withdrew the forces of the Arab States surrounding Israel invaded that country without warning. Not only that, but their leaders sent telegrams to the President of the United ;Nations saying that in spite of the decision of that .organization to create that State, they had invaded it and would wipe it out. They said that the Jewish people would be driven into the sea. For .a while they succeeded, because during the: period of .the mandate the possession of arms was made a capital offence, and whilst this .provision was rigorously enforced against the Jewish section of the population of Palestine it was very leniently applied to the Arab section, with the result that when the invasion took place the Jewish people of the new State were almost without arms. The honorable member for Moreton gave the impression that in seeking arms from the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia the Israelis did something wrong. But for the Israelis at that time, the fight was a fight .for their very ‘existence. It was from that situation that there arose the Palestinian refugees problem.
The Minister said in his statement that Israel has to do something about this. I remind the House that the Palestinian refugees problem was not only a problem for Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, all of whom have Palestinian refugees on their soil; it was also a problem for Israel itself, because Israel had 122,000 Arab refugees who came from surrounding States. The only section of the Middle East which has attempted to deal properly with the Palestinian refugees problem is Israel. By 1954, 100,000 of the 122,000 refugees in Israel had been absorbed into the Israeli economy. In that year I heard a statement made by Israel in the councils of the United Nations that she had no need for further assistance from the Palestinian refugees fund because she had successfully and satisfactorily solved the problem within her own borders.
If it is possible for one country to solve the refugees problem it is also possible for other countries to do so. I suggest that, had the surrounding Arab States taken the same steps as Israel took regarding the resettlement of refugees, instead of allowing them to remain in camps where they lived in poverty-stricken conditions on funds provided by the United Nations, and had not used the refugees as a means of pressure upon Israel and on the United Nations against Israel, it would have been possible by this time for a large number of these refugees to have been satisfactorily absorbed into the economies of the various countries of the Middle East. Jordan might have had some trouble in doing this, because she had the greatest bulk of the refugees. But the Lebanon, Syria and Egypt could have settled the problem between them had they been so minded. 1 suggest that in this matter it is well to look at the situation of the various Arab States. In Israel democracy as we understand it prevails. That State is an oasis of democracy in a desert of autocracy in that part of the. world. Even the Arabs amongIsrael’s population have representation in the- Israeli Parliament. Every section of the community has representation there. Even Arab women have the vote. But to the south-east you have Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, one of the last places in the world where chattel slavery still exists, where slave markets arc in operation, with women and’ children sold into slavery on the open market. If you look at Iraq and other countries you find despotism and totalitarianism operating, with the mass of the people living in poverty and under conditions almost” indescribable. They have no vote and no say in who shall rule them or what shall be’ the condition of their country. They are: divorced’ from any access to the land. The primitive conditions of two thousand years ago are still in existence.
Shortly after the war of liberation, Israel was faced with the problem that the Jews were being, expelled from Yemen. It became the responsibility of Israel to transport those people from Yemen to Israel in order that they might find homes there. I’ spent four weeks in Israel in the early part of 1951. At that time the Israeli community was dealing, with the problem of the expulsion of Jewish people from Iraq. A shuttle service of aeroplanes was running twice a day between the two countries in order to bring Jews from Iraq and settle them in Israel. When they were expelled from Yemen and Iraq, everything they possessed was expropriated by the government which ordered their expulsion. I mention these things to indicate that there are many” problems associated with the Middle East. Some honorable members said that the Cairo radio had been sending out messages urging murder, revolution and rebellion in Lebanon and Jordan. That has been going on over the the last nine years so far as Israel is concerned. The Arabs are being requested to infiltrate into Israel to murder, blow up buildings and roads and do everything” possible to embarrass the people and the State of Israel.
I say this in conclusion: Let us have a commission which can concentrate upon the troubles of the Middle East. Let it attempt to bring all the nations concerned into consultation and keep at the job until such time as some solution of the problem is found. One thing is certain. Unless we do that, the Middle East will become a festering sore in international relations and peace will not be possible for many, many years to come.
.- I do not want to controvert anything that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has said about the factors involved in the Middle East. The Middle East, as we all know, is a Pandora’s box. It is full of troubles. There are many conflicting interests - the oil interests of the West, the poverty of many of the people in that part of the world, the problems arising from Israel and the Palestinian refugees, Arab suspicions and, of course, forms of governments with which we do not agree. The honorable member for Bendigo has suggested that all these problems can be settled by mutual consultation and goodwill. Unhappily, goodwill does not exist. So far as- mutual consultation is concerned, one of the problems that exists at present is how the United Nations can be made to function in. the circumstances that confront us.
In the course of what I have to say I may comment more fully on some of the expressions of opinion of the honorable gentleman, but let me, first of all, go back to the beginning of this trouble. The beginning was the coup in Iraq, followed by threats to the legitimate governments of Lebanon and Jordan. Those governments - both legitimate governments - requested the assistance of their friends. They feared, and had good reason to fear, aggression by the United Arab Republic. Let us be quite specific about it. I should like to read for the information of honorable members a very brief extract from a despatch sent to the “ New York Times “ and published in that newspaper on 6th July this year. Under the heading “ Cairo Radio Stirs Restive Peoples “ the despatch read -
With all the bright new Soviet arms, the free spending and the armies of missionaries in various guises, still the most- powerful- weapon- in- the hands of President Nasser, the much touted “ liberator of Africa and the Middle East “, is the radio.
Cairo Radio, burdening all wave-lengths from dawn till after midnight in almost every language of the area, wheedles and cajoles, browbeats and foments the restive and unhappy peoples in every corner of the area.
Cairo Radio has at least eleven transmitters already in operation in the Nile delta area and around this metropolis and half a dozen new ones, just acquired from Czechoslovakia, almost ready for operation …. Its many “ Voices “ are all the voice of Nasser …. As for the Arabs, they are regaled on Cairo’s wavelengths with the bright promise of becoming once again a dominant world power, as they were at the beginning of history, if they will join Nasser in an even closer union. . . . Nasser has managed through the use of Cairo Radio to recruit a following of varying size and effectiveness in almost every nation, colony, territory and protectorate in Africa and the Middle East.
That was the form of aggression that Lebanon and Jordan had to face - incitement that involved the threatened assassination of the ruler of Jordan, for example. This aggression by radio and incitement of internal revolutionaries was followed, in the case of Lebanon, by the infiltration of arms and men. In a few moments I shall have a little more to say on that point.
We have the position of small countries threatened by a form of aggression which involves the incitement of their peoples to rise against the governments, and, in the case of Lebanon, the infiltration of arms and men across the border from the Syrian section of the United Arab Republic. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) put the proposition to the House that a legitimate government, when faced with a threat of subversion from without, may request armed assistance from its friends. Such a proposition, one would have thought, could scarcely be controverted, because we ourselves have both land and air forces in Malaya, as have the United Kingdom and New Zealand. There are Nato forces in West Germany, and in eastern European countries the Red Army is established, presumably at the request of those countries. One would have thought that the proposition that a country that feels itself threatened from without may invite its friends to send armed forces into its territories would be incontrovertible. Of course, in the case of Hungary, the Russians claimed that the invitation of a government which clearly did not have the consent or the confidence of the people was sufficient to justify them, not only in sending in troops in large numbers, but for those troops, with their tanks, to engage in slaughter on an unprecedented scale.
Notwithstanding this, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has been very astute and has used all kinds of legalistic arguments in an attempt to show that it was quite wrong for the legitimate governments of Lebanon and Jordan to invite the Americans and British - friendly powers - to send in forces to assist them to combat this subversion, this aggression. It was no less aggression because it had been fomented in the ways I have mentioned than it would have been if there had been a conventional attack by armed forces. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out in his speech that the United Nations Charter contemplates only an armed threat - not subversion, not this new kind of threat that has been invented in the course of the cold war. He suggests that it is only an armed threat against which the United Nations can take action under its Charter.
Again he has cast doubt on the reports of the group of observers sent by the United Nations to Lebanon, which consisted of representatives of, I think, ten different nations.
It is quite clear to anybody who reads the three reports of the United Nations observers dispassionately that they were simply not in a position to come to any definite conclusion because, as has been said on several occasions during this debate, up to the relevant time of the American landing, the observers had access only to about 11 miles of a frontier extending for 172 miles.
In any case, there were insuperable obstacles to observation due to the terrain and the difficulty of distinguishing, say, a Lebanese citizen from a Syrian. When one hears propaganda or considers the reports of observers, however well intentioned, one may wonder what the truth is. I can only say that I personally am familiar with the terrain of Lebanon, having served there during the Second World War. Having fought in those stony hills and along the roads and rough tracks, I can say that the terrain offers every difficulty in the observation of possible infiltration. I say that of my own knowledge. From familiarity with the people of the area, I can say also that it would be impossible for any outside observer to know whether a particular man was a Lebanese or a Syrian. I would point out, therefore, that the observers were not in a position - as they frankly confessed in their reports - to come to a definite conclusion; but the Government of Lebanon was in a better position than were the observers from ten different countries. The Government had a much better knowledge of who was who and what was going on than had any team of observers, if you accept their evidence.
I have before me a copy of the “ New York Times “ of 17th July. Three-quarters of a page of that newspaper is given to detailed reports running into about two score concerning infiltration into Lebanon. These intelligence reports were presented by Mr. Herter, Under Secretary of State, to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Congress. I. am not permitted to read these statements and, indeed, they are too long in total, but perhaps 1 might mention one or two as typical of two score -
MAY 12 - About 100 men entered from Syria to launch an attack on Masna . . .
The report goes on to name the places where the men were shipped and stated -
Lebanese seized three ships . . . They were from Gaza, carrying arms and fedayeen. Lebanese aircraft had spotted other ships still in international waters.
Another report stated -
AFTERNOON OF MAY 13- Several small ships from Gaza landed about 100 Egyptian and Palestinian commandos on the southern coast of Lebanon. They were captured by the Lebanese Army approximately 1600-1700 hours May 13.
As I have said, there are about two score reports of that sort. Are we to be told that the observers in Lebanon, who were working in such circumstances that their observations obviously could not be accurate, were to wait for that sort of evidence when it was already placed before the United States Government and vouched for by the Lebanese Government as well as by those who were in a better position to know the real situation? Of course this infiltration was going on and, of course, it was part and parcel of the radio campaign to which I have made reference. Those countries were in danger of subversion by coups that were being planned, and by aggression in this new form that has been turned up by the cold war. That was subversion on the part of the United Arab Republic. There can be no question about these facts.
What was the real nature of the intervention by the United States of America and the United Kingdom? Speakers on the Opposition side have suggested that the object was to establish bridgeheads in the Middle East, and that this was a form of the old gun-boat diplomacy. That is far from the truth. The object of the whole exercise was to forestall coups in those two small countries and to give a breathing space for action by the United Nations. lt was made perfectly clear from the outset that the American and British forces went in as a caretaker force only. Immediately they went into those countries, the action was reported to the Security Council. What was sought was an international force to take over, and an assurance was given that the American and British forces would immediately be withdrawn when that action was taken. That could have happened but for the fact, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has pointed out, that Russia vetoed the proposal in the Security Council.
Is this the old diplomacy on the part of the United States of America and the United Kingdom? Is this establishing bridgeheads in the Middle East? Was this action designed to bring about the collapse and downfall of the United Nations? Surely, the whole purpose of the exercise was to make it possible for the United Nations to function. It has been frustrated in the Security Council by the Russians. lt was quite impossible for the United Nations to take action in the twinkling of an eye. Unless the United Nations was to be faced with a fait accompli with very little possibility of restoring the status quo, somebody had to act quickly. The United States of America and the United Kingdom did so at the request of the Governments concerned, and tried to maintain that status quo until the United Nations organization could study the whole question and see how an amicable solution could be found. It is utterly wrong for Opposition members to say, as they have done one after another, that the action of the Americans and the British in the Middle East was subversive of the United Nations and reflected some form of imperialism.
Another line that has been taken up by speakers on the Opposition side is that all we are concerned with in the Western world is a greed for oil profits. Of course, it is perfectly true that the oil interests of the West are very great in that area; but they are concerned not only with profits of the large companies but also with employment, the economy and the very industrial li’feblood of the nations of the West, including Australia.
To restore the balance a little, might I say that the Arabs’ merely sat on the oil. They have had the good fortune to have oil bestowed on them by nature in their countries. They would not have been able, of themselves, to derive any advantage from it. It was only by the skill of western technicians and by their efforts that the people of the West were able to acquire supplies for themselves. Thus the oil became advantageous to the West and also to the Arab peoples who would otherwise have sat on it for ever. There is, of course, great poverty in those countries as all of us who have been in them know, but it was wrong for the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) - and I am merely putting the record straight - to say that you may look at the Arabs in Port Said and see their poverty and assume that a similar situation exists, for example, in Kuwait or Iraq. That is simply not the situation. The people of Kuwait enjoy a very high standard of living.
– What utter rot!
– That is the truth. I was referring to Kuwait. No doubt the downfall of the Government of Nuri el Said was due to the fact that the oil revenues were put almost exclusively into irrigation works which have not yet, of course, borne fruit. They were long-range plans. Had he listened to popular clamour, he probably would have been alive to-day. But nobody can say “that, in these long-term projects, the oil revenues of Iraq were not used for the benefit of the people. I say those things merely to put the record straight.
We need not assume that all the people in the Middle East are like the people of Port Said whom we may happen to see as we pass by on board ship. Nevertheless, I agree that there is tremendous poverty in those countries and that these are things with which we should be concerned, and with which, indeed, we are concerned. We know that there can never be peace .in this area until the oil revenues are used far more for the benefit of the masses of the people. We all know that, but I repeat that I say these things in order to put the records straight in regard to Kuwait and Iraq.
There is plenty of room for bargaining - but for all the national .rivalries that exist in this area. The oil is of no use to those countries unless they can sell it. And the only buyers are the people of the West. The Russians have within their own territories all the oil they need and the Americans perhaps have all the oil that they need; but Western Europe and other parts of the world need Middle East oil and are customers for it. I repeat that the oil is of no use to those Middle East countries unless they are able to find customers. There is room for bargaining and mutual accommodation.
Now I come to the question of Arab nationalism, which was the third point made by honorable members opposite. The first was that the action of the British and Americans was merely a bridgehead for imperialistic adventure. They said, secondly, that we were concerned only with a greed for oil and profits for the oil companies and, thirdly, that we should make terms with Arab nationalism.
I think we all understand the feelings of people in the countries of the Middle East. They want to be self-respecting, to be able to stand on their own feet, to see their poverty abolished, and, I suppose, not to be dominated by the Russians any more than they want to be dominated by the Europeans. But there is a difference between Arab nationalism and Nasserism if -I may use that term.
Are we to make terms with Nasserism? Does the Australian Labour party suggest that we should condone the assassination of members df the governments of countries throughout the Middle East, that we should throw our friends in the Baghdad Pact to the wolves, that we should move out of Aden, and that we should allow Kuwait, for example, to fall into the hands of the Arab republic? Do honorable members opposite suggest that that is the price which should be paid? Is that what they mean by making terms with Arab ‘nationalism? ‘Do they suggest that we should deliver ourselves over to one man - Nasser? I again ask: Is that the price they are prepared to pay? That is a fair question. The United Arab Republic has, indeed, made great advances.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I find it very difficult to understand the assertions of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner). He asked, “ Does the Australian Labour party suggest that we should recognize murderers, that we should make terms with subverters of order? “ That is precisely what we have just done. The new revolutionary government of Iraq has just killed the friend of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). The honorable member for Bradfield is one of those people who support uncompromisingly and1 without qualification the recognition of those people who have just killed the Minister’s friend. Where is the consistency in the delicate and facile argument of the honorable member?
The subject of this debate is the intervention of the British and American governments in Jordan and Lebanon - not Britain and America, but the tory governments of those countries. The intervention of those governments in the Middle East constitutes a change of policy. Previously, the policy was to rely upon what have been called friendly governments, like those of Lebanon and Jordan. But however short or long the occupation may be, this new development constitutes a policy of occupation. This latest action has been taken because those friendly governments were in some danger of being destroyed. Indeed, one of them, the government of Iraq, was destroyed.
Although it is of some technical consequence, it is of little practical consequence to spend ten minutes or quarter of an hour, as did the honorable member for Bradfield, in trying to ascertain whether what happened in Iraq was technically or legally justified. The fact is that the opposition to Nuri el Said in Iraq came mainly from Iraqi people who were concerned with getting power for themselves. They have obtained that power, and it is quite immaterial whether they looked to Nasser or received some assistance from him. It is of little practical importance to inquire where the threat originated. The main thing is that the threat was there and that it was powerful enough, perhaps, to overthrow the governments of these various countries in the Middle East. It meant that those governments could not survive without outside assistance. The old system of relying upon those governments was endangered, and military occupation had to be substituted.
It is not so much a question as to whether the action of the American and British governments was legal, moral or justified, although that is important enough in its context; it is more a matter of whether it was wise and effective. There can be no question about the failures of the puppet governments of the Middle East. That has been widely recognized, even in this chamber. A statement in the “ Washington Post “, which is typical of the wide recognition of that fact in the United States, reads -
Important lessons for the West to learn from the debacle are that the quest for military allies among unstable and unrepresentative governments invites the sort cf overthrow that took place in Iraq.
The London “ Times “ has published this statement -
Intervention in Jordan is … . fraught with many disadvantages …. but it became necessary only because of the failure of governments upon whom we had relied.
The Melbourne “ Herald “ stated -
The bitter fact is that American and British moves …. have been made against the tide of Arab nationalism and in support of regimes that are basically unpopular and out of step with the times.
This Government, in fact, has admitted the failures of the old system by turning at last to a United Nations economic commission and police force, in spite of the fact that it has said continuously, as did the Minister for External Affairs last January, that nobody takes any notice of the United Nations, and in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister said last November that the United Nations was quite impotent to act in situations like this.
It has now been admitted by crusty tories opposite like the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) that the old system of relying upon these friendly governments in the Middle East has failed miserably. The honorable member for Lyne, as crusty as any other member opposite, said -
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 further “.
The honorable member for Chisholm said -
I am delighted to see that the United States and Great Britain are co-operating in a firm policy …. We have sought appeasement …. but we have reached a stage where it has to stop …. I do not fear an atomic war-
This is worth noticing -
I fear the cold war much more.
– He is a very gallant gentleman.
– That was a statement by a man who had felt the death wind in the face. Judging by the look on the face of the honorable member for Moreton, I should say that he agrees with the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Chisholm, who was prepared to take death for anybody else but not the cold war for himself.
This then is a change of policy. The puppet governments of the Middle East were falling one by one, and within a few months the Minister for External Affairs would have had no friend left in the Middle East. It is a wonder to me that he himself has survived. Let us admit that the British and American governments had to interfere. There was no alternative. To use the words of the honorable member for Lyne, they took a firm stand and said “ Thus far and no farther “. But what does this change amount to? Can American and British troops stay in the Middle East? Can they remain in occupation of the places where they are stationed. The answer obviously is “ No “, for several reasons. First, the governments of the United States and Britain do not intend to allow their troops to remain there; they do not want them to remain. They know that the next reason is very strong and important. They know that the longer their troops remain there the more unpopular will those troops and the governments that they represent become in the Middle East. They know that, as in the case of Lebanon, those countries will demand that the troops should leave. General Shehab who was elected under the supervision of American troops demanded, immediately after his election, that those troops should leave Lebanon. What chance has this new policy of surviv ing? In what way can it be any improvement on the old method of working with these puppet unrepresentative governments?
So there has been this change of policy by Great Britain and the United States of America - this emergency move which is so much approved by the tories opposite. With such advocates 10,000 miles away, the Prime Minister of Great Britain must feel happy indeed. Well, what should we do? I suggest that the failures of the past have stemmed from three major misconceptions. The first misconception was that Russian interference in the Middle East and Arab nationalism could be stopped by force and words. The policy of the tories all over the world can be summed up in those two words - force and words.
The second misconception has been that authoritarian sheikhdoms in the Middle East can successfully dominate areas which consist of pockets of fantastic wealth surrounded by poverty and disease. The third misconception has been that the Israel and Arab refugee problem can settle itself without any special steps being taken.
Let us look, first, at the Middle East sheikhdoms. The annual report of the Economic Intelligence Unit of August, 1957, puts it this way -
For centuries the economy of Arabia was based on subsistence in agriculture, tribal live-stock and fishing.
That was the position of a vast majority of people in Arabia. But the report adds -
Discovery and exploitation of oil has revolutionized Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq since 1945.
The first point is that there has been a revolutionary change in the economic conditions in these countries since 1945. In Kuwait, the revenue from oil in 1950 amounted to 11,650,000 dollars. Six years later, it was 280,000,000 dollars. This wealth has suddenly grown in an area of surrounding poverty. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia the greater part of the wealth has become the personal property of one or two families. Is this the answer to Arab nationalism? Is this the answer to communism? I charge the tories here and elsewhere with having failed, by permitting a continuation of these conditions, to provide an answer to Arab nationalism, to discontent and to communism all over the world. Government supporters talk about being antiCommunists. They are just a lot of - excuse me, Mr. Speaker - windbags. The only description that can be applied to the policy of the tories is that it is a policy of windbags. The tories have failed in respect of all the matters that I have mentioned. In Iraq the position is a little better. But the concentration of wealth in the midst of poverty is the great explosive force in the Middle East and no attempt is being made to come to grips with that problem.
In Iraq, 70 per cent, of the oil revenues of £100,000,000 a year are turned over to the Development Board to be used for irrigation, hydro-electric power, and roads. There was even free milk in some schools. But the king had a £1,000,000 palace and he had ordered two £10,000 golden thrones to be brought from London. For the information of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), the average income of the people of Iraq was 23 dollars a year, and there were many thousands of people who had no income at all on very many days of the year. An average income means nothing in these countries. There were slave markets in Iraq. Disease, filth and broken-down villages existed alongside new irrigation works which had no other effect than to spread malaria more widely than it would otherwise have been spread. Those irrigation works were never really used to the advantage of the people.
This system was presided over by Nuri el Said, a friend of the Minister for External Affairs until the other day. He ruled through a coalition of top army commanders who were placated by the provision of modern tanks, artillery and jet aircraft to play with. Feudal land-owners owned 75 per cent, of the land, which was divided into pocket-handkerchief holdings, held by rack-rented tenants.
All political parties in Iraq were banned. The press was censored. There were 10,000 political prisoners. Torture was regularly employed. Only five days before his own death at the hands of his enemies, Nuri el Said - the friend of the Minister for External Affairs - hanged 27 suspected conspirators without any trial whatsoever. Is this an answer to communism? Do honorable members opposite consider themselves to be worthy anti-Communists when they have been supporting a government of that kind? Do they consider that by doing so they have been providing a realis tic alternative to communism in those parts of the world? Why not face the facts and realities? You serve up anti-communism in this country for no other reason than local political consumption. You are never concerned to look at the practical problems which are in the path of communism all over the world in order to see if those problems can be solved so that communism will not advance further. Your anti-communism is an anticommunism of words - words which are distilled in this country only for the political consumption of the people of this country. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) is one of the leading distillers of these false and deceiving words.
The position in Iraq is no longer of any great importance because Iraq is no longer a great producer of oil. Kuwait is now the spot of great importance. The revenues of Kuwait rose, as I have said, from 11,650,000 dollars in 1950 to 280,000,000 dollars in 1956. Kuwait is now the world’s fourth largest oil producer and the world’s most economic producer of oil. Kuwait produces over 50 per cent, of Britain’s crude oil imports. And what is the state of affairs in Kuwait? Do not let us wait until a crisis occurs in that country. Let us look at the state of affairs there to-day. A British journalist, Paul Johnson, recently had this to say about Kuwait -
The £110,000,000 annual oil royalties are regarded as the Ruler’s personal income for which he is not accountable. There is a so-called “ budget “ - usually scrapped in the course of the year - but no detailed accounts are kept, let alone audited. All Government ministries are headed by a member of the Royal family, who makes no distinction between his own personal finances and those of the department he allegedly administers.
The police and the army are run by another member of the family, a thug called Sheikh Mubarak, who does not hesitate to employ artillery against trouble makers. The only As-Sabah who appears to have the glimmerings of commonsense is the young Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed, whom the British piously hope will succeed the present ruler (who is 66). My guess is that Mubarak and Fahad will do a deal together to oust Jaber
That is the situation in Kuwait. Do honorable members opposite propose that it should continue or do they propose that it should be corrected? All this should have been recognized five years ago with regard to Iraq and Saudi Arabia where conditions are just as bad as they are in Kuwait. The situation could have been recognized then. How long can this concentration of wealth and power in Kuwait resist the surrounding poverty and intimidation? lt cannot last any longer than another two or three years. Over 50 per cent, of British oil supplies come from that country. What can the Western Powers do in this situation? If we adopt the extreme tory point of view as represented by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and others who have spoken from the opposite side of the House, and rely upon force of arms only, or mainly, we shall find that Kuwait will be gone in two or three years from now.
– You will be gone in two or three years from now.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Balaclava might like to come into my electorate to contest the seat and then we shall see who goes. I suggest that we must try to secure the backing of the United States and the United Kingdom for an economic and political commission. That is the view now accepted, after such long delay, by this Government itself. We must try to secure such a commission to organize the development of places like Kuwait, in particular. It can be a United Nations commission, if that can be secured. Now that the Government has spoken up for a United Nations commission, it would be uncharitable for me, after having supported such a view for four years, to say that the Government was slow and unrealistic in any way, or to point out, as the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister have done, that such a thing is slow and inefficient and that we cannot rely on it. As I say, it would be very uncharitable for me to point that out at this stage when, at long last, the Government has come round to this point of view.
In addition to an economic and political commission which could come to grips with the position in Kuwait and assist economic development in that country - a commission which would not only be successful in raising the economic capacity of the country but spread its benefits amongst the people as rapidly as possible - the situation demands an attempt to find out whether the Russians will agree to neutralization of the Middle East out of the cold-war situation. It is possible that they will agree, and this is vital for the peace of the area. An attempt must be made to come to terms with Arab nationalism. An attempt should have been made to come to terms with Nasser over the Suez Canal, because it was the Government’s stupid policy in relation to Nasser over the Suez Canal which raised him to leadership of Arab nationalism in that area. The unsuccessful attempt to overthrow him - the bumptious approach that must have come from the Prime Minister, in dealing with the situation - which Nasser defeated raised him to the pinnacle of Arab nationalism. How many more times have you to fail in such situations before you realize that fact? Finally, there must be an attempt by the United Nations, or some other kind of agency, to see that the frontiers in the Middle East, as they are now, or changed by agreement, are secured. It is certainly necessary to try to get that kind of agreement so as to neutralize as far as possible the Middle East out of the cold war and secure the frontiers of Israel . in particular. That may be achievable by agreement between the great powers. It must depend upon agreement between the United States and Russia. If they do not agree, nothing can possibly come of such a plan.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have heard the type of speech that we have come to expect from the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) - one full of venom and bitterness in its approach to the international situation, dictated entirely by the political situation inside Australia, and with obvious attempts to distort the facts of the international position in such a way as to bring party political advantage to himself and his party. He attempted to carry over into the international sphere, in his moral judgments and that sort of thing, his beliefs on internal economic and social questions. The honorable member’s speech was a perfect example of what seems to me to be the Opposition’s chief approach in this debate - complete failure to recognize the realities of the international situation and an assumption that the problem is simple. We all heard the honorable member. He stood up and said, in effect, “ This situation is so simple. I have four points. You have only to do this, that and other things. A United Nations commission, or somebody else, can step in, overthrow the established governments and start re-organizing things in this country or that country of the Middle East. It is so simple.”
The honorable member demonstrated a complete failure to recognize the complexities of the situation in that area. Not one of the Opposition speakers has been prepared to give the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom credit for having had to make an excruciatingly difficult decision in an extremely complex situation. It is easy for me, at any rate, to understand why the members of the Opposition take this line. It is because they regard it as legitimate to make party political capital out of anything they can, even these vital international questions which directly affect the peace of the world and the security of this country. In saying that, Mr. Speaker, 1 am not for one moment denying the Opposition the right to criticize the policy of this Government and that of overseas countries if, on the basis of the facts, it genuinely believes that those policies are against the best interests of Australia. But is that so in this case?
I ask the House to consider why, if the motives of honorable members opposite are genuine in making the kind of criticism they have made on this occasion, they find themselves offside with their colleagues in Commonwealth countries that are closest to us. Take, for example, the New Zealand Government, a Labour government. It gave outright support to the British and American action in the Middle East. The British Labour party from the beginning has exercised commendable restraint, and officially, Mr. Gaitskell and Mr. Bevan have done nothing which would compromise the unity of the British people in this crisis. These sections of the Labour movement were more conscious of their responsibilities than the Australian Labour party has been. They realize that where international peace and security are involved, it is particularly important for them to be sure of their ground before taking steps to impede the actions of the United States and the United Kingdom which, after all, were the great Powers responsible for handling the crisis and the Powers which bore the responsibility.
In my view, nothing that has been said by the Opposition in this debate has justified the statement made by the Leader of the
Opposition (Dr. Evatt) when this crisis blew up, a statement made in the strongest condemnatory terms of the British and French action, at a time when he could not possibly have been sure of the facts and when he must have known that his statement would divide the Australian people and thus reduce the effectiveness of any action which the Australian Government subsequently might be able to take. There is no doubt in my mind that that statement did, to some extent, divide the Australian people, an impression which has not been altered by the debate in this House. If I may say so, I think that the right honorable gentleman’s statement afforded great encouragement to the Communist party. Most honorable members on this side of the House have received deputations in recent weeks on the subject of the Middle East crisis, deputations organized and led by Communists but including among their members a majority of good, decent Australians who were encouraged to join the deputations by the statements of the Leader of the Opposition and the arguments used by him. The arguments used by the Communists struck a chord in the consciousness of these good people because they had heard them before. They had heard them in the statement by the Leader of the Opposition, to which I referred.
I do not believe an argument to be wrong or a policy to be wrong just because it happens to be put forward by the Communists. It is the objectives and the methods used by the Communists as a whole to which I object. Nevertheless, if an argument is used by a Communist, I instinctively distrust it and examine it very carefully before I accept it. That, I believe, was not done in this case by the Labour party. Take the two arguments used in this debate by honorable members opposite - the argument that suggests that the presence of foreign troops in the Lebanon and Jordan constitutes aggression, and is, therefor, a danger to world peace, and the argument that couples oil with profits and suggests that this is the motive for Western intervention. Those are the two arguments that have been used consistently by the Opposition, and to which many wellmeaning people have given a certain amount of weight.
How valid are those arguments? Their legal validity has been admirably dealt with by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and other speakers from this side of the House. I have not the slightest doubt that, legally and morally, the United States of America and Great Britain are entitled to be in the Lebanon and Jordan. But leaving aside the legal aspect for a moment - and I must confess that legal arguments in international affairs have always seemed to me to be rather unreal - let us look at the British and American action in the light of its effect on world peace. It seems to me that the sending of Western troops to the Middle East can only be regarded as a threat to world peace if it is considered to be a unilateral action by those great powers in seeking to establish their influence in the area. But was this the case? I am perfectly sure in my mind, and I am sure that it is the opinion of every honorable member, at least on this side of the House, that Russia has been steadily increasing her influence in the area for years by every means short of actual armed attack. To my mind, the greatest threat to world peace and the chances of the West’s survival, would be the abandonment of the vital strategic area of the Middle East to Russia. In other words, I am suggesting that Russian influence had become so great, and events were moving so fast, that the action by the United States and the United Kingdom was absolutely necessary if the area was not to be incorporated in the Russian sphere.
Is the Opposition going to suggest, knowing what we do about the extent of Russian penetration and Russia’s aims for ultimate world conquest, that the West should just stand by and allow Russia to overrun or control the Middle East? Yet that is exactly where these absurd and meaningless arguments about foreign troops and foreign intervention lead to.
The same sort of considerations apply to oil. In using these arguments about oil, and in attempting to whip up emotions about the oil issue, is the Opposition trying to suggest that Middle East oil is not a legitimate and vital interest of the West? Nothing would weaken the West more, as has been pointed out on many occasions in this debate, than a situation in which the Russians were able to turn Middle East oil on or off like a tap. The question of oil profits is completely irrelevant to this argument. The position of the West is such that it must ensure that Middle East oil does not fall under the control of Russia, which is not to say, of course, that the oil of the Middle East should not be owned by, and the profits therefrom appropriated to, the Arabs. This, I believe, would be a desirable situation if the Arabs wanted it. My only concern is to emphasize that emotional talk about oil and profits should not be allowed to blind us to the vital strategic necessity of Middle East oil not falling into Russian hands.
So far, Sir, 1 have not mentioned Arab nationalism. I have done that deliberately, because I wanted to emphasize the stark, strategic realities of the East-West conflict and the necessities that they impose. But, of course, Arab nationalism exists, and where it is legitimate it must be allowed to take its course. So far, the West, for reasons that have been mentioned in this debate, has failed to come to terms with Arab nationalism. There is no doubt of the strength of the anti-Western feeling in nationally conscious parts of the Middle East. Communist tutelage is the devil that they do not yet know for what it is. This unhappy situation has, I believe, been brought about, at least in recent years, by the necessities of the East-West conflict which, after all, is not of our making. Now, for the first time, the West has been given an opportunity to come to terms with Arab nationalism, and at the same time protect its strategic position.
I believe that the landing of British and American troops may very soon prove to bc the greatest of blessings for Arab nationalism. I say that because the British and United States action has made it quite clear to Russia that these two nations do not propose to abandon the Middle East to her, and that if Russia continues with her policy in the Middle East she takes the risk of precipitating a world war. I believe that all the signs in the Soviet Union point to her unwillingness to engage in a mutual global suicide pact, at least at this point in time. 1 therefore believe that the situation is conducive to an agreement between Russia and the West, at least in relation to areas that they will both stay out of in the widest sense of the term - Egypt, the Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. Those are places where the great powers can do no good, and where they can only burn their fingers. It will be hard for Moscow; it will be hard for the West, also, to make this admission face to face, and harder still for them to trust each other to act upon it. The United Nations commission proposed by the Government should be the means by which such an agreement can be enforced. If this can be done - and I do not see why it cannot - it will detach the conflict of the world powers from the cockpit of Arab nationalism so that world peace is no longer at the mercy of the twists and turns of Arab politics. Whatever they do, of one thing I am quite sure: The drama of Arab politics is not yet concluded and no concert of power can ring down the curtain. In this situation, provided a satisfactory agreement that can be policed can be arrived at, I think that the wisest course is for all the spectators to keep their seats.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) on the last twenty sentences of his speech. I certainly cannot congratulate him on the earlier part of his speech, but I want to be fair and say that towards the end of it he was right on the ball in dealing with this tremendously important question.
As honorable members know, I, as Opposition Whip, am in the chamber for at least 96 per cent, of the time during which the House sits. Because of that, I have been able to form an accurate opinion of the attitude of all those honorable members who speak, and I am appalled at the intelllectual arrogance displayed by the members of the Liberal party. I am appalled by their complete refusal at all times to give members of the Labour party credit for speaking with complete sincerity. It would be a very peculiar parliament if we all agreed on everything, let alone questions relating to foreign policy, but at least honorable members on the Government side should grant us the courtesy of allowing us to express ourselves in the way in which we wish and allowing us to say what we think is right in connexion with any matter.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) endeavours time after time to convey the impression that we on this side are a lot of nincompoops who have not even had the benefit of a State primary school education, and he is deserving of criticism from us because of that. No doubt his background has something to do with the bitterness he displays towards us whenever we put anything forward in this Parliament.
We may not be experts - I certainly do not profess to be one - but I suggest that if members on the Government side would listen to us, even with only a partly open mind, it is possible that they will hear at least a grain of common sense from us in twenty hours of debating. Wc on this side have tried to bring ourselves up to date on this problem. We have read as much as we can about the issue; we have listened to broadcasts, and to commentators, and we have access to the same library as that to which honorable members on the Government side have access.
I have been amazed in recent years at the complete contraditions in the policies of both East and West on this Middle East question, and 1 say “ West “ advisedly. To hear honorable members on the Government side speaking, one would think that the West had not made any mistakes since Adam was a boy, that the West had not been guilty of one error of judgment on any issue that had arisen since the end of the war.
– And if it has made mistakes, we should not mention the fact.
– If it has made mistakes, members on the Government side adopt the attitude that to mention that fact is wrong. Why are we not prepared to face up to our own mistakes? If we did that on an international level, I think we should arrive at a solution much quicker than if we continue with this arrogant policy of claiming to be right when in our hearts we know we are wrong. That attitude reflects hypocrisy of the worst order. I am sure that even the Eastern nations have resented this attitude by the West.
Let mc now examine one or two of the contradictions to which I have referred. In 1956, the British marched into Suez. They sent in their Air Force and their paratroopers. The Americans threw up their arms in abject horror at Great Britain”s action in going into Suez. They, more than any one else, were responsible for getting us out of Suez finally. Some people say that the British got out too soon. Although that is their opinion, it may not be mine. The point I am making is that America criticized Britain’s action at that time. That sounded quite all right then because it was not America’s policy to go into Suez at that time, but, in 1958, two years later, America is the first to enter two Middle East countries. England followed America in, and America did not consult with her allies before sending her troops into Lebanon. That is a splendid example of a complete somersault of policy on the part of America within two years. In 1956, it was wrong for Britain to go into the Suez, but in 1958 it is quite all right for America to go into Lebanon even though the situation is not as serious in the Middle East now as it was in 1956.
Let us now examine the attitude of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1956, the Soviet was a distinct aggressor in Hungary. All honorable members on this side have expressed their views on that tragedy. Russia’s action cannot be condoned in any language or by any set of principles. In 1958, two years later, when the United States of America went into Lebanon with her troops, the Soviet Union called that action a wanton act of aggression, which, of course, it was not. So here we have a complete somersault in Soviet policy in two years.
In view of those circumstances, we can only ask, “ Who is really serious? Who is dinkum when it comes to making pronouncements and doing things on a national level? “ Are the nations using the United Nations just for their own purposes, or are they using that organization really for the benefit of the people of the world? I sometimes wonder whether it is used one day as the deliberate instrument of a single nation’s policy and in its general sense the next. We must be honest in this matter. There have been ridiculous contradictions of actions and policy by both West and East over the last two years.
I come now to another illustration - the recognition of political regimes. The Liberal party and the United States are definitely opposed to recognizing red China even though their colleagues in the British Parliament have long since recognized it. As far back as 1948, Mr. Attlee recognized red China. Following him, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, and Mr. Macmillan, all Conservative leaders, with out any criticism, without even an alteration of procedure, continued to allow trading between red China and England and recognized the regime politically. But Australia and the United States do not recognize red China at all.
Five days after a murder in Iraq which appalled and horrified the world, and which we on this side of the House have condemned in no uncertain terms, the United States recognized the Iraqi Government. Why, nobody can predict within five days just what kind of a government has been set up in Iraq! No one can say within that short time whether the new government is purely a local Arab government or whether it has been set up as the result of pressure from outside, yet, within five days of its being set up, America recognized a government which had brought about the downfall of its predecessor with bloodshed and horror. That is a complete and utter reversal of America’s policy in respect of non-recognition and recognition of different regimes. If the oil wells in Iraq were in red China, I venture to say that America would have recognized red China long ago. But the oil wells are not in red China; they are in Iraq; and, because of that, the present revolutionary Iraqi Government is recognized as the legitimate government and Iraq is given the same recognition as other nations are given by the United States.
Let us consider another aspect of the problem. “ We believe in self-government for all nations,” cry the leaders of the world to-day. So we find Britain and the United States of America recognizing the right to self-government of Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Korea, and, at the same time, Britain refusing to give selfgovernment to Cyprus. Here we have another complete contradiction. The leading nations are not following a straight path. They are not carrying out, from day to day, a predetermined and prearranged policy. Their policy changes from month to month and from year to year. I condemn this. How can the uncommitted nations come to respect the West when we have such appalling contradictions in policy in various parts of the world in such a few years? After all, we of the West claim to be straightforward people. We claim to be Christian nations, and we condemn Russia for her anti-God policy - a policy of complete and utter materialism.
The uncommitted nations, after all, know that that; is Russia’s policy, and probably Russia lives up to her principles, or down to them, according to the way one looks at it. When we of the West do things such as I have just mentioned1, how can we expect the uncommitted nations to have any real respect for our policy and way of life? When we profess to believe in and fight for democracy in one part of the world, and deny it in another part, we do not give much inspiration to the uncommitted nations.
What interest did we have in the Middle East before oil was found there, Mr. Speaker? Up to 1900, we had had no interest there. The Middle East was a completely empty area as far as Western policy was concerned. It was not until oil was discovered that we began to formulate a policy for the Middle East. From that time to the present, oil has dominated our policies in relation to this area. Though Arab nationalism is undoubtedly a vital aspect of Middle East affairs to-day, bound up with it - one might almost say “ flowing through it “ - is oil, which gives rise to the vital question of who is to control the oil resources of the area and the selling rights, and’ who is to receive the benefit of the proceeds from the sale of oil. I am convinced that up to the present time oil has been accorded a more important place in policies than has been accorded to the people of the Middle East. If we could ascertain how much of the income obtained from the sale of oil has been allowed to remain in the countries from which the oil is obtained, we should be appalled at the low proportion of oil revenues devoted to the development of the oil-producing countries and the uplifting of the standards of the people there. Political considerations have been more important than economic conditions. That is an undeniable fact.
In all these Arab countries, destitution and poverty are rife, and it is time the United Nations attacked the problem with all the resources at its disposal. There are many wonderful organizations of the United Nations to promote health, economic welfare and agricultural production in downtrodden, countries, and it is a pity some of the great wealth obtained from oil was not drawn off by a levy and ploughed back into the countries from which it has- been won. Many of the people of the Middle East cry for bread, and they cry for peace and they cry for work. They want security, and they clamour for- decent housing - not equal in standard to that which we enjoy, but much better than they have at the present time. Of the 22,000,000 people in Egypt, 20,000,000 live in appalling poverty, and 4,000,000 of them have been blinded by trachoma. I could give the House some appalling details of conditions in Egypt. What a dreadful example is set by Nasser for the other Arab countries when he allows such appalling conditions to continue in Egypt! He should be ashamed of his country, and should do more to help the countries of the Middle East to improve their economic conditions, beginning with his own.
In the Middle East, power and wealth have been accorded a more important role than people. We need to humanize this great oil store of the world. If, as suggested by the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) this afternoon, a levy were imposed on all oil exported from Middle Eastern countries and the proceeds were controlled and spent by a United Nations economic development committee, we should see a great uplifting of the standards of the people there.
T turn now to the Communist problem. We on this side of the House have no illusions about the world aspirations of world communism. The need is not to state the obvious but to try to find an answer to communism and its policies. That is the very respect in which the West has failed miserably since World War II. Russia has outstripped us, outmatched us, outmarched us and out-manoeuvred us in the ideological war that has been waged since 1945. We have not found an answer to the policies of communism. We are still screaming about the infiltration of communism into the Middle East and elsewhere; yet still we talk in terms of troops and bombs rather than of ideas, which are the main weapons of the Communists in the present contest. They are winning. While we are rounding up our troops and marching them into countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, Russia is winning hands down in the war of ideas. Peace is not merely a pleasant idea; it is a matter of people becoming different, and through, people, nations becoming different.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say that we on this side of the House approve of the proposal for a United Nations commission in the Middle East. But such a body in itself would not be sufficient to solve the problems of that region. We believe that an economic development committee should be established by the United Nations, and that some of the proceeds from oil should be ploughed back into the Arab countries. If we afforded practical help in that way to the Arab nations - as well as to Israel, which, after all, is a progressive country in its own right - many of the tensions now apparent in the Middle East could be eased. We cannot win the war of ideas there by fighting it at a distance or without showing genuine care for the people of the Arab countries. The only people from those countries of whom we seem to know anything, to whom we ever speak, or for whom we have any regard, represent a small percentage - perhaps no more than 1 per cent. - of the rich leaders. We should show more interest in the ordinary people of the Arab countries, who are the most poverty-stricken people in the world to-day. This is part of our commitment and our mission in the Middle East. The commitments of the West in that area cannot be discharged merely by sending troops to Lebanon or Jordan one day, and to Iraq or some other country the next day.
We must give the people of the Middle East ideas superior to those espoused by communism. We must care for the people of the Middle East more than communism cares for them. We must be prepared to help them in their economic development more than communism is prepared to help them. We must outstrip, out-general and out-manoeuvre the Communists in the increasingly important field of ideas - especially in the field of economics and politics. Mr. Speaker, the solution of the problem of the Middle East is not oil; it is not troops; it is not the senseless, nonconstructive anti-communism that we hear in this Parliament which does not get us anywhere. It is the finding of a constructive, ideological and economic answer to both Arab nationalism and imperialist communism.
I feel that this debate, though it has involved a good deal of repetition on both sides of the House, has been of great importance to the people of Australia and to ourselves, because it has given us an opportunity to unburden our minds of the fears engendered by that tricky and continually festering sore, the Middle East problem.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 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 Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) speaking for a period not exceeding one hour.
– Sir, I hope not to take an hour. Yesterday, my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), made a powerful statement to the House about the Middle East situation. In the course of that statement, he set out the facts quite objectively, and then established that Great Britain and the United States had acted properly in sending troops into Lebanon and Jordan; that they had acted properly by immediately bringing the matter to the notice of the Security Council; and that they had thereafter pursued every means of having the matter dealt with by United Nations procedures.
When I was listening to my colleague’s statement, I felt it to be unanswerable. This impression was confirmed when I heard the alleged answer of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). It was, indeed, difficult to discover from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition what side he was on, or what was the true basis of his attack - because, I suppose, it was an attack - on British and American action.
Honorable members would not have failed to notice that in the course of his remarks he, as usual, had no criticism of the activities of Nasser or the United Arab Republic, or of Khrushchev or the Soviet Union. If I were answering anybody other than the right honorable gentleman, I would find this state of affairs quite remarkable. The right honorable gentleman, at all times, puts himself forward as the singleminded champion of the United Nations, its Charter, and its machinery. But I have yet to hear him offer any public rebuke to countries which have consistently, spectacularly, and successfully, defied the United Nations. I have also yet to find him denouncing the Soviet Union for its latest exercise of the veto in the Security Council, a veto by which it prevented the Security Council from taking over from the British and the Americans and converting these Middle East actions into a concerted effort by the United Nations to keep the peace. These things are odd and, as yet, completely unexplained. Certainly, he made no attempt to explain them or to justify them. It is quite true that he took a minute or two to make a glancing reference to Israel, and to offer Israel a few formal words of sympathy and understanding, which that country would find it difficult to reconcile with his general attitude on the Middle East.
– When did you write that?
– I wrote it this afternoon, if you are interested. Perhaps my own best contribution to this discussion would be not to pursue the right honorable gentleman into his own by-ways of irrelevancy, but to recall the attention of the House to the vital questions which have been presented by these historic and crucial events. The first question to be answered is this: Were the United States and Great Britain entitled, on the invitation of the existing governments, to go into Lebanon and Jordan with armed forces, without violating the Charter of the United Nations. That is the first question. Indeed, that is the crucial question. At once, when this was announced, the Leader of the Opposition went on record in the press as saying - and I quote his words - that the intervention was “ worse than foolish “, that it could not be justified under the Charter and its principles, and that it was a direct blow at the authority of the United Nations. He accused the United States of seeking to stampede weak-kneed members of the Security Council. He accused both Great Britain and the United States of taking the law into their own hands, that is, of lawless action.
So the right honorable gentleman’s answer to the first question is clearly: “ No, they had no right to go into Lebanon and Jordan, even with the invitation of the existing governments “. Our answer is, unhesitatingly, “ Yes “. Of the many reasons justifying that conclusion, I will, to avoid undue length in my speech, select some of the most material. The first article of the United Nations Charter indicates that the main pur pose of the United Nations is to maintain international peace and security, and to suppress acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace. Sir, that there have been acts of aggression in the Middle East by infiltration, subversion, the secret supply of arms, and plotting in respect of both Lebanon and Jordan - to say nothing of the murderous events in Iraq - has been proved to a demonstration by the facts laid before this House by my distinguished colleague, the Minister of External Affairs. I assume, Sir, without any conclusive evidence from his speech, that the Leader of the Opposition would, as usual, reply by saying that all action against aggression must occur under the authority of the United Nations and of the United Nations only. There is, however, as he knows, a provision in Article 51 which states -
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective selfdefense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations, ….
The significance of this was recently underlined by Dr. A. L. Goodhart in a quotation which he made from Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, a judge of the International Court of Justice, who pointed out-
– Who found that?
– I did. The- honorable member regards himself as the only student in this House. He will be able to look back on his period in this House with retrospectivity.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member will remain silent.
– Why should he remain silent, Sir? He exposes himself every time he speaks. I shall go back to the gentleman of whom he has never heard - Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, who pointed out that -
Unless such right of collective self-defense is recognized, the door is open for piece-meal annihilation of victims of aggression by a State or States intent upon the domination of the world.
Perhaps the right honorable gentleman takes the view that collective self-defence excludes defence by the friends of the country under attack. Or perhaps he believes - and if he does, the Charter would be completely unrealistic - that armed attack must be armed attack from outside the frontiers of the country concerned and does not include murder or inspired revolutionary armed attacks within its borders. Sir, as to the first point I content myself by saying that the Soviet Union has set an example, which President Nasser has not been slow to follow, of promoting from outside military activities on the inside. This is the perfect technique of the cold war. If a barren legalism is to prevail, then such war-like activities are excluded from Article 57 of the United Nations Charter and the result will be that the country - usually a small country - subjected to this externally promoted internal attack will have no redress from the United Nations. For it will either crush the attack by its own force, or be crushed by it, fighting alone, long before any United Nations action can be taken. It would be a poor protection for the freedom of government of small countries for their governments to know that after they are dead in the streets some funeral resolution might be adopted and passed.
As to the other question, whether countries other than the country under attack may respond to an invitation to join in defending it, the right honorable gentleman’s attitude involves him in the most grievous difficulties. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, in a powerful speech mentioned several of them. He pointed out - and I remind the House and the people of this - the alarming implications of a doctrine that it is illegal for the forces of one country to be located in the territory of another, even though a request has been made by the legal local government. As my colleague said - and the Leader of the Opposition did not attempt to answer it; therefore, I quote my colleague’s words -
Those who are prepared to accept the responsibility of arguing this strange doctrine must be (prepared equally to argue that there is no justification of American, British, or Canadian forces being located in Nato countries in Western Europe.
In case the Leader of the Opposition’s wellknown reservations about, and scarcely concealed hostility to Nato and Seato and the Baghdad Pact should unduly have affected his mind, my colleague went on to point out that there are Russian forces in the ‘Countries of eastern Europe which are presumably, or ostensibly, there at the request of the governments of those countries. The Leader of the Opposition has not yet been heard to say that this is lawless, or a violation of the United Nations Charter.
But, Sir, my distinguished colleague did not stop there. He pointed out that there are United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australian forces in Malaya, at the specific request of the Government of Malaya. I emphasize that they are there at the specific request of the Government of Malaya and, I add for myself, are dealing not with external armed forces or external aggression, but with an externally fomented internal revolution. This case is a precise parallel to Jordan and Lebanon. Are we to understand that these forces in Malaya are there in breach of the Charter of the United Nations and that they should be instantly withdrawn?
I pause for an answer, but I do not get one, so I shall pursue the matter further. Suppose as a result of long-continued Communist subversion in Australia, a Communist coup was about to occur in our own country with the clear purpose of overthrowing constitutional government by armed force; and suppose the Government of Australia asked Great Britain and the United States for help by the despatch of armed forces. Would the Leader of the Opposition blandly reply, “ This must go to the United Nations. It will be quite unlawful for Great Britain and the United States to intervene “? Sir, such questions have only to be put to sensible people to answer themselves. Nobody will have any difficulty in understanding that Great Britain and the United States were entitled to go in without violating the Charter of the United Nations.
The second question is: Should they have gone in? The answer to this, of course, is one of judgment and not one of doctrine. It depends upon whether we believe, in an unsophisticated fashion, that the events in the Middle East are no more than an upsurge of national feeling, unprovoked and unaided by any activity on the part of the United Arab Republic or the Soviet Union.
On the facts before us, Mr. Speaker, anybody who could believe that could believe anything. With all the evidence before them of infiltration, of bitter propaganda and the introduction of arms and supplies, Great Britain and the United States of America could either have acted at once or could have drawn their garments about them and passed by on the other side. If they had adopted the latter course, few grown-up people could .doubt that by now Lebanon and Jordan would have had changes of government by murder and violence and would have become not national and independent but satellites and subordinates. Sir, murder strikes quickly. The long prepared coup does not, as it nears the point of action, wait in a docile fashion for weeks while either the Council or the Assembly in New York debates the matter.
Up to this point, therefore, it seems to be quite clearly plain that the action taken by Great Britain and the United States was legal, honorable and right. Indeed, if that is .not so, it might be of advantage to have the Opposition say, in terms, that it was not. It will be remembered, because my colleague the Minister for External Affairs made it plain, that Great Britain and the United States of America on the very day that each of them intervened, each reported its action to an emergency meeting of the Security Council and undertook to withdraw its forces promptly so soon as the United Nations could institute adequate measures to meet the situation. That was fair enough; that was clear enough.
These matters, in fact, went before the Security Council, which had before it a resolution which, if accepted, would have led to such an exercise of United Nations authority. But, without any vocal protest by the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament, the Soviet Union vetoed this procedure. I have, Sir, in fact, a certain measure of sympathy for the right honorable gentleman. When the matter first began, he instantly found Great Britain and America wrong and shared the views of Mr. Khrushchev - a somewhat Ironical view, I think - that the matter should have been left to the United Nations. When it went to the United Nations, Mr. Khrushchev vetoed the necessary resolution and so he presumably parted company with the Leader of Opposition - a melancholy event.
Then Mr. Khrushchev proposed a summit meeting of selected heads of governments; a meeting which, being of a membership other than that of the Security Council seemed - I repeat, seemed - to involve a departure from United Nations procedure. This was warmly supported by the Leader of the Opposition in a prompt public statement. At this point, Mr.
Macmillan, who comes out of all this with great distinction, simply and clearly proposed that the summit meeting should occur in the Security Council itself so that a meeting of heads of governments should take place within the structure of the United Nations. This proposal secured a fair measure of support from the British Labour party, but we have heard none of such support from the Leader of the Opposition in this debate. Sir, these shifts and changes are indeed puzzling. They lead one irresistibly to the usual conclusion, that the Leader of the Opposition is astute to find virtures in what is done by Nasser or Khrushchev but is resolutely determined to find none in Macmillan or Eisenhower.
It now turns out that Khrushchev, met by this clear and simple proposition of Mr. Macmillan - a proposition with which even the last of the members of the Opposition would find it difficult to quarrel - has once more altered course. He drops his proposal for a summit meeting. He abandons recourse to the Security Council, a body which, without his veto, would have unquestioned power to act, and turns to the General Assembly in which eighty nations are equally represented and in which nothing material can be passed without a two-thirds majority and in which, in any event, no more than recommendations can be made. These are obviously evasive tactics. They show plainly how futile it would have been for Great Britain and the United States of America to reject the appeals of Lebanon and Jordan in favour of “ going to the United Nations “. The tactics may have to be met and Khrushchev may have to be answered on his own ground.
But I cannot help thinking that if Macmillan’s proposal, eminently reasonable as it was, had been accepted and if the Security Council had invited to its deliberations, as it could, such countries as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, much good might have come of it. For in the long run, the Middle East countries have in terms of trade and living standards and economic growth everything to gain from the free world; but from the Soviet Union they have nothing to gain except servitude.
The third question is what should be done mow to relieve the immediate tension. Clearly, the .internal peace and good order of the Middle East countries should be protected. Equally clearly, the United Nations, recognizing the existence of violent activities, should itself take over the immediate police responsibilities and the checking of unlawful and armed subversion. If this is done, then Great Britain and the United States of America can withdraw their forces, since their temporary function will then have been exhausted.
Is the Soviet Union proposing to go to the General Assembly to advocate such a result and to take its share in the ensuing responsibilities? If so, of course, it is a little difficult to understand why the Soviet representatives used their veto in the Security Council.
Does the Opposition in this Parliament support this, or are we going to see the procedure of the United Nations misused so as to gain time while other acts of subversion occur and other lawful governments are struck down? These are the questions which I had hoped the Leader of the Opposition would at least have attempted to answer. He has not done so. My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs has indicated the proposals put forward by us along these lines. They represent the clear view of the Government and, I believe, the common sense of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people.
The fourth question is what should be done in the long-range view to secure lasting peace and true national self-government in the Middle East? We as a Government have put forward our constructive proposals in this field. We believe that the United Nations has a great task to perform and that by some appropriate organization it should assist in the establishment of peaceful self-government, guaranteed nationhood and peaceful commerce. Is this really desired by the Soviet Union or by the ambitious President of the United Arab Republic? Future discussions will or may provide the answer. We all hope it will be a sensible and practical one.
There is a good deal of glib talk about “ neutralizing “ the countries of the Middle East. This will receive easy acceptance in some minds because it appears to connote an area of peace in a somewhat war-like world. But I venture to warn the House that a good deal of such advocacy is aimed at the destruction of the Baghdad pact, that barrier to Communist aggression which now stretches from Turkey to Pakistan.
– It has never achieved anything in resisting communism.
– The Soviet Union, for example, if I may refer to the Soviet Union in the presence of the reticent honorable member for Yarra, has a pretty obvious vested interest in neutralizing or even disarming countries which may otherwise be in the ranks of the defenders of liberty. But it retains its iron military grip upon other countries, once free, which it has converted into its dependent satellites.
Nobody can see very far ahead, but we will be indeed blind if we do not see that if the subversive activities of President Nasser are allowed to continue unrestrained we will, before long, not be looking closely at the Middle East alone but at vast areas of North Africa. We will also be blind in Australia if we do not realize that to impose impotence upon the great free Powers, to destroy the significance and reliability of their friendship with smaller nations, to compel them to abandon those who call for help, will before long have repercussions in South-East Asia. I need not elaborate this. All that I ask honorable members to do is to consider the South-East Asia Treaty, to look at the position of countries like Malaya and Singapore and Thailand and South Viet Nam, to say nothing of our good friends in Pakistan, and to ask themselves what would happen if this distorted view of the United Nations Charter is allowed to encourage external and internal aggression in those countries and bring the threat to our own existence perilously close to our shores.
Before I conclude, I wish to comment upon the proposed transfer of these issues to the General Assembly. It would be unfortunate if the implications of this passed unobserved. The extended functions of the General Assembly under what is now known as the “ Uniting for Peace “ resolution were, so I have understood, designed to avoid deadlocks caused by the use of the veto in the Security Council. This time, it is the nation which has used the veto and caused the deadlock which is promoting the reference to the General Assembly! Clearly, this is a deadly blow at the power and significance of the Security Council, and is intended to be so. For if a true conference, with a genuine desire for settlement, was the objective, Mr. Macmillan’s proposal for a summit meeting in the Security Council, seeking agreement and not votes, was impeccable. The present Soviet scheme turns its back on the Council, abandons the long-advertised - I repeat, long-advertised - suggestion of a summit meeting, and throws the issues into prolonged debate in a large assembly where close and intimate discussion is difficult or impossible, and in which the marshalling of groups and appeals to passion or prejudice will, alas, be all too easy. The projected assembly meeting should, therefore, be approached with great care, not to say caution. The Macmillan proposals should not be finally abandoned. Perhaps it is permissible to hope that the assembly, gravely appealed to, might itself recommend them for adoption!
I would warn all honorable members that Australia, as she looks about her, and particularly at Papua and New Guinea, has much to lose by the destruction of the powers and significance of the Security Council, a council, let me remind the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope), who is seeking to interject, in which such great influence can be exercised by our British and American friends.
Sir, my final observation follows naturally from what I have just said. It is to us in Australia - and I say this on behalf of the great majority of Australian people - an immense source of satisfaction that in these recent events Great Britain and the United States have been at one, giving a joint leadership and accepting joint responsibilities. It does not require much imagination to see how vital this is to Australia, and how good it is that in these circumstances we should have been able - as we have - to render our whole-hearted support to what they have done and what they are doing.
– I call the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– I had an arrangement with the Minister for External Affairs under which he was to move that leave be given to the honorable member for Hindmarsh to speak for the same length of time as did the Prime Minister.
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 honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) speaking for a period not exceeding one hour.
– I thank the House for the extension of time, and will do my best to take no longer than did the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself.
The Prime Minister has made another of his very remarkable speeches - remarkable because of the excellent English in which it was couched, and remarkable for skill in avoiding the real issues. I intend to come to those issues at once. The Prime Minister said absolutely nothing at all about the causes of the Middle East dispute, and not one word did he say by way of trying to find some solution of the troubles that are causing the dispute in the Middle East to-day. Instead, the Prime Minister did what he so often does - he set out to condemn as Communists all and sundry who happen to disagree with his point of view. This is an attitude of mind for which the Prime Minister has become internationally famous.
– Internationally notorious!
– Internationally notorious, as my friend from Herbert says. What the Prime Minister did was once again to brand the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) as a Communist because, he alleged, the right honorable gentleman had not said one word in protest against Russia’s use of the veto. The Prime Minister did not tell the Parliament, as he could truthfully have done, that it was the Leader of the Opposition who opposed the introduction of the veto when the United Nations was first established. Tt was he who opposed its introduction - it was the very gentleman who is now so falsely accused of not having opposed the use of the veto. He was the one who fought to the bitter end to prevent a veto from ever being introduced into the United Nations Charter. Who were the people responsible for outvoting the right honorable gentleman in the councils of the United Nations when the veto was first thought of, and first talked of? They were the representatives not only of the Soviet
Union, but also of the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Those were the Powers who then joined in outvoting the right honorable gentleman, who fought so valiantly at the very beginning against the introduction of the veto. For the Prime Minister to come into this House and to suggest seriously that, with a record like that behind him, the Leader of the Opposition is guilty of not objecting to, or protesting against, the use of the veto-
– The right honorable member-
– Order! I direct the honorable member for Forrest to remain silent.
– Then the Prime Minister, in order to make his case seem almost complete, found it necessary to make some allusion to what he described as a “ glancing reference “ by the Leader of the Opposition to the state of Israel, the suggestion being that the right honorable gentleman paid no regard to that State because it was no longer, persona grata with the Soviet. Once again let me remind the House*- and the Prime Minister, too, if his memory is so short - that it was the Leader of the Opposition who was primarily responsible for giving to Israel the independence which it at present enjoys. So much, in fact, do the Israelis remember his deeds on their behalf that he was specifically honoured by them for the part that he played, and as recently as last year was invited’ to visit them as their official guest. So much for that nonsense; and for the attempt by the Prime Minister once again to smear as a Communist everybody who happens to think differently from the way that he does!
Let me say at once that this dispute in the Middle East is not a fight for the independence of the various states. The fact is that the states concerned have no independence now; they have no real independence as we understand the word. It is also true that this is not a fight to defend the democratic rights of the Middle East states, because the Middle East states have no democratic rights. I hear the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) say, “ Be damned”.
– I did not. I said, “Dear, dear.!””
Me. CLYDE CAMERON.- The position is that the Middle East countries have no democratic rights to-day, because their governments are not democratically elected. There is only one Middle East country that has a democratically elected government, as we understand the term, and that is the state of Israel. Not one of the others is democratically elected. Neither is this dispute a fight against communism, because communism is not a force or factor, in any shape or form, in the Middle East.
Government Supporters. - Oh!
– Government supporters laugh, but they have no idea of the situation in the Middle East. There is not one country in the Middle East, except Israel, where communism is allowed to operate in any shape or form. The Communist party is banned in every Middle East country. Moreover, those countries have something which acts as a psychological barrier against communism - something not possessed by countries in some other parts of the world. I refer to the religious barrier of the Moslemic faith. No branch of the Christian church is so bitterly, so basically, so fundamentally opposed to communism as is the Moslem faith, which flourishes in the Middle East. Do honorablemember’s opposite not realize that the Communist party is banned in Egypt as well as in other Middle East countries? It is all very well to say that this is a fight to obtain national independence. That is not true. It is partly true, but it is not the whole story. It is not true that it is a fight to guarantee to the West a supply of oil. That is not true,, for the good and sufficient reason that the Arab states have to sell their oil to the Western Powers, or not sell it at all. It is absolutely impossible for the Arab states to sell any of their oil to Russia because Russia is itself an exporter, and not an importer; of oil. It is foolish for people to say that the Soviet would buy the oil in order to stop us from getting it. I ask such people where the Soviet would store the 150,000,000 tons of oil which now comes out of the Middle East countries each year. It could not physically be done. Every one who knows the facts of the Middle East position knows that this is not a fight for oil supplies. This is a fight to see who is going to get the profits from the oil. That is all it is - a dispute between two groups to see who is going to get the profits from the oil.
On the one hand are the ordinary people of the Arab countries who are demanding that they, as the people of the countries concerned, get their fair share of the profits that come from oil. On the other hand are the sheikhs and the kings of the Middle East countries who say they want the lot for themselves as though it were a just entitlement of the royal purse of each country. And behind it all, of course, there is Russia, not caring much about the profits and not wanting the oil itself but, of course, hoping that there will, perhaps shortly, come an opportunity for her to control the supply of it. And what are we doing to prevent the Russians from achieving their objective? Absolutely nothing! Far from our doing anything to prevent them from achieving their objective, every single act we have committed during the last two or three years has played right into the Russians’ hands, and has strengthened rather than weakened the forces of communism in that area.
The Arab people will never, in my view, turn to the Communist point of view. But the Arab people will turn to the Soviet bloc for protection and assistance if we go on handling the situation in the Middle East as we have been handling it in the past.
Now, what precipitated the Middle East dispute to the point at which we are discussing it to-night? The Prime Minister states that the question is whether the United States and the United Kingdom invasion, at the invitation, he says, of the lawfully constituted governments of the Lebanon and Jordan, was a correct thing to do. Before we go any further let us examine the meaning of some of the words he used. Invitation? By whom was the invitation sent to the United States to invade the Lebanon? By none other than President Chamoun, the discredited president of the Lebanon, the man who has been refused an extension of his term as president, the man who has not left his palace since May, and is now guarded by the United States marines and has been guarded by them day and night since they landed in the Lebanon, the man who is so hated, loathed and detested by the Lebanese people themselves that he dare not leave his palace. That is the man who invited the Americans to come.
At least 50 per cent, of the members of the Lebanese Parliament - and I shall refer more fully to this in a minute or two - objected bitterly to the invasion of the Lebanon by the United States. Since then, a new president has been elected - elected because he gave a pledge to the people of the Lebanon that he would use his every effort to send the United States marines out of the country. And the new president of the Lebanon, upon being elected to the position, demanded the immediate withdrawal of the United States marines. So far, the Americans have chosen to ignore the request of the incoming president. Not only that! On top of the demand of the new president of the Lebanon that these people get out of the country we now have the demand by the Premier of the Lebanon, who states, moreover, that unless the United States marines get out he intends to resign, because he is not prepared to remain Premier while his country is in the grip of a foreign power.
– You aTe using facts very sparingly.
– No, I am using the facts as supplied to me by one of the officers of your department, the Department of External Affairs, and1 as also supplied in United States reports that can be obtained from the library, and none of which can be contradicted.
Now we shall Save a look at the so-called lawfully constituted governments .of the Middle East countries. What does the Prime Minister mean by the “ lawfully constituted “ governments? For a start, most countries of the Middle East have no lawfully constituted governments in the sense in which we use the term. It might have been Saudi Arabia, it might have been the Yemen, it might have been Kuwait or Oman or Muscat or any of those other sultanates in the Aden protectorate that appealed for assistance to the United States, and they still could have got it, because Mr. Dulles has made it clear that he does not mind what constitutes the government of the country, or how it became the government, no matter how corrupt it may be, so long as it is not a pro-Communist government. It can be a Fascist government, but so long as it requests invasion of its country by United States troops Mr. Dulles will come to its assistance. The fact is that although some of these countries go through the pretence of electing parliaments - and some of them do not even go through that pretence - the parliaments, once elected, have no real power. The real power is vested in the presidents, the sheikhs or the kings. There is absolutely no doubt that the Lebanon is pro-Western. Even the rebels in the Lebanon are pro- Western. The Minister will not deny that even by interjection. Not only are the rebels proWestern, but they are also bitterly antiCommunist. By sending its troops into that country the United States of America did the very thing that the Russians must have prayed for, if they ever pray.
That is the position. The Americans have done exactly the thing they should never have done. It is the same with the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom’s invasion of Jordan was also for the purpose of trying to prop up a tottering kingdom, a kingdom that should never have been propped up. Far from being propped up, its leaders should be told to get out and make way for a democratically elected parliament that would speak for all the people and not for a tiny group of aristocrats and wealthy land-owners.
Those are the reasons why we are losing, and why we will continue to lose, in the Middle East and other parts of the world where communism is threatening to-day. We will continue to lose because we will not get down to the causes of the Communist advance. We refuse to apply the remedies that have to be applied if ever we are to master this situation.
The Prime Minister knows very well that the United Nations Charter outlaws unilateral intervention by any power.
– What section would that be?
– Section 51, which forbids intervention except in the case of armed attack - and there has been no armed attack against the Lebanon and against Jordan, and the Minister knows that that is right. I will come to the real reason later. The position is that America and the United Kingdom went into the Lebanon and Jordan respectively for the sole purpose of providing themselves with a jumping-off ground against Iraq which, a few days earlier, had overthown its proWestern, pro-oil cartel government.
– That is the fact, and the only reason they did not go into Iraq itself is because they knew that it was a case of two powers calling each other’s bluff. As soon as they invaded the Lebanon and Jordan the Soviet moved up 24 divisions on to its border with Persia and said, “ Righto, if you want to have a lash we will have a lash too “. Then the Russians told the Americans they had to get out of the Lebanon, and that if they did not the Soviet might act.
What is the position in Iraq? That country had an absolutely corrupt government headed by one of the most ruthless men the Middle East has ever produced.
– Bosh! You obviously have never been in the Middle East to say that.
– If the Minister had not become so irate I would not have mentioned the fact, but if he will be fair, he will recall that last night he told me, when standing over there, that this man was a great friend of his.
– And a great statesman.
– A great statesman, you said, and added, “ But, of course, very ruthless “.
– Ruthless, yes.
– Well, that is what I said. 1 said “ ruthless “, and now you agree.
– Order! I must ask the House to come to order, or I shall have to deal with honorable members who interject. I ask honorable members who have already spoken to remain silent.
– The Middle East situation is all the outcome of what is known as the Eisenhower Doctrine, which provides that the United States of America will move in to the aid of any Middle East country that asks for assistance if it is threatened by indirect or direct aggression, providing the threat is by a Communist country, and not by a Fascist country or a country under any other form of totalitarianism. It does not matter how corrupt is the government that seeks the assistance. It does not matter how poorly fed are the people of the country concerned; it does not matter if 90 per cent, of them are suffering from tuberculosis, as in the Sheikdom of Kuwait. As long as the United States is requested by the corrupt rulers to come in and defend them against the wrath of the people they rule, the United States will come to the assistance of those corrupt rulers.
– When did the Americans say that?
– That is the Eisenhower doctrine. I will quote the words spoken by Mr. Dulles himself at a press conference in Washington on 31st July, this year. He said -
If the practices of indirect aggression-
I will deal with that phrase in a minute - are allowed to persist there will be war.
Those words mean that the United States is prepared to engage in a world war if there is indirect aggression against any of these corruptly ruled Middle Eastern states. Then Mr. Dulles went on to say -
I believe that if the Soviet Union does not want war it will have to agree that these practices should be brought under some kind of control by the United Nations.
Then he added that the status quo should not be changed except by orderly methods, which do not involve - he used the words again - indirect aggression.
What is meant by indirect aggression? It has been defined as an attempt by means of propaganda to get people in another country to overthrow their government. If these Middle Eastern countries were democracies, the peoples would have the right to overthrow their governments through the ballot-box. But the fact is that these countries are not democracies. There is only one way in which the peoples of the Middle East can get rid of their corrupt rulers. That is by the means that were adopted in Iraq. If you do not give a people the right to vote a crooked government out of office, how can they get rid of it other than by revolution?
Let us see how sincere this Government is in its alleged hostility to and abhorrence of what happened in Iraq. The members of this Government described the people who overthrew the Government of Iraq as murderers, as people who had done all kinds of terrible things, but before the blood was dry on the hands of the so-called murderers, this Government, which had protested against the murderous removal of the royal family and the rulers of Iraq, recognized the murderers as the legitimate government of Iraq. What was it that made this Government change its attitude? It is not hard to find an answer to that question. The Americans and the British were ready to march into Iraq from both Jordan and the Lebanon, and they would have marched in but for two factors. The first factor was the threat of Soviet intervention from the north. The other thing that deterred them, or not so much deterred them as made them change their view of the murderers, was that the murderers announced that they would not nationalize the American-owned and British-owned oil wells and that they would continue to allow oil to flow to the West. The people who are controlled by the oil cartel of the world were not concerned about the assurance that the supply of oil would continue. That is not what made them change their minds. They decided to recognize the murderers only when the murderers said that they would not nationalize the oil wells. These people are not concerned with supply; they are concerned only with who is going to get the profits from the oil coming from the wells. The thing is as simple as that.
We have heard much said about the United States and its reference to indirect aggression. Let us not split our principles. If we say that indirect aggression is wrong, then let us not practice it ourselves. But that is precisely what we are doing. The United States is voting quite openly hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the very purpose of indirect aggression against other countries. The American President himself said only last week that the time will come when the peoples of the free world will have to try to influence the peoples of the Soviet bloc to rebel against their governments. If it is all right for us to tell other peoples to revolt against their governments, for goodness sake let us not double time by saying that it is wrong for other countries to take the same action against our friends. Let us be consistent. If we are going to condemn this when it is done by other people, for goodness sake let us not do it ourselves. I condemn the intervention by the Soviet in Hungary, but I am consistent because I condemn also the exactly parallel case of the United States intervention in Lebanon. Any person who supports the United States invasion of Lebanon to prop up a corrupt government there has no right to condemn the intervention of the Soviet in Hungary to prop up a corrupt government there. The cases are exactly parallel. There was a corrupt government in Lebanon, a government which would have been overthrown if the people of Lebanon had been free to act, free from intimidation by the United States marines. That government would have been overthrown as surely, as the Hungarian Government would have teen overthrown. What prevented that was the intervention of the United States. We hear people supporting the United States intervention in Lebanon but saying that the Soviet intervention in Hungary, an exact parallel; was wrong. For goodness sake let us not split our principles. Let us not have this double talk - saying that something is all right if we do it but asking other people to adopt an entirely different attitude.
This question of indirect aggression must be studied rather carefully. The view of the United States is that the status quo should not be changed except, by orderly methods, which do not involve indirect aggression, no matter how bad the status quo is: The status quo in the Middle Eastern countries is something that should shock anybody who has a spark of Christian spirit in him. On the one hand, there are people living in almost unendurable poverty, and on the other hand there is the opulence of the sultans, sheiks and kings. You cannot have in any country abject poverty on the one hand and, on’ the other hand, great riches shared by only a: few people without’ the majority of the people eventually becoming dissatisfied and wanting to rebel. That is the position in the Middle East to-day.
As- the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) asked, are we going to take this business of indirect aggression to the point where we say that when: the tottering government of France was going down, it would have had the right to call on- the Soviet to intervene in order to prevent de Gaulle from coming into power? If you accept the principle that a tottering, corrupt government can appeal to1 another power- to prevent the will of the people from; being given effect to, you are establishing a dangerous precedent that could be used against you as well as for you. Therefore, I say that we are playing withfire when we talk this nonsense aboutindirect aggression.
Now let me say this: We must remember that we can no longer resolve world differences by force of arms. Every leading military authority of the world admits that the West would not have a chance in a war against the Soviet Union fought with conventional weapons. That is an established, unfortunate fact. Would we allow ourselves to be defeated in a conventional war when we had a pile of atomic bombs? Of course not. The American President has already said that the United States would not hesitate to use hydrogen bombs, if need be. If we were being defeated in a conventional war, the need to use hydrogen bombs would arise. Yet we would know that if we used hydrogen bombs against the enemy which also possessed hydrogen bombs, that enemy would not hesitate to use them against us.
So it means this: If we want to live in this world and if we do not want to turn it into a great human cemetery, we have to forget about resolving our differences by force of arms. We must resolve our differences by meeting the challenge of indirect aggression which the Soviet Union is putting forward to us. When the Soviet Union attempts to defeat us by indirect aggression - which means by propaganda - we have to have an answer that is so good that the people of the world will reject the arguments of the Communists and prefer us;
I believe that in the Middle East we have an excellent opportunity for doing that because we have there, as I said at the beginning, the force of the Moslem faith which is utterly opposed to Communist ideologies. But we must not over-estimate the value of the Moslem barrier against communism in the Middle East any more than we should over-estimate the barrier of Christianity against communism in Italy. In Italy, 36- per cent, of the people have chosen to ignore the natural ideological barrier of Christianity against communism. They have accepted communism and- the organization there has become the biggest Communist party outside the iron curtain simply because when people are starving and they see fabulous wealth on one hand and abject poverty on the other, they will not bother about ideological barriers. When material things are involved, they forget the abstract qualities of freedom and liberty and their spiritual needs. They will turn to those who can give them their material requirements. That is what we have to do in the Middle East. No longer must we prop up greedy and corrupt kingdoms. We must say, “ We will support you only so long as you distribute among your people the great wealth which oil has brought to your country “. Unless we lift the standard of living of the people in those countries and give them an opportunity to learn to read and1 write, and unless we give them- a fairer share of the wealth that their country puts forth each year, it will continue to be an easy task to breed communism throughout the world. lt is not generally realized that in tha Sheikdom of Kuwait, the amount of royalties paid into the private purse of the sheik himself would be sufficient, if divided equally between the people of that sheikdom, to give them a standard of living higher than that of any country in the world except Australia and the United States of America. It would be higher than the standard of living in the United Kingdom, Italy or France. Yet those people to-day are receiving wages equal to about four pence a day in Australian money. The American oil cartels which own the oil wells of Kuwait are paying such ridiculously low wages to the Arabs working on the oil fields that the cost of producing a barrel of oil in the Middle East is 33 cents against 3 dollars in the United States.
– They do not own them entirely.
– They do.
– It is 50 per cent, each way.
– That is not true. The whole of the oil-fields in the Middle East are owned by foreign capitalists. Not one oil-field in the Middle East is owned by the Middle East nations except the independent Egyptian Oil Company; which started at the beginning of this year.
-. - That statement is- false.
– It is true. I invite any person to consult any authority he chooses and he will find that the whole of the Middle East oil-fields are owned by foreign capital and are exploited by foreign capital. Only the royalties go to the rulers of the countries concerned. King Saud of Saudi-Arabia personally receives no less than 4,000,000 dollars in royalties every week, but the people of Saudi-Arabia receive none of it. The whole of that money is kept for the personal benefit and aggrandisement of King Saud of SaudiArabia himself.
I want to go back again to the position of’ the United States of America in relation to the Lebanon and to examine where: the United States is going. Mr. John Foster Dulles said’ ten days ago -
We will not stay in the Lebanon after we have been- asked’ to withdraw by the constitutionally elected government of the Lebanon.
Now, that seems rather odd. because Mr. Dulles said at first that the Americans would not leave the Lebanon until the United Nations established a police force there. We find now that he said ten days ago that they would leave as soon as they were asked to do so by the constitutionally elected government of Lebanon. But the Americans did not carry out their promise because, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the President-elect of Lebanon and the Premier of Lebanon have both demanded the withdrawal of the American troops. Instead of withdrawing, the United States is pouring more and more troops into the area.
I want to refer to the Baghdad pact itself. I believe that the Baghdad pact was an ill-conceived substitute for action that should have been designed to solve the Middle East problem rather than tinkering with the effects of it. We know that there is a spate of nationalism in the Middle East to-day. We know that Nasser is regarded as the symbol of nationalism and- Arab unity. But who made Nasser? None other than our own Prime Minister. No person in the world to-day can claim more credit for establishing Nasser as the symbol of Arab- unity than the present Prime Minister of Australia.
Let us- examine the record, of the- right* honorable gentleman.- It- was the. Prime Minister of- Australia,, more than, anybody else in the world, who gave the fatal advice to Anthony Eden which led to the governments of the United Kingdom and France egging on ‘ Israel into attacking Egypt. Then, under the pretence of preventing bloodshed, they intervened to take control of the Suez Canal. Not only that; we know that the Prime Minister of Australia personally went to Nasser in circumstances very much like those of the attack on Pearl Harbour in the second world war. While the right honorable gentleman was talking to Nasser, he knew - though he did not tell Nasser - that the United Kingdom was moving up troopships to make the attack on Egypt which eventually proved so fatal to. the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister threatened Nasser. He said, “ Unless you do what we want you to do, we will move in and, by force of arms, we will take the Suez Canal “. We know the sorry results of that action. We know now that Nasser has become the symbol for the whole of the Arab world numbering 110,000,000 people. They are looking to him for guidance and they are prepared to follow him. It is not true that Nasser is a Communist. Everybody who knows anything about the situation knows that Nasser is not a Communist.
– Who said that he was?
– The way some honorable members on the Government side talk has led us to believe that the whole of the Middle East intervention by Egypt and Syria is the result of some Communist intrigue. Nasser is not proCommunist, pro- Western or pro-anybody else. He is pro-Nasser.
– But he will accept assistance from the Soviet.
– Of course, he will. Would not the honorable member do likewise if he were threatened by an enemy? Nasser had no alternative. We accepted Soviet assistance against Germany. He had to accept such assistance. Because of the advice of our own Prime Minister, Nasser was put into the position of accepting Soviet arms and, having done that, he might very well have been placed under an obligation. This is another danger: When there was a military coup in Iraq, the resurgents or revolutionaries marched in and took possession of all the secret papers related to the Baghdad pact, including intelligence documents, at the Baghdad headquarters of the Government of Iraq. They also ransacked the British Embassy and obtained documents which were far more valuable. Their contents are sufficient to keep the flame of Arab nationalism alive for ten years. That has been the result of our sorry action in the Middle East.
I want to turn now to the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who, unfortunately, has left the chamber. Yesterday the honorable gentleman went very close to commencing a tirade of anti-Semitism in order to justify the action that was taken in the Middle East. I note that he is now reentering the chamber. Yesterday the honorable member set out to blame the Jewish State of Israel for the whole of the trouble in the Middle East.
– That is very true.
– “ That is very true “, he says. He said yesterday that the Palestinian refugees were causing all the trouble in the Middle East. But how does he account for the fact that Persia is one of the hot spots in the Middle East, that Saudi-Arabia is another, and that Muscat, Yemen, Oman and Kuwait are others? None of them is being affected by Arab refugees from Palestine. This business of blaming the Jews when anything goes wrong reminds me of the old Hitlerite ruse that, when things go wrong, all you have to do is to find some scapegoat. The poor old Jews are always selected by this type of person to be the scapegoat and to be accused of being responsible for all the trouble.
– That is a dreadful lie.
– Order! The honorable member for Moreton will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw and apologize to the Chair, but I shall make a personal explanation later.
– People like this remind me of the man who does not mind being robbed by a Gentile hirepurchase company but thinks it is a terrible sin when he is robbed by a Jewish moneylender. So the honorable member rises and blames the poor old Jews of Israel which, incidentally, is the only democracy in the whole of ‘the Middle East and which is being held responsible for causing the situation that led to the Middle East dispute. The honorable member for Moreton, like the Prime Minister, is running away from the true fact of the case, that is, that the real cause of the Middle East trouble is oil - not the supply of oil, but profits from oil.
As it has been stated that the British Labour party supports the Liberal party in this country, which of course is not the case, I intend to quote from a statement that was issued by the British Labour party on 17th July. This is what the statement contains, amongst other things -
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 reappraisal of foreign policy applying to the area.
It is not only the British Labour party which believes that I am correct when I say that the issue is more than national, that it is economic and social, that until you solve those two problems you will never get a permanent solution there, and that while you continue propping up corrupt Arab kings, sheikhs and sultans you will always have trouble from the people who are being robbed of their just right to the Middle East wealth. We have also the utterances of Sir John Glubb, the former commander-in-chief of the Jordan Arab Legion. He said that in every Arab country young men, including army officers, have been the spearhead of internal revolution, not at all because they have Communist sympathies in any shape or form but simply because they are inspired by the spirit of nationalism.
– Who said that?
– It was said by Sir John Glubb, the former English commanderinchief of the Arab Legion. He went further. This is the kernel of the situation which you will not face up to, but which you must face up to; unless you face up to it sooner or later, you will lose the fight against communism. He said that the Arabs resent foreign exploitation of their oil and that amidst limitless wealth the people themselves remain poverty-stricken, the prey of ignorance and disease.
There is no doubt about why the Liberal party in this country is not able to speak up about the things I am referring to. The members of that party are not free to tell the truth about the Middle East situation, because they are the things of the oil companies themselves. They are the prisoners of the oil companies, as I shall prove in a few minutes’ time.
Let us have a look at the Liberal party’s connexion with the oil companies and ascertain whether it is not understandable that we should now see its members not only defending the corrupt oil interests in the Middle East but also failing even to mention those interests in their analysis of the situation. In 1933, the Australian Government appointed a royal commission on petrol, and the oil companies had to show cause why something should not be done about their exorbitant profits. Incidentally, the price of petrol dropped from 2s. a gallon to ls. 5d. at about the time of the royal commission. Who do honorable members think appeared before the royal commission on behalf of the Shell Company of Australia Limited? It was none other than a fellow named Robert Gordon Menzies! He was paid richly and handsomely by the Shell Company to appear on its behalf before the royal commission at a time when he was Attorney-General for the State of Victoria. Have we ever seen a situation that, would parallel that?
There was a man taking money from the Crown as Attorney-General and at the same time taking money from the Shell Company to appear before a royal commission which was appointed by the Crown to inquire into the activities of the oil cartel! There was the present Prime Minister of Australia appearing as the paid advocate of the Shell Company before the royal commission and refusing to give to His Majesty’s royal commission the balance-sheets of the company for which he was appearing and refusing point blank to agree to its answering certain questions that were asked by those appearing before the royal commissioner! He is the man who to-night, for reasons which are now so very clear, refuses even to mention the cause of the trouble in the Middle East. That is the reason why the Prime Minister will not face the facts and admit that profits from oil constitute the cause of the Middle East dispute.
But the Prime Minister is not the only member of the Liberal party who is in the grip of the oil companies and is their prisoner. I ask the House now to consider the position of another -.prominent member of the Liberal party - Mr. W. H. Anderson, who was appointed to be federal president of -the party in 1951 and who was not just an ordinary shareholder of the Shell Company but a director. If it is necessary to repeat the question, I again ask, “ Is it any wonder that this Government is doing its best to drag .this country into the Middle East conflict with the result that working men’s sons, Who are being robbed by the oil companies day by day, will have to go and fight for the profits of those companies? “ It will be a sorry day for Australia if working men’s sons are dragged across to the Middle East to fight for the profits of the oil companies, one of which paid the present Prime ‘Minister himself to appear for it and which has as a director the federal president of the Liberal party.
If we may come back to the domestic scene, perhaps we can ask why it was that the Liberal party, soon after it assumed office, decided to sell -the people’s share in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited to the partner of the Shell Company - the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company - with the result that recently the Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority had to state in his annual report that when he called tenders for the supply of oil to the authority every oil company in Australia that tendered submitted exactly the same price. That situation could not have arisen if the Australian people were still the controllers of C.O.R., as they were prior to this Government assuming office.
Let us look at the “ News Weekly “, the organ of the Australian Democratic Labour party. We find that that party, like this Government, is supporting the action of the United States in Lebanon and that of the United Kingdom in Jordan. That is no wonder, because the Democratic Labour party, like the Liberal party, is the direct recipient of subsidies from the oil companies. It is a well known and established fact that the Democratic Labour party received no less than £30,000 in cash from the Shell Company in order to carry on as an adjunct of the Liberal party, and then tried to prevent .the Australian Labour .party from gaining office. The Shell Company and the oil cartel in this country know that, if ever a Labour government assumes office, it will not hesitate to deal with the enormous power of the oil companies to rob and exploit the Australian motorists. That is why the Shell Oil Company is paying money to its allies, the Liberal party and the Democratic Labour party. It wants those parties to remain .’financial and carry on the fight against the Australian Labour party. There is no doubt that the whole of the oil sold in Australia is controlled by the international oil cartels. There is no competition between them. The Australian public has to pay the price that they demand or go without petrol.
I have mentioned the case of the Snowy Mountains Authority. “Now we have, perhaps, another example of what is concerning the oil companies so much in the Middle East. Early this year there was discovered in Egypt a source of oil which has now been developed by the Egyptian Government .itself under the name of the Egyptian National Oil .Company. That is the only Middle East oil company which is independent of the oil cartel. The Royal Dutch Shell Company, the British Petroleum Company, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, the Vacuum Oil Company, the French Petrol Company and the Standard Oil Company of California between them own and control and share the profits from Middle East oil. In one sheikdom alone, from an original investment of 13,000,000 dollars, they took a profit of 117,000,000 dollars in one year. All together they make on oil from the Middle East nine times as much .profit as they -make on oil from their own countries. President Eisenhower said -
If the United States interests are threatened we will fight.
What are United States interests in the Middle East? The only thing in which the -United States has any interest is oil. So it is clear that the United States Government, like the Australian Government, is the prisoner of the oil cartel of America. The American Government is dancing to the tune of the oil companies, just as this Government is dancing to that tune. The American President openly and publicly stated that if the oil interests of America - not the supply of oil, but the oil profits - were interfered with America would fight. That would mean, of course, that working men from America would be sent to fight in the “Middle East to protect the interests of the millionaires and the oil cartels. -What happened in Persia when Musaddiq decided to -use his constitutional .power to nationalize .the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company? Did the Americans worry about the constitutional right of the Persian Government to determine its own .policy? Of course not. What happened? The Americans allowed Musaddiq to take control of the oil field and then took .exactly the same kind of action as that to which they now object. By internal aggression against the Musaddiq Government and by external interference in the internal affairs of Persia, the United States was able to re-establish the Shah of Persia on the throne and to gain control of the oilfields - control which should have gone to the .people of Persia.
As J am reminded by -my leader, America now has a major share of Persian oil whereas the previous owner, Great Britain, is only a minor partner. But this is only .a temporary gain because, just as sure as Musaddiq a few years ago nationalized the oil-fields of Persia and took them away from the cartel, so shall another Musaddiq arise in Persia sooner or later and do the same thing again.
We should face the fact that world conditions are changing so rapidly that we cannot continue to ignore the situation. We cannot go on supporting the corrupt kingdoms of ‘the ‘Middle East where trade unionism is banned, where the right of habeus corpus is unknown, where a person can be arrested and searched without a warrant, where people can be imprisoned for life without .a trial, and where a man who is caught thieving - perhaps because he cannot live on - a salary .of 4d. a day and so is -starving- has his hands cut off under the law of the land. If we go on attempting to prop up corruption of that kind we should not be surprised if, eventually, we find that we are defeated and the Communists won the battle.
This is a battle of ideas. It is a war of ideas, and our ideas have to be made more attractive to the people of the Middle -East than those of the Communists. What is wanted in the Middle East is not unilateral military intervention in protection df fabulously wealthy and corrupting oil interests. -What is wanted ‘is not a ‘by-passing of the United ‘Nations :hut, on the contrary, a recognition df the United Nations as the leader in plans for a better social and economic order throughout the Middle East and in all economically backward areas of the world.
If the leadership of the United Nations were loyally recognized there would be a possibility of developing and regulating for the common good -
I believe that every effort should be made by this Government to obtain a summit conference. We must not keep on running away from a summit conference. It is quite obvious that Khrushchev was only calling our bluff when he stated that he wanted a summit conference and when he said that he was prepared to attend a conference on 28th July. Had we accepted that invitation he would have been compelled to sit with Chiang-Kai-shek at -that conference. We should have taken him at his word and should not have rescued him from the dilemma that he got into with Mao-Tse-Tung. He was extricated from his predicament only by our procrastination. Finally, I say that either a few old men of the world must talk, or millions of young men must die fighting in order to prop up .corrupt Arab kingdoms and sheikhdoms.
– Order! The honorable member for Wills will withdraw the interjection he has just made.
– What was it?
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER__ You will withdraw that statement or I will name you.
– J will withdraw any statement that I may have made.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. During the course of his speech the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde .Cameron) demonstrated his characteristic .contempt .for propriety and verisimilitude.
– 4- rise to order! The standingorder which covers personal explanations specifies that they shall not introduce any new matter. I suggest that the explanation of the honorable member for Moreton is completely out of order.
– The honorable member for Moreton must confine his remarks to those parts of the speech in which he claims to have been misrepresented.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh claimed that during the course of my speech in this debate 1 said that the entire responsibility for the trouble in the Middle East rested with those of the Jewish faith. That claim was deliberately untrue. I said nothing of the sort.
– Order! The honorable member for Moreton will have to withdraw that remark. He cannot say that the statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh was a deliberate untruth.
– I withdraw that remark. I will say it was a fib. I said quite plainly that I distinguished between those of the Jewish faith and those who support the Zionist movement. I referred to the executive director of the American Council for Judaism, whose remarks I quoted in support of my own views. I endeavour to speak the truth during the course of my contribution to the debate, and this is a course which I strongly commend to the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– The personal explanation of the honorable member for Moreton has made it appear that I have been telling untruths. I want to read the exact words which the honorable member for Moreton used in his speech. They are reported at page 107 of “Hansard” as follows: -
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.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is one of the tragedies of politics in this country that the most important issues that come before this House, issues upon which the survival and security of the country depend, are at times the subject of bitter faction or party conflict. The speech that we have just heard from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who is now leaving the chamber, is, I believe, a disgrace to any member of this House. He strung together a great many words for an hour, but most of his ideas were entirely fantasies of his own imagination, unrelated to the facts of the situation in the Middle East.
He said, amongst other things, that there was no communism in the Middle East, and in support of that contention he said that Communist parties in certain Middle Eastern countries were banned. That certainly is true. But he said nothing of subversive agents in the Middle East; he said nothing of the encouragement that the Communist powers have given to rebels in certain Middle Eastern countries; he said nothing of the arms and encouragement that have been given to Egypt, or of the control over the Middle East that Russian trade relations with Egypt eventually will give to Russia. He did not say that, through trade and arms deals, Russia is getting into the Middle East in a way which bodes ill for the Middle East and for the free world.
The honorable member spoke at great length in saying that oil was the root cause of this Middle Eastern problem. He seemed to overlook the fact that there is not so much oil in Iraq as there is in many other countries, and that the oil revenues in Iraq have been used contrary to what he said, for the benefit of the people of Iraq.
– They tell you that in the newspapers.
– It happens to be true in this instance. The oil revenues of Iraq have been used for the benefit of the people, something that may not be true of all countries. There is no oil in Lebanon and none in Jordan; yet those are the two countries which the actions of the United Kingdom and the United States of America have been designed to save. The honorable member also tried to show that the American mutual security programmes, which have been brought about through extraordinary generosity, unparalleled in the previous history of the world, were akin to or exactly the same as the indirect aggressions which the Communist States carry out, by means of spies, murder and subversion, in different parts of the world. How any one could reconcile that statement of the honorable member with the truth I cannot understand.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, there is something which I think can be called an atom bomb, or a nuclear bomb, complex. It is said that, because the use of force may lead to a nuclear war, we should not use force in any circumstances. I should like to remind honorable members of the speech made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) earlier to-day, when he said that there are sometimes things that are worse than death. We cannot deny the use of force in all circumstances, because our freedom is something that we must preserve. We must not be afraid of force when force is absolutely necessary, and when it is just and right, as it was when used by the United Kingdom and the United States recently.
The House must be indebted to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for his able survey of the problems and the ills troubling the Middle East at present. The action of the United Kingdom and the United States in the two countries in which it was taken was completely right and honorable, but the causes of the troubles in the Middle East are difficult to discern. They are obscure and difficult to classify into their component parts. There is the question of Israel, the very sight, sound or presence of which tends to unite Arabs and inspire Arab nationalist feeling. There is the question of Arab nationalism itself, which is motivated again by the presence of Israel, inspired by Colonel Nasser and encouraged at times by antipathy to the Western Powers. There is Nasser himself. He has assumed or taken upon himself, as anyone who has read his book, “ The Book of the Revolution “, will know, the divine role of uniting the Arab and Muslim peoples into a great empire. There is Communist exploitation in the Middle East and there is Communist infiltration of certain countries. Finally, I believe that at times there have been, unfortunately, Western vacillations and changes of policy which have not helped the general position but which have aided the forces opposing us throughout the world, especially the Soviet Union.
I should like to speak for a few moments about the contradictions of Nasser’s own actions, contradictions which it may be difficult at times to understand with only a very superficial knowledge of what is happening in the Middle East. Nasser never ceases in his anti-Western propaganda, but at the same time he says that he wants to re-open trade relationships with the United Kingdom, such as those which existed before the Suez Canal episode. He says also that he wants to be friendly with the United Kingdom. Those are two completely contrary attitudes. He says that he is not a Communist, but he falls into the arms of the Communists at every conceivable opportunity. He goes to Moscow. He may think that he can play the Russian game and still stay out of Russian control, but it is unlikely that he will be able to do so. He plays off the West against Russia and, if he can, he plays off Russia against the West. He condemns imperialism but practises it himself in the worst of all forms. While condemning imperialism by Western Powers he ignores the fact that, in the past, 20,000,000 Muslims have been colonized by imperial Russia.
Western relations with Nasser have fluctuated from time to time. We have blown hot and cold. At times we have tried to work with him. In 1954, the United States helped him to achieve the evacuation of the United Kingdom Suez Canal troops. The United Kingdom and the United States were prepared to help him to build the Aswan high dam. which would have been of great benefit to his economy, but they became tired of being played off against the Soviet Union and their offer lapsed. In a fit of rage, Nasser nationalized the canal, with all the results that have come since then. Western policies in the Middle East have been and still are, I believe, complicated and contradictory to a certain extent. Not all the aims of Western policy can be achieved by the same actions, and actions which will help to achieve some aims will help to destroy others.
Probably the West wants nothing more than peace and security in the Middle East, but the West is committed to the presence and continuation of Israel - something which Arabs may not always accept - and that makes it difficult for Arabs in some instances to appreciate the very real goodwill of the Western Powers. The West, as I have said, has blown hot and cold towards Nasser. It refused Nasser arms,’ probably because it suspected the purposes for which he wanted them; but because the West refused Nasser arms, he obtained them from the Soviet Union. Therefore, the Western action resulted in Nasser coming closer to the Soviet Union and the Communist powers. The United States supported Nasser over the Suez Canal incident, but it has opposed his policies on other matters. We in this House must be very glad and _ happy that that is so, having regard to what has happened in Lebanon.
I believe that there are basic policy decisions to be made concerning the Middle East and that it will be extremely difficult to reconcile the conflicting elements in the different parts of Western policy relating to the various areas of the Middle East. We have been told by many people - this is a term frequently used in leading articles in the press - that we must come to terms with Arab nationalism, but these people never say how we are to come to terms with it. They do not say that they really mean that we must come to terms with Nasser. It is not at all certain that we could do that, even if we tried once again. In the past we have tried to do that very thing.
Are the nations of the West to ignore it if Nasser breaks agreements? Is the West to allow itself to be played off against Russia? Is the West to ignore Nassers’ subversive activities against other States in the Middle East? Are we to ignore those three things in order to come to terms with Nasser, or would we consider that the price was too high? On the other hand, if we do not come to terms with Nasser, perhaps we will drive him more surely into the Russian and into the Communist camp and thereby greatly increase Russian and Communist influence in the Middle East. Neither alternative is a happy one; and any decision that is made will be a’ difficult one. The question is: Can we work with Nasser? That question is unanswered and I doubt if at the present time anybody could answer it. It has remained unanswered because of contrarypolicies that have been followed by the Western Powers. Those contrary policies have been followed owing- to the force of circumstances that have arisen throughout the Middle East. To give another example, there is the Baghdad pact, that tier of northern .States, designed to stop Russian infiltration into the Middle East area. But nonsense is made of the Baghdad pact if we- cannot prevent countries of the Middle East becoming hostile and unfriendly towards us. It is- tantamount to sticking a knife into the- back of the Baghdad pact. We must find an- answer to this problem.
The West has at times worked with Nasser and at times it has worked against him. It is not sure which is the right policy, bearing in mind the need for security and peace in the Middle East. Doubts have arisen in the minds of Western nations because of Nasser’s actions and because of other postulates of Middle Eastern policy. This again is- the result of Israel’s presence and the Baghdad pact.
I believe that the future leaves us with no choice. I believe that we must once again strive to work with Nasser. One of the main tasks of the United Nations in this area will be to see that the President of the United Arab Republic ceases his subversive activities throughout the Middle East and to make sure that he keeps his agreements in the future. I believe that this is one of the most important things necessary for a- solution of Middle East problems.
The United Kingdom and the United States of America were absolutely right in the action they took in the Lebanon and Jordan. Inaction at that particular time would have had disastrous results on the Baghdad pact countries of Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. There has been a great deal of argument about the legal aspect of this intervention. I believe that the legal argument is the least important, although it completely supports the action that was taken. It would have been completely dishonorable if the United States and the United Kingdom had not acted as they did. Their word throughout the world and particularly among the uncommitted nations would have been worth nothing. But the tragedy is that the United States and the United Kingdom had to act because the United Nations organization was completely impotent in such a crisis. The United States and the United Kingdom cannot act as the police force for the world. That would not be practicable and it would not be wise. The United States and the United Kingdom hoped that the United Nations organization would take over their responsibilities in the Lebanon and Jordan; but Russia’s veto, about which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has* said nothing, has prevented the United Nations from being effective in this particular instance.
As the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said earlier to-night, the United Nations organization must be strengthened. It must have the power to enforce peace in troubled areas like the Middle East. That means that it must have a permanent police force and machinery to use it rapidly, as the occasion warrants. The United Nations, as it now stands, is powerless if one great nation opposes another and if the veto can be used. Such a position is wrong and makes the organization impotent.
It is essential that countries in the Middle East be given economic help to develop but this is no good and cannot be successful unless political stability is first achieved. Political stability must be the first requirement of any Middle East settlement under United Nations auspices. Economic aid must come after political stability has been reached. I believe that the basic causes of the problems in the Middle East to-day are. political and not economic or social. Those basic problems revolve very largely around the figure of President Nasser, who is a hero to the mobs throughout the whole Arab world.
.- As 1 think I am the last man to bat for the Opposition in this debate, I should say at the outset that members of the Government parties are. not the only ones who are proud of their origin or who are proud of the fact that they speak the same language as the people of the United States and the United Kingdom. No doubt honorable members opposite are proud of our democratic way of life, but I remind them that the same philosophy actuates the Australian Labour, party. I remind them, too, that it is due mainly to the efforts of persons of the political outlook held on this side of the chamber that the peoples of the democracies, large and small, are able, to deal with governments that are not to their lilting simply by dropping a piece of paper in a ballot-box. For that reason, plus the fact that Australia is a. member of the British. Commonwealth of Nations, we are alWays ready to assist, so far as it is pos sible, to hold the Commonwealth and the United States on a co-ordinated policy. But let nobody be misled: The Australian Labour party will not stand for the sacrifice of principles to expediency. Nor will it sacrifice the right, in great issues such as those that now confront the world, to say frankly what its views are, even if those views clash with the views of nations with whom we have very friendly associations.
Last night the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) uttered some remarks that appalled me. He said in effect that he was sorry that in this Parliament the Opposition has the right to express opinions that differ from those of other people in the Parliament. In other words, any expression of opinion contrary to that of the government of the day should not be permitted. If that were so, democracy could not operate as it should. Nobody in this- Parliament has done more to safeguard freedom of expression of opinion without fear or favour than the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). There can be no question of that. It has been alleged that the right honorable gentleman has made no protest against Russia’s exercise of the veto. But it must not be forgotten that Britain exercised the right of veto on the occasion of the Suez Canal crisis. France, I think, has also used this right. From time to time, as people have seen their rights jeopardized, or, if they have been acting; according to certain principles or’ laws, their representatives have used the: veto in the Security Council of the United Nations.
The man who spoke forthrightly, and almost without assistance, at the United Nations conference which I attended in 1945 was the present Leader of the Opposition, in this Parliament. No one can deny him credit for the attitude he adopted on that occasion. Let me remind those in this Parliament who believe it is unfortunate that Government and Opposition members differ about the Middle East crisis that from the outbreak of the trouble with which the world is now concerned, right up to the present moment, the members of. Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament, by. speeches and by printed word have consistently and1 forthrightly advocated the holding of summit talks and the handling of this dangerous’ situation by the United
Nations. Despite condemnation from honorable members on the Government side, despite attempts by them to brand us as Communists, anti-British and antiAmerican, our efforts have had a strong impact on public opinion in this country.
Our opinions have influenced the Government in making representations to governments in other parts of the world. I also believe that our opinions have made an impact on the Government of the United Kingdom and we now find being adopted, almost exactly as we espoused it, the very course of action that we advocated at the outbreak of this trouble. We advocated that this matter should be referred immediately to the Security Council. It has been so referred, but the people who oppose this party fell down when they rejected the report of the committee appointed by the United Nations. They fell down in discharging their responsibilities when they said, “We do not like this report; it is not exactly the type of report that will suit our particular interests “.
We members of the Labour party have stuck forthrightly to the attitude we adopted at the outbreak of the trouble. Our opinions have been criticized in this Parliament, in the press of the country, and in many parts of the globe. Yet the Minister for External Affairs, after presenting us last night with a report of the Government’s attitude towards the problem, concluded his speech by saying that it was his belief that the way out of this trouble was through a United Nations commission or similar organization which, after thoroughly investigating the deplorable trouble in the Middle East, might be able to evolve a means of establishing goodwill once again in this troubled old world.
From the commencement of this debate we have heard much about subversion. The Government has endeavoured to subvert the opinion of the electors of Australia so that they will believe that the members of the Australian Labour party are Communist followers, followers of the Communist line, fellow travellers, anti-British, and antiAmerican, and that we are guilty men because we have not, slave-like, thoughtlessly fallen into line with the policy adopted by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.
Let us- leave the members of the Labour party out of the discussion for the moment. Let me quote the opinions of men who are not members of the Australian Labour movement, but who do carry great responsibilities in other parts of the world. These men have forthrightly advocated the right of members of the Commonwealth of Nations and of the democracies outside it to express their own views so that there may be a moulding of opinion that will bring all parties involved in a dispute that could lead to the tragedy of war, to a state of sensible reasoning.
First, I quote an article that appeared in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 14th December, 1956, at the time of the Suez crisis. Members of the Opposition had taken up the attitude that the quarrel ought to be referred immediately to the United Nations for solution. The heading of the article to which I refer reads, “ British Suez Move Tragic Mistake “.
That heading is almost word for word what the Leader of the Opposition had said. The term “ tragic mistake “ was not used in this instance by a member of the Communist party in the United Kingdom. Perhaps the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who makes the imputation that we are Communists, will tell us who he thinks was the author of that statement!
– Charlie Chaplin!
– It was not Charlie Chaplin. It was no less an identity than Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Lord Tedder. This is what the report states -
Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Lord Tedder, broke his silence on the Suez situation last night to describe the British Government’s action as “ a tragic mistake.”
Let me quote another expression of opinion. I wonder to whom the honorable member for Hume would attribute this statement? It appears in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 26th March, 1955-
Canada Warns U.S. - Menzies “ Silent “.
That was not on the occasion of the Suez Canal crisis.
– What occasion was it?
– The honorable member will learn soon enough. I ask him not to get excited. The article to which I refer reads -
Washington has had a sharp reminder that its defence policies will not necessarily command the assent of Canada, its closest neighbour -
And, I interpolate ally. The article continues -
The reminder is in Canada’s decision not to intervene in any conflict over Chinese off-shore island and External Affairs Minister Pearson’s warning ….
He is now leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the Parliament of Canada. He was formerly the Minister for External Affairs. He was not a communist; he was not a member of the Labour party; he was not a socialist. He was a man of broad liberal opinion, and he recognized that it was imperative that in the interests of goodwill throughout the world it must be emphasized that where a question of principle was involved, expediency should not be resorted to. As the Minister for External Affairs at that time, he warned the United States that even limited intervention might have a chain reaction and cause conflict to spread across oceans. The article continues -
The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, has given no public indication in Washington on where Australia stands.
But Mr. Pearson was educating public opinion, endeavouring to put it on the right track, and trying to show that intervention in disputes affecting other countries is something to be avoided, if possible, unless there is actual aggression. The article proceeds -
He stated in London that the off-shore islands were “ not worth a war “ but, questioned last week on whether he still held that view, he refused to reply.
Mr. Pearson said a great deal more, and honorable members can read the article if they wish, but I feel that I have quoted enough to dispose effectively of the slurs and imputations thrown across this chamber at the Labour party.
The Middle East question, this Government’s action, and so on have been fairly extensively debated. I wish to deal now with the things that have been said about the attitude adopted by members of Her Majesty’s Opposition towards communism. The comments that I am about to make are directed particularly to the honorable member for Hume. It appears that he, like all sensible citizens in a democracy, has a horror of dictatorships. Members of the
Australian Labour party share that feeling with him. We who belong to that party have a horror of communism as it is practised in the world to-day. Charges and accusations that the Australian Labour party and Opposition members in this Parliament are assisting communism have been thrown up, but let me tell the honorable member for Hume that his pockets are lined with the gold of Communist governments. It was recently revealed, as reported in the “ Age “ of 25th May last, that Australian exports to red China had increased from £3,600,000 in the first nine months of the financial year 1956-57 to £7,700,000 in the first nine months of the financial year 1957-58. So the Menzies-Fadden Government, over the first nine months of last financial year, sold £7,700,000 worth of Australian products to red China. And this trade is still going on!
– What is the matter with that?
– Here is another member of the Australian Country party seeking a share of Communist gold!
– I hear that the honorable member sold some wool, too.
– Yes, but, of course, I have advocated trade with the people of all countries, regardless of race, creed or religion.
Government supporters have talked about alliances with communism, and have tried to brand Opposition members as Communist allies. I remind them that we have received no monetary reward from Communist countries. It is the people whom members of the Australian Country party are trying to misrepresent, and whom they so utterly misrepresent, who are having their pockets lined with Communist gold. But I refuse to be interrupted further by the honorable member for Mallee. I wish only to tell him that wool represented the major portion of Australia’s exports of £7,700,000 to red China in the first nine months of 1957-58.
Everybody knows that governments that can make their people happy and provide them with adequate food and raiment invariably retain the continuing confidence of the people. This Government’s shipments of wool to Communist China and to iron curtain countries in Europe have been providing the wherewithal to enable those
Communist-dominated countries to make their people happy and contented, and to maintain the even tenor of their ways, as it has been termed. Worse still for Australia, these wool shipments have provided the .Communists with the wherewithal to :clothe the Communist armies - the Communist hordes, as they are called by some people - and give them the strength to embark on world conquest in their own interests, if they so desire. Do members of the Australian Country party deny it?
However, this sort of trade goes beyond the Country party and those who support it. There was another report about trade with Communist China in the “ Age “ in July last. I suppose some of the people involved in this trade will be more careful in future to prevent the press from learning about these things. Under the dateline, “ Sydney, Tuesday “, the following report appears: -
The manager of Lysaght’s Port Kembla works, Mr. J. C. F. Lysaght, announced to-day that orders for 26,000 tons of sheet steel worth £1,500,000 had been received by his firm from Communist China.
The export licences for this trade are issued by the Menzies-Fadden Government. Can any one seriously suggest that sheet steel has no defence significance and is of no value to a potential aggressor?
I come now to a further announcement of action taken by a body formed1 by this Government. Under the heading, “FourPoint Plan to Lift Export Income”, the “Age”, in its issue of 17th July last, reported that a new Export Development Council had been appointed, under the chairmanship of Sir John Allison. That gentleman is a citizen beyond reproach, and an industrial leader. He is chairman of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia. The newspaper report states that Sir John Allison had said that one of the functions of this instrumentality appointed by the Government was to intensify efforts to increase sales overseas, including trade with both Russia and Communist China.
In the face of the things that I have mentioned, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how can Government supporters any longer have the temerity to throw their dirty insults at members of the Australian Labour party, -whom they .accuse of fostering and assisting the spread of communism throughout the world? I could mention also the efforts being made on behalf -of the dairymen to sell products to Communist countries, and J could mention the fact that the Australian -Wheat Board has had its emissaries abroad seeking orders for Australian wheat and flour from red China. What a nice lot of people Government supporters are!
Up to this point, I have said nothing about Nasser, lt was my fortune - or misfortune - to spend six months in Egypt some 44 years ago. My stay there left on my mind an impression that I shall never be able to forget.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I believed half of the assertions made by members of the socialist Australian Labour party during the two days of this debate, I should be convinced that the United States of America and the United Kingdom had degenerated into international criminals and that their leaders were international crooks and saboteurs who were absolutely devoid of principle. I must say that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), at the outset of his remarks, tried to tone down some of the impressions that had been left by the earlier observations of his colleagues. He tried to tell the House and the people that members of the Australian Labour party support the United Kingdom and the United States as .firmly as does any one else. But, of course, he failed miserably to convince us, because the evidence of the Australian Labour party’s attitude provided by this debate has been recorded in “ Hansard “ and is there for any one to read. The principles for which the Opposition stands have been .unmistakably indicated in this .debate.
I am the last -speaker in the debate. That is not a good position, and at this stage I cannot do better than answer some of the statements that have been made by Opposition members, who presented a variety of contrasting views. I am not prepared to condemn the speeches made by all Opposition members, but I do condemn most of them because they contained statements -about Britain and the United .States directly contrary -to everything relevant to the subject that 1 have been taught since my childhood. After all the years that I have been learning- about the great British Empire and
Commonwealth of Nations, and about the great American nation, and how they stand for freedom, I cannot agree with what has been said by the majority - I emphasize that it is the majority - of Opposition members.
I notice that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who is the Opposition Whip, is in the chamber at the moment, and I should like to deal with several of his remarks. The honorable member said that at the time of the Suez Canal dispute the Americans threw up their hands in horror, and that, two years afterwards, the United States has landed troops in the Middle East. He said that this was a complete somersault of policy. People all over the world, of course,, are coming to realize that Sir Anthony Eden was right, and if one were to ask the United States leaders for their views, they, most of all, would express that opinion. I believe that it is- not so bad for an individual or a nation to change views formerly held if it is considered that there is1 reason to do so. When Sir- Anthony Eden’ decided on the action taken by the British in the Suez Canal dispute, the urgency of the Russian threat was not so sharply impressed on the minds of the American people as it is now, and Sir Anthony Eden has been shown as a great leader whose actions have been fully justified, by recent, events. That is the simple answer to the arguments put forward by the: honorable member for Wilmot as expressed in- perhaps half a page of the “ Hansard “ record.
Then he. said, in one breath, “ Russia of course committed atrocities in Hungary “, but in.another he said that.Russia described the landing of troops in the Middle East as “ an act of aggression “. There is nothing very startling about those two statements, because Russia in fact did commit the. atrocities in Hungary and, at the same time, wanted to convey to the world that the free nations were doing the same thing in the Middle. East. By making remarks such as those the honorable member for. Wilmot indicated clearly that he did not realize the implications of his statements.
He; with other speakers from the Opposition side- of the chamber, then said that Australia should have an independent view, not the view of the other free nations of the: world. Should we not. express the same view, even to a slight extent, as that expressed by our kinsmen in. the Commonwealth of Nations? On another occasion Australia did. have an independent view, but the moment that view was expressed the- Government was condemned by the Opposition.
– When was that independent view expressed?
– For the benefit of the honorable member for East Sydney, who does not seem to know these things, Australia’s refusal to recognize Communist China is an example of the independent view taken by Australia, which is still being condemned by every member of the Labor party.
The- honorable member for Wilmot said that the trouble in the Middle East was caused by the great nationalist aims of the Arabs. Another speaker from the Opposition side of the chamber said that Russia’s interest in the Middle East was to protect the nationalist aims of countries in that area. If Russia is interested in the Middle East for that reason, she has plenty of scope to exercise that interest in the satellite countries on which she has her heel at the present time. If Russia is the great freedom-loving, country that the Labor party seems to think she is, why does she not- give some proof of her bona fides by lifting her heel from; for example, Hungary? Why does Russia; refuse to allow the question of Hungary to be debated fully in the United Nations? Those are some of the contradictions contained in the speech of the honorable member for Wilmot: Russia is playing the role of the protector of the nationalism of those Middle East countries that have been in a state of unrest recently, but undoubtedly that unrest has been brought about by the Soviet Union itself:
The- honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) said that if it was competent for us to hope for unrest in Russia, surely we could not take exception to Russia causing unrest in countries in which we are interested! The democracies cross the borders of weaker countries not with the intention of subduing them- in a lawless- rage.- of conquest, but to secure their- freedom. Remarks on those lines make the honorable: member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) smile broadly.
– Freedom from whom?
– Freedom from the heel of the Soviet Union, and to keep such countries outside the iron curtain, for the simple reason that the stronger we can make nations outside the iron curtain the less risk there is of the iron curtain encircling the free world.
The men who stand for freedom and liberty and are pro-British have been condemned. Let us take the case of President Chamoun. He was condemned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Why? Because he was pro-British! That is the chief reason he has been deposed as the President of Lebanon.
– That reasoning is all haywire.
– President Chamoun’s pr.o-British tendencies brought him into disrepute in his own country, and therefore he has been condemned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, which leads me to believe that he is all haywire, to adopt the phrase of the honorable member for East Sydney, and probably is thinking of that czar in a certain union in Australia about whom he was so vocal in this House some time ago - a matter which caused such an upset in Labour caucus yesterday. Honorable members opposite should laugh that off, if they can. They are getting themselves mixed up all the time.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) appeared as an advocate for an oil company. Those honorable members in this House who have good memories - not convenient memories that forget so easily - know how the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) succeeded in making a good case to the effect that a member of Parliament could quite rightly appear as an advocate in any case before a court and that his action in so doing did not in any way reflect on him. I believe he justified that principle.
– He never appeared against the Commonwealth while holding the portfolio of Attorney-General, and that is what the Prime Minister did.
– The Prime Ministermay have appeared for the oil companies,, but the Leader of the Opposition appeared for people of less repute. Such a statement as that made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is to be expected” because, after all, he is an irresponsible member of the Labour party and may even be thrown out of some of the unionsshortly, according to my information. For the Leader of the Opposition to sit in hisplace smiling seems beyond comprehension, when, not so very long ago, he himself put a case the very opposite to that stated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Contradictory statements such as those dono enhance my regard for the principles, for which the Labour party stands. Thoseprinciples are not as high as I should like them to be.
The honorable member for East Sydney said that the last thing the Government, wants to do is to publicize the viewpoint of the Opposition on this crisis. I should say it has been publicized very well during these last two days and I, with other members of the Government parties, am tremendously pleased about it.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company is now the owner of all the shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited previously held by the Commonwealth Government. Those remarks were repeated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but the fact is that before the sale of those shares only 10 per cent, of the petrol used in Australia was refined in this country, whereas over 90 per cent, is now being refined here. It is also a fact that the great refinery at Kwinana has been built by that organization. It is a fact, too, that employment has been provided for thousands of men. and that the refinery has been expanded to an extent that could not have been achieved by the Australian Government without spending countless millions of pounds that would have had to be obtained by the imposition of taxes at rates probably 100 per cent, higher than those now being paid by many of the Australian people. The Australian people have been saved many millions of pounds. All the sales made by the Government of what the Australian Labour party calls publicly-owned organizations have shown wisdom and understanding of the position, and subsequent events have fully justified the action taken.
The subject of petrol is relevant, because we have dealt with the matter of oil from the Middle East. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that petrol prices in this country were exorbitant. As most honorable members have read recently, it is a fact that petrol prices in Australia have risen by less than the rise in the prices of 90 per cent, of all other goods in Australia, and that petrol prices here are lower than they are in many other countries. So there is no justification at all for the suggestion by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the oil companies are exploiting Australians in the way he indicated.
One of the main questions 1 want to ask to-night is: Has the Australian Labour party ceased to appreciate the principles that have made Britain and America great? Do honorable members opposite not realize that, wherever the British flag flies, no man can stand beneath its folds without becoming and remaining free? Compare that situation with the position in Russia. No man there is free. Everywhere that the British flag flies, the people know that they will get the fair deal that is known as British justice. British justice, and the fair deal it gives, stand out against any fabric of shabby tricks, no matter how bright. Do not honorable members realize that the song “ Land of Hope and Glory “ did not become as popular as it should have become, because of those lines -
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set God who made thee mighty make thee mightier yet.
The reason is that the British people are not looking for new lands. They do not want their bounds to become wider and wider. The song therefore did not become as popular as it might have become. But in the early stages of the Empire -
We sailed wherever ships could sail, and founded many a mighty State,
God grant this nation shall not fail, through craven fear of being great.
When the honorable member for Port Adelaide said, “ We are pacifists “, I asked, “ Surely you do not want peace at any price? “ and, of course, he said, “ No “. I believe he meant it, but I cannot say that for most members of the Australian Labour party.
A lady who is a great supporter of the Labour party said to me not long ago that we should lay down all our arms, so that Russia, knowing we were genuine because we had laid down our arms and were helpless, would do the same, and then we could all live happily ever afterwards. She is still a supporter of Labour. I do not want to say her name, because that might not be in her best interests, but if any Labour man comes to me immediately after I finish, I shall give the name to him.
My time has nearly expired. Let me say that our men have gone into the Middle East not on a quest for gain such as the one that led our fathers to the Austral shores. They have not gone to outrage weaker nationalities. I believe that we must adhere to the principles that have made our Empire great. We must, in this farflung corner of the British Commonwealth of Nations, stand for our principles, because our flag will be honoured only while we stand for those principles that have made it known, and great throughout the earth. I believe that if we stand to the British principle, it will outlive and outrun all the savage tricks and broken faith of the Soviet Union.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Cope) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Wade had been appointed to the Public Accounts Committee in place of Senator Seward, deceased.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to direct the attention of the House to what I regard as a most irregular procedure that has been followed in the Immigration Department. When we find existing a state of affairs, wherein a department’s officers and organization are used by the Government in an attempt to give party advantage to its own supporters, I think it is about time that some attention was directed to it.
The Immigration Department follows a practice of contacting new Australians and asking them if they want to become naturalized British subjects. I have a copy of one of the letters, signed by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). With it goes a card. The new Australian is asked to indicate whether he intends seeking Australian citizenship by naturalization. If he answers in the affirmative, forms are sent to him, and he is contacted by a member of the Immigration Department who, according to this circular, gives him every assistance and advice.
– What is wrong with that?
– Nobody will take much objection to that. But let me continue. If new Australians indicate that they want to become naturalized, their names and addresses are then furnished to Liberal party head-quarters and, almost simultaneously with the naturalization application form, comes a spate of propaganda from the Liberal party. All this Liberal party propaganda is framed and directed against the Australian Labour party, in an effort to convince new Australians that the only anti-Communist parties in this country are the Liberal and Australian Country parties which sit in government to-day.
I hate inefficiency, wherever it exists. It might be interesting to hear from the Minister the particular method by which the department gathers the names and addresses of persons to be approached in this way. I have authority to mention, if necessary, the name of a gentleman who received such a communication addressed to his place of employment. I have here a copy of the letter which he directed to the Minister. I shall read it to the House to indicate that there must be some lack of efficiency in the department, because it happens to be contacting not only new Australians but also, in this instance, a very old Australian. He wrote to the Minister -
I am in receipt of an undated communication from you enclosing card No. . return prepaid envelope and a personal letter from you addressed to my workplace, enquiring about my naturalization. I was naturally pleased to know you were thinking about me, and hope you do the same in regards to my schoolmates who attended Rozelle Superior Public School with me from 1905 until 1915.
Having been born in Rozelle, Sydney, fifty-eight years ago, I am wondering .if my father would be eligible as he was born at Miller’s Point, Sydney, in 1871; also his father, who came to Australia in 1854, only 104 years ago.
He goes on in this strain. I invite the Minister to indicate how this gentleman came to be furnished with this form. He has consulted new Australians with whom he works. Some of them have also received the form and returned the card indicating that they wanted to become naturalized British subjects. Almost immediately, sometimes in the same mail with the application forms for naturalization came this bundle of literature from Liberal party head-quarters indicating to the recipients that if they become naturalized, they will have the right to vote, and if they want to exercise a vote against communism they must, according to this particular lying propaganda, record a vote for government candidates.
I think that it is shocking to take advantage of these unfortunate people, many of whom have no knowledge, or very little knowledge, of the English language. Many of them have not been long enough in the country to gain an intimate knowledge of the political scene, and, therefore, they cannot exercise their own judgment. This Government is so desperate in its need to secure support at the next elections that it uses these dishonest measures in order to influence .these unfortunate people who have come to live in this country. It is quite evident that once they become settled in Australia, and begin to move around amongst their work-mates and trade unionists on the job, they become less and less subject to this type of propaganda. But undoubtedly some of them might be influenced by it and I think the sooner it is exposed and made known to these people the better it will be for this country.
Surely there is no member on the Government side who is prepared to stand up in his place and admit it. There are many of them that privately believe it, but when they talk about democracy, they do not care how they get the votes. They do not care whether it is a crooked election, whether people are induced by dishonest methods to vote for them as long as they get the numbers. That is all they are after. They are to-day using public money for this department for this dishonest purpose. My reason for rising was to expose the tactics of the Government to both old and new Australians so that they will be able to judge it at its real worth.
– I was denied the benefit of hearing the opening gambit of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), but I have had an opportunity of reading the letter from which he quoted because the gentleman - I think his name is Mr. Olson - who feels himself so outraged, quite obviously has sent a copy of his letter to me to the honorable member for East Sydney. It is quite apparent that this same gentleman is one who finds himself ideologically in sympathy with the party of which the honorable member is a member.
I am amazed that a member of this House with the ostensible intelligence of the honorable member for East Sydney should at a late hour to-night waste the time of this chamber by bringing what is obviously a case of mistaken identity before the National Parliament. To me, I say, that is a state of affairs which is quite extraordinary, and from my knowledge of the -honorable member I should imagine he would have found far, far better ways of employing his time. I remind the House that in this matter of naturalization it is surely good public policy for the Government to try, not with any sense of compulsion at all but with a sense of wishing to point out the many advantages of naturalization, to bring to our new Australian settlers a reminder that the great benefits of Australian citizenship are theirs. The result of that policy is to be seen in the rapidly increasing flow of naturalizations in this country. For example, in the year 1957 there were over 41,000 people naturalized in Australia. That compares with the year 1956, when there were only 31,000. This great movement of assimilation and the endowing of citizenship on our European settlers is going on apace year by year.
Of course, when you are dealing with figures - the number this year will be between 40,000 and 50,000 - it is reasonable ;to expect that occasionally there may be some case of mistaken identity, some misdirected letter. Human nature being what it is, you cannot expect departmental officers to be completely .accurate every single moment of the day and of the night. The marvel surely is that these mistakes are so seldom. To my recollection, in the nine years that I have been a member of this House, this is the first occasion on which a mistake of this nature has been put before the chamber. So I say that rather than the honorable member for East Sydney bringing this case and trying to inflame it before the chamber, I should have thought it is a matter of congratulation to the department that never before in nine years has so slight a slip been made. Instead of censuring myself and my officers he should, if he were a man, have risen in his place and stated what a splendid job the Department of Immigration is doing in promoting this great cause of naturalization and inducing people by voluntary persuasion to clothe themselves with full Australian citizenship.
– I rise to give the House some information supplementing the statement which I made earlier in the day, by leave, regarding events in New Britain. Subsequent to the making of the statement to the House this morning, I received from the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea a further report on the incidents at Navuneram on 4th August. This report, I may add, is based on the personal investigation which Mr. Cleland, the Administrator is making at the request of the Government, and it follows conversations which have taken place between field officers of the Administration and the native people who were concerned.
– Is a copy of the statement available?
– I am making the statement now. Mr. Cleland reported as follows: -
I am satisfied that the deaths were not caused by deliberate directed fire. The two who were killed were with others in timbered sloping ground behind the main body of approximately 300, where hand-to-hand struggles were taking place. No ammunition was issued before the patrol took up its position. It was only issued when the Commissioner of Police saw that the position was getting dangerous for the Government party. Even so, the issue was restricted to a reserve squad of 30 police. The order for high-angle fire was given when the Commissioner considered the position extremely grave and the party in danger of being overwhelmed. I am also satisfied that the size -of the patrol was justified in view of all circumstances and the continued defiant attitude of the natives concerned. The operation was handled with care, patience and regard for the responsibilities involved.
Regarding the future situation, the Administrator reported that there were no indications of any further trouble and that the leader of the villagers had undertaken to arrange for the people to meet an Administration field party to-day. It was hoped that as a result of this meeting the villagers would voluntarily accept the Administration rule. The district is again quiet and orderly.
In a yet later message received only shortly before I came into the House, the Administrator informed me that the meeting with the native people had taken place this afternoon, that the villagers assembled, that a friendly atmosphere was established, and that it would appear that the trouble that gave rise to this unfortunate incident has now been removed and we can look forward - I am sure that all members of the House will be pleased at this outcome of the affair - to better relations and established peace and order in this part of the Territority. I give that information without comment. I do not think it is proper or necessary for me to enter into a debate on the matter at this stage. I have attempted to place before the House information which came before me as a result of the investigation for which the Government had asked.
110.51]. - This morning the Minister presented a report from the Territory and I commented on it. We were then given certain undertakings about the form which the coronial inquiry should take and also about an investigation by a judicial officer. I take it that nothing the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has now said will preclude these investigations.
– Certainly not. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that I have also been informed by the Administrator that the arrangements for the inquiries are under way.
– That is so; and there is to be a judicial inquiry. There could be nothing worse than to have a statement such as the Minister has just given brought into the picture before that investigation starts. Mr. Cleland could not know these things of his own knowledge. He gave this information as the result of a preliminary investigation which he made.
– The right honorable gentleman asked for an investigation.
– I did not ask for an investigation of this character, but for a judicial investigation, not merely in relation to this incident but in relation to the system of taxation. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) also asked the Minister about representatives of the native peoples or groups appearing before the coronial inquiry. I say again that the course proposed is not anything like the investigation that is necessary for this type of case. Mr. Cleland reports that he is satisfied, and so on. It is not a case of whether he is satisfied, but of what are the facts. He was not present when the incident occurred. He visited the scene later and made a preliminary investigation. The investigations announced by the Minister this morning will take place and in the meantime I do not wish, any more than the Minister does, to comment upon the document from which he has quoted. I think that is where the matter ought to be left instead of the House being given instalment reports which take the official line. Let the investigation take place and then the report can be considered, as no doubt it will be.
Mr. WHITLAM (Werriwa) [10.531. - I rise to express the hope that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in framing the terms of reference of the judicial inquiry which he promised this morning, will make them wide enough to deal with the whole question of local government among the Tolai and the resistance to taxation by some groups of the Tolai. I have noticed an article which appeared in “ South Pacific “, a journal published by the Department of Territories, in the July-August issue, 1954, written by Mr. James McAuley, entitled “ Local Government among the Tolai “. The last page of that article is devoted entirely to the history of the dissident groups among the Tolai who have protested, sometimes by riot, sometimes by objection to the Prime Minister and at another time by petition to the Administrator against various aspects of their inclusion in local government areas or against taxes being imposed upon them in that connexion.
I do not propose to say anything that will pre-judge or prejudice in any respect this pretty crucial issue which, I think, we all have reason to fear will be ventilated outside Australia as well as within it for some time. It would appear that the dissident groups have made protests ever since the Minister has been in charge of this department. I do not say that it is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. It may be purely incidental. But I merely point out that it is wrong to suggest that this was a somewhat isolated incident. There is a history of dissension between 1951 and the middle of 1954 detailed by Mr. McAuley.
– It could be traced back to 1880.
– Maybe it could; but I did not think that local government or local government taxation was attempted so far back. It appears, also, that last year the Tolai, or the elected representatives and councillors from all the local Tolai councils, asked that another man should be nominated by the Government to represent them in the Legislative Council of the Territory. They wanted the existing representative, John Vuia, to be replaced when his term expired. But their requests were ignored, and he was reappointed. I am told also that last year two leading Tolai flew at their own expense to Port Moresby to interview the Administrator about their grievances, but the Administrator refused to see them. This is the Administrator who has now gone to the site to investigate the recent incident.
– What is the source of the honorable member’s information?
– Is it correct or incorrect?
– I have not heard of the incident.
– I am putting the Minister on notice. I thought, by his gestures, he indicated that he did recall the incident concerning the nomination to the Legislative Council.
– I recall that, but not the other one.
– I do not know whether these are the facts or not. I am stating what was given to me and I hope that the judicial inquiry will be wide enough to deal with this subject. I am told - I do not know whether it is true, and I do not know whether the Minister knows whether it is true - that there are no persons in the employ of the Administration who know the Tolai language. I am told that the suggestion to establish a multi-racial school in the Rabaul area, where the Tolai people live among natives who have been longest in touch with missions, Europeans and our educational and civic activities, has been rejected.
This information has come to me, and I raise it now at this early stage. I do not assert that it is true, but I do not doubt that it is true. I merely mention it as justifying the terms of reference for the proposed judicial inquiry being made wide enough to cover this history of dissent which the department’s own publication traces since 1951 and about which the Minister, at least in one incident concerning the nomination to the Legislative Council, has already admitted the truth and relevance.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers, to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - l.-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 August 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580807_reps_22_hor20/>.