24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WARD presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government -
Nations, declare Australia’s willingness to enter into an agreement not to manufacture, test, station or acquire nuclear weapons.
Petition received and read.
Mr. EINFELD presented a petition in the same terms from certain electors of the Commonwealth.
Mr. COSTA presented a petition in the same terms from certain electors of the Commonwealth.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of his statement at Casino yesterday, after his aerial inspection of flooding in the north coast area of New South Wales, to the effect that something must be done to prevent flooding, 1 ask: Has the Prime Minister noted and considered the representations and suggestions of the honorable members for Cowper, Mitchell and Macquarie on this matter? Will the Government immediately grant additional relief to the victims of the New South Wales floods? Will the Prime Minister confer with the New South Wales Government with a view to making a grant to assist work on flood mitigation, which in turn would provide much-needed employment in the area?
– I have informed myself not only of the remarks made by the honorable members referred to but also of the remarks made by people such as the honorable member for Richmond in the course of discussion of this subject. This is not a matter that can be decided out of hand. The Leader of the Opposition well knows that there is a long established practice that in the event of disasters of this kind we meet with the State governments, on a £1 for £1 basis, the cost of relieving cases of individual hardship and distress. Every now and then problems arise which go beyond that mark and we have always been willing to discuss them with the State governments.
In the course of my visit yesterday, I found that local authorities were very grievously and too frequently affected by these floods. They have put their heads together on proposals for mitigating the damage and, in some suitable cases, for trying to prevent it. They have put up a reasoned case to the New South Wales Government. The Government of that State, as everybody concedes, is the Government primarily responsible for works of this kind within its borders. I said in Casino yesterday, after making these two points, that if my long experience counted for anything I would not be wrong in expecting that when the State Government had had a look at the proposals we would hear something about them. At this stage I do not say what can be done or what will be done; all 1 want to do is to exhibit a very lively interest in these floods and to say that it is intolerable that every year or two in these areas there should be disasters of this kind. The solution of these problems will require a great deal of co-operation and, if I may say so, non-political examination.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker. You will be aware, Sir, that there is a world-wide freedom from hunger campaign at present in progress and that it is customary for groups participating in this campaign to meet together for an austerity meal, contributing to the campaign the difference between the cost of that meal and the cost of a normal meal. I ask: Would’ you provide facilities in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms some time later in this week so that those honorable members who wish to participate in the campaign in this way may do so?
– This matter is the responsibility of the Joint House Committee. I have no doubt that it will be willing to provide facilities for any member wishing to participate in this campaign.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It arises from the fears felt by small businessmen about revealing the extent to which they are sometimes victimized by big business indulging in restrictive trade practices. I ask the Attorney-General: If representatives of Australian business and commerce are permitted, as I have read they will be, to place their views before the Attorney-General on the bill relating to restrictive trade practices, will he give a similar opportunity to small businessmen who claim to be the victims of restrictive trade practices to relate their experiences in strict confidence and place their views before him?
– I have made myself available to people to make representations, or offer criticisms or suggestions, to me with respect to this bill, irrespective of whether they are engaged in large business or in small business. If any one of the persons to whom the honorable member refers desires to see me he will find it not difficult to get an appointment.
The honorable member says he hopes that what is told to me will remain confidential. 1 can assure the honorable member that I shall and do keep confidences.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for Repatriation by directing his attention to a number of press statements which he has issued recently to the effect that the work of the Repatriation Department is continuing to expand and that this trend is expected to continue for some considerable time. Can the Minister inform the House of what is being done to meet this expected development?
– It is a fact that present assessments of the requirements for re patriation indicate that there will be an expanding trend until approximately 1975. We do not expect that it will then level off for another five years. If the circumstances remain as they are, we can expect that the peak will be reached about 1975, and that the demand will continue at a high level until about 1980, when, perhaps, it can be expected to taper off.
With that in mind, I say that a considerable amount of work is required to provide additional hospital and other facilities to meet the expected expansion. There has already been a considerable amount of work done in that direction, and I expect that during the next few years we will be providing the additional facilities that will be required.
It is a fact that over recent months many additional facilities have been opened. Only recently I had the opportunity to open the repatriation artificial limb appliance centre in Perth, a new facility which replaces the old centre that is to be pulled down. A new building was opened in Brisbane recently to provide additional facilities for the repatriation tribunals. Also, in the last couple of weeks, I had the privilege of opening the rehabilitation wing at the Lady Davidson Hospital in Sydney and the new rehabilitation hospital at Rosemount, Brisbane. On 4th June next I shall be opening the psychiatric wing of the new ward at the Springbank Hospital in Adelaide. Later in the year a new ward and other facilities at the repatriation hospital in Hobart will be opened.
– What are you going to do next year?
– Next year we expect that further facilities will be provided in Melbourne and Sydney. We are also now preparing a works programme for the next five years or so to plan for considerable expansion in the future.
Supply of Duty-free Aviation Spirit.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether the Department of Supply recently granted a contract on behalf of the Bureau of Mineral Resources to Ansett-A.N.A. for the supply and operation of helicopters for geophysical work. Did this contract purport to allow Ansett-A.N.A. to receive supplies of aviation spirit from government sources free of duty and internal transport costs? Was this contract made contrary to precedent and instruction? What efforts are being made to secure a refund of the amount which the company saved on the cost of aviation spirit? Can the Minister explain how the situation arose in the present case and what steps will be taken to avoid a repetition of such contracts?
– The honorable gentleman has asked a question about a matter the details of which I am not likely to carry in my mind in view of the wide variety of contracts arranged by the Department of Supply. A departure from the normal method of arranging contracts of this kind simply because the contract was made with Ansett-A.N.A. would be highly unlikely. Indeed, such a departure would be impossible. I shall be glad to look at the details of the whole matter and to give the honorable gentleman a quite precise answer.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Can he give any information about the movement of the level of the average weekly income of waterside workers in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne? In particular, is the Minister able to say what the average weekly income in those two ports was in the quarter ended in March of 1963?
– I was a little surprised when I heard it said in the House some weeks ago that there had been a reduction of the average weekly earnings of waterside workers in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne. I do not have all the details in my mind at the moment, but I can say that in the port of Sydney the average earnings for the January to March quarter of this year have risen by £4 2s. a week above the average of 1961-62 to, I think, £26 9s. lOd. I am sure that there has been an increase in average earnings in the port of Melbourne. I shall obtain the details and let the honorable gentleman have them.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. I ask: Is it a fact that the interpretation of the Menzies Government’s foreign policy by senior executives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is fast turning that body into a ministry of fear? Has the Minister noted that the commission’s most successful programme, “ Four Corners “, is disintegrating, that Mr. Raymond, the production genius, has already resigned and that the programme’s editor, Mr. Michael Charlton, is about to do so? Why did the executive of the commission refuse this brilliant team permission to make a documentary programme on the Indonesian take-over of West New Guinea? Finally, is it a fact that the commission works under a general directive - probably by the Minister - that no programme that may be offensive to any one is to be produced?
– The honorable member, at the beginning of his question, suggested that the Australian Broadcasting Commission was operating under a policy of fear. That is completely over-drawn and completely untrue.
– It was a good headline.
– Yes, a good headline, and that is about all, for, like some other good headlines, that is all there is to it. From time to time, in matters relating to international affairs, the commission properly has discussions with officers of the Department of External Affairs about the position generally prevailing and is, of its own choice, influenced in its decisions by such advice as it obtains.
– I repeat, “ of its own choice “. That is not just a headline. That is a statement of the position that prevails. As to the final point in the question, the commission does not operate under any general directive issued by me.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. I ask:
Has he seen a story, which appeared in the newspapers and was adopted by the Leader of the Opposition, to the effect that there is an unpublished understanding between the United States of America and Australia that provides for close and continuous consultation between Washington and Canberra about the use of facilities at the naval communication station at North West Cape in any South-East Asian crisis in which Australia and the United States may have divergent views? Is there any foundation for such a report?
– I saw the report in yesterday’s press and I observed that the Leader of the Opposition had adopted it uncritically and certainly without inquiry. The fact is that there is no foundation for the report. However, I think it is proper that I make one or two observations in answering the question. In ordinary circumstances, I would be very loath to disclose what took place during negotiations so heavy and important as was the negotiation of this agreement with respect to the naval communication station at North West Cape. Having regard to this newspaper story and one or two other assertions made both inside and outside this House, I think I ought to make certain observations and disclose one or two things.
In the first place, the United States Government did insist on sole control of this station. It made that a fundamental point of the negotiations. On the other hand, we insisted upon consultation, as is expressed in Article 3 of the agreement. The American Government was not unwilling to afford us consultation within the full width of Article 3, but it was very concerned that Article 3 should not be used as a means of seeking or obtaining control of the station. In the course of the discussions between myself, those negotiating with me from Washington and the American Ambassador, I put forward the meaning of the words of Article 3 which I put upon them in my second-reading speech in this House. That was the natural meaning of the words. The American Ambassador reported to Washington the views that he and I bad discussed as to the natural meaning of the words of that article. He subsequently forwarded to me, under cover of a letter, a copy of a memorandum of his conversations with me before the agreement was made, relating to the intent, meaning and effect of the proposal I was making with respect to Article 3. He gave me the text of so much of his report to Washington as affected that part of the conversations and asked me whether I would agree that it was accurate. I did agree.
I propose, Mr. Speaker, in order to put this matter at rest, as I would hope, to read to the House the Ambassador’s letter and my reply.
– How long?
– I shall read, as the honorable member for East Sydney says, the whole lot.
– I said, “ How long? “
– Under date 7th May, 1963, the American Ambassador, in a letter addressed to me, wrote as follows: -
I enclose a copy of my memorandum of our conversation of to-day concerning the construction of Article 3 of the VLF Agreement. Whereas this construction is not intended to restrict the Government of Australia’s right of consultation, it is intended to spell out clearly that consultation does not carry with it any degree of control over the station or its use.
If this is in accordance with your understanding, I would appreciate your so indicating.
Enclosed was a part of his own record for his own government of our conversation, under the heading “ Memorandum of Conversation “, dated 7th May, 1963. This was the Ambassador’s note -
After a full and complete discussion regarding consultation on use of the Station with Minister for External Affairs, it was clearly understood that consultation connoted no more than consultation and was not intended to establish Australian control over use of Station nor to imply any Government of Australia design to restrict at any time United States Government use of Station for defense communications including, for example, communications for polaris submarines. It is also understood that it was not intended to give Australia control over or access to the contents of messages transmitted over tha Station.
Under the same date I replied, thanking him for his letter enclosing the copy of the memorandum. I said -
Thank you for your letter of today’s date enclosing a copy of your memorandum of our conversation concerning the construction of Article 3 of the Agreement concerning the Naval Communication Station at North West Cape.
Your memorandum is entirely in accordance with my understanding.
Outside of that, there are no arrangements between the United States of America and ourselves with respect to consultation under this agreement. This exchange was in the course of negotiation before the agreement was signed and it resulted from American insistence on .having sole control of this station.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether there are any unpublished documents in his possession, having relation to this matter, which he would care to make public. Are there any other documents, or any other correspondence, or any other notes that have been exchanged which, in the light of his revelations of a few minutes ago, should be made public so that the people of Australia may have a clear picture of what has transpired between the Australian Government and the United States Government in respect of the establishment of a radio communication centre at North West Cape?
– It is somewhat of a pity that this sort of question is not asked before a lot of public announcements are made and arguments put forward.
– Why do you not make the announcements so that the arguments will not start?
– Let me answer the question first. On the matter that has been brought up and that we have been discussing, there are no other documents. However, it is proper for me to say that in the negotiation of an international agreement of this kind there are many matters not proper to be put in the agreement but incidental to carrying it out. They are dealt with in minutes. There are minutes that do not relate at all to the subject-matter we have been discussing, but which relate to incidental matters. I am reminded, for example, that this proposed centre may interfere with the telegraphic or telephonic lines controlled by my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, and there are provisions for the United States Government to bear the cost of any damage caused in this way. But these are incidental -matters, and they are to be found in minutes subscribed to by both parties. They do not relate to the matter that we have been discussing.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, relates to the forthcoming introduction of decimal currency. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the heads of the education departments of the various States are shortly to meet and confer on desirable changes in the education curriculum? Is he aware, further, that one of the matters that will probably be discussed is the desirability of or necessity for changes in the curriculum consequent upon the introduction of decimal coinage? In order to facilitate intelligent discussions by these people of such changes will the Government make a decision as early as possible on names of new coins and other matters incidental to the introduction of the decimal system?
– I can assure the honorable member that our work in connexion with this matter is being pushed forward with as much speed as possible, having regard to the very many other important and pressing matters engaging the attention of the Government. I can tell the honorable member that as recently as last week a special committee of the Cabinet dealing with this subject considered a number of problems associated with changeover, and the Cabinet itself has since had discussions arising from the talks of the committee. I am hoping that we will reach finality on some of the important outstanding questions, such as the establishment of an authority to deal with various matters related to the changeover, the names to be applied to the new currency units, the range of coinage, the weights and dimensions of the coins and so on. Some of these questions involve technical considerations which have to be discussed with relevant departments, such as the Postmaster-General’s Department. I can assure the honorable member that I am just as anxious as I gather he is to see that any uncertainty surrounding the changeover to decimal currency is removed as soon as it is practicable to do so.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer, by way of preface, to the successful efforts of the right honorable gentleman to secure the release of £100,000, being part of the money belonging to the Tasmanian Government, arising from the activities of the Tattersalls undertaking, which was frozen in New Zealand by the government of that country. Is the Prime Minister aware that legislation involving this money has now been passed by the Tasmanian Government for the purpose of granting a subsidy to the company controlling the King Island scheelite mine, to assist it to carry on its operations and thus provide employment, directly or indirectly, for some 400 people at Grassy on King Island? Is he aware, further, that the United States, despite its advocacy of the lowering of tariff barriers, maintains a duty of eight dollars a unit - a duty of almost 100 per cent. - against tungsten oxide concentrates? In view of the statement made in the debate on the subsidy in the Tasmanian Parliament that the Prime Minister was again making representations for the sale of the product to the United States, I now ask the right honorable gentleman: Is he in a position to advise me whether these negotiations have proved successful?
– I cannot answer the last part of the honorable member’s question by the book. I will be better informed on the matter when I have had a detailed discussion with my colleague, the Minister for Trade, who, as the honorable member knows, has been to the United States. As to the early part of the question, I was very happy to find that the requests of the Tasmanian Government, put through me to the Government of New Zealand, were, to the extent he has described, successful. I know that Mr. Reece was happy .with the result and I, personally, am delighted to see the direction in which the money is being used.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. Will he tell the House whether all Commonwealth cars are to be fitted with safety belts, resulting in their passenger capacity being reduced to a maximum of three to a car? If this is true, will it mean that passengers, by compulsion, will have to use the safety belts? Will such a ruling also mean that the fleet of Com monwealth cars will have to be increased to meet these changed circumstances?
– It is true that the passengercarrying vehicles in the Department of Supply’s fleet are progressively being fitted with safety belts. However, the average passenger-carrying capacity of these cars will not be affected thereby, and, consequently, there will be no need to increase the fleet. It has not been found practicable to make the use of safety belts compulsory, but I hope that as evidence continues to mount of the advantages of the use of safety belts in the prevention of injuries and fatalities, passengers will voluntarily use the equipment.
– I desire to direct my question to the Prime Minister, as head of the Government. Is it a fact that the Government of Indonesia adopted a regulation in 1960 regarding the development, refining and distribution of oil in Indonesia? Have the foreign oil companies operating in Indonesia agreed to abide by the terms of the regulation? Have they undertaken to act as agents for the Indonesian Government and hand back 60 per cent, of their profits to that government? If so, will he undertake to study the regulation and the agreement to see whether a similar agreement can be negotiated with the overseas oil companies operating in Australia?
– I will be glad to have a look at the matter raised by the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Can he say whether he will be in a position to make a statement on defence before the House rises this week?
– Barring accidents, I shall make it after question time to-morrow. That is a very cautious reply.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has he any plans in hand or any works programmes planned that will prevent large pools of unemployed persons forming in Queensland towards the end of 1963 and the early part of 1964, as has been the practice in previous years? What will be the employment prospects for young people leaving school at the end of 1963? Will they receive jobs, or will they receive the dole, as in the past? Does the Minister recall his Government promising to abolish unemployment within twelve months of having been returned to office? Why has this election promise not been fulfilled?
– The honorable gentleman should know that on several occasions during the last few years this Government has acted in concert with the Queensland Government to reduce the incidence of unemployment in that State between December and April. During this year special grants were made to the Queensland Government for that purpose. I have pointed out to the House on other occasions that seasonal workers receive rates of pay substantially in excess of normal rates to compensate for the periods when they are not seasonally employed. I think that is “the answer to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question. My department co-operates closely with the Queensland “Department of Labour and offers all the -help that it can to reduce unemployment during the period that I have mentioned. My department will continue to do so.
As to that part of the honorable gentleman’s question relating to young people leaving school, he should know that his statement is not in accordance with fact. This year we have not had a great deal of difficulty in placing young people in employment in any State. In fact, the record is a good one, and I hope soon to be able to announce the figures. When I do so I am sure the honorable gentleman will be delighted because he will learn how quickly these young people have been placed in employment.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by stating that I think it is generally agreed that the consumption of wheat and wheat products in Australia is a good background to the sale of our wheat crop. Has the Treasurer received representations from Australian biscuit manufacturers urging that the 12+ per cent, sales tax on biscuits be removed, because biscuits are such an important part of our food? Is it not a fact that during lengthy holiday periods when bread is not readily available the tendency to use biscuits becomes stronger? If the Treasurer has been informed of this position, has he given any consideration to removing, either wholly or in part, the present sales tax on biscuits?
– I have received representations for the removal of the sales tax on biscuits and on a great many other items. The representations for the removal or reduction of taxes go well beyond the field of taxation, as he will readily appreciate. As an experienced member of this House and previously of a State parliament, he knows that one of the problems of government is to secure the necessary revenue for the purposes of government from the sources which the public is willing to approve. Amongst the welter of suggestions that I receive for the removal of sales tax and other forms of taxation I would welcome sometimes a few suggestions as to other directions in which revenue could be obtained. If these suggestions were forthcoming perhaps I would be able to meet more readily some of the requests which are put to me.
I can assure the honorable gentleman, and others who have made similar representations to me, that their requests will be considered when the Budget is being discussed by Cabinet.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In the last few weeks there has been a disquieting number of announcements by personages in high places, including lately the Minister for Labour and .National Service, trying to inhibit public servants from taking part in industrial or political activity. Will he give the House an assurance that there will be no interference whatsoever with the rights of public servants to act as the rest of the community acts in their civil, industrial, or political capacities?
– There never has been any interference, as far as we are concerned. It has been a very important matter in my own life as Prime Minister to avoid any suggestion that there are political elements to be taken into account by the Government. I confess that when we come to the level of the civil service, which tenders advice to Ministers and carries out directions by Cabinet, I myself rather prefer that the people so engaged should not be active, known political partisans - and for very good reasons with which I am sure the honorable member for Wills will agree. But no inhibitions are placed upon any civil servant by this Government in the exercise of his civil rights.
– My question, which is addressed to the Postmaster-General, deals with Western Australian communications systems. Will the Minister assure me that, even at the expense of employing despatch riders, the channels of communication between Perth and Canberra are working well, in order to be certain that the instructions issued by Mr. Chamberlain in Western Australia may be quickly in the hot little hands of members of the Opposition?
– The question of speedy communications between Western Australia, particularly Perth, and Canberra has attracted my notice from time to time as a result of representations from some of my friends in that State. It is a matter to which I have given attention. Sometimes there are little hitches, but I can assure the honorable member for Wakefield that, particularly in a matter of such great importance as the one he has just put forward, I shall make sure that those channels are readily available.
– Has the Minister for Air received a letter from the Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen and Women deploring the lack of an .adequate air base and facilities on the Western Australian coast? I understand that similar letters have been sent to the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Civil Aviation. Did the letter express the concern felt over the existing weakness in air power on the west coast? Will he give this matter his earnest consideration with a view to the provision of an adequate base and air services on that coastline for reconnaissance purposes and also to provide more adequate facilities for sea rescue?
– Yes, I have received the letter to which the honorable member has referred. Some time ago a Neptune squadron was stationed at Pearce, just north of Perth. That squadron was withdrawn by my predecessor on the ground, I understand, of difficulty in training the crews in their primary task, which is maritime reconnaissance. Now two Neptune squadrons are stationed at Richmond and Townsville. There they have the facilities of all the naval craft on the eastern seaboard, particularly the three submarines which are operating there and with which they are constantly undertaking exercises in order to perfect the technique of anti-submarine warfare.
I will look into this matter for the honorable member for Stirling and for other honorable members from Western Australia who have asked me whether it would be possible to have a detachment in that State. We in the Royal Australian Air Force believe that it is very much better to have a mobile air force which is fully trained and which can be despatched immediately when required, as happened last week, for example, when the R.A.A.F. was asked to despatch two aircraft to Pearce to stand by in connexion with the man-in-space orbits. I am sure that that is the best system, because the cost and difficulty of stationing R.A.A.F. detachments some considerable distance from where they are to undertake their training would undoubtedly act as a deterrent. However, I will look into this matter for the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that in Australia there are large numbers of partially employed people - people who are employed on a weekonv.eekoff basis? As those people are debarred from receiving social service benefits, will the Minister consider their plight with a view to giving them relief?
– I will be pleased to give some thought to what the honorable member for Gellibrand has said and to provide him with a considered reply.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Dittmer had been appointed to fill the vacancy on the Public Works Committee caused by the resignation of Senator Ormonde.
Mr. HASLUCK (Curtin- Minister for
Territories). - I ask for leave to move a motion for the discharge of Order of the Day No. 12 - the resumption of the debate on the motion to print the Ministerial Statement on the Cuban crisis. By way of explanation I say that the Printing Committee has no power to consider papers, motions for the printing of which stand on the notice-paper. The discharge of this Order of the Day has been sought by the Printing Committee so that it might consider, at its meeting to-morrow, all the papers presented to Parliament in relation to the Cuban crisis. This Order of the Day has been on the notice-paper since 6th November of last year. In the circumstances it is thought that the need to debate this matter does not now exist.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That the following Order of the Day, Government Business, be discharged: -
No. 12 - Cuban Crisis - Ministerial Statement - Motion for Printing Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the Paper be printed.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 1548), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, this bill is designed to consummate a relationship of long standing between Australia and the United States of America. Already this union has been blessed with issue by the birth of an illegitimate offspring in the form of an
American naval communication station at Learmonth on Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia. This whole project, it is fair to contend, was conceived in servile subservience, confined in sordid secrecy and born in sardonic servitude.
The Government’s handling of this controversial issue has been characterized by blatant contempt for both the Australian people and those who represent them in this Parliament. Tenders were called for the construction of this military installation and work actually commenced before any legal agreement had been signed. These things were done before there was any democratic opportunity for this Parliament to discuss the proposal. This contemptuous attitude is unworthy of a government that was elected with fewer votes than the Opposition received and with precisely the same number of seats as the Opposition has in this House. At long last, well after the horse has bolted, the Government has been forced by public opinion and the tenacity of the Opposition to bring this agreement to the Parliament for ratification. To some extent at least the connivings of this Government are now about to get an airing.
The first rumours and rumblings in connexion with this matter were heard over two years ago. Then, in September, 1961, the Premier of Western Australia made a disclosure - to the embarrassment of this Government, I believe - that the negotiations in respect of the communication centre were well advanced. The Government obviously had hoped for a fait accompli. The idea that the Australian people through this Parliament should have a say in such a vital matter appears to be repugnant to this Government. This matter has been brought to the Parliament only in a fruitless endeavour to gain some miserable political advantage at the by-election in South Australia and possibly at the State election in Queensland.
The highest councils of the Liberal Party have also been kept in the dark about this measure. Recently the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and the Leader of the Government in another place, Senator Sir William Spooner, attended a meeting called by Liberal Party members in Sydney. Those honorable gentlemen were criticized because of the Government’s ineptness in defence matters. They were forced to walk out of the conference. They were not able to disclose anything about the Government’s intentions in connexion with this base. It has been left to the Australian Labour Party to stimulate a public conscience and awareness about this matter. Not one branch or forum of the Liberal Party did anything but completely accept this package deal. The Australian Country Party was obviously completely ignored.
There has been no regard by the Government parties for Australia’s interests in this matter. No inquiry has been made as to who should give the order through this station for the firing of Polaris missiles. There has been no regard to the extent of the military build-up that might take place in these 28 square miles of Australian soil, which may come to be known in the future as the Little America. How many troops will be stationed there in times of peace? No safeguard has been provided in respect of this matter. It appears that honorable members opposite just do not care. They have no desire to placate the intense anxiety of many Australians and certainly the anxiety of many of our Asian neighbours.
This grim and foreboding business heralds a’ new era for Australia. We are now to be projected into the nerve centre of the cold war. We are to be projected into an irretrievable alinement for better or worse, but heaven knows for what. No one has any idea of what the future holds. We are to be projected into an involvement with mobile nuclear bases in the form of skulking submarines with their Polaris projectiles. We are to be elated that another nation will have open season to do whatever it wishes from our soil without Australia having any effective say in the matter. Our gratification in all this is that on occasions the Australian flag is to be unfurled when the American flag is so presented. This is poor consolation for the Australian people.
While many would concede the grim necessity for this communications station, only the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) would say, as he did on the seventh of this month, “ I am delighted that the station is being established “. Let me tell the right honorable gentleman that there is no cause to be delighted that this base has become necessary in his view through the aggravation of world tension. A new threat has come to humanity and Australia may get a cold or even a hostile reception from its Asian neighbours, with possible subsequent adverse effects on our trade and our living standards. These are matters not for elation or delight but for disappointment and despair.
This bill proposes a lot more that just a communications station - a lot more than a mere addition to Australia’s defence. It involves the denial of the Commonwealth Prime Minister’s declaration regarding the containment of the nuclear club, because implicit in this bill is a sub-letting effect of nuclear weapons. This bill involves the abandonment to another country of Australian soil for the first time in the 193 years since Cook arrived. It involves a very severe handicap to efforts to obtain a nuclear-free zone, which, after all, is the status quo. We have had such a zone for the last twenty years or so since the first bomb was dropped at Hiroshima. It involves the inevitability of Australia being a target for attack by nuclear or conventional weapons in any future war. It involves Australia’s alinement in the cold war. It involves our inseparable association for 25 years with the foreign policy of another country, whether such policy is right or wrong. More importantly, it involves the denial of the birthright of present and future Australians to decide whether they are to be involved in any war.
We of the great Australian Labour Party make no apology for seeking assurances regarding the manner in which this base may be used. The six qualifications we proudly seek are fundamental to the preservation of Australian nationhood. We seek the right to make our own decisions as to whether we are to be at war with any power, and we shall never willingly relinquish that right. It has been forged into an Australian tradition by the sacrifices of Australia’s sons in war and peace. If the Government has been unable to sense this feeling which prevails around the countryside, it should take the first opportunity to test the people’s reaction by a referendum or preferably by a general election. The Prime Minister last month demonstrated his attitude, which is in contrast to that of the Australian Labour Party, when he spoke at the State Women’s Council of the Queensland Liberal Party. He attacked the Opposition and claimed that Labour jeered at the need for great and powerful friends. He said that Labour believed the best way to deal with them was to kick them instead of bowing the knee. Of course, his allegation is completely false, but his advocacy of bowing the knee is an indication of how much he is out of step with Australian dignity and national pride. Labour does not want to kick our friends and allies, and it does not want to bow the knee. We believe in close cooperation with the United States of America in respect of trade, economic affairs and many other matters of mutual interest, including defence, but we are not prepared to bow the knee to any power.
Labour does not stand alone in this matter. The British Labour Party vigorously criticized the Macmillan Government for its acceptance of the Polaris base at Holy Loch. As a result it was given a much better deal than Australia is getting at present. Two years later, the view of the British Labour Party is about to be vindicated. Harold Wilson, leader of the British Labour Party, will lead his party to the poll and he is bound to sweep the Conservatives out of office. Let me tell the House what the British did achieve. I refer to the Mouse of Commons “ Hansard “ report of the parliamentary proceedings dealing with the agreement associated with the supply of United States ballistic missiles to the United Kingdom. This agreement was signed in Washington on 22nd February, 1958. Clause 7 of the agreement, which is very clear and explicit, states -
The decision to launch these missiles will be a matter for joint decision by the two Governments.
That is, of the United States and Great Britain. In his speech on this matter, Mr. Duncan Sandys said -
The agreement provides that the missiles shall not be launched except by a joint positive decision of both Governments.
Later in the same speech he said there would be special arrangements for ensuring that there would be rapid consultation about the joint decision, but he did not think the House would expect him to go into detail.
Finally, Mr. Duncan Sandys had this to say -
The decision will be taken in the same manner as the arrangements for talcing decisions under the Attlee-Truman agreement. It will require a joint positive .decision of both Governments - I emphasize Governments - not military commanders.
The United Kingdom Government was successful in obtaining a much better deal in connexion with bases in Great Britain than this Government has even been interested in endeavouring to obtain on behalf of Australia. In Canada, the conservative Diefenbaker Government made the supreme political sacrifice in order to save that country from becoming subservient to the United States owned and operated Bomarc missiles and Voodoo jets which, as honorable members know, are equipped with nuclear weapons. The United States intervention in Canadian politics was so complete that at the first sign of non-conformity and noncooperation on the part of the Diefenbaker Government, top level criticism from the United States brought about that government’s waterloo. So we of the Labour Party stand in very good company. We stand with the British Labour Party. To a considerable extent, we stand with the Macmillan Government which indicated and obtained what it wanted in connexion with its agreements, and we stand with the Canadians who felt that it was their duty to obtain a measure of national recognition and retain a measure of national pride.
We are told here that the people of Australia do not want safeguards. We are told that a recent gallup poll revealed that the Labour Party is pursuing an unpopular line. But the significant point is what the people were asked in connexion with this gallup poll. I would suggest that the present Government should ask the Australian people a question along these lines: Would you agree for the first time in the 193 years of Australia’s history that Australia should relinquish to a foreign power in times of peace a part of Australia for military purposes without adequate safeguard? Such a relinquishment of our territory has never occurred before. We believe that this is a bad time to set such a precedent. I suggest that the people should also be asked: Would you agree to the establishment of a United States naval communication station in Australia in circumstances under which Australia would be denied any say in the control and operation of that station?
What does this proposal involve, when all is said and done? It means that if this base were built orders could be given from Australia to wage a war with nuclear or conventional weapons against any country and that Australia need not be consulted. When we think of recent contemporary issues this could apply to the involvement of the United States in Laos, Viet-Nam, Tibet, the Indian border dispute or Cuba, because all these places were danger spots, and there could be many others in the future. For instance, the United States could become involved in disputes arising in connexion with the offshore islands of Matsu and Quemoy, near China. It could apply to the involvement of the United States in Berlin, or even in Jordan. Recently, an announcement was made that we were close to war in Jordan. Who knows what may happen in the next 25 years? The United States was not committed in any way in connexion with Indonesia’s claim over West Irian, and if Australia had made a stand in connexion with West Irian, or even in Asia, as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) reminds me, there is nothing to indicate that the United States would have stood by us. This naval communication station is to be established solely for purposes connected with the foreign policy of the United States and is not concerned at all with the defence of Australia.
Lest there be any doubt concerning the inadequacy of the present agreement, I make some brief reference to the Minister’s second-reading speech. On the point whether there is to be any provision for consultation with Australia, the Minister said -
I am sure it will be obvious that unless it were desired to create unilateral right of veto on the use of the station - and it is not - joint operation is in fact impracticable.
Later, he said -
It is not intended to give Australia control of or access to the content of messages transmitted over the station.
He also said -
The width of the area of possible consultation does not imply any right of control over the station
So it is beyond doubt, as* the Minister certainly again put it beyond doubt at ques tion time to-day, that Australia will have no say whatsoever in the operation of this base. Contrast that state of affairs with the position in Great Britain, in Canada, and, I believe, in Italy at the present time.
We should also ask the Australian people: Do you want Australia to be the first nation in the southern hemisphere to be associated with nuclear weapons? I well recall that, on 6th April, 1961, a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers made an announcement concerning the need for rapid agreement with relation to nuclear weapons. That announcement was -
Such an agreement is urgent since otherwise further countries may soon become nuclear powers, which would increase the danger of war and further complicate the problem of disarmament.
So this base is in contravention of the spirit of the decision of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. It is also in contravention of the decision of the World Parliament, the 14th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which made its position very clear. Later, the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations circularized about 104 nations asking them to indicate the conditions under which they might be willing to enter into specific agreements to refrain from manufacturing, or otherwise acquiring, nuclear weapons. It is significant to mention now that this Government refused to co-operate with the United Nations in this connexion. If we, a nation of 11,000,000 people, claim the right to be an agent for a power with nuclear weapons, how can we deny a similar right to other Asian nations, such as Indonesia with 96,000,000 people, China with between 600,000,000 and 700,000,000 people, India with 436,000,000 people, the Philippines with 25,000,000 people, Japan with 94,000,000 people, or Thailand with 23,000,000 people? When we go outside the Asian theatre and think of the southern hemisphere, which maru/ of us would like to see made a nuclear-free zone, we think even of South Africa with 16,000,000 people. She also would be entitled to nuclear weapons or to have a liaison with a great power that possesses them. We think also of the Argentine with 16,000,000 people, Brazil with 15,000,000 people, the Congo with 14,000,000 people, and Nigeria, the southern part of which comes within the southern hemisphere, with 30,000,000 people. Yet here we have Australia pioneering the way for all these countries to acquire nuclear weapons. Our ideal, our aspiration, to have the southern hemisphere declared a nuclear-free zone, does not mean leaving our country undefended; it merely seeks agreement of the nations which are parties to the Antarctic Treaty and others within the southern hemisphere to the declaration of such a nuclear-free zone. As the Reverend Alan Walker said at the Lyceum Theatre, Sydney, yesterday -
Australia could become a base from which security and peace could spread outward to a war-conditioned world.
We should seek the co-operation of our neighbours in removing the threat of a nuclear war from our hemisphere. According to a recent statement by the Minister for External Affairs, no fewer than 320 atomic, nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons have been exploded since 1954, leaving in their wake devastation, the contamination of the atmosphere, and the scourge of diseases such as lukaemia, which afflict the human race.
This Government has always been intent on adopting a provocative attitude towards the nations of Asia and other parts of the world. It forthrightly supports the threatening of Castro in Cuba and interference in affairs in Malaya. Why does the Government always choose to be obtuse, and oldfashioned, in those matters in connexion with which it is so important that we have good relations with other countries? We always seem to be under the domination of our Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs, who are so terribly obtuse, old-fashioned and out-of-date that their actions amount almost to an insult to the 600,000,000 or 700,000,000 Chinese to whom, during the last few years, we have sold over £100,000,000 worth of wheat. We all recall the last notorious appearance of the Prime Minister at the United Nations when he succeeded in alienating Australia from all but three nations in his defence of South Africa’s racial policies. Here, again, instead of supporting conciliatory overtures to our Asian neighbours and instead of working towards non-aggression pacts and disarmament in the area, this Government chooses to bristle with provocation.
Because there are so many honorable members on this side of the House who want to express their own indignation, and the indignation, probably, of millions of Australians, I should perhaps curtail my remarks. Let me say, however, on this matter, which is of vital signficance to Australia, that, not long ago, Admiral J. H. Sides, of the United States of America, who came to this country in connexion with the Coral Sea Week celebrations, set out to placate us. He said that the proposed naval communications station at North West Cape would not be a top-priority target in the event of a nuclear war, and that priority would be given to bases that could deliver weapons that would do damage, not to a base that merely provided a means of communication. There can be nr doubt, however, that, without this proposed naval communication station, nuclear war in the southern hemisphere, the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean would be most unlikely.
It is important for members of this Parliament to realize that this base will be instrumental in controlling ten or twelve submarines, each equipped with no fewer than sixteen Polaris missiles, each missile having 30 or 40 times the destructive capacity of the bomb that devastated Hiroshima during the last war. We believe that this represents a great hazard to the Australian people and to the safety and security of the world, and consequently the Australian Labour Party contends that there is a dire necessity for Australia, through its Government, to have a say in any decision that may be taken regarding the operation of these submarines carrying nuclear weapons. Indeed, Sir, we re-affirm our intention to re-negotiate the agreement and to ensure for Australia an effective voice in the conduct of military establishments on Australian soil.
.- Mr. Speaker, if ever one could describe a speech as supporting the ambitions and interests of Russia and China, that description fits the remarks just made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). The interesting fact is that he is the first Opposition speaker to address himself to the principles stated by the 36 people about whom we have heard so much recently. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in his speech on this bill, endeavoured to moderate the views previously expressed on this matter because he was forced by Australian public opinion to do so.
Obviously, talk of the Communist issue will break out. The honorable member for Hughes has stated the Communist issue. I am reminded by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) that an Australian Labour Party branch in the Hughes electorate has just endorsed the very principles to which the honorable member has just given voice. He, and apparently the Leader of the Opposition, according to the press, are suspicious of a secret agreement. How extraordinary it is for members of the Australian Labour Party to talk about a secret agreement that will keep the Australian people in ignorance! I remind the House that, in relation to the American base on Manus Island, we were told only that the Americans had decided to abandon the base. A year or so later, when the present Government was in office, we found that the Labour Party would not agree to the terms that the Americans required if they were to remain on Manus Island. If that was not deceiving the people of Australia by a secret agreement, what is?
I believe that the establishment of the proposed naval communication station at North West Cape will be a great step forward in the defence of Australia. This base will be an important factor in the global defence system of the United States of America. We, fortunately, are in a position to play our part and become a factor in that defence system. Ever since Australia has been settled by Europeans, we have looked to the British Navy to protect us. And most effectively we have been protected. But now we are defenceless in the southern hemisphere and left to our own devices. Our only chance of real defence is complete alinement with the United States. I know that we have not agreed with the Americans on some factors in their foreign policy, Mr. Speaker. Particularly, we were rather concerned when the Dutch had to get out of West New Guinea. The United States believed that the Indonesians should go into that country, but I suggest if the Americans were still established at Manus Island, that development would not have occurred.
We are part of the American global defence system, as I have said. However, the important thing in this debate is the acceptance by honorable members opposite of the ambitions and desires of Russia and China. Those countries want a ban on nuclear weapons in the southern hemisphere, and honorable members opposite would play right into their hands. A ban on nuclear weapons in the southern hemisphere would suit both Russia and China, because they have the predominating man-power of the world and would have superiority in conventional warfare. We in Australia, in the southern hemisphere, would be completely at the mercy of the nations to the north if nuclear weapons were banned in this hemisphere.
Obviously, the people of Australia are not to be deceived by ideas of the sort expressed by members of the Australian Labour Party. I say very definitely that if Labour were in office to-day we would not have this agreement with the United States for the establishment of the proposed base at North West Cape. There is no doubt about that. We hear honorable members opposite criticizing this Government’s efforts in defence. They say that we are not spending enough on defence.
– This Government is not doing enough in anything.
– In this instance we are doing something real for our defence, and honorable members opposite do not like it. They want us to ruin our economy and take part in a larger missile plan, and all the rest of it. We have not in Australia the sort of money that that would take. However, that sort of programme would suit the Communist element. The element that alines itself with the left would be suited if we ruined our economy in an endeavour to do these things. In agreeing to the establishment of the proposed base at North West Cape, we are alining ourselves with the greatest power on earth. What is most important is that the United States is a power with a very sincere belief that it should endeavour to make the world a better place to live in. I suggest that the Labour Party is opposed to this aim, just as it is opposed to efforts to provide Australia with perfect defence or, if not perfect defence, at least the best that we can find:
I conclude my remarks by stating that I support the bill.
.- The Labour Party obviously regards this measure as one of supreme importance. If there should happen to be a nuclear war in the world, there will be no protected occupations and there will be no people too sick to go into the front line. There will be no protection for the mother, let alone for her baby. Let us realize that what underlies this measure could involve all of that. The whole notion, the whole strategy of war as we have known it in the past is abandoned in this concept of the strategy of the mutual deterrent. The Labour Party is trying to make clear by constant reiteration in this debate that the issue is not whether we are for or against the base. Unfortunately, the decision on that matter has been made for us by the failure of the great powers, so-called, of this world to reach agreement on world disarmament. This unfortunate situation having been inflicted upon us, we of the Labour Party have deliberately determined that, reluctantly - indeed very reluctantly - we must support the proposal for the base. Where we take issue with the Government, and take issue very strongly, is on the matter of who controls the base and all the strategy that flows from it. We are not by any means alone in this country or outside of it in raising this important and crucial question. Within our own community there are responsible people like Stuart Howard, writing for “ Muster “, a paper that is by no means a Labour Party paper - more often than not it puts the views of the Country Party - and putting the same views as we hold. Stuart Howard writes -
Whether by chance or design, the really basic issue in the many raised by the proposal to establish the United States communication base In Western Australia has not been presented to the Australian people.
He goes on to say -
That issue is whether, under the terms of the agreement being negotiated with the United States, Australian governments are to be consulted and to share in decisions relating to the uses to which the base may be put in circumstances in which action could automatically plunge our nation into war. Arguments over whether Australia should ask for a nuclear-free southern hemisphere, references to our obligations to a powerful ally, talk of how many millions the Americans will spend on the communications establishment and of the amount of Australian labour and materials it will absorb - all these things are of comparatively no consequence at this point and in fact are serving mainly to keep in the background the tremendously vital question - that of Australian sovereignty. The Prime Minister has made no straight-forward statement on this aspect of the proposed agreement, but I and, I am sure, a formidable number of other Australians would not accept quietly an arrangement under which this country could be committed to war, not by our own elected government, but by remote men in Washington whose national interests in the always possible event of conflict must inevitably over-shadow ours.
I am sure that in saying that Stuart Howard was speaking for a good many people in this country. His view has been echoed by responsible governments in other parts of the world - governments that claim to be on the friendliest of terms with our great ally, the United States of America. My colleague, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), quoted from a document showing that in other countries this subject of control has been the subject of a continuing fight from 1956. Whether in relation to the installation of ballistic missile bases, whether in relation to the establishment of radar devices for the detection of nuclear weapons launched by a possible enemy, or whether in relation to the stationing of nuclearpowered submarines in harbours or ports, this battle has gone on iri every European country and is still going on to-day. The crucial issue at the moment within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - the organization that joins together the western allies in their defence planning - is the issue of resistance to one-nation control of the destinies of all the other member nations. We in Australia will be a servile race if we do not lift our hands in protest against an action whereby we will sell out our sovereignty and become an element in what I might call a nuclear-colonial system. We will be no more than a colony again. We have degraded ourselves. We have given away our national prestige and the things that we talk about on Anzac Day. Our men fought to keep us free and independent. These are things that are not looked upon lightly by the great United Slates of America. The Americans would respect us if we stood up for our rights in this matter, just as they would respect us if we did the same in the economic sphere.
Our country has been inundated by capital over which we have little control. We will wake up one fine morning to find that we have sold out Australia militarily, politically and economically. The Labour Party seeks to arouse the consciences of people who accept these things willy-nilly. Of course, we realize that, because of the resistance of Russia and China, principally, to United Nations inspection forces enforcing disarmament by on-the-spot inspections, unfortunately we have to live in a world jn which mutual deterrents are the order of the day and are the only means by which we can continue to exist.
I repeat that the issue is not whether we are for the base or against the base. The issue relates to who controls it - Australia or the United States. Our mutual destinies are involved. We must trust each other. We are invited to trust the United States. Is it too much to ask that we, as a sovereign country, be allowed to look at the messages that go through a communications base located on our own soil? It is an affront to my sense of national dignity that we should be debarred from that by a genuinely friendly country, or that we should debar ourselves. I am sure that our Government is responsible for this restriction, not the United States Government. We have opted out of giving ourselves a right of real access in order to see what is going on in the base - a real right to know what is happening, not only at the point of the firing of a weapon, but in relation to the world strategy that leads up to such a situation.
The Prime Minister, for his own political convenience, sees these questions just in terms of black and white - of extremes. He raised the dramatic point of whether, after a missile had been launched in Russia, China or somewhere else, we could get together to decide whether we ought to retaliate. Of course, such an idea is stupid. The late Mr. Gaitskell put the point quite properly for the British Labour Party. The point is not what happens at that crucial moment. We of the Labour Party contend that Australia should have a fuller and more real say in the strategy, the international policy, that leads up to such a situation. We Australians want to have a say in the deployment of our naval forces and other kinds of forces. If those forces were to go into a certain area and be intimidatory agents, that could lead to a nuclear attack on us by some other country. We want to have a say in those things. We do not think it is necessary to wait until the moment that buttons are pressed. We believe it should be possible for countries such as this, engaged in friendly relations with the United States, to lay down principles guiding the action that should be taken in an emergency situation. We are not suggesting that we should wait until that momentous time to be consulted. Australia and the United States should get together and jointly decide on the action to be taken in these contingencies. That, of course, is what Britain is doing and what other Nato countries are doing. It should strike any red-blooded Australian as an affront that we opt ourselves out of any say in this matter, while Germany, an ex-enemy, and Italy, another ex-enemy, are considering joint control. We have opted ourselvesout of any participation in control by negotiating this agreement with the United States. We are selling out rights that Germany and Italy are not prepared to sell out. In the case of those countries the United States is not asking for the same degree of control as it is asking for in connexion with the proposed Australian centre. Machinery should be worked out by means of which we can have an effective say in the whole strategy leading up to allied defence, as is the case in these other countries I have mentioned.
– But in the case of those countries military bases are involved, whereas what is proposed here is just a communication centre.
– Are you going to get down to that petty level in your thinking? If you cannot realize that this centre is to be a vital element in the global nuclear strategy of the western countries it is not of much use for me to address my remarks to you. The Prime Minister, for his own political purposes of course, has played the whole thing down. He would have us believe that this communication centre is just one of those odd installations with great masts sticking up in the air. He pretends - and I give him a lot more credit for intelligence than to think that he means it - to be so naive as to believe that this will be nothing more than a remarkable message-carrying instrument with some rather odd and very high masts. Such a suggestion is, of course, an affront to the intelligence of the Australian electors, and I hope they will take the opportunity in the next couple of weeks of letting the Prime Minister know of the resentment they feel at having been treated in this contemptible manner. Not only has the Government been servile in establishing our foreign relationships, at first economically and now militarily, but it has now gone further and is trying to put it over the Australian people. No wonder that somebody writing in one of the evening newspapers a few days ago said: “ For goodness sake don’t try to delude us. If we must have these weapons for our defence, we are prepared to face up to the situation, but don’t underestimate our courage and our capacity to do so “. The Government has shown that it is not prepared to take the people into its confidence.
Other countries, in their alliances with the United States for defence purposes, have been able to reach agreement with that country on a far more satisfactory basis than we have been able to do. On 22nd February, 1958, an agreement was signed between the United States and Great Britain on the use of the Thor missiles located in Great Britain. Paragraph 7 of that agreement said: “The decision to launch these missiles will be a matter for joint decision by the two governments.” Yet the Prime Minister ridicules our suggestion of joint control. He sneers at it. He says it is unreal, although other countries have been able to secure such arrangements.
I am not going to give the House all the available evidence, although there is quite a lot of it. I will simply take the case of a country which, in the last World War, was not our ally. I refer to Italy and the proposals for locating Jupiter missiles in that country. The agreement made in that case provided that any decision on the eventual use of the missiles would have to be taken within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and subject to the approval of Italy, which would certainly not strike the first blow. Is there any reason for the Labour Party to be ashamed of demanding similar conditions from the United States as were given, by agreement, to Germany and Italy, to say nothing of our own mother country, Great Britain and, of course, other countries that I have not mentioned, such as Greece and Turkey? I have by no means exhausted the list of countries with such agreements. It seems to me, as a matter of fact, that Australia is the only country that has not been given this consideration. It is the only one that has been demeaned in this way in regard to its national prestige.
The Prime Minister goes on to sneer at the Labour Party’s attempts to curtail the whole wretched spread of nuclear armaments. He sneers at the Labour Party’s proposal to declare, by unanimous multilateral agreement, the whole of the southern hemisphere and China a nuclear-free zone. We put this into our agreement, but again the Prime Minister, for his own political purposes, ignored it. We have asked that all the nations in the southern hemisphere, as well as those just to the north of the equator, and including China, enter into a multilateral agreement not to manufacture these weapons, not to test them and not to store them foc future use.
The Prime Minister sneers at this and comments: “ How unreal is this proposition. It would be no trouble for Russia to fire an inter-continental missile across the world, or to send one of its very fast bombers across the world, and so introduce a nuclear missile into the southern hemisphere. It would be no trouble for Russia’s concealed submarines to do it.” All this is true, and it must be acknowledged. Our proposed agreement would have that kind of limitation. But doesn’t the Prime Minister appreciate, and doesn’t the Government appreciate, the virtues of our proposal? There would still be a balance of power between the United States and Russia, if the present struggle must go on, but by contracting the southern hemisphere countries out of this rat race of nuclear armaments we would, first, ensure that there would be no testing of these instruments in the southern hemisphere. That is a very important matter for all of us. Everybody knows of the great difference between nuclear armaments and conventional armaments. Conventional armaments are lethal only when they are actually fired in war, but the testing of nuclear armaments not only causes damage by polluting the atmosphere, it also sows the seeds of destruction for babies yet unborn. So if we could have the southern hemisphere declared a nuclear-free zone, as a starting point, such an arrangement would have a lot to recommend it.
Secondly, the acceptance of that proposal would give a moral lead to the rest of the world and might result in efforts being made to have other areas declared nuclearfree. We have such an arrangement in the Antarctic, and we simply want to extend the area to be declared nuclear-free so that it will include other parts of the world. We want to set up machinery to ensure the success of such an agreement. Naturally we do not take all countries on trust. The Labour Party has a very real outlook on these matters. It says that such an agreement would have to be subscribed to by all the signatory countries, and that all those countries would have to submit to a United Nations on-the-spot inspection force. We would want China to be one of the signatory countries. We would not make any such agreement unless it was ratified by China. If China comes in alongside all these other countries that want such an agreement we would give a great moral lead to the northern hemisphere and to the two great powers, the United States and Soviet Russia. When the Prime Minister sneers at the Labour Party’s proposal for a nuclear-free zone I hope that the people who hear him will consider the matter in the terms in which the Labour Party has made the proposal, not in terms of the misrepresentation that the Prime Minister is trying to get across to the Australian people.
One of the loose terms in the agreement is in Article 3, sub-section (1), which refers to the arrangement excluding purposes other than defence communications. It provides that the communications base will not be set up for purposes other than defence communications. Well, the point is that nobody has denned defence communications. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is a most eminent legal authority - make no mistake about that - ar.d in any other kind of bill or legal document he would be looking for a definition of defence communications. I have known people to suggest that it would be for the defence of the United States of America to catch Russia or China unawares and lob an atomic missile on those countries and wipe them out. They reason, “ Get rid of them now before the ultimate day comes “. That is their notion of defence. We hear such wild talk sometimes among the more irresponsible people in our own country. I am not saying that such suggestions are characteristic of people in the United States of America, or of our own people. But, when I consider that we are taking a plunge in the dark that will commit us for 25 years ahead, I have to think of what kinds of people may take control not only in our own country but also in the United States. With all the respect in the world for our United States friends I must tell the House of an interview I saw on television in Sydney on Sunday with the so-called “ Bull “ Connor, an administrator in one of the southern States of America, and of the performance he put on. It was a display of utter irresponsibility. He is, of course, disowned by the great majority of his American fellow citizens but, nevertheless, he occupies for the time being a position of great trust.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. Is the honorable member entitled to discuss the domestic policy of the United States in regard to this bill?
– The honorable member for Barton is in order.
– I suggest that it is possible that there are many Americans who disagree with the policies of their own government. They have done so in the past and will do so in the future. What I am saying is that Australia, as a sovereign country, should not be required to take these things on trust and should be given the same rights as have been extended to other countries in this matter of joint consultation and decision. I am suggesting that this ought to be done.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in the drafting of this bill, has for some reason or other not seen fit to define many of these critically important terms regarding what is defence. Australia cannot afford to abdicate its responsibility in these matters by leaving all these decisions to others. The abdicating of its responsibilities is no more than we expect of this Government. On the domestic front, it evades its national responsibility by saying constantly, “ This is a matter for the States “.
When it is reminded that there are ways and means of getting national responsibility by amendment of the Constitution, the Government, does nothing about it. If it can take the easy way out of this situation it will throw up its hands and say: “This is too hard for us to worry about. Let the United States look after it. Give the Americans a clean bill for the next 25 years. Let us put our trust in some foreign country - even if it is a very friendly one at the moment - but for goodness sake do not saddle us with the responsibility. We do not want to have the hard sweat of protecting Australia’s rights.” It may mean that we are to be involved in a war in the declaration of which we would not have any decision, but at least it relieves the tired old Menzies Government of having to make hard decisions.
My belief is that the Government has not made the kind of effort which would have earned the respect of the United States of America and which would have earned us the kind of conditions which every country except Australia has received. I, therefore, think that the Government is under justified criticism for the way in which it has handled this matter. My point is that it is not only a question of what happens when a bomb is delivered by an assumed enemy.
There is discussion at this moment within Nato as to whether there is a case for a point of time in conventional warfare when the Allies, facing overwhelming forces, would be entitled to be the first ones to use nuclear weapons. If that situation is being discussed and if we are, in certain circumstances, to be the ones to unleash the nuclear deterrent, then surely Australia will be involved in a war in which there is no protection for anybody - mothers, babies, the sick, the dying and the rest.. They all will be front-line troops in a nuclear war. Yet this proposition is to be considered without Australia having the right of an effective say in determining in what very special circumstances the Allies would consider themselves entitled to make use of the nuclear deterrent.
If the nuclear deterrent means anything, it must be a deterrent - this was hinted at by the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) - not only against other countries using nuclear weapons but also against them using overwhelming conventional weapons.
As a matter of fact, that happened in Cuba, when the United States acted in an invidious situation. We never bargained to have any say in that act beforehand, but we were the first ones to rush in afterwards. We claimed great prestige for being the first country to support what was done at that time. I think the action in that case was worthy of support, but if this Government was just as prone to be the first into the field and demand a say in any action to be taken it would be entitled also to be in for the kudos if a successful result occurred.
I have made my point on the new nuclear deterrent and its possible use in a situation such as we were confronted with in Cuba, if this is the way we must keep peace and preserve our national and territorial integrity. We are assuming that there can be situations in which we - the Allies or Western countries, call them what you like - may conceivably be the first to launch a nuclear war against possible enemies. If that is to be, and if our communications base at Exmouth Gulf is to be part of a world communications system which is to be an agent of this process, well, shame on Australia in being a party to that and not demanding a say in the working out of such a policy and the exigencies on which the supreme commander, on behalf of us all, might launch us all into war. We are not against the base in the unfortunate circumstances with which we are confronted in the world, but we question most seriously the absence of control as befits a sovereign country.
– The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) spoke for the Opposition this afternoon. I think we found their speeches both shocking and surprising. If they will forgive me, let me say that I found the former shocking rather than surprising and the second surprising rather than shocking. I hope, in my innocence, that this perhaps reflects my estimation of the difference in attitude between those two honorable members.
I would like to go back to what was said in this debate by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in regard to this bill.
I want to refer to three rather surprising points that he made. In the first place, he said that the Australian L: bour Party objected to what the Government had done because it believed in full parliamentary control. Yet he contradicted himself a few moments later when he said he was proud to do exactly as the 36 members of the Labour Party’s federal conference told him. He confessed himself to be a puppet of these 36 people. This is not parliamentary control. If this is what he believes in, then it is as well that he should never be Prime Minister. If this is the kind of thing he believes in, then he does not believe in parliamentary control.
The next thing he said was that he believed in open decisions openly arrived at. Was the notorious conference at the Hotel Kingston, which laid down his policy for him, open to’ the public? Was this an open decision openly arrived at? We know that these things are done in secret. We know, which is worse, that the election of these controlling 36 is done in secret. Honorable members opposite display the greatest moral indignation when anybody endeavours to find out the principle in regard to the election of these 36 people who make up the government when Labour is in power. During the debate last Thursday we heard the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) speak of those who said anything about the way in which Labour arrived at its decision as listening at the keyholes - open decisions, openly arrived at! Surely the Leader of the Opposition could not have been speaking seriously.
Then there is a more important matter. He said that each of these 36 people recorded, in substance, a vote in favour of the resolution to allow the base to go on, under conditions it is true, but to go on. I am not so much concerned with the conditions as I am with the matter of whether Labour felt the base should go on at all. When the Leader of the Opposition said that all 36 had voted for it in substance, he said something which was not true. It was contrary to the facts. We do not know everything that occurred at this notorious Hotel Kingston conference but we do know mat the initial vote was 21-15 on the Western Australian resolution, which was against the base outright. Of the 36 members, 21 voted that the base should be allowed to go on, with conditions, and fifteen voted that it should not be allowed to go on at all. Those fifteen were reiterating what had already been decided by the Labour executive which, in default of a conference, is the supreme governing body. There is no doubt about this. I have in my hand “Fact” of 8th November, 1962. This paper, which is the official organ of the Australian Labour Party in Victoria, had this to say -
Labour opposes nuclear bases. The Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party has declared its opposition to the erection of nuclear missile bases in Australia.
A resolution from the Western Australian branch called on the Federal Executive to state the party’s attitude clearly.
The Federal Executive resolved unanimously that it would oppose the building of bases in Australia which could be used for the manufacture, firing or control of any nuclear missile or any vehicle capable of carrying a nuclear war-head.
There is no question that the base in Western Australia comes within that definition. There is no question that the Labour executive did vote unanimously. It was only when the political consequences of this became apparent that the Labour executive falsified its own minutes - it did just that - and brought this matter to the sphere of the conference. Even under political pressure of the very highest order, of those 36 there were still fifteen who stood by the old unanimous resolution of the -federal executive. These are the facts.
It is also an unfortunate fact that the original unanimous vote of the executive and the subsequent vote of the left-wing minority of the conference followed the Communist line. This vote had been engineered by the Communists. There is no question about that. There is no question that the Communist infection within the structure of the Labour Party is very heavy. This stands on the record as a matter of fact.
– That is not true.
– The Leader of the Opposition says that it is not true. He will permit me to quote from “ The Worker “ of 4th March, 1963, an official organ of the Labour Party, which states -
There will be Communists at work in all States, but perhaps more especially in Queensland . . . Communists will seek to ensure that nothing is done by the Federal A.L.P. Conference . . . to make Australia stronger against any attack from Russia or any “peace” operation from Sovietsponsored areas to our north!
On the Communists’ own admission, the A.W.U., the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and the A.C.T.U., in order of mention, were stated to be industrial objectives for seizure by Communists.
To seize control of these would be just about to seize control of the Australian Labour Party and the Labour movement.
Those are not my words. They are the words of “ The Worker “ and they are true. Mr. Edgar Williams, who was one of the alternate delegates - I understand he was not allowed to be a delegate to the Hotel Kingston conference - said in his report to to the 1961 Australian Workers Union convention -
Communist strength in trade unions in Queensland is centred in unions affiliated with Queensland Trades and Labour Council. Of the present Trades and Labour Council Executive of thirteen, six are Communists.
He went on to speak of the extent of Communist influence. The same man states that if the Communists capture the Queensland Trades and Labour Council they will go perilously close to controlling the Labour movement. In the face of evidence of this character, does the Opposition contend that there is no Communist infection in the Labour Party? That would be pure persiflage, and Opposition members know it. Fairly recently - in 1961 - the Deputy Leader of the Opposition directed attention to the extent of Communist penetration in an effort to screw the Leader of the Opposition up to the point at which he would do something about it. The Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this House knows that he has failed, not in intention but in courage, to deal with this issue. He knows this on his own conscience. I know very well that not only is the Leader of the Labour Party not a Communist but also that he is opposed to communism.
– Thanks for nothing.
– I do know that he is opposed to communism. I do wish that he had more courage .to deal with the Communist infection which he knows very well exists within his own party.
– I wish you were not half mental.
– I do not think that I can put it more forcefully, although I gather that the Leader of the Opposition would like me to do so. However, the truth will out. I do not claim that the Leader of the Opposition is a pro-Communist. I say just the opposite. I say that he has failed in courage and resolution in dealing with this infection which he knows very well exists in his own party. He was not present in the House during the disgraceful scene which occurred a couple of weeks ago when I brought these facts into the House and the Opposition made concerted use of the Standing Orders to prevent me having my say. The following week the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said that if I were to bring this matter into the House again he would give me the treatment again. I say this again because he now knows that what I am saying, in point of fact, is true. The Labour Party is infected with communism.
Let us have a look at how this occurs. It occurs because of the way in which the controlling 36 people are elected. Of those 36 people, as I have said, when it came to the showdown fifteen took the outright Communist line of rejection of the base altogether. The voting on the original resolution was 21 to 15. Two people in addition to the fifteen took the left-wing view of the compromise resolution. The rightwing compromise resolution went through by 19 votes to 17. One more person, Mr. Duggan, from Queensland, vacillated until fairly late in the piece and was brought over only at the last moment in order to save the conference from collapse after it had been deadlocked eighteen-all between the left wing and the right wing.
– What has this got to do with the debate?
– It has everything to do with the debate because it has to do with the real policy of the Opposition. The Opposition says that it takes its policy from this source. If that is so, it is obviously right and proper for us to examine the nature of this source. Of the people who took the left-wing view, fifteen were resolute and three others were less resolute. These people came from the three States of
Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. Let us have a look at those States.
Let us look, first, at Victoria. This is the State which is most familiar to the Leader of the Opposition and the one which is for him the lost opportunity. In Victoria, the selection of Australian Labour Party candidates is done not by local councils but by a committee of 25, with two representatives only in each case from the electorates themselves. These 25 are under left-wing control. They include people like Mr. Brown, one of the delegates from the Australian Railways Union, who attended a conference in Tokyo; Mr. McNulty, who has the Stalin Silver Medal; Mr. Stout, who has gone on record as saying that he always gives his second preference, after Labour, to the Communists; Mr. Brebner, the man who helped to engineer the infamous Communist take-over at Yallourn; Mr. Butler, of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, who was campaign secretary in that union for Southwell and Carmichael, who are both acknowledged Communists; Mr. McSween, who is prominent in the left wing and who was on the so-called convening committee in the early 1940’s. If my memory is incorrect, I will stand corrected on this point, but I fancy that even the present Leader of the Opposition at that stage had something to say about the Communist associations of that convening committee. The 25 people also include Mr. Crawford, who is an organizer for the plumbers’ union, a Communist-controlled union; and Mr. O’Brien, who stood on a unity ticket with Brown of the Australian Railways Union in Victoria - a collaborator with Communists.
Those people have absolute control over my Victorian friends in the Opposition because they determine whether or not those members of the Opposition will be selected as candidates. So you had better please those 25 people, or you will not get your endorsement. That is probably why the Leader of the Opposition was frightened to take on the Victorian pro-Communist element in the Australian Labour Party, and why he was unwilling to have a showdown with them although so many of his friends urged him to do so and, I think, urged him with some reason.
Then we look at Queensland. Little need be said about it since the last notorious Labour-in-politics convention which was held after Mr. Williams of the Australian Workers Union made the statement which I have quoted. That convention verified dramatically the fears that Mr. Williams had of a pro-Communist take-over of the Labour Party. As a result of that convention, the so-called left wing, which has in it people like Waters and Nolan, gained control. I know that it is difficult always to have time to go into these matters. I have said something in another place about Mr. Waters. Now I might have a word about Mr. Nolan. He is on the Queensland delegation; one of the six delegates from Queensland to the federal conference last March; one of the controlling people in Queensland. He has been made an honorary young Communist. I find that in the “ Railway Advocate “ of 15th March, 1959. I have in my hand a photostat copy of the relevant cutting.
He had a long history of pro-Communist activities before he became an honorary young Communist. In 1948, he was the guest speaker at the Brisbane City Hall at a sponsored pro-Communist meeting. In 1955 he was a speaker at a Communist Party political rally in the Brisbane City Hall. In 1958 he was a delegate to the Stockholm congress for disarmament which the British Labour Party and, I thinkalthough I am not certain of this - the Australian Labour Party also outlawed as a Communist front. He was a delegate to a recent meeting of the World Federation of Trade Unions in Budapest. You have to be fairly strong stomached to be a delegate to a meeting of that federation in Hungary. Not only did he attend that meeting of the World Federation of Trade Unions which is denounced by the Labour Party as a proCommunist front, but in fact he chaired some of the sessions. Will it be said that that man is not infected with communism? Will it be said that a delegation which includes that man is not infected with communism? When you find that the delegation not only includes that man and Waters but also speaks the Communist mind, then you can draw only one conclusion. There is not the slightest doubt that the so-called peace front, although it includes a large number of- honest and decent people, is being manipulated as a Communist front.
In 1959 the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) named Communist and peace movements and said that by their very nature they could never be anything but an instrument of Communist policy.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Fremantle. He said it in the press, and he was perfectly right. Yet we find that honorable members opposite are heavily involved with people who participate in these movements, and some honorable members opposite are. I have a photograph taken in Fremantle recently at one of these peace rallies. It shows Mr. Aarons, of the Western Australian Communist Party, organizing his strong-arm troops to shepherd the marchers. I have a photograph of Mr. Greg Collins, a leading Australian Labour Party man, speaking in Fremantle on this subject from the same platform as Mr. Paddy Troy, who is well known in the Communist Party.
– Where did you get those photographs?
– These are photographs that are available for inspection. I will lay them on the table of the House. I ask for leave to put these photographs on the table of the House. Is leave granted?
– Thank you. They now go on the table of the House.
– Now tell us where you got them.
– Order! Let us have this clearly settled. Is leave granted?
– Order! Leave is granted.
– Thank you, Sir. There is one other point I wish to make. The left wing of the Australian Labour Party operates also in caucus and it has put one over the right wing in the last few days. I can prove this very easily. I refer to the speech made in this House in this debate by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). He said that on the motion for the third reading of this bill, the Labour Party will move the deferment of the bill for six months. That is in “Hansard”. That is what the Labour Party agreed to in caucus. But when the left wing put this over, I do not think the right wing knew what it was doing. Standing Order No. 237 says -
On the third reading, the only amendment which may be moved to such Question is by omitting “ now “ and adding “ this day six months”, which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill.
The left wing has now manoeuvred the right wing of Labour into voting for the complete rejection of the bill. That is not what the right wing intended, if I may take the Leader of the Opposition at his face value. That may be an unkind thing to do.
– My face is about as valuable as yours is.
– Let us have a look at the position that has been reached. The Leader of the Opposition says, and I think says honestly, “ We are not going to move for the outright rejection of the bill. We do not want that. We want certain amendments to it”. The left wing cunningly wants to commit the party to rejecting the bill altogether, so the left wing foists on the right wing an amendment that will have the effect, under Standing Orders, of rejecting the bill altogether.
– But the left wing did not do it.
– In that case, the right wing is even more stupid than I thought it was, because it has not only done the left wing’s work for it but it does not even know it is doing it. Reading Standing Orders and “ Hansard “ together, there is not the slightest doubt that this is the effect of the motion that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) will be moving on behalf of the party and which, when he moves it, will be diametrically opposed to the effect that he says he wants to obtain.
We have heard a lot from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro about a rain of death and things of that character. There is a rain of death in the air, make no mistake about that, but the passing of this bill will give us some protection from it. The rain of death - I deplore it as much as does any member of this House - is round about us. We cannot pretend - we may pretend but we cannot pretend successfully - that the rain is not there. What I suggest to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is that he fails to distinguish between the rain and the umbrella.
.- We are debating an accomplished fact. The agreement to establish the naval communication base has been accepted and signed. For better or worse, this country is now committed to whatever may eventuate during the next 25 years. This quarter of a century could easily be decisive to our country, our race and our civilization. We have Clearly passed to a foreign country the right to make decisions on foreign policy and war on our behalf without either our knowledge or our consent. Only the future will prove whether this decision is wise or unwise, but it most certainly is our duty in this House to subject the agreement to the closest scrutiny on behalf of the people in whose interest we act.
The Government has endeavoured to link the agreement with the Anzus pact and has tried to show that unless it is ratified, Australia would be going outside the spirit of that treaty. This, of course, is nonsense. The Anzus pact is a treaty of defence. The three countries bound by it are committed to go to each other’s aid immediately should any of them be attacked. We have no obligation whatever to assist either of the other two countries should they engage in military aggression. We are not interested in any protests that neither America nor New Zealand is likely to engage in aggression. We are not conducting guessing games; we are considering facts.
Much has been made by honorable members on the Government side of what they consider to be the absolute necessity for the United States to be able to use this base instantly if it were attacked, but this aspect of the proposal is not in dispute. It must be quite evident to any one with any knowledge of the Anzus pact that should the United States be attacked, we are already committed to give all aid, including war on whatever nation may have made the attack. In these circumstances, the wireless facilities at North West Cape would be automatically at the disposal of the United States, even if the station were under our sole control instead of the sole control of the United States.
What we object to is that the station is still, in the terms of the agreement, at the sole disposal of America should it not be attacked but should it attack some one else, thereby involving Australia in a war in which we may wish to have no part. America has defence agreements and treaties with many countries other than Australia. America is quite entitled to have these agreements, and they are no concern of ours except that we could become involved in them through agreements such as that now under discussion. For instance, America has an agreement with Nationalist China binding it jointly to resist any attack by Communist China on Formosa. We have no such treaty. What is our position if America attacks red China because the Communists have attacked Formosa or any of the smaller off-shore islands in this area? Or if America becomes convinced that red China is about to attack and decides to get in the first blow and use a base on our territory to do it?
When considering this matter, we must remember that there are other complications. What is our position if any of the missiles used hit the wrong country? Would we wish to be involved in any way with landing a nuclear missile on innocent people? A missile aimed at red China from the Indian Ocean could hit India, Pakistan, Siam, Malaya or any other country in the line of fire. I do not make this statement on my own authority, but on the authority of no less a person than Major-General Benjamin Foulois, formerly head of the United States Army Air Corps. According to a statement published in the Brisbane “ Telegraph “ as recently as 20th April last, this gentleman had this to say after making a tour of the west coast of America inspecting aircraft and missile bases -
Don’t put too much faith in missiles. You never know where they are going to hit.
Just how much General Foulois knows about this subject may be open to question, but it is certain that he knows more than does any honorable member in this House, and he says that they may land anywhere within their range. That is quite a prospect for the innocent bystander. In those circumstances, can any one be surprised that the Australian Labour Party is not desirous that Australia should hold the weapon while some one else pulls the trigger without her consent?
The Australian Labour Party does not propose that a convention should be held or a corroboree organized before the United States of America may use this base, should she be attacked. It has already been agreed in the Anzus pact that we will give immediate aid in those circumstances. What we want is representation either at North West Cape, or in Washington, or at both places, that will protect us against the use of this installation in any circumstance other than that of attack within the meaning of the Anzus or Nato agreements. The answer to the question, “ Do we not trust the Americans? “, obviously is, “ Do not the Americans trust us?” We are told that the United States insist upon having the right under the agreement to be the sole judge of whether the base shall be used or not, but that condition has not been applied to its arrangements with other nations. For instance. on 22nd February, 1958, Great Britain signed a five-year agreement with the United States in connexion with Thor missiles. Paragraph 7 of that agreement reads -
The decision to launch these missiles will be a matter for joint decision by the two Governments.
Great Britain has also an agreement in connexion with the Clydeside base for Polaris missiles. During the course of the debate on defence in the House of Commons on 4th November, I960, the Minister for Defence stated that the Polaris missile would not be fired in any circumstances within United Kingdom territorial waters without the consent of the United Kingdom. Under that agreement, British control, he said, is absolute.
– The Prime Minister contradicted that.
– The Prime Minister contradicted only that part which referred to the firing of Polaris missiles outside the three-mile limit. Furthermore, we learned from the report of the debate in the House of Commons on 17th February, 1960, that Mr. George Ward, Secretary of State for Air stated that the Fylingdales station, an early warning station which cost £43,000,000 sterling, of which £35,000,000 was contributed by the United States, is commanded and operated by the Royal Air Force. Even in the agreement with Italy in connexion with Jupiter missiles, according to an announcement by the United States Department of State on 30th March, 1959, it is stipulated that the use of the missiles depends not only on the approval of the Italian Government but also on the approval of Nato Supreme Head-quarters.
This Government falls into grave error if it imagines that public opinion in this country is so much in support of this agreement that it will approve of any terms and conditions. I remind honorable members that a prominent Methodist Minister, who is well known in Queensland, the Rev. Alan Walker, stated at a Methodist youth rally held in the Brisbane City Hail on 5th May that the Federal Government’s decision to establish this base was a tragic blunder. Again, in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 15th May, the Right Reverend M. A. McAlpine, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, is reported as having made this statement in Scots Church, Sydney, on 14th May -
Australia must think in terms of its own defence and development, independent of sources formerly accepted as the nation’s main security.
Statements like these are made because people are not happy about what the Menzies Government is doing in connexion with this matter. They even suspect that the Prime Minister may not have told the whole truth, a view that is shared by people outside this country. For instance, on 1st May of this year, the “ Daily Mirror “ published this statement under a New York date line -
The Australian Government deceived the public over the United States radio base at Learmonth, West Australia, according to the American magazine “ Reporter “…
The base was significantly a military installation and a priority target in any nuclear war . . .
By attempting to conceal what was bound to come out some day, the Government had brought charges that it was a ventriloquist’s doll for Washington.
The base, then, is a priority target, in the opinion of this American publication.
As the only nation able to attack the base with nuclear weapons is Russia, it is most important that we have some idea of what the Russians think, and we find this statement published in the Sydney “ Sun “ on 2nd April, 1963 -
Australia could be one of the first targets in a nuclear blitzkrieg planned by Russia in the event of war.
The article referred to what had been published in the authoritative American magazine called “ United States News and World Report “. It continued -
The magazine gave the first English translation of excerpts of a new detailed strategic study published by the Soviet Ministry of Defence . . .
The plan was worked out by 19 high-ranking Russian officers. . . .
They threatened that in the event of war crushing blows would rain on nations with United States military bases in their territory.
The Prime Minister insists that the base under discussion is not a military installation. He has even stated that it is not a base at all but simply a wireless relay station. But in this instance, what the right honorable gentleman thinks, or, for that matter, what the Americans think, is not important. What is all-important is what the Russians think. If there should be a war and the Russians did decide to attack Australia what would be the likely result? Has America undertaken to defend this base in any way? Or is this to be left to us? For that matter, is there any defence? Is this simply an American outpost to be used for the moment and then to be abandoned, and us with it? In fact, this was told to a prominent and reliable Australian recently in America by an American defence expert. He gave it as his opinion that Australia could not be defended and, in any case, was expendable so far as the United States was concerned. He said that it would go to the Asians after the war. I am not prepared, of course, to disclose the name of my informant, but I can name another prominent American who holds the same view. When giving evidence before the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Sub-committee, the Commander of the American Marine Corps, General David M. Shoup, said -
Only a little bit of Australia and New Zealand would be left after a nuclear war. . . . The yellows and browns would then take over.
That statement was published by the “ Telegraph “ on 19th April of this year.
It might be of interest to note that at this stage Russia has more experience than America in connexion with nuclear weapons. For example, Russia has exploded the gross equivalent of 305 megatons while the United States of America has exploded the equivalent of only. 143 megatons. Russia is also well ahead with ballistic missile submarines and claims to have 71 in commission now, whereas the United States claims only 41 in 1963 but says that this number will be raised to 80 by 1967. But the Americans are well ahead when it comes to effective striking power. For example, the Russian submarines carry from two to six missiles which cannot be launched from below the surface of the sea - the vessel must surface and elevate its launching gear from the deck - and the range of the missiles is not known to exceed 360 miles. On the other hand, the United States has the ability to strike from submerged positions up to an extreme range of 2,875 miles from the launching position. As at this time, she could launch a total of 656 missiles against a Russian total of less than 426.
The Polaris missile is no better than it is claimed to be, and it is not very large. In all, it weights 15 tons. There are three types of Polaris missiles. They are all 50 inches in diameter, but they vary from 28 feet to 31 feet in length, their travelling speeds vary from 7,000 to 10,500 miles an hour and their ranges vary from 1,380 to 2,875 miles. It is claimed by the Americans that these weapons have absolute accuracy and, if correctly set and launched, will strike the target without error. Other experts, however, are of the opinion that the missile, no matter what the launchers do, is liable to an error of some five miles at extreme range. As the warhead has a blast area over a radius of three miles, it could miss a military target entirely. When aimed at a city, the possibilities are very different. It is then possible to secure accuracy of 100 per cent.
In any case, the station to be constructed in Western Australia is absolutely necessary if the Polaris fleet is to operate successfully in the Indian Ocean or the western Pacific, not only from a communications point of view, but to ensure that the missiles are correctly launched. No one really believes that this communications station is merely to broadcast birthday greetings or Christmas messages, although it may do both of these things. It will transmit continuously for the purpose of confusing any enemy or potential enemy, and it will very definitely assist the submarines to fix their positions at any time and provide and check information to be fed into the projectiles when required. The Prime Minister has stated that the purpose of the station is not to provide navigational assistance for submarines, and he has repeatedly stressed that all types of naval vessels will be communicated with by the station. But any surface vessel may be satisfactorily con.tacted without all this expense. Let the Government state that this station would have been built were there no submarines involved.
Australian naval vessels also may use the station. But could we not communicate with our own Navy without it? We have no submarines yet. When we get them, will they be equipped to take advantage of the ability of this station to communicate with submerged vessels up to 4,000 miles away? According to American information, the submarines have four separate means of determining their positions, including an antenna to receive radio-navigational aids transmitted b> super-powerful shore stations. Added to these shore stations shortly will be two naval communications relay vessels, one for each station. The system will then cover the world.
All treaties relating to defence are entered in;o entirely with a view to adding to the security of the state or of extending ils territorial possessions or influence. Few nations have ever undertaken military risks unless in their own interests. Australia, in this instance, is entirely concerned with its own safety, and so is the United States of America. We have something to gain and we have something to offer. The agreement with which this bill is concerned is a treaty of mutual value. We do the best v. : can in all the circumstances, and we owe it to ourselves to see that we gain the best possible terms. We accept the American alliance, but we do not hold up the United States as a sacred cow that is beyond criticism. And no doubt the Americans would be the first to agree with i: .
There is much criticism of the United States and her policies in other parts of th world. Nations other than Australia have received much more favorable treatmen: in the establishment of American bases, as I have pointed out. But still there is criticism. The “ Royal Air Force quarterly “, in volume 3, No. 1, has this te say - “There is a strong suspicion in London that the U.S. effort to wash out the Skybolt is a thinly disguised attempt to blackball Britain out of the nuclear weapons club . . . If the Skybolt play is successful in dealing Britain out of the nuclear deterrent group, then it will be even more feasible to throttle the French effort to build its nuclear delivery systems (This) would polarize international relations between Washington and Moscow, leaving Chairman Krushchev and President Kennedy free to negotiate without interference by troublesome allies. “These nasty thoughts are one reason why the Skybolt issue has far-reaching international implications that extend beyond any budgetary or technical problems. If these fears by the British and French are unfounded, there still remains the basic question of U.S. integrity in relation to its allies. The U.S. is already on record as having pulled the technical rug from under French IRBM- “
That means intermediate-range ballistic missiles - “ development, although no prior assurances were involved. If it now scuttles Skybolt and the British deterrent after repeated firm promises to deliver, it will be sad to watch the devaluation of U.S. stock on the NATO bourse.”
Are such sentiments anti-American, or unfair to our ally across the Atlantic?
The editor writes -
I doubt it, as they appeared in “Aviation Week “, America’s leading aviation journal, over the signature of its Editor
The “Royal Air Force Quarterly” stated also -
There are many who see this as the thin end of a mighty wedge. In fact, some critics regard the whole Polaris deal as a deliberate political manoeuvre to lessen British influence and to force the United Kingdom into the European community, militarily as well as economically.
What this publication has to say could hardly be taken as being said in support of the Australian Labour Party.
Now we have a report from the London “ Punch “ that is based on an article taken from the London “ Times “. The article in “ Punch “ is headed “ McNamara’s Ragtime Plan “, McNamara being the United States Secretary of Defence, and states - “Mr. McNamara”, writes the Times Washington correspondent, “has completed his strategic thinking”. This is an event of some magnitude, since the fate of the human race may depend upon it, and the civil thing to do is to spare a couple of minutes to consider what his strategic thoughts amount to.
The object of a deterrent being to deter, America’s strategic thinking has been focused, until lately, on that benevolent goal. The other- man had to be made to realise that if he fired first he would wish he hadn’t. Now the whole point of a deterrent is that it should be absolute. It is madness to deter slightly, or in a humane sort of way. When planning a deterrent war that is never to happen you must go the whole hog. Preparations must be made, and be seen to have been made, on a scale large enough to ensure the annihilation of every man, woman and child in the opposite camp. You can then feel confident, so the theory runs, that they won’t press the trigger. This is the Doctrine of Massive Retaliation.
The drawback to massive retaliation is that if it has to be put into effect it loses its appeal. It invites massive re-retaliation; and no country likes to base its strategic thinking for long on a doctrine that includes its own extinction. Is there not, people begin to ask, some interim, some less cataclysmic mode of retaliation that might suffice, at least in the early stages? To this problem the U.S. Defence Secretary and his advisers have addressed themselves and they have now come up with the Doctrine of the Controlled Response and (more precisely) the Doctrine of Counterforce Retaliation. Briefly, the idea is that if compelled to retaliate, you hit back in the first instance at the enemy’s missile bases, avoiding his cities in the hope that he will pay the same respect to yours. In this way, argues Mr. McNamara, “a nuclear exchange need not necessarily lead to a multi-megadeath war/’. Indeed, given good civil defence and (I suppose) a properly doctrinaire approach by both sides, he thinks the casualties in a breezy counterforce engagement might not exceed eighteen megadeaths.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, I point out that a megadeath is 1,000,000 dead people. The article continues -
But before we all start picturing ourselves as survivors of a third World War swapping cosy thermonuclear escape stories, I must sound a note of warning. There is a snag. Unilateral counterforce warfare is feasible only so long as both sides have an ample reserve of missiles - a “ Surplusage “ is perhaps the word. This is because neither side can afford to use up so many missiles in an attempt to destroy the other side’s missiles that it has not enough left to destroy, or threaten to destroy, the other side’s cities as well - unless the other side happens to be similarly and simultaneously short of what I hope I may call, not without relish, the Minimal Extinction Quotient. Moreover (and mark this closely) the other side must not be allowed to get short, since the nearer its declining stockpile approaches to the MEQ the more likely it is to switch in a panic from counterforce to multi-megadeath war. There is here, then, a situation that calls for very delicate operational tactics by both sides, not only to conserve their own supplies but to guard against a too drastic reduction of the enemy’s.
If you think that this is a lot of whimsical phooey, you are invited to read the London “Times” of 27th November, 1962, where Mr. McNamara is on record as saying that he would in fact welcome a further round of Soviet rearmament if it gave Russia a sure second-strike capability. The doctrine of reductio ad absurdum, which is that if the logic of the situation leads to lunatic consequences the situation ought to be changed, has apparently not yet been brought to the notice of either side. Remember that Mr. McNamara, the Secretary for Defence, is the man in the Pentagon - the man behind the man in the White House to whom we have given the right to press the button in Australia without either our knowledge or our consent. A paper as prominent as “ Punch “ writes him up as a “ person who, in actual fact, ought to be behind bars “.
The whole world has cause to fear a nuclear war, which we are convinced should be avoided by any means within our power. We are of the opinion that this Government has not done enough in the field of conventional defence. For instance, we could have done better than to purchase the three American-built destroyers which are expected to cost us more than £60,000,000. We could have built these vessels ourselves, based on a better model - the British missilelaunching cruiser “ Devonshire “. Experts here are of the opinion that we could have built no less than nine of those vessels for the same expenditure. The Government’s excuse that we could not arm them with the required missiles and equipment is not acceptable. We are able to produce the Ikara anti-submarine missile, which was invented in this country and which is now being considered by both England and the United States for arming their navies. As far as electronic control equipment goes, surely Australians are aware that some of the equipment in use by the Americans at Cape Canaveral was designed and built at our Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia.
This country can do the job if it is given the chance. Our scientists and workmen are second to none. This is evident, apparently, to every one but the Government. We are being reduced to the status of a satellite and to the stature of a central American banana republic by the failure of the Menzies Government to have faith in its own people and its own country. We agree with Mr. Douglas Wilkie, who, in the “ Daily Mirror “ of 9th May, 1963, said-
Nuclear dangers we can take, but not insults to our intelligence.
– 1 respect the sincerity of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) in the arguments he has put forward, but I am afraid that I cannot agree with his arguments, except some in which he was quoting somebody else. At one stage he seemed to be implying that he believed Russia to be stronger than the United States of America at this point of time. If that is so - I do not concede for one moment that it is so - surely that would be one very good reason for supporting the establishment of this radio base without any of the equivocation that we have seen displayed by honorable members opposite.
The attitude of the Australian Labour Party to defence is traditional and one that it has taken up with real consistency for decades. It was described very aptly by a member of the Labour Party who later became Prime Minister. In 1938, the late Mr. Curtin said this -
T say that any increase in defence expenditure after the Munich Pact, so far as Australia is concerned, appears to me to be utterly unjustifiable, an hysterical piece of propaganda.
A few moments later, in the same speech, he said -
I believe that the greater part of this hysteria is based merely on a desire to provide a background for political manoeuvring.
This is the traditional attitude that the Australian Labour Party has adopted in matters relating to defence. Much more recently the same attitude was voiced by the last two leaders of the Labour Party, and in addition by the honorable members for Reid (Mr. Uren), Parkes (Mr. Haylen), Lalor (Mr. Pollard), Wills (Mr. Bryant), Yarra (Mr. Cairns), Hunter (Mr. James) and others. The honorable member for Wills was particularly apt in what he said in giving expression to the Labour Party’s philosophy. He said that we on this side of the House are scaremongers. Referring to the Australian Labour Party, he said, “We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves”. That sums up the attitude of the honorable member for Wills to defence.
All the members I have mentioned have shown themselves clearly to be against the proper defence of Australia. They have shown that theirs is a consistently isolationist attitude. They seem to believe that if we can cut ourselves off from the other countries of the world, we can be left alone and allowed to go our own way. Things just do not work out that way. One would have thought that at least the Leader of the Opposition would have learned something in his many years in this Parliament, that he would have learned that we can be secure only if we are prepared to defend ourselves. He was in this Parliament when Australia and other countries learned this lesson, but many honorable members opposite are not impressed by what the Leader of the Opposition should have learned.
The policy of the Australian Labour Party in relation to this radio base and to other defence matters involving our great allies is one of limited co-operation which would very nearly lead to neutralism, as far as Australia is concerned. Honorable members opposite would impose conditions on the help we are prepared to give to the United States and Great Britain - conditions which would make the radio base inoperative and useless. In addition, they want to put conditions on the assistance we can receive from the United States or Great Britain. They say: “ We would like to be helped by conventional arms, but not by nuclear arms.” What help would the British Singapore Fleet or the United States Seventh Fleet be able to give us if not allowed to use the nuclear weapons with which,they are armed? If Australia adopted the policy of the Labour Party there would be no radio base. There would be no aid for Australia if we ever got into the position where we needed it. There would be no Anzus Pact, because the Labour Party’s attitude is not consistent with the obligations of the Anzus Pact.
I believe that this policy is very largely motivated by fear - fear of war, fear that Australia may be involved in some future war. Certainly I believe that every Australian and every freedom-loving person would have that fear in his heart, but you do not abolish that fear and destroy the basis for it by running away from it. Our opponents believe we can stand aside from the East-West struggle. The Leader of the Opposition said that this radio base was taking us one step nearer to the firing line. This was a term of censure as far as the base is concerned. I say to him: What if it is taking us nearer to the firing line? Great Britain has been in the firing line for 2,000 years, fighting for freedom, and particularly in the last 50 or 60 years. If Great Britain had not been in the firing line fighting for freedom, we would not be here to-day and this Parliament would not exist. This attitude of our opponents is completely unrealistic.
If the United States were attacked the Anzus Treaty would involve us much more assuredly than this agreement. Morally and legally we would be involved and bound to support our allies, with or without the radio base. We could not escape the consequences of a world war if we tried to stay out of it. If the United States lost, Russia would absorb the countries that had stood aside. The so-called neutralists would be rolled over within a year of Russia having won a nuclear war. Our survival depends upon the survival of the United States. This bill recognizes that fact, and this Parliament should recognize it. All Australians should recognize it. In doing what we can to assist the United States we make the position of the Western countries stronger than it is at the present time.
I want to say something about the possibility of joint control, which is the main condition our opponents want to put upon this base. In the first instance, most of the messages will be coming through in code. In many cases there will be no one at the base itself who will know what is in a message that has come from somewhere in America to the base to be relayed to submarines or surface ships in the waters to our north and to our west. In addition, it should be realized that we will at times want to be sending messages through that base in a code that Australians would use, and it would not be a United States code.
But the main reason why joint control at a vital moment would be impossible is to be found in the time factor. Polaris missiles that would be fired from nuclear submarines are not first-strike weapons. They are not accurate enough to knock out a missile base in some Communist country. They are accurate enough to lob on cities and destroy them, and it is their ability to be lobbed on Soviet cities by the United States and by Great Britain that makes it most unlikely that Russia will ever try to start a nuclear war. Polaris submarines would be used or required - if the time should ever come - only after firststrike missiles were already on their way to the United States in an attempt to knock out missile bases. From the time those missiles were sent until the time when the order went out for the Polaris weapons to be used would be a matter of only 15 or 30 minutes. Polaris missiles are not first-strike weapons; they are second-strike weapons because of their degree of accuracy. For this reason they can never be used as aggressive weapons, but only as an answer to aggression.
We have heard a great deal from the Opposition about agreements between the United States and Italy and between the United States and Turkey. There is not one member of this Parliament who has read either of those agreements, because they are not available to be read. When honorable members opposite get up and say that the agreements provide that the Italians or the Turks will have more control in their countries than the Australians have in this country, I simply reply that they are talking so much nonsense. The agreements are not available, have not been published and cannot be read. If, however, those honorable gentlemen like to look at agreements that are available they will find that the position with regard to control is not as they have been describing it to this House for a very long time. Take the agreement with the United Kingdom about the use of Thor missiles. That agreement is quite different from the agreement now being debated by the House, because it involves missiles, whereas the agreement we are discussing involves a radio base which can send messages to vehicles carrying missiles. There is a great deal of difference between the two kinds of documents. Don’t honorable members realize that the United States gave the Thor missiles to the United Kingdom? Article 3 of the agreement with regard to those missiles said, “ Ownership of the missiles and related equipment shall pass to the United Kingdom “. These were not United States missiles placed on British soil; they were United States missiles given to the United Kingdom, but over which the United States retained some degree of control. There is all the difference in the world between the circumstances of that agreement and those of the agreement with which we are now concerned.
But let us also have a look at the relationship between the two countries, the United States and the United Kingdom, in connexion with the use of the Holy Loch establishment. We will find that the position of the British Prime Minister and the British Parliament in that case is precisely the same as the position of our own Prime Minister and of this Parliament, except that, as far as one can judge, the British Prime Minister chose to keep the agreement quiet and not to publish it. All that can be ascertained about it is what the British Prime Minister has said about it in the House of Commons. The Holy Loch installation is, as honorable members know, a base to be used for housing and looking after Polaris submarines. It is much more than a radio base. There are Polaris submarines in the loch, and the British Prime Minister has described the essential part of the agreement concerning this matter of control. Speaking in the House of Commons on 8th November, 1960, he said -
In my speech on 1st November I went on to give my understanding of the position reached. This is that we can be satisfied that the United States Government-
Don’t jump too soon when you hear this - will not use these missiles, anywhere in the world without the fullest possible previous consultation
Consultation, not control - with us and our allies. I use the words “fullest possible” consultation because consultation might obviously be impossible in circumstances of a sudden surprise attack upon the West. We would, indeed, not wish to insist on prior consultation in such circumstances, because it is the absolute certainty of retaliation which deters aggression.
Therefore the very conditions in which our opponents in this Parliament are asking for the right of veto are the conditions in which the British Prime Minister and the British Parliament have said that they will be prepared to trust the United States, that they will be prepared to trust their allies. The whole matter boils down to the fact that honorable members opposite are so used to giving no trust in their caucus room that it would be too much to expect them to trust another country.
Deliberate deception of the Australian people has been indulged in by the Opposition, and in particular by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), in connexion with this matter of control. I understand it is a dictum of the law that ignorance is no defence to a breach of the law. Therefore, in a matter that is vital to the political future of this country honorable members cannot plead ignorance in reply to a charge of deceiving the Australian people. I say that it is inconceivable that the two honorable members I have mentioned were ignorant of the true position, and therefore I contend that their deception in this matter of control has been deliberate. The Leader of the Opposition said in Adelaide on Monday last, according to a newspaper report which I have before me -
In every other case, whether the establishment be a missile-launching base in Turkey or Italy, or a submarine depot, or a radar early-warning system in Britain, the U.S. Government has agreed to arrangements which provide for actual and physical controls by the host nation.
The Leader of the Opposition knows quite well that that is untrue, as does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and the other people who sit on the Opposition benches. It is a pity that honorable members cannot emulate a former Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, who was the leader of the Australian Government during the last war, when Australian troops were assigned to an American commander. As I say, they were assigned; there were no conditions attached to it and no qualifications. This was right, under the conditions at that time. The Labour Government was then prepared to trust an American commander with many thousands of Australian lives. .To-day members of the Labour Party are not prepared to trust any one.
– That was when they were scared.
– They are still scared.
Since this proposal for a nuclear-free zone is a major factor in the limited co-operation that Opposition members are prepared to extend to the United States we should understand clearly what it would involve for us. Very briefly, it means that we would say to the United States and our other allies, “We will accept conventional armed help from you, but only help by way of conventional arms “. If we were attacked by somebody with nuclear missiles the Americans would not think much of that kind of proposition, would they?
Secondly, the proposal for a nuclear-free zone would destroy Anzus and our co-operation in it, and Anzus is this country’s mainstay of survival. Are we so naive as to think that in the event of war any aggressor nation in this part of the world - and the United States is not going to be an aggressor, nor are we - would respect any agreement that might have been signed, no matter how many people had signed it?
In addition, the proposal would upset the balance of power because of Communist superiority in conventional arms. It would weaken the United States and the United Kingdom. It would weaken their power of retaliation, because it would affect Western bases and it would not affect a single Communist base. It would weaken, in other words, the West’s nuclear deterrent without affecting the deterrent of the Soviets and the other Communists.
– That is their idea.
– Of course it is their idea. The only disarmament which makes sense is world disarmament, both nuclear and conventional. The Communists will not accept this, because they will not accept the vital elements of inspection and control. Therefore they seek to weaken the West by getting a nuclear-free zone here and a nuclear-free zone there. This is impossible, and it would be suicidal for Australia.
Occasionally, Mr. Deputy Speaker, nations take a path which leads to their destruction as a result of some ill-advised act of their leaders. History is littered with the ashes of cities and nations as a result of these happenings. If we do not co-operate in the spirit of Anzus with our allies, future historians will record that this was where Australia made decisions fatal to her survival. Complete co-operation is the only course that is open to us. There is no safety in isolation; there is none in neutralism or in half-hearted co-operation. With responsibility to our children and respect and trust for our allies, with tradi tions of defence of freedom unequalled by any other nation, there is nothing in honour that Australia can do but accept with some pride and fortitude the obligation that the world sets on free men to stand with our allies. Courage and resolution in this provide the foundations on which our defences are built. If we lack courage, or falter, or lose understanding of our position, we risk the destruction of our people.
The curse of Australian politics for almost the whole of the existence of Australia as a Commonwealth has been that we have never had a united foreign policy except, to a limited extent, in the days of calamity during the war. The reason for this has been described many times but it was described most ably by a former member for West Sydney, Mr. Jack Beasley, who was later a Labour Minister in a Labour government and, later still, a high commissioner appointed by a Labour government. He described, quite clearly, after the famous “ hands off Russia “ resolution which led to the formation of the first Australian Labour Party - Non-Communist, which included the then members for Lang, Dalley, Cook and Reid, how the Communist Party took over the control of the Labour Party organization in New South Wales. He described how it infiltrated into the party and affected the policies of the party. 1 recommend honorable members opposite to read this speech by a member of the Labour Party - not by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). They should read the speech, because it sets out, in clear terms, how the Communists, through their Communist unions and Labour Party conferences, can infiltrate and affect Labour policy. This was a speech made by somebody who, after he had made it, was made a Labour Minister and, later still, was a high commissioner appointed by a Labour government.
This is not the time or the place to discuss the infiltration by the Communist Party into the ranks at the base level of the Australian Labour Party. But it is, perhaps, pertinent to look at the effects of this infiltration in statements by honorable members opposite. Although I will quote certain members of the Opposition, in no case do I say that any of them is a Communist. I do say they are affected by what has happened in the lower ranks of their own party. In the middle of 1962, at a State conference of the Australian Labour Party, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said -
The U.S. and Russia, backed by Great Britain and France committed acts of aggression which threatened the world with war.
You will note, Mr. Speaker, the way in which the honorable member equates the acts of Great Britain and America with the acts of the Communist imperialists - the Russians and the Chinese. Two weeks ago the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) made a speech which could not have been more anti-American if it had been made by Mr. Khrushchev himself or by some Chinese professional American-hater. As reported in the press he said these words -
He showed complete lack of faith and a complete lack of trust in our allies. We all know the statement made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) in 1961, when he said that Castro was a great socialist. He said that he himself was a great democratic socialist and that Castro had done what any democratic socialist would have done in the circumstances. This, again, was taking the view of the Communists. More shameful than any of these speeches was a speech made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro late last year during the debate on the United States action over Cuba; and it is perfectly consistent with what the honorable member said in this Parliament much more recently. He said that the American action was a violation of the United Nations Charter. He said that Khrushchev did not yield to the American ultimatum but achieved everything in accordance with his previously planned strategy. He compared America’s defence of the 2,500,000 people in West Berlin with the enslavement of the people of Cuba by the Communists of Cuba with the aid and assistance of Russia.
– That is nonsense.
– Read the speech for yourself and see what he said. This is precisely what he said. He said also that he was certain that world war was no part of Khrushchev’s strategy. You would have thought that the honorable member would try to be equally flattering to the United States. But he said -
Now we come to this position. America did not take her case to the United Nations and I think she stands condemned for not having done so.
When the honorable member said that he knew it was untrue. It was a deliberate misrepresentation. President Kennedy, in the sixth article of his statement on the Cuba situation to the people of the United States and the world, said the matter was being referred to the Security Council of the United Nations. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro continued -
In the light of the American action over Cuba I suggest that we can have no real and positive faith in the value to us of American action, because she acted in her own interests without consulting us. As was shown by what happened in regard to Indonesia, America, in circumstances which suit her, will desert those she should be supporting and defending. … So we stand alone in the world.
This was a shameful speech against our ally. The only question which remains is whether this reveals a genuine hatred of the United States or a great pandering to the left wing of his party and the elements outside the party which support it. I would sooner it were the first, because that at least would be an honest attitude. If it is the latter, he should save his time. His own party would never accept him as leader because he is regarded as too smart by half.
In the current debate the honorable member for Eden-Monaro again said that the communications station would be used only if there were a nuclear war. This, again, is untrue. It is not correct. It is wrong. There are ruder terms which could be used and which would apply equally to what he said. He stated that Labour would move amendments to the bill which would be vital. I agree that they would be vital, because if agreed to they would destroy the bill and there would be no radio communications base. This is the objective of many honorable members opposite.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said the Opposition would not vote against the second reading or the third reading of the bill, but that, in fact, an amendment would be proposed to the motion for the third reading which would be equivalent to voting against it. So this, again, was untrue.
The Leader of the Opposition has said he wants to maintain the American alliance. I hope he means this and I believe he does. But this does not stand beside the policy that his party has adopted on the radio communications base, or its nuclear policy, or the statements of his supporters. If he meant what he said he should be prepared to do what he can, in peace, to avoid war. But, of course, we know that he cannot, because he is not his own master. He has to do what his left wing and his outside organization tell him to do.
I believe that Australia will view with dismay and disgust the fact that men who are not Communists can be so weak as to absorb their policy and advocate it to the detriment of Australia and the destruction of the Australian people. I can understand men of goodwill - sincere but misguided - wishing to keep Australia apart from the divisions which split the world. Such men are set apart from the honorable members 1 have mentioned by the fact that they do not unfairly burden the United States and the United Kingdom with blame. They recognize Russia for what she is - dominating, imperialist and unscrupulous. They are not apologists for the evils of communism and they do not damn their friends by false accusations.
Our friends on the Opposition benches know where Australia’s safety lies. They know the insidious influence always present in their ranks, as shown by their own former colleague, Mr. Jack Beasley, but they are not strong enough to do anything about it. They have not the strength of will to stand for Australia in this particular matter against the outside influences in their own organization.
In all this, the Leader of the Opposition stands doubly condemned because he knows precisely what the position is. He knows where Australia’s interests lie but he lacks the courage and basic character and is prepared to put Australia in jeopardy and at peril to preserve his own position as the leader of a divided party. If we have concern for our own survival we must stand and co-operate with our allies. We must seek no alternative, for there is none that would leave honour to this Parliament or to this people.
.- I do not propose to spend much of my time in answering the McCarthyistic nonsense and rubbish which has been uttered by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). As I have said in this House on other occasions, the McCarthy episode was one of the most disgraceful episodes in American history. It is no wonder that the honorable member has become so sycophantic about American foreign policy. I stand as an Australian, not envious of the Americans nor fearful of the Russians, but very watchful of all governments, no matter what their colour, and particularly watchful of this disastrous dichotomy - the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party - which has had control of this country for the last thirteen or fourteen years.
Would any honorable member on the Government side commit himself without equivocation to some aspects of the Government’s foreign policy? How many of them would stand forthright and four-square in public and support the attitude of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) six years ago when he sponsored the murdering of Egyptians to protect commercial interests in the Suez Canal? How many other people in this country would do so? Was not that a black page in our history?
In this agreement the Menzies Government is writing, blindfold, a commitment to American foreign policy for the next 25 years. I have a great respect for the American people and the American Government. Honorable members opposite would do well if they turned their hearts and minds to a consideration of some of America’s political principles. They might examine the American Congress and the way it works. They might see that there are people in America who will take up disputes with the Government in the Congress and not be accused of treachery or of being traitors or Communists. It is the free play of opinion in the community that is important. This Government has trespassed upon our rights by producing an agreement signed, sealed and delivered before any person in this place was consulted. It has committed Australia, unconsuIted, for the next 25 years, and for that it will answer to the Australian people.
This debate is the impeachment of the Liberal and Country parties before the people of Australia. We shall make absolutely sure that the people are fully aware of all the implications of this agreement before the next election.
It was with some concern this afternoon that I watched men whose attainments in certain fields are of a high order prostitute their talents. I saw the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Wannon exhibit a most miserable and faithless attitude to their parliamentary duty. The honorable member for Wannon misquoted history. He did not look for facts. He did not take the trouble to follow through his researches - I do not know whether he did them himself - on the United States and the United Kingdom agreement on Polaris missiles. He tried to mislead the House on the significance of the Polaris missile base in Western Australia vis-a-vis the base at Holy Loch in Scotland, so I shall take some moments to deal with his argument on that score.
Before I do so I should like to mention the points on which we disagree. First, there is the Government’s failure to consult the Parliament or the people before they were committed. Secondly, there is the Government’s failure to protect Australia’s interests and rights. There is no doubt about that. The most disturbing feature of this debate is to hear honorable members opposite, many of whom have given great service to this nation, so completely sycophantic towards other people’s foreign policy. They have shown an attitude of mind which no decent American would adopt in his Congress. They have shown an attitude of complete cynical acceptance of the belief that Australia has nothing to offer in world affairs.
With this commitment for the next 25 years - the next two and one-half decades - there is introduced a new element in the cold war in the southern hemisphere, and a new element in Australian politics and strategy. There is also the introduction of a target area. Australia has been placed right in the target. Yet a case has not been made out that the strategic position has changed so fundamentally in the last few years that the establishment of this base is vitally necessary. I think I could challenge the strategy of this base.
We are concerned about Australia’s commitment because it has been a part of the pattern of our history over the last 65 years that Australia will stand up for itself, will answer for itself and will make its own decisions. Any self-respecting Australian with a regard for our historic role in world affairs would, I believe, agree with me on that. Every Australian outside this place to whom I have spoken, once this issue has been made clear, has been clear on that. When the issue has been made clear to the people of Australia, honorable members opposite will answer for their actions at the next election. Some of the Government’s policies give me the horrors - its domestic and foreign policies, its gerrymandering of electorates, its floggings and hangings and its plural voting, as one might put it - but the signing of this agreement is the worst act ever performed by an Australian government. This complete and absolute commitment, in a way which I am sure the people of Australia cannot yet understand, is something which will be challenged on every voting-paper at the next election.
I take issue with the honorable member for Wannon on the question of joint control. That is the first point at which we join issue. He chose to say that we did not know what we were talking about and that we had deceived or misled the Australian people on the question of joint control in the United Kingdom. What is the exact position? The honorable member for Wannon had done some research, as I pointed out earlier, to the extent of reading what Mr. Macmillan had said in the House of Commons in reply to a question without notice. Would any one take any notice of the answers which the Australian Prime Minister gives in this House to questions without notice? You could not take the slightest notice of them, in view of the devious means he adopts in an attempt to sweep questions aside.
There is no doubt that submarines will be directed from the base in Western Australia. As far as I can make out, that is not challenged by any one. As the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) pointed out, this base will be the Achilles heel of the Polaris submarine system. The honorable member for Wannon then tried to equate a
Polaris submarine operating in the Atlantic Ocean with a Polaris submarine operating in the Indian Ocean. The base at Holy Loch is in a completely different position from that in which the station at North West Cape will be placed. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who is interjecting, should be able to read just as well as the rest of us can. When submarines are in the United Kingdom’s territorial waters, the United Kingdom has absolute control. That position is completely different from the position which will apply with the Australian base. The honorable member for Wannon quoted a statement by the United Kingdom Prime Minister, but I should like to read a considered statement which was made in the House of Commons on 4th November, 1960, by the United Kingdom Minister for Defence, Mr. Watkinson. He said -
To come to the detailed problem of control, I must return to what the Prime Minister said on 1st November. First of all, he stated that the facilities in this country, which include territorial waters, will be operated under exactly the same arrangements as those applying to the existing bomber bases and missile sites, that is to say, joint consultation in an emergency.
The Australian Prime Minister seemed to think that this was an absolute impossibility in our own case. Continuing, Mr. Watkinson said -
I do not think that he actually mentioned this, but perhaps I might make it plain to the House that our control within territorial waters is absolute.
I hope that that message has got through to honorable members opposite.
– But he was sacked.
– That is right. Your colleague who sits beside you was sacked too, but that establishes his integrity. In some ways a sacking from the Menzies Ministry might well be an accolade. Mr. Watkinson went on -
We have a firm assurance that these missiles would not be fired in any circumstances in the United Kingdom territorial waters. I do not think that the Prime Minister brought that out, and so I add that to the facts now.
That statement has not been refuted. There has been no qualification. In the first instance the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and the relationship between Australia and the United States on this issue are completely different. The Government has accepted a completely different point of view in this instance. One of the newspapers pointed out that the base in Western Australia is as much a part of the Polaris weapon system as the launching pad itself. The Government has accepted the position that we should have no say. That proposition has been pooh-poohed. The Prime Minister has sneered at it. The whole situation of the Labour Party has been confused. If we want to know exactly how important the Prime Minister thinks this is, we have only to look at this statement. He said -
So this communication station is just as much a part of the firing of the weapon system, according to the Prime Minister himself.
Until recently the Prime Minister has been off-handed in his answers to questions to a point almost reaching deceit. When challenged in this debate he comes to the point of saying that we could nullify the effect of nuclear weapons in the southern hemisphere by saying, in effect, “ You cannot use them “. The point is that the Prime Minister himself has said that this station is fundamental to the weapon system of Polaris submarines.
In the United Kingdom, if there is to be any firing, any operation of missile bases or anything else, the United Kingdom is to have joint consultation and, in the actual firing, absolute control. This is not the question that the honorable member for Wannon raised. He raised the question of those weapons which had been handed over to Great Britain for her own firing. This base is part of the machinery for Polaris missiles, which will be operated from Australian territory, and we are to have no say. That is the point at issue and the point on which we on this side of the House challenge the Government in particular.
– Why did Great Britain get a better deal than Australia?
– That is what we want to know. Why did Italy get a better deal than Australia? Is it not a fact that under the Spanish agreement - I have the words of the Spanish agreement here somewhere - a bomber cannot take off unless the Spanish Government gives its approval? Why is it that we are further down the line than any other nation? That is the point at issue. Why is it that Italy, Spain, Turkey, Greece and Great Britain all can receive fairer treatment and be put in a position of partnership, but Australia cannot? Australia has no use for sycophancy or satellitism.
– Can you quote the agreement with Spain?
– The honorable member for Bradfield, by interjection, is mouthing the completely inept approach of honorable members opposite to all of these issues. This has been one of the fundamental issues of Australian history - that we will control our own destiny. The honorable member might turn his attention to General de Gaulle who had a few words to say about why he should not accept a complete and absolute commitment in these matters. This has been a question throughout Australian history. In prefederation days Deakin contested with Chamberlain the right of Australia to have its own say. Deakin’s story of federation tells how Chamberlain attempted to keep control of Australia’s foreign policy, defence and similar matters. Part of the story of the beginning of the Australian federation was a demand by Australian leaders to make their own decision. When the Fisher Government came to power exactly the same thing happened. That Government had to fight to establish the Royal Australian Navy. That was opposed, too. In 1916, 1917 and 1918 the question of the control of Australian forces overseas arose. It took most of the First World War to get them under the control of Australia’s own generals. But surely honorable members opposite can see the point. Then we can turn to the story related by Mr. Hughes. I will not read it. Most of it is set out in the pages of “Policies and Potentates”. As far as I can determine, most of it is pretty close to source material. The story starts on page 237 with his struggle against American President Wilson. For some reason or other, President Wilson did not want us to have any say in Papua and New Guinea. Then we come to the recent war, which I think is a most appropriate example. Lionel Wigmore, in his book “The Japanese Thrust “, recounts at page 449 the struggle of the Curtin Government against the Churchill Government to get control of Australia’s own troops. The point at issue was the disposition of the Australian Seventh Division. If the Curtin Government had not carried on that struggle to get control of Australia’s own troops and brought it to a successful conclusion, what would have happened to that division in Burma or Java?
Is there any honorable member opposite who would not now support the position that the Australian Government took up? The British leaders and the American leaders wanted the Australian troops in Burma or in Java. The people supporting them were the non-government members of the Advisory War Council. The present Prime Minister was one of them. On that occasion, as on this occasion, he showed no concern whatsoever. He was supported by Sir Earle Page and Viscount Bruce, who was then in London. They supported the point of view that Australia had no right to dispose its own troops and had no control over its own destiny. This is the point on which we join issue with honorable members opposite: Australia must control its own affairs and any commitment on foreign policy, defence or anything else which gives a blank cheque to some other government must be reconsidered. In this case we say that this provision must be taken away and that the American people must understand quite clearly and forthrightly that we on this side of the House, representing the majority of the people of Australia and having the same number of seats in this House as the Government has, say that Australia must have an equal say. I am sure that the American people and the American Government would support us in that matter.
The second question is the term of 25 years. Has any government the right to tie our hands for the next 25 years? Would anybody on the other side of the House give a written guarantee in respect of Australia’s foreign policy for the next 25 years? If you turned back the pages of history, would you still be in complete agreement with all the points of foreign policy over the last 25 years? Is there anybody in this House who will stand up now and say that the Prime Minister was right in 1956 over the Suez crisis?
– The honorable member for Ballaarat says that the Prime Minister was right. I wish that could be written in “ Hansard “ in big black type. Is there anybody who will say that the Prime Minister was right in 1946 when he was surprised and dismayed at the granting of independence to India? That is shown in “ Hansard “. Is there anybody who is in agreement with him in his attack on Dr. Evatt because Dr. Evatt opposed the veto at the United Nations? Is it not part of the record and the pattern of our Prime Minister that in foreign affairs he has nearly always been wrong? That cannot be challenged.
– You do not know what you are talking about. Tell us about Manus Island.
– The honorable member for Sturt may rise in his place and bring forward the points on which he thinks the Prime Minister has been right. Is not this the same man who only a quarter of a century ago was saying that if he were a German sitting before his hearth he would be thanking God for Hitler? It is not right to project ourselves into the next quarter of a century.
– Not one of you has stated-
– I will challenge the honorable member for Ballaarat, the man from Eureka, again. Has he been in complete, absolute and unqualified agreement?
– Not one of you has stated whether—
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, do you think you could ask the honorable member for Ballaarat later? I ask him whether he is in complete agreement with every aspect of American foreign policy over the last 25 years.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I pointed out that this Government had deserted its post and had neglected its duty to protect the right of Australia to control its own destiny. I said that this was in fundamental opposition to the Labour Party’s view and was fundamentally against the whole trend of our history. I showed also, I think, that the United Kingdom Government had established for itself principles for the control of United States weapons on its territory which this Government had not even considered.
– This is a wireless station.
– The Government has absolutely departed from all the principles on which a free, self-respecting and selfreliant government ought to act, and the fundamental principles on which the Labour Party operates. I challenged the honorable member for Ballaarat and other honorable members opposite to say whether they were prepared to hand over control of the station and without any qualification to place Australia in what might be called the cauldron of the cold war. I asked them to say, if they were prepared to rely on American foreign policy for the next 25 years, whether they would have been prepared to do so for the last 25 years. The honorable member for Ballaarat representing the free people of Eureka, nodded his head and expressed his agreement.
In considering this question, let us go back six years to the Suez crisis. This was the occasion on which the Prime Minister disgraced Australia and the Western world by his sponsorship of what was an unparalleled piece of aggression on the Egyptian people. In my view, it was simply outright murder sponsored by this Government. The honorable member for Ballaarat said that he was in complete agreement with that policy.
– In the situation as it was then.
– The honorable member for Ballaarat said he was in complete agreement with that. He also said he was in unqualified agreement with American policy and that he will be for the next 25 years. If he supported Britain in 1956, he must have been against America then, because President Eisenhower at that time said -
We cannot and will not condone aggression, not matter who the attacker, no matter who the victim.
Where did honorable members opposite stand on that occasion? They will not deny that they supported the policy then. What kind of men are these to be charged with the responsibility of conducting Australia’s affairs?
The Prime Minister has said that the establishment of this base is very important and that is fundamental. He has said -
Australia could nullify the effect of United States nuclear weapons in the southern hemisphere . . .
He has said further that by adopting the policy of the Labour Party we could - strike out of the hands of our friends and allies the nuclear weapon in some vast area while leaving it completely in the hands of our potential enemies . . .
This is what the Prime Minister has said. The Labour Party’s policy on this matter is that Australia’s involvement in war is a question for Australia alone. What is wrong with that? Is any honorable member opposite prepared to tell his electors that he opposes this view? We believe that Australia alone should decide its involvement at all times and under no circumstances and under no agreement should Australia become automatically involved in war. Our policy also is -
In the event of the United States of America being at war or threatened with war by another power, Australian Territory and Australian facilities must not be used in any way that would involve Australia without the prior knowledge and consent of the Australian Government.
What is wrong with that attitude? Is there any honorable member opposite with any spark of Australianism in him who would not support this attitude? I said earlier that every other nation had adopted other methods in dealing with the United States of America. I quoted Italy and Spain. I was challenged about Spain, but Article 3 of the United States and Spain Defence Agreement says -
The time and manner of wartime utilization of such areas and facilities will be as mutually agreed upon.
Mr. Philip Noel Baker in his book “The Arms Race “ said -
The air bases have runways long enough for jet bombers loaded with H-bombs; but they can only be used if Spain, after consultation, is willing to consent.
He quotes the “ Times “ of London and the “ Times “ of New York to support his view. What is it that Australia lacks that Spain has? Some honorable members opposite would seem to have some political affinity with Franco and Spain. These are matters on which the Government has been challenged and these are the matters upon which it has deserted its post. This debate is an impeachment of the Government.
It has become almost traditional for Australia to fight against the parties now in power in order to assert its rights. Before the suspension of the sitting I referred to the historic struggle between Curtin and Churchill on the disposal of the Australian armed forces. Is there any honorable member opposite who would say to his electors that he would have liked to have seen the Seventh Division lost in Burma or Java? That is what the present Prime Minister sought to do. That is what the leader of honorable members opposite - the man they follow uncritically - sought to do. He was a member of the Advisory War Council. For my authority I refer to the official history, at page 449.
We believe that the United States should not have sole control of this station. We say that this is a question of great moment and should not be treated lightly. We say, further, that the Government should not have ventured upon this agreement without discussing it first with the Parliament and the people of Australia. We can show that this is one aspect of our policy.
Let me refer to the question: Can you have regional disarmament pacts? I refer honorable members opposite to three in particular. One goes back to 1817. It was the agreement between the United States of America and Great Britain about the frontier between those two countries. At this time feelings were running high between them because in 1812 there had been a conflict between them. I refer the House to the agreement between Norway and Sweden and to the agreement between Turkey and Greece after the last war. These are cases in which regional disengagement and regional disarmament have worked. That is the principle on which our nuclear-free zone is based. Another question relates to the strategy of this matter. This is perhaps not the occasion on which to debate the strategy of the base. It may be good strategy for America but it could easily be bad strategy for Australia.
I remind those who would put their faith in this kind of base that it was not long ago that people were putting faith in the Maginot Line and Singapore - defences that had been designed by generals and admirals, but they ceased to exist. This agreement may be another Maginot Line in the Menzies strategy. Put not your faith in bases. Look at what has happened to them. Cyprus as a base was vital on one occasion, was not vital later and again became vital. This also happened with Suez and with Kenya. It has happened with them all. But the Government is committing Australia and Australia’s children and grandchildren for 25 years. They are committed but unconsulted
If one thing affected me more than another during the course of this debate, it was the attitude of the Prime Minister when he was questioned on the establishment of this base. He said he was delighted that this base was here. What could he bc delighted about? He could perhaps take comfort from the fact that Australia had great and powerful allies. But would any man with any conscience or any sensitivity towards world affairs have used the word “ delighted “? I shall quote the views of other people in these matters. Pope Pius XII. in 195: said-
This is the spectacle offered to the terrified gaze as the result of such use: entire cities, even the largest and richest in art and history, wiped out; a pall of death over pulverised ruins, covering countless victims with limbs burnt, twisted, and scattered while others groan in their death agony.
– What is the name of the book you have?
– These are the words of Pope Pius XII. He continued -
Meanwhile the spectre of a radio-active cloud hinders survivors from giving any help and inexorably advances to snuff out any remaining life. There will be no song of victors, only the inconsolable weeping of humanity, which in desolation will gaze upon a catastrophe brought on by its own folly.
I have quoted the words of Pope Pius XII., but the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) says this is the voice of Moscow. 1 leave the House with this thought: These are the words with which sensitive people describe the crisis facing civilization. The Prime Minister of Australia is delighted.
.- First, let me say that the one thing which honorable members opposite said this after noon and which the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said this evening, with which I agree is that this is a most important matter. It is perhaps one of the the most important matters to have come before this Parliament for quite some time. It is important not only to all honorable members of this House but also to the people of Australia, and the people of Australia should consider very deeply and sincerely some of the statements that have been made by members of the Opposition during the course of this debate because the members of the Opposition are the alternative government of this country.
The honorable member for Wills and some other honorable members opposite have made great play upon the words of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who said, “ I am delighted “, when he was questioned about the making of the agreement covering this base. They have distorted the meaning, the purpose and the thought in the mind of the Prime Minister when he uttered those words. Any one who examined the question asked of the Prime Minister and the answer given by him would realize that in saying, “ I am delighted “, the Prime Minister was implying that he was delighted that, in a time of trouble and difficulty, in a time when the free world is facing a threat to its safety and security, a threat that comes not from any country in the free world but from the Communist countries behind the iron curtain, Australia, as one country of the free world, should have the friendship, support and assistance of a great nation and a great people like the United States of America and its people. I remind honorable members opposite that the John Curtin to whom they refer constantly in this House appreciated the value of the friendship and support of the United States of America at another time of danger to this country and welcomed American aid.
– You opposed it.
– To those honorable members opposite who say that I opposed it, I say that I am afraid I was a little too busy to be able to oppose calling the United States of America to Australia’s aid at that time.
There is another matter which has been raised quite often and which has been answered from this side of the House many times. I refer to the allegation that this
Government failed to make adequate preparation for our defence in the days between 1939 and 1941 and, prior to that, from 1937 onwards. In 1942, 1 had the privilege of returning here in the company of a topranking officer who had attended the defence conferences which had been held in various countries during the early days of the war. He said that many top-ranking people had admitted the tremendous value of the work that had been done by the Lyons Government before the outbreak of war and later by the Menzies Government in preparing this country to defend itself. It has been pointed out on more than one occasion - and all the comments of the Opposition cannot deny the truth of the statement - that John Curtin paid a tribute to those who had preceded him as Prime Minister of this country.
– You know quite well why he made the statement. He could not advertise our defence position to the world.
– You say that was only a cover-up by John Curtin. There was no cover-up by the government which preceded him. I remind honorable members that shadow factories were established prior to the war. They were ready to go into production immediately after war broke out. If honorable members study the history of this country they will see the splendid results that accrued from that preparation. Let me refer again to the Empire Air Training Scheme which was acknowledged to be one of the best schemes for the training of fighting men ever devised. That scheme was put into effect prior to the take-over by the Curtin Government.
When commenting on this base, the honorable member for Wills asked, “How do you know this base will be of any value? “ He compared it with bases at Cyprus and Suez. I suggest that such a comparison is typical of the short-sighted argument advanced by the Opposition in connexion with other matters to-day. I consider the base in the light of the protection that it will afford us in the next 25 years, which is the period of the agreement.
Earlier to-day, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) said that this Government was putting forward a proposition that did not have the support of the Australian people. I suggest that he should go outside and listen to the views on this matter of all sections of the community, not merely those of the section whose voice alone he appears to be able to hear. If he listened to all sections of the people he would know that beyond all shadow of doubt this Government has strong support throughout Australia for the establishment of this communication base. One thing that has surprised me about honorable members opposite in this debate is that they appear to have been laying emphasis on fear, fear of an atomic war, fear of the unknown nuclear future. I would say that no one with any thought, with any intelligence or with any feeling would not worry after what we have seen and what we know in connexion with the advances made by science. But, as has been said by honorable members on this side of the House, in the world of to-day we must be realists. Surely to goodness any one who looks at the world situation must appreciate that we will not avoid war merely by closing our eyes to the realities of the situation or by merely closing our eyes and saying that the situation that faces us does not exist. I do not doubt that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is sincere in his desire for peace. Nor do I doubt the sincerity of some of his comments about peace and the maintenance of peace; but I point out one glaring example in recent times of the need to be prepared. I refer to the attack by China upon India. Ever since she received her independence, India’s one desire has been to develop her territory and provide for her people. In all his utterances at all times, the great Prime Minister of that country has talked about neutrality. He has stated repeatedly that he does not want to be linked with one camp or another, that he does not want India to be alined with one camp or another, that India had to think only of her own security, her own protection and her own defence. But what happened to India? Again, can anybody say that the people of Tibet wanted war? Yet what happened in that country? Any one who doubts that anything might happen in this part of the world has only to read the report presented to the United Nations on what we might call the rape of Tibet. These are all clear illustrations of the need to face the realities of the present world situation.
It is one of the great facts of life that to-day we need to be in a position to defend ourselves, and to do that we need strong and noble friends.
I said earlier that this proposal represented a serious matter for the House and for Australia. If we examine the arguments that have been put forward by honorable members opposite it becomes obvious that in the background there is a knowledge by honorable members opposite that they are in a most difficult position over this matter. They realize that if they actively and positively oppose the establishment of this base they will arouse an adverse reaction in the hearts and minds of the Australian people and yet, if they support its establishment without equivocation they will be criticised and condemned by a certain group within the Labour Party.
Let us take one of the arguments that members of the Australian Labour Party have constantly been putting forward. In one of their criticisms of the establishment of the proposed base, they speak of sovereignty. I remind Opposition members that a Labour government gave to the United States of America the right to try its own service personnel under its own law when those personnel were established in this country. This was done not by an act of the Parliament but by administrative action. The United Kingdom did the same, but it obtained reciprocal rights with respect to its own servicemen in the United States. It may be that if we look into the matter, we shall find that at that time Russia was an ally of Australia, whereas, to-day, she is no longer our ally. In 1947, conscious of a need for the establishment of defence services in Australia, and realizing even in those days the danger of an upset that could come from within Australia and the need to take all steps possible to ensure the safety and security of Australia, the Chifley Government introduced a measure that was enacted as the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) said earlier to-day that Australia ought to be consulted in certain matters and1 should have some say in what was done before the time came for the actual pressing of the button. On this point, Sir, I should like to read Article 3 of the agreement, which is the schedule to the bill. It states -
In my view, when set against the statements made by Opposition members, this reveals the fact that they are endeavouring, as it were, to keep a foot in each camp.
We have been told that there is a degree of McCarthyism evident on the Government side of the House. Whenever the danger of Communist infiltration is pointed out, this cry will always be raised, for it represents one means by which the people who sit opposite hope to throw a smokescreen over the accusations that are made. Frankly, 1 believe that this debate and events preceding it have shown a remarkable left-wing influence in the Opposition. These are factual points put forward in the cold light of day. My friend and colleague, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), pointed out the associations of some of the members of the executive of the Australian Labour Party. Yet it has been said that the Labour Party has been founded on democratic lines and that any person can be elected to State and Federal councils! Nobody denies that, but I think it is an obvious fact of this situation - an obvious fact that must be appreciated - that, in some of the unions, there is a very strong Communist influence, and indirectly that influence must make itself felt to the detriment of a policy put forward in the Australian Parliament by the Australian Labour Party.
I mentioned earlier, Sir, that all of us and all who have any consciousness of the future of the world desire peace. I should like to quote at this point the words of two people. The first quotation is as follows: -
This is not a mere boundary dispute or a question of small territorial frontier adjustments. Apart from the vast and fantastic claims that China has made, China has already occupied 12,000 square miles of Indian territory during the last five years. While Notes were being exchanged for arranging talks and discussions to ease tensions, and even dates and places were being suggested, further aggression started by China on September 8, and further areas of Indian territory were occupied in a new sector. The issue involved is not one of small territorial gains, one way or the other, but of standards of international behaviour between neighbouring countries and whether the world will allow the principle of “ Might is Right “ to prevail in international relations. Bearing this in mind, India will continue to resist aggression, both to preserve her honour and integrity and to prevent international standards from deteriorating into the jungle law of “ Might is Right “. When aggression is continuously taking place and vast Chinese armies are moving further into our territory, how can we discuss or talk about a peaceful settlement? The first essential is that the Chinese forces along the India-China border should go back at least to where they were prior to September 8, 1962.
In this hour of crisis, when we are engaged in resisting this aggression, we are confident that we shall have your sympathy and support as well as the sympathy and support of all countries, not only because of their friendly relations with us, but also because our struggle is in the interests of world peace and is directed to the elimination of deceit, dissimulation and force in international relations.
Those are the words of Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India. Would anybody say that Nehru was an aggressor? Would any one say that the armies and the people of India attacked the people of China? Next, I want to read to the House the following words: -
Peace I want among all mankind, but I don’t want peace at any cost, and certainly not by placating the aggressor or at the cost of honour.
Those words were spoken by Mahatma Gandhi.
In the present world situation, when, as I said at the outset, we face aggression by the Communist powers, we in Australia ought to be thankful in more ways than one that the United States is prepared to link herself with this country in pacts such as the Anzus and Seato pacts and with the free world in pacts such as the Nato pact. No one would be silly enough to say that we would at all times agree with the statements or thinking of the United States. But, in a free world, and especially in the Western world at present, what is needed is a strong and unified front on the part of all the nations of the free world against the Communists to show, without doubt or hesitation, that any aggression would be to the detriment of the Communists, and to the detriment of civilization. If we were to show that we were fearful of the future, and if we were to shrink from the responsibilities that are ours, we would not be worthy of the sacri fice made by the men and women of Australia in two world wars, which I heard mentioned this afternoon by an Opposition member. At this time, it is necessary that we in Australia, without fear and without equivocation, show those who are our potential enemies - surely no one would think that the United States or the United Kingdom would ever be our potential enemies - that we, at the time of testing, will aline ourselves with those who place liberty and honour above all else.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Australian Labour Party agrees on the need for alliances and also in general agrees with the remarks by Mr. Nehru and Mr. Gandhi which were quoted. It is very difficult, however, to see what relevance the alliances mentioned by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and the remarks quoted by him have to the present bill. None of Australia’s allies will be able to use the naval communication station which we are discussing. New Zealand will not be able to use it, although that country is allied with us in the Anzus pact and in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. None of the other Seato powers will be able to use it. None of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers will be able to use it. The United Kingdom itself will not be able to use this radio station. The United States of America will be able to use it, and Australia will be able to use it with the permission of the United States, although that country will have a veto over the use of the station by Australia. Nor, Sir, is this station needed for any of the purposes of Seato, or probably of Anzus. If one assumes that China is the menace which the honorable member for Lyne says it is, then this station is not required to cope with China. The United States of America, with its present forces, can target any position in China. Insofar as it is necessary for strategic bombers of the United States or of Britain to use Australia, there is the Darwin air base. Insofar as it is necessary for the United States or Britain to use any radio station in Australia for their ships or aircraft, the Darwin radio station is adequate, and so are the radio stations in Canberra.
The characteristics of this radio station are that it will allow America to use its nuclear deterrent in those parts of the Soviet Union which it cannot reach yet - that is, those parts of the Soviet Union which cannot be reached from the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, or the Arctic. It will allow Polaris submarines to fire their missiles into central Russia in the area south of the Aral Sea, firing those missiles over west Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those are the characteristics which this station has and which no other installation in Australia, in the south seas or in the whole of the Pacific and Indian Oceans at present has. The station is not necessary to cope with China, because China does not have nuclear weapons yet, although it may have in the next year or so. Still less does China have a means of delivering nuclear weapons. Therefore, there is no prospect of nuclear weapons being used by China against the continental United States and thus obliging Australia to come to the assistance of the United States.
It is only in the last fortnight that Government members have admitted the facts and features of this station. The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) when he introduced the bill in the week before last, said that there was little need for him to speak at any length on the nature of the station or its capacities, since the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had described the station on 17th May of last year and had repeated his description on 26th March of this year. The Prime Minister, last Thursday, declared that he had made quite a lengthy statement on the subject on 17th May of last year and again on 26th March of this year, saying “ all that could be said about the proposed station “. The honorable gentleman and the right honorable gentlemen protest too much. It is true that the Prime Minister told the truth about the station, but he did not tell the whole truth. Whoever would have inferred from the statements that the Prime Minister made that this station had - I quote the Minister for External Affairs - “the capacity to emit a signal of considerable strength of very low frequency capable of being received by submerged naval vessels, as well as surface naval vessels “? What inkling was there in the Prime Minister’s statements that the station has a part to play in the American pattern of global defence as a member of Nato, as well as Seato, as the Minister says; or that it will be a component of America’s capacity to use nuclear power to deter aggression, as the Minister also asserts? Whoever could have inferred or deduced from the Prime Minister’s statements of last May and this March that the station was essential for the effectiveness of America’s nuclear deterrent, or that it would be used to make the retaliation to some nuclear attack by giving the signal “ Go “, to quote his phrases of last Thursday night?
It is necessary to recall these omissions from the Prime Minister’s earlier statements, because they show either that the Government did not know the facts of the station or would not impart them to the Parliament and the people. It was the Australian Labour Party which elicited and discussed the facts of the station and then determined and published its attitude towards the station. The Australian Labour Party accepts the station as a grim and awful necessity. We do not share the Prime Minister’s delight at the establishment of the station. He is a queer fellow who can express delight at such a station, even in the modified sense in which the honorable member for Lyne now expresses delight - that is, relief that Australia will now be able to count on the United States - as if we could not already, under Anzus - and relief that Australia will not have to contribute so much to its own defence and will not have to relieve tensions in the rest of the world at a cost which otherwise we would have had to bear, in all honour.
The Labour Party wants alliances. Above all, it wants an alliance with the United States of America. It wants all alliances to be clear and mutual. Some alliances, like Anzam, are not clear and are not mutual. I defy anybody in Australia to point out the treaty under which the Royal Australian Air Force was entitled to go to Brunei in the last couple of months. Anzus, however, is a clear and a mutual alliance. The Labour Party forged the alliance with America and it has supported the written alliance since then. Ever since the Hobart conference in 1955 the Labour Party has stated this proposition -
Co-operation with the United States in the South Pacific is of crucial importance and must be maintained.
At the special federal conference of March last the Labour Party added “ and the Indian
Ocean “ to “ south Pacific “. More specifically, Sir, the special conference in March of this year stated -
Labour believes that the defensive alliance with the United States of America and New Zealand - referred to as Anzus - is essential and must continue.
In regard to Seato, while saying that this organization was ineffective, the Labour Party stated that Australia should not withdraw from it until better arrangements were made. Therefore, Sir, the Labour Party has always by its actions and by its declarations, with increasing frequency and precision, asserted that we need alliances and, above all, alliances with the United States. If an attack is made on the United States, Australia must act beside her. The contrary position also applies. There is no room for doubt or delay. The same applies if there is an attack on their or our islands and forces in the Pacific.
– Automatic involvement?
– I believe so. In my interpretation, without doubt. If either feels threatened, then the other must consult. This is an example of a clear commitment. There is no such clear commitment, however, in respect of the Indian Ocean or in respect of the European and Asian land mass. If, as we presume, the United States has said to us that she requires this station to secure her own defence and to co-operate with Australia in Australia’s defence, the Australian Labour Party says, “ Yes, you may build this station “. We are prepared to make a joint contribution in this way, but we wish to exercise joint control, to participate in joint decisions in respect of the base, and to share in decisions for war or not. This is not just a question of access to messages at the station, it is a question of access to decisions by the President of the United States. Honorable members will recall that the Minister for External Affairs at question-time to-day had drawn from him, as the result of a newspaper article, information which he had not vouchsafed to the Parliament or to the people. The correspondence which he tabled made the first mention of the Polaris missiles. It is interesting to note that while the Minister stated that the United States insisted on sole control of the station, the correspondence which he tabled showed no insistence by the United States Ambassador on sole control of the station. He did not insist on it. What the correspondence clearly shows is that the Minister for External Affairs did not insist on joint decisions or on joint control - something which Britain, Italy, Turkey, Canada and every other country which has accepted similar responsibilities has insisted upon.
– That is not true.
– The United States did not insist on the condition the Minister asserts it insisted on. The Minister did not insist on the condition which every other one of America’s allies has insisted upon. Isn’t this just a side issue raised by the Minister? He refers to the mechanics of the station, but the real crux of the matter - the nub of the matter, to use the Prime Minister’s term - turns on orders from the President. Political control is the issue at stake here, and political control is what every other ally has sought, and which America has conceded to every other ally.
Article 3 of the agreement says -
The two Governments will consult from time to time at the request of either Government on any matters connected with the station and its use.
This article clearly contemplates and permits such political consultation, that is discussion with the President, from whom orders come, from whom alone such orders can come. If the article does not mean this, then it is superfluous and illusory. Speed of consultation was necessary when America depended on the nuclear deterrent of missiles on the soil of its allies. Speed was arranged in those circumstances. Speed can still be arranged under the new circumstances, and decisions are easy between trusting allies.
– What is the difference in time?
– Because of better detection procedures now, there are a few minutes more available.
– A few minutes!
– That is all there has ever been.
– Good. I am glad to hear you say that.
– Yet, having a few minutes only - twenty or 30 minutes as the
Prime Minister said last Thursday - Britain, Turkey, Italy and Canada were always granted the condition of joint political decision. But our spiritless Government has not sought what every other one of those countries has succeeded in gaining.
In order to sell this station to the Australian people, the Minister implied that the station was designed primarily to protect United States and Australian interests in the west Pacific region and South-East Asia. It is, however, clearly designed principally, as I have said, to bring targets in central Russia within the range of the nuclear deterrent. The benefits of the station to America are direct and unambiguous; the benefits to Australia are derivative. Conversely, of course, Anzus can in some circumstances have greater advantages for Australia than for the United States. There is always this balance of advantage and disadvantage in any alliance.
At a later stage of his speech the Minister admitted “ the consequences for the United States as a member of Nato of the station’s communications capability “. The careful phrasing of this part of his speech confirms that this station and the weapons system of which it is a part are primarily for the security of North America. But for that purpose I do not think the station would have been proposed. In our area the kind of crisis at present threatening does not call for deployment of Polaris missiles or for a VLF station. Radio stations in Darwin and Canberra will suffice for all present purposes. In this area allied airborne forces could carry out any required task satisfactorily.
The Prime Minister is reported to have said at Port Pirie, “The United States would need these facilities only in the event of a great war “. His speech last Thursday night turned on the necessity for a prompt decision and an immediate signal to retaliate with nuclear weapons against some nuclear attack on the United States. In these circumstances there is no doubt as to what Australia’s attitude and obligations would be. Under Article IV. of the Anzus Treaty Australia recognizes that an armed attack on the continent of the United States would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. That is, the GovernorGeneral would declare war on the attacker. Such an attack is a contingency in which Australia would undoubtedly give, or indeed has given, consent to the relaying of signals through the station at North West Cape. I have no doubt that the Government has already set out this contingency in the minutes which the Minister admits have been exchanged, and that it has advised the United States Government that it can use the station in such an emergency. This is the method by which joint political control can be applied even if the Government will not assert the principle. This meets the problem of unprovoked Russian nuclear attack which the Prime Minister says is the only way a nuclear war could come about, and the only circumstance which this station would be designed to meet. In such a contingency there would be no room or need for dispute, delay or discussion.
The Prime Minister, however, should check with his Minister whether the station would or could be used only in such circumstances. There is a strong hint in the Minister’s speech that he contemplates the United States using the Polaris system in less than total situations and as an instrument of politics. This is where I believe we run the greatest risks with the station. The Minister said -
Naval units, whether surface vessels such as aircraft carriers, or submerged vessels, submarines, derive from their mobility not only a great measure of their immunity from attack but also a great measure of their capacity for solo or co-ordinated action. The wireless station in North West Cape will give an added flexibility and efficiency to the massive naval forces . . . “ Flexibility “ is a technical strategic term in the United States denoting suitability for limited as well as total war. “ Sole “ suggests that some of the submarines are thought of as detachable from the main force for limited use. It is this possibility of limited nuclear war in our area which makes joint control all the more necessary and, I suggest, just as possible now as it has been with all the other allies of the United States.
No American nuclear weapon can be used without an express order by the President. To compensate for exposing her allies to additional risk through the establishment of nuclear bases and vehicles on their soil - bases which have cost the United States much more than this station will cost - the United States has been prepared to concede a joint decision and control to all her allies. Britain has been party to arrangements for joint decision in respect of bombers, missiles and submarines. Mr. MacMillan described the original bomber agreement to the House of Commons on 12th July, 1960, in these words -
As the House knows, an understanding was reached between the United Kingdom and United States Governments in October, 1951, under Mr. Attlee’s premiership, under which the use in an emergency of bases in this country by United States forces was accepted to be a matter for joint decision between the two governments in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time.
It was possible then; it is no longer possible, Government members would say.
On 22nd February, 1958, the United States and Britain made an agreement for the supply of United States ballistic missiles to Britain. Article (7) of the agreement reads -
The decision to launch these missiles will be a matter for joint decision by the two governments. Any such joint decision will be made in the light of the circumstances at the time and having regard to the undertaking the two governments have assumed in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
That corresponds to Article IV of the Anzus Treaty.
– They are Britain’s missiles.
– They are America’s missiles. In explaining the agreement Mr. Duncan Sandys, the Minister for Defence, said -
The decision will be taken in the same manner as the arrangements for taking decisions under the Attlee-Truman agreement. It will require a joint positive decision of both governments - I emphasize governments, not military commanders.
It was possible then, but it is still not possible in Australia, according to Government members.
In July, 1960, at the time of the U2 spy flights, or reconnaissance nights, the British Labour Party queried whether Britain might not be incidentally involved in war despite the emergency provisions of the AttleeTruman agreement on bombers. As a result, on 29th July, 1960, the United States agreed to a formal arrangement to give Britain advance notice of air force flights from British bases that could be interpreted in Moscow as provocative. This arrangement is very close to the situation which can arise from the station at North West Cape, from which the United States might wish to send a signal which might incidentally involve Australia in a limited nuclear conflict. It was still possible in Britain, but not now possible in Australia, according to Government members. In November, 1960, the question of the Polaris base at Holy Loch and its submarines was twice raised in the House of Commons. Mr. Watkinson, the then Minister for Defence, gave a firm assurance that Polaris missiles would not be fired in any circumstances in United Kingdom territorial waters; that British control within territorial waters was absolute, and that the government was “ satisfied that these missiles would not be used without the greatest degree of consultation with this country and our allies that the situation allows “. Mr. Macmillan explained the position as follows: -
As regards all facilities in the territory, including the territorial waters of the United Kingdom, we have the same control in an emergency as exists over United States bomber or missile bases in this country.
Britain, once again, was able to achieve that control, but Australia cannot. 1 notice there is one member of the Government given credit by “ The Bulletin “ and the “ Age “ for some research capacity. I refer to the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) who quoted another passage of What Mr. Macmillan said about the Polaris submarines when they are on the high seas. But the honorable member did not follow the matter through. The British Government does not presume to exercise control over Polaris submarines when they are on the high seas, receiving messages direct from America, and when they may have been at sea for weeks, or in fact, months. While they are in British territorial waters, British control is absolute.
It is quite plain that insofar as any of these nuclear components are being directed from Britain or are stationed in Britain, Britain has always had the right of this joint decision and access to the President himself - something which this Government has not tried to get. America’s agreements with
Italy and Turkey concerning the Jupiter missiles also provide for joint decision, indeed, since it is technically possible to have it, for joint control through the “ double-key “ system. The Italo-American agreement differs in one particular from the AngloAmerican agreement concerning the Thor missiles. Where the latter requires only the approval of the British and American Governments for any decision to use the missiles or their warheads, the Italian agreement lays down that any such decision would need the approval of the Italian Government and of Nato Supreme Head-quarters. Last Saturday, the Melbourne “ Herald “ published an article which said that the vast Goose Bay air base for the American Strategic Air Command was under Canada’s final say in respect of all movements and control at the base. This was a preDiefenbaker arrangement.
It may be said that all this happened in 1958 or 1960. If, however, things have changed since then they have changed so as to make joint control more practicable. Early warning systems have improved and so also, we trust, have allied intelligence systems. If any further proof were required that joint control is practicable, let us come right to the present day. A meeting of Nato Ministers is opening in Ottawa tomorrow to finalize details for the establishment of a Nato nuclear force in Europe. Mr. Trevor Smith reported from London in last night’s Melbourne “Herald” that this Nato force would - consist of U.S. bombers and Polaris submarines, British B-bombers and British Polaris submarines when they are built.
He added -
The new force will come under the European Supreme Allied Commander. But the political control - the final word whether the buttons can be pressed - will remain with the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain.
That is to say, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Britain will have a power of veto or a joint decision on the use of the Nato force by the Nato Commander. What further confirmation does the Government need that joint control can still work without seriously limiting the effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent? Joint control is equally practicable with a missile communications station, for the control is political, not technical. Right through the piece the Government has been wallowing in ignorance and delusion. It is completely untroubled by facts or conscience. It has just not done its homework. I have heard interjectors from the Government side say, “This is not a missile site “; but the missile site - in this case a submerged Polaris submarine - is dependent on a signal from the station at North West Cape.
Discussing the problem of joint control in relation to the Thor missiles in the United Kingdom, the Minister for Defence said that there would be special arrangements for ensuring rapid consultation about the joint decision, but he did not think the House would expect him to go into details. Although Mr. Sandys would not go into detail it is fairly clear how joint control has been made to operate without limiting the capacity of the deterrent to deter. In the first place, various contingencies are set out and the reaction of each government is predetermined. This meets the problem of unprovoked Russian nuclear attack, which the Prime Minister says is the only way a nuclear war could come about. One contingency which an Australian government would clearly set out would be a Russian attack on the United States. The Anzus alliance commits us in the event of such an attack to come to the help of the United States without delay and without dispute. It has not been beyond the capacity of the United States and her other allies to set out various contingencies and their reaction to them. Why should it be beyond our Government’s capacity?
As the Polaris is a second-strike weapon and confined to highly specialized functions upon which allies may readily agree, we believe that the problems of joint control will be manageable. We do not underestimate them, but experience in other countries proves that the problems are manageable and solvable. When we come to building-up situations, such as the Cuban crisis last November, it is possible to apply joint control at the time. To achieve this, it would be necessary for Australia’s representatives in Washington to be closely and continuously briefed on political and strategic developments and the likely United States response to them. This would be a decided advantage, not only in applying the principles of joint control, but also in remaining intimately informed of United States attitudes and policies.
There is little doubt that the system of joint control could be worked out if the Australian Government had the will to do so. Why should our Government have failed when every other one of America’s allies succeeded and America quite willingly accepted? The United States Government would appreciate our problem as it has appreciated such problems in respect of so many other countries. It would seem that joint control would have to be at the political level, as it certainly would not be feasible at the technical level, that is on the station. The White House, not the station, makes the decision. Joint political control has worked in Turkey, Italy and Canada and it should work in Australia. Joint decisions have always been the rule; Australia will be the first and sole exception. Joint control is not as difficult in practice as the Government might superficially, spuriously and speciously make it appear in theory. Allies have a community of interests and ideals and should be able to work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement. All that we assert is that there should be no annihilation without representation.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), when opening the debate for the Opposition, said that this is a momentous debate. I think those of us who have heard what has fallen from Opposition speakers agree that this is undoubtedly the most important debate in the lifetime of this Parliament. We have seen, more starkly exposed than ever before, the state of mind of the alternative government of Australia on great questions touching the security of every man, woman and child in this country. On what has come from the Opposition we would wish the future of Australian government to be judged, and we would stand confidently by that verdict.
I believe most Australians share my own view, and that of my colleagues, that once the United States authorities had demonstrated to the satisfaction of this Government that it would add to the defensive capacity of the forces of freedom in this part of the world to have a communications centre at North West Cape we willingly and freely entered into that arrangement. I am confident that the overwhelming majority of the Australian people support us in that decision.
The need for the communication centre was explained convincingly by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) when introducing the bill. That need was confirmed with graphic realism by the statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that pending disarmament on a grand scale the existence of the nuclear deterrent, the capacity to deliver the nuclear deterrent at the right time in the right place, is the condition by which we live. Do honorable gentlemen opposite disagree with that as a statement of fact? It may be an uncomfortable fact but it is part of the condition in which we live at this time.
Mankind has lived through many terrors in the long history of the human race and mankind has had to learn to live with those terrors until an answer could be found to them. Over this generation hangs the terror of nuclear war and we have to learn to live with it and to find an answer to it. But while we are finding that answer does anything to-day stand more securely for our strength than does the nuclear capacity of the United States of America? It is to strengthen the effectiveness of that nuclear deterrent that the Australian Government has entered into this agreement.
The Leader of the Opposition, in a speech that was more notable for its emotional fervour than for its logic, pleaded with us not to divide the Australian people on this issue. But the Australian people are not divided on this issue in the broad and general sense. It is rare to find, by every practical test that one can apply, a community so united on a great issue of this kind. When it suits their book honorable gentlement opposite like to quote the results of gallup polls taken from time to time. What was the result in the most recent gallup poll taken on this issue, in May of this year? At that time, 80 per cent, of the people said that they favoured the establishment of this base, 11 per cent. - a very small percentage in terms of a demonstration of voting strength on a matter of this kind - said that they were against it, and 9 per cent, said that they were undecided. If honorable gentlemen opposite had to enter a political contest on those terms they know that they would be annihilated. Yet they say to us, “Do not divide the Australian people “. But on an issue in relation to which the Australian people are so overwhelmingly behind their Government they then set out themselves to divide the Australian people.
Honorable gentlemen opposite will not accept the clear facts which have been demonstrated, not merely by a test of public opinion of that kind but also by the observation and experience of all of us in this place. These experienced politicians, knowing all that and being fully aware of the state of public opinion but too timid to resist the pressures directed against them as a result of their narrow conference majority, against the weight of their own political judgment continue striving in this floundering fashion on an issue of such consequence to Australia.
Most Australians have recognized the vital importance for Australia’s security of the strength and efficiency of the American fighting services. They know that if the United States is to be able to assure the security of free peoples in this part of the world, it must be strong and capable of matching any potential aggressor. The point has been made by some honorable members that we are discussing a communication centre and not a military base. For my part, if the United States had required a military base in this remote and sparsely settled area of Australia as being necessary to discharge effectively its obligation under the Anzus or Seato pacts and its determination to preserve the freedom of the world then I, together with the great majority of my fellow Australians, would have concurred in America’s establishing a military base at the location in question. When I say that my mind goes back to the time not so long ago - certainly within the recollection of some of us in this Parliament - when an American proposal was made to the then Australian Government to establish a great defensive base to the north of this country on one of the islands within Australia’s administration. The Labour government of the day rejected that proposal. I have always felt that it did a great disservice to Australia and that it weakened our defensive capacity. It is obvious from what we have heard from honorable members opposite during this debate that had the proposal to establish the communication station been submitted to a government made up of the present Opposition it also would have been rejected, just as the earlier proposal was rejected by a previous Labour government.
It is my purpose, in the time available to me in this debate, to strip from this issue the camouflage which has been constructed so clumsily around it by the Australian Labour Party. It is my purpose to try to sweep away the cobwebs from the musty arguments which have been advanced by the Labour Party to justify its attitude to the bill. The most charitable interpretation to put on the propositions which have come from the leader of the party and other senior spokesmen is that they are trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. The merest analysis shows that their arguments lack logic, reality and good sense. They are obviously trying to mask the deep divisions which led the federal conference of the party to a 19-17 vote and to issue its humiliating directive to them, and which left 27 votes in the caucus opposed to the establishment of this centre.
What is the object of the manoeuvres on which the Labour Party has embarked? Having regard to the tactics adopted by the Leader of the Opposition and his party, if this bill is passed by the Parliament it will be passed without the help of the Australian Labour Party. The Federal Parliamentary Labour Party - let no one have any doubt about this - has committed itself to a course which if it proved successful - it will not be their fault if it does not - would frustrate this project. If we can accept the gallup poll as a fair guide and as a means by which the people express their opinion, at least 80 per cent, of the Australian people have indicated that they support the establishment of the proposed centre. But the project would be frustrated if the course on which the Labour Party has embarked were followed through to success.
– Tell us how.
– I will tell you how. Members of the Labour Party have deliberately and with set purpose created a situation which could halt the project at this stage. The Parliamentary Labour Party has put the project in peril in two ways. First, there is its declaration that if it came into office it would set out to re-negotiate the agreement. Here is a party, as matters stand in this place, within one vote of government. If the United States authorities were to view the Labour Party’s declaration seriously they might say very understandably that they would not go ahead with the project while there was so much uncertainty about it and while they were faced with conditions which were unacceptable to them. Honorable gentlemen opposite say that they do not accept the present conditions. Do they choose to persist with that argument in the light of what we have heard from the Minister for External Affairs to date? They have put this project in peril by pressing for conditions and by claiming that they will re-negotiate the agreement. Indeed by forcing a vote in this House they seek to secure a situation in which a renegotiation of conditions would emerge with the risk that those conditions would halt this project.
Secondly, the Labour Party - I want the House to note what a senior spokesman for that party said on this matter - has put it on record that it will divide the chamber several times in the course of the consideration of this legislation, each time on a vote that will be vital in its effect. That statement was made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) who was chosen quite deliberately as the senior spokesman of the party to follow the Prime Minister at a time when it was hoped there would be the largest listening audience for the Labour point of view. I quote directly from what he said, as reported at page 1524 of “Hansard”-
The Labour Party, as its leader has announced, will divide the chamber several times in the course of this measure, each time on a vote that will be vital in its effect. The Leader of the Opposition threw the gauntlet down this afternoon. He stated in the plainest terms where the Labour Party stands on this issue.
That is the honorable member for EdenMonaro speaking with the full authority of the Labour Party. A few moments later he said -
The Leader of the Opposition has stated the various votes that the Opposition will call on this measure. Each of them will be vital in its effect on this legislation.
One of those votes will be on the Labour Party’s proposal at the third-reading stage that this bill should be postponed for six months. I wonder whether all members of the caucus were made aware of the full significance of that move. Were they aware that it is the traditional parliamentary method adopted to kill a bill? It disposes of a bill even more effectively than does downright rejection. This practice is traditional in the House of Commons, the mother of parliaments. It has been adopted by this Parliament and it is specifically mentioned in our own Standing Order No. 237. So, in moving to defer this bill for six months, the Opposition will be seeking to reject the bill altogether. Did all honorable gentlemen opposite appreciate that when the recommendation was made to them? Did they know that the purpose of that manoeuvre was to kill this project outright?
When the Labour Party decided on these tactics it knew that if it mustered its full strength it would require only one vote - or as matters stand, two votes - from this side of the House to have the numbers to defeat the bill. The Parliamentary Labour Party knows that it had 27 members opposed to the course it finally adopted. It knows that we do not apply the same caucus compulsion to our members as to how they shall vote. The Labour Party will not get the extra votes that it needs; but it was prepared to risk that possibility and with it to accept the defeat of the bill.
This is the stage that the Australian Labour Party has reached along the sorry road travelled since the narrow majority of the federal conference gave its humiliating directive to the elected representatives in this Parliament. Those who wish to see the proposal defeated have succeeded in bringing their party to a point where any defection from the Government side could produce that result for them. Fortunately for Australia, Sir, there is the unity in the Government ranks to hold the decision where most Australians would wish it to remain. Either the Labour Party leaders were so confident of the strength and unity of support in the Government ranks that they could take this course without risk to the project, or they have done so - some recklessly, little caring whether the project goes forward or not; others acting in downright opposition to it. This, Mr. Speaker, is the undisciplined, divided rabble that offers itself to the people of Australia at this time as the alternative government.
Let us look at the argument on sovereignty. Any one listening to Australian Labour Party spokesmen in this debate must have been struck by the oldfashioned, out-moded quality of their thinking. That clearly appears on the issue of sovereignty. There are many situations in the world of to-day in which governments, deliberately and voluntarily, have placed some restriction on the freedom of action of their own countries in order to benefit from similar self-imposed restraints or other obligations assumed in relation to them by other countries. That is a commonplace feature of the modern world. We have seen examples of it in this Parliament in the arangements that we have made under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the International Monetary Fund and the obligations under the Anzus pact and the Seato treaty. Action or that kind is not a surrender of sovereignty. Indeed, it is an exercise of sovereignty to secure compensating advantages meriting the selfimposed restraint.
The Opposition’s argument in relation to this communication centre exposes again its lack of realism. When it comes to the United Nations - an organization which we all hope to see strengthened over the years - this question of sovereignty is never raised by honorable gentlemen opposite. Does any one to-day regard the United Nations as a substitute for the strength and security that we can get from our powerful ally, the United States?
I now come to the argument on joint control. Direct consultation between heads of government, as honorable gentlemen opposite must know, would be virtually impossible in the minutes that would elapse for retaliation in the event of nuclear attack. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has talked about the position of the President of the United States as though he were a political head for this purpose. The President of the United States, for this purpose, is the commanderinchief of the forces of the United States. He stands in a very different relationship. Mr. Macmillan dealt with this aspect convincingly in the House of Commons as recently as 1960, in the statement quoted by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser).
On the showing of the leader of the Australian Labour Party, no Labour leader would have the authority to make a speedy decision on a matter of this sort. He must first obtain his instructions from a federal conference of 36 people scattered throughout the Commonwealth. He would need more than twenty minutes to do that. The Leader of the Opposition needed more than twenty minutes in a Canberra hotel corridor to get his instructions on this issue. I recall an earlier political figure who had his problems of leadership. He is recorded as saying: “ There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” The leader of the Australian Labour Party cannot claim even that inglorious degree of participation in the policy-making of his party. On his recent showing that has been made clear to the Australian people.
On the question of consultation and control the Leader of the Opposition has fallen into a pit of his own making. He has argued throughout that the United Stales would willingly reach agreement on a basis of joint control. The revelation earlier to-day by the Minister for External Affairs confirms that sole control was sought at all times by the United States and firmly required as a condition of the agreement. This Government gave a realistic recognition to that necessity. We are assured of consultation. We have that assurance in the terms of the Anzus pact. We have it in the express language of this agreement. We know from past experience that in a period of crisis there would be the most complete and thorough consultation, with full consideration being given to Australia’s views. We can take some pride in the fact that during the life of this Government this small country - small in terms of population - has been given such a ready audience and access by the Government of the United States and that our views-
– We have audiences now, do we?
– The honorable gentleman would seize on a word. There has never been anything of the humiliating kind that the honorable gentleman tries to infer. In our relations with the leading figures of the United States our Prime Minister talks on a basis of equality. He is listened to as few other men in the public life of the world are listened to when he talks to the President of the United States. That access is not confined to him. Other Ministers of this Government have been given the same receptive hearing by the President and the senior spokesmen for that country. We have no doubt that whatever we have to say in any situation of crisis will be listened to and given every consideration.
Now let us take this fantastic argument about obsolescence. The Leader of the Opposition put forward the argument that this communications centre is likely to become obsolete quite quickly. We also heard from the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), the spokesman for the Labour Party on these great issues of defence. When we debate the Defence Estimates, he is put up by the Labour Party to express its attitude on defence matters. He questioned the strategy of this development, and for good measure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition threw in his contribution. He was by no means persuaded that there were not more modern ways of going about this business. Here are these lay political figures, ill-informed, pitting their judgment against the technical judgment of the highest figures in the fighting services of the United States and men in those services who are prepared to back that technical judgment with some £33,000,000 of expenditure on this communications centre. They apparently think that the expenditure is likely to produce something of value for them in its contribution to defence.
What is obsolete in this situation, of course, is the thinking of the Australian Labour Party. It could do with a thorough spring cleaning of its ideas. It should jettison all the doctrinaire rubbish and class-war junk that it has been harboring in its mental attic since the ‘thirties.
Then we have the argument about the 25 years. Labour members, including the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro - I single them out as two of their most senior spokesmen on these matters - have argued that a life of 25 years for the agreement is too long. They point to changes in allegiance that have occurred around the world in our lifetime. They point to the fact that at one time we fought alongside Russia and at another time we have been hostile to the views of the Russian people; that the Japanese at one time were fighting against us and now are collaborating with us in areas of trade, foreign policy and so on. The clear implication of what they are putting is that it would be dangerous and foolish for this country to tie itself into a defensive and security arrangement with the United States for a period as long as 25 years.
Mr. Speaker, this argument reveals the mental attitudes of honorable gentlemen opposite. Because it is so revealing, I find it deeply disturbing. Honorable gentlemen opposite ignore the special relationship that exists between Australia and the United States of America - a special, intimate relationship. Do they deny that there is a special and intimate relationship in this part of the world between Australia and the United States? They put it in the same category as our relations with the other countries to which I have referred. They ignore the special significance to Australia and Australia’s security of this relationship which must continue to exist between this country and the United States if we are to remain secure. Without our alliance with the United States, we would be vulnerable indeed, despite the most energetic and costly efforts that we might make to strengthen ourselves.
But even more importantly, this argument ignores the fundamental character of the great international struggle of our times. In the ideological conflict between the forces of freedom and the forces of communism, we stand with the United States on the side of freedom. It is unthinkable to us, as it is to all but very few Australians - apparently in that few are the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party - that we should ever find ourselves anywhere else but standing with the United States on the side of freedom. Australia has no choice of neutrality in the world of to-day. We long for permanent peace in a world which has by general agreement, faithfully observed, reduced its armaments and resolved against the nuclear weapon. But in the absence of those conditions, just as the nuclear deterrent is the condition by which we live, so the strength and support of the United States are the conditions of our survival.
By comparison with the contributions of our great ally, we have not so very much to give, with our limited population, our limited resources and our great compulsions of development and population growth. By providing a place on our soil for this centre - a centre for communications directed to our mutual security - we can make a contribution of some continuing value, recognizing that we do so willingly and freely, and confident that this friendly alliance will long endure. In that belief we are equally confident we have behind us the great majority of the Australian people.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) commenced his address by stating that this was a most important debate. No one will disagree with that; but it would have been an infinitely more important debate if it had preceded the completion of the agreement. What the Parliament is now asked to discuss is an agreement that has already been entered into by this Government and the Government of the United States of America. The Treasurer referred to the results of gallup polls. He talked about a gallup poll showing that 80 per cent, of the people supported the agreement. If the Government and the Treasurer really believed that, this would be the opportune time for them to test the matter before the Australian people. I well recollect an occasion in 1951 when a gallup poll showed that the great majority of the Australian people supported the action of the Government. However, when the matter was stated to the people and they began to realize the enormity of what the Government intended to do, the majority of the people showed at a referendum that they were opposed to the action.
The Treasurer said that Labour’s policy is determined by the federal conference of 36 men. Who determines the Government’s policy? The Government admits that the back bench members have not had any say at all in the matter. Probably Cabinet has not had a great deal to say about it, because Mr. Gullett, a former Whip of the Government parties in this chamber not so very long ago, said that the
Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had been responsible for foisting second-raters on the Australian community. The present Cabinet of second-raters no doubt nominally determined the decision on this matter. However, everybody knows how the Prime Minister dictates to and dominates the Cabinet. This decision was almost certainly, in fact, made by one man alone.
Before I deal with the situation generally, let me refer to one or two of the remarks of honorable members opposite. Of course, when the Treasurer talks about the federal conference of 36, he is joined by other Liberal members in suggesting that some of the 36 federal conference Labour members are either Communists or are under Communist influence.
Government supporters. - Hear, hear
– Well, there is an easy test for it. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) mentioned eight Labour conference members from Victoria and Queensland whom he claimed were either Communists or were under Communist influence. He did not mention them by name. But I challenge the honorable member for Mackellar to name outside this Parliament the eight members of the federal conference whom he believes are either Communists or under Communist influence.
The Treasurer, in trying to bolster up the case alleging the great performance of the Government parties in defence, referred to an incident shortly after the termination of the last war when, according to the Government, the Labour Government of the day refused the Americans the opportunity to continue with the base at Manus Island. Nothing is further from the truth. The Americans themselves withdrew from the negotiations. I have with me a copy of a letter written by Mr. John J. Dedman, a former member of this Parliament who was Minister for Defence at the relevant period. He wrote to the editor of the Melbourne “ Herald “, and these are the terms of his letter, which is rather short -
As Commonwealth Minister for Defence in the post-war years I personally met and discussed this question with the then Minister for Defence in United States of America. He informed me that the reason why his Government withdrew from Manus was that Congress so drastically cut the Navy estimates that it was impossible to maintain a large base south of the Equator in addition to the much more important bases in the north.
That is the reason why the Americans did not proceed with the base at Manus. They withdrew from those negotiations.
While I am on the subject of the Government’s war record, let me remind honorable members that the other day the Prime Minister again challenged me with regard to the allegation I made shortly after the Labour Government took office, regarding a plan of strategy prepared by the preceding government - which was of the same calibre as this Government - to abandon large sections of Australian territory without firing a shot. When I first made the allegation, the Prime Minister said it was a figment of my imagination. Let us examine whether it was or not. In October, 1941, the Labour Government, came to office. It is perfectly true that we did not take over from the Menzies Government; we took over from the Fadden Government because Mr. Menzies had already resigned; he had run out on his own government. The supporters of his own government had sacked him; they had dismissed him because of his incompetence and because of his unpopularity. The Fadden Government then collapsed, and we took office. It is perfectly true, as the Prime Minister said, that Japan had not then entered the war. Japan entered the war later in the year, and in March, 1942, General MacArthur arrived in this country.
Now let me give the House one or two facts to ponder over before honorable members opposite attempt to dismiss this as a figment of my imagination. The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) spoke about a statement made by the late Mr. John Curtin shortly after we took office in which Mr. Curtin referred to the high state of efficiency of the defences of this country. I was a member of that Labour Government, as was my colleague, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin). We know what the situation was then. We also know why the late Mr. John Curtin made that statement, as does every member of the present Government. He made it because this country had been left defenceless. With the Japanese threatening us to the north, he had to bluff and pretend that our defences were in an efficient state. He could not give the game away to the enemy.
Honorable members opposite say that the defences of this country were then in a good state of preparedness. Will any member of the Government deny that in May, 1941, just before we came to office, there was a secret meeting of the Parliament? Do they not remember that the then Minister for the Army, Mr. Spender, a member of the Liberal Party, sought a secret meeting of the Parliament because he could not tell honorable members in open sitting the exact state of the defences of this country? The then Minister for the Army stated in this Parliament that if one armoured division of Japanese troops landed on Australian shores at that time it could overrun the whole of the Australian territory. That was said during the secret meeting of the Parliament. So much for the preparedness of the anti-Labour government of that time to defend Australia.
I mentioned earlier that General MacArthur arrived in Australia on 17th March, 1942. If any honorable member wishes to ascertain the state of affairs in Australia at that time, let him get from the Library a book entitled “MacArthur, 1941-1951 “. The co-author of this book is none other than Major-General Willoughby, who was a prominent member of General Douglas MacArthur’s staff. I shall quote a few short extracts from the book to illustrate the state of the defences of this country at that time. Major-General Willoughby said -
Australia had practically nothing with which to fight even a defensive war. Up to this time it was planned to sacrifice the great western and northern regions of the Australian continent. Plans were completed to abandon New Guinea and to scorch the earth above the Brisbane line.
He mentioned the Brisbane line, although this Government still denies that such a strategic plan ever existed. Let me now answer the Prime Minister who said that, at the time his Government left office Japan had not entered the war. Anybody would imagine that it was a surprise to the Prime Minister that Japan came into the war. Did he not anticipate that Japan would enter the war and, if he thought that Japan would be our enemy, what plans did he prepare to defend this country?
Now let me quote an extract from a submission made to the War Cabinet at the time. On 10th June, 1941, the then Prime Minister made a submission to the War Cabinet directing attention to the view expressed by the Chiefs of Staff on the probable entry of Japan into the war and the need for a plan to meet a threatened Japanese invasion. All I say to the Prime Minister is that if his Government had not prepared a strategic plan to abandon all of the territory north of the Brisbane line, let him tell this country what plan his Government did prepare to defend Australia. The Brisbane line strategy was its plan - a plan that it is not prepared to accept to-day or to admit ever existed.
I turn now to one or two other matters. This proposal is an important one for the Australian people. It is fraught with great dangers. Any person who has listened to this debate must recognize that fact. What kind of base is proposed? The Prime Minister lacked candour throughout the whole of the negotiations. He is reported in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ of 24th April of this year as having said -
The United States Navy Signal Station at North West Cape would not be a fire control tower for a Polaris missile in a submarine but only a communication centre to pass messages from the United States.
That is a distinction without a difference. What messages would the Polaris submarines be receiving in a time of war? Of course the station would be used for the purpose of giving orders to fire these missiles. It may be argued by honorable members opposite that technically this is not a military base. But it is a base to be used for military purposes and, from the viewpoint of the Australian people, what is the difference? The same argument applies to sovereignty. We hear the lawyers argue as to what constitutes sovereignty, whether it is important that Australia should acquire the land and lease it to the United States of America, whether the title ought to be retained by Australia, and whether we ought to have the right to fly our flag alongside the flag of the United States of America. But what is the important thing? From the viewpoint of the security of this country, the important thing - and it is the only matter of sovereignty that counts with me - is who will control the base and whether the Americans are to have sole control of it. The Labour Party asks for joint control because it is fearful that sole control presents a threat of Australia’s involvement in war. It is the Labour Party’s opinion that there ought to be prior consultation before and not after an act of war. I believe that with sole control, once war is declared by one of the parties to the agreement the other will be automatically and inevitably involved. Of course, the Labour Party wants to retain an alliance with the United States of America. We want to retain friendship with every nation of the world. We are not anxious to go to war with any of them. But who will deny that occasions have arisen in the past when there has been a divergence of opinion between Australia and the United States of America on questions of policy, and who will deny that differences may again arise in the future on matters of policy? Are the Americans favorable to Australia’s restricted immigration policy? Did Australia and the United States of America see eye to eye in connexion with the dispute over West New Guinea? Did they agree over the re-arming of Japan?
I want to quote what was said by the Prime Minister himself about the re-arming of Japan. We were charging him at the time with favouring the re-arming of Japan, and he denied it. His remarks were reported in the press in these terms -
As for the charge that the Government wanted to re-arm Japan - that was lying - and Labour knew it.
Australia had consistently expressed its opposition to Japanese re-armament but the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom didn’t agree.
Because they did not agree, the Prime Minister played the role that he frequently plays - that of the Charlie McCarthy doll for overseas interests. He bowed the knee to them. In such clashes, the Prime Minister has always capitulated. Other national leaders have not surrendered in the same way as the Prime Minister of this country has done.
As recently as 17th May last, the Melbourne “ Herald “ published an article relating to the air base at Goose Bay in Labrador. It referred to the activities of the United
States Strategic Air Command, and mentioned the great number of planes continuously coming and going. The article finished by stating -
However Canada has the final say in all movement and control at the Air Base.
The Canadian leaders evidently have been more determined to see that the right to make these important decisions is not taken from Canada and that the Canadians continue to exercise it. 1 do not argue that the American decisions are always wrong. Neither are they always right. It is a serious mistake to believe that they are always right. Let me now quote a statement by a prominent person in this country to show the House his attitude on this matter. He said -
In dealing with or assessing actions or intentions of a foreign power, parti ularly one in which political institutions and philosophy differ so sharply from our own, there is always the danger of oversimplification. This danger is to be avoided, lt is not a question of being pro-Russian or antiRussian. If we glibly group other nations into those which are always right and those which are always wrong we shall commit a childish error and the end will be disaster.
That was a very good statement. It was made by none other than the present Prime Minister of this country in this House on 20th March, 1946.
Let me give the House a further quotation to show that there are others who recognize the possibility that other policy differences may arise between the United States of America and Australia. Does any honorable member opposite suggest that the “ Anglican “ is under Communist influence? On 28th February of this year, in a leading article, that journal stated -
There are strong grounds for believing that the United States Government has made two things clear to our own Government-
That is this Government -
First, that Australia will receive no help whatever from the United States when the Dictator Soekarno launches his expected attack on East New Guinea - second, that the United States is now committed to a policy of “ non-involvement “ in any development arising from the formation of a Malaysian Federation. . . this week, an enquiry group of the U.S. Senate publicly recommended “noninvolvement towards Malaysia “ and an academic gentleman whose visit to Australia was sponsored by the U.S. State department publicly but “ unofficially *’ informed the Australian Press that however “ embarrassed “ the United States might be in the event of an Indonesian attack on East New Guinea, public opinion in our great and powerful ally would not favour supporting Australia.
I want to know what aid the proposed naval station will be to Australia’s defence. That is the important thing from our viewpoint. It is said that the base will be available to Australian forces. But it is extremely unlikely that it will be of any aid to Australia in the event of any threatened invasion. The Anzus Agreement that has been frequently cited is in my opinion not in specific enough terms to guarantee to the Australian nation without any doubt whatever that our great and powerful ally will be with us if we are threatened with invasion. It all depends on the quarter from which the invasion comes. All that the United States has agreed to do is to use constitutional processes to determine what action it will take.
The United States Congress, which will make the final decision, will not be given, as we are in the present agreement, a fait accompli upon which it will be asked to record its judgment, as we are asked to do in the present instance. The United States Congress insists that it make the decision, and when the time comes the Congress may be of an entirely different opinion from that now held and have an entirely different outlook. Whether we get the aid that we are told will be forthcoming and which we sincerely hope will be available to us in the event of a threat of invasion will depend on the attitude of the United States Congress at the time.
Let mc turn now to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which is commonly known as the Seato Agreement. Are honorable gentlemen opposite, when they mention that agreement, aware of the fact that the Americans are committed by it only to the resisting of Communist aggression? They are not committed to the defence of the area defined unless they first of all declare that their action is designed to resist Communist aggression. Mr. John Foster Dulles, a former United States Secretary of State, insisted, when the agreement was signed, on a reservation on behalf of the United States Government to the effect that its commitment under paragraph 1 of Article IV. applied only to Communist aggression. An Indonesian attack on Australia might be regarded as not being Communist aggression, and assistance from the United States might not be forthcoming to us. It is true that certain trouble spots were to be outside the assigned area under the Seato Agreement. The agreement does not apply to Formosa or to Hong Kong. Mr. Casey, as he then was, who was at the time the Australian Minister for External Affairs, regarded this as a wise provision, for he said -
The Australian Government considers that this limitation of the Treaty area is wise and prudent.
I, too, think it was wise and prudent.
In what circumstances will the proposed communications base be used? Everybody knows that the United States - I fully support its attitude in this respect - has declared that its policy is based on what is known as the second-strike strategy. It has declared that it will not fire the first nuclear missile. The United States will, so it is said, use nuclear missiles only in the event of a nuclear war occurring as a result of some enemy first firing a nuclear missile at the United States. But even adherence to this attitude is not unanimous in that country. Admiral Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States, was reported in the Sydney press as having said, in an address to the United States Congress, words to this effect -
America would use atomic weapons to win a war without regard to objections from Allies who feared a Russian atomic attack.
Mr. Quarles, United States Secretary for the Air Force was reported as having said -
The U.S. is prepared to use nuclear weapons to win a little as well as a world war.
If honorable members read the memoirs of Lord Avon, who was Sir Anthony Eden, they will find revealed the fact that only the opposition of Churchill and Eden prevented John Foster Dulles’s plan for intervention in the Indo-China conflict by atomic weapons. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves: Is this a consistent policy on the part of the United States of America? Would the United States risk an attack on its own territory with nuclear weapons to defend Australia against invasion? I think that the Americans would hesitate to do so. I do not blame the American leaders for this. Their duty is to defend and represent the interests of their own country and their own people. But I do condemn the Australian leaders, who are not as mindful and as careful as the requirements of the Australian community demand.
The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) can see the danger. In this House, on 15th May of last year, when he was explaining France’s reasons for wanting to develop its own nuclear weapons, he said -
The French had the fear that any country might have that if they were attacked with nuclear weapons by the Soviet, the United States might not be willing to risk a counter attack on their cities by coming to the aid of the French with American nuclear weapons.
France is a Nato ally of the United States. I admit that such a decision would be a dreadful one for the leaders of any country to have to make. Of course, we know that there is no defence against nuclear attack for the civil community. Mr. Duncan Sandys said once that there can be no defence for the civil population against nuclear weapons. Mr. Charles Shafer, a United States civil defence expert, said in evidence to the United States Congressional Atomic Energy Commission -
An all-out enemy attack with no evacuation would result in 82 million dead and 24 million injured.
The decision that the Americans, through their leaders, would have to make would be whether, by adhering to some agreement which they had entered into with another nation, they should risk annihilation for 82,000,000 of their people and injury for another 24,000,000. I say that that would be a dreadful decision for them to have to make. In my opinion, they would decide in the interests of their own country.
The H-bomb, as it is now termed, is an explosive weapon so powerful that, theoretically at least, it has no limit and could destroy the earth itself. Therefore I ask: Whose should be the obligation to decide what use will be made of this base? I believe that the least that the Australian Government should have asked for was to share in the responsibility, so that this country would feel some measure of security, as little as it might be - some certainty that this base would not be used to the detriment of the Australian community.
I wish to refer to one other aspect before I conclude. I think the decision made by the Government is wrong. I think it is going to do a great deal of harm to Australia. To the north of us are many millions of people with whom Australia is trying to build up a friendly relationship. Has any thought been given by the Government to the probable reaction of these people to the establishment of this station? There is no doubt in the world that many of them will regard it with great suspicion. They will consider it probably as some move to take up offensive action against them. I think that all of these mattters should have been discussed, but this debate has been curtailed. There are members of this Parliament who want to express a point of view but who will be denied an opportunity te do so in this debate. They will not be given an opportunity because the Government has decided that the debate must end this evening. Why must it end this evening? Why does not the Government continue the debate and allow the Parliament to sit longer, if it is necessary, so that every aspect can be covered and every member of this Parliament can express an opinion?
Is this the last request we are to receive for the establishment of a foreign base on Australian soil? It may be only the first. If other requests are received, does the Government believe that, having committed itself with respect to one base, it is committed to agree to others? I think that is a most serious thing for the Australian community and that the Australian community ought to be consulted about it. I believe further that the Government, if it is so confident that it has the bulk of the Australian people with it, ought to test their opinion.
Let me finally say that the Australian Labour Party is a peace-loving party. We want to live at peace with the nations of the world. We want to retain our alliance with the great American nation and we want to remain at peace with other nations as well. I think it would be a mistake for Australia to commit itself in advance, as the Prime Minister attempts to do, to take the side of America on every occasion. President Kennedy will not always be President of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, in a few years he will cease to be the President. Suppose the next President were Mr. Nixon, who wanted a hit-and-run policy on Cuba. We can look at all the corrupt administrations that, in error, the Americans have backed throughout the world. They backed the rotten and corrupt administration of Syngman Rhee in South Korea. They backed President Ngo Dinh Diem of Viet Nam and Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa. In supporting these regimes the Americans may have had the best motives in the world, but they certainly made some bad decisions. We ought not to put ourselves in the foolish position of saying that whatever decision they make, no matter who is in charge in the United States, we are with them. This agreement is for 25 years, and in that time there will be six different Presidents in the United States of America. It could even be that there will be a President who is regarded as tending to the left in politics. Would this Government then believe that in any conflict in which a nation so led became involved we would inevitably and automatically be involved alongside that nation?
I believe that each issue as it arises has to be determined by the Parliament of this country and has to be judged by our people. We have to ensure that we retain and defend our freedom of action and our right to make our own decisions. Therefore, I believe that, if given the opportunity, the great majority of the Australian people would determine that the Australian Labour Party was correct in saying that the sole right to operate this base should not be given to a power which is not responsible to this Parliament. Whatever decisions are made affecting war or peace or affecting the security of our people, if we believe in Australian democracy we ought to believe that those decisions should be made here by our own elected representatives. If we did not believe in that, if we believed in sacrificing our independence, if we believed that we ought to be the satellite of another country, obviously we would support the Government. 1 believe that the Australian community is a freedomloving community. The Australian people want a Labour government. I am fearful of this Government, particularly under the leadership of the present Prime Minister, and I hope that it will not long remain in office.
– I want to raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During the course of his speech, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made a statement which purported to be an account of what was said during a secret session of this Parliament. On 29 th May, 1941, by resolution of the House, strangers were asked to withdraw and no record of anything that transpired until strangers were re-admitted appeared in “ Hansard “. I do not ask for an immediate ruling, Sir, but it seems to me that it is a matter for consideration whether, when a member subsequently purports to give an account of what happened in that secret session, that account should appear in the pages of “ Hansard “. I simply draw attention to this matter.
– On the same point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, let me say that I was present at this secret session. In passing, I say that it was farcical, but I can confirm that everything the honorable member for East Sydney said to-night about what was said at that time by the then Minister for Defence is absolutely correct. I do not believe that it would be denied even by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was also present at that secret session. Finally, I would remind the honorable Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) that the great Mr. Churchill has revealed Cabinet secrets ad lib in his history of the last war.
– The point of order raised by the Minister for Territories has no relation to the point of order raised by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I will discuss with Mr. Speaker the point of order raised by the Minister after I have looked at the “ Hansard “ report of the speech by the honorable member for East Sydney. Mr. Speaker will then take appropriate action and report to the House.
– I would like to correct a misrepresentation. The honorable member for East Sydney has implied that I have not said outside the House the things that I have said inside it in this debate regarding the 36 members of the Labour federal conference. 1 have said these things outside the House, some of them on television and some before lesser audiences. If it is required, I will repeat them outside the House.
– 1 want to raise a point of order, Sir. In regard to the report that you are to make to Mr. Speaker, based on the request by the Minister for Territories, regarding certain proceedings that were part of a secret session of this Parliament, may I ask that you request Mr. Speaker to investigate whether the statute of limitations now operates in regard to this matter?
– The point of order raised by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) will be looked at as well.
– In the curious cocktail that he dished up to us to-night, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) traversed many matters, most of which were highly irrelevant to the debate. The one serious charge he made was that this agreement was an accomplished fact and that nothing that might happen in this House could alter that situation. This is basically untrue. Can any one possibly believe that if this House rejected the bill now before it, the agreement would be proceeded with?
For the most part, and particularly in the early part of his speech, the honorable member re-fought old battles. He proceeded to dig up all kinds of historical matters. He referred to that invention, largely of his own, the Brisbane Line. The effective answer to the honorable member about the Brisbane Line is that when a royal commission was appointed to investigate the matter and sift the facts, the honorable member for East Sydney, the main inventor, refused to give evidence. The honorable member then spent some time telling us why the United States did not go ahead with the naval base at Manus Island. He told us that the United States withdrew from negotiations concerning that base. Has any one any doubt as to the reasons why those negotiations broke down?
If we consider the history of the Labour Party during war time we will see that it is a very mixed story. The historical fact is that until Hitler attacked Russia a large proportion of the Labour Party actively and vigorously opposed the Australian war effort, and it was only when Russia came in and Communist influence was thrown on the other side that those in the Labour Party who were influenced by the Communists began to pull the other way. Those elements, of course, had their historical successes, and similar elements have been quite vocal in the debate that the House is now conducting.
As the honorable member for East Sydney frequently engages in this tedious process of bringing up the past, let me remind honorable members of what he said in November, 1933 -
There is no necessity whatever for the expenditure of more money to build up the armaments of Australia.
He did not regard it as necessary then, and he does not now. He has not the kind of mind that would recognize the necessary, because he lives in a world of his own.
Looking at this matter a little more seriously, I suggest that we should consider one or two comments made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) during his speech. He said that it was only because of Labour’s efforts that the facts concerning the North West Cape naval signalling station had been brought out and publicised. It is true, unfortunately, that a great many members of the Labour Party take so little interest in defence matters that they probably did not realize the significance of everything involved, but certainly a number of honorable members opposite did. It is quite probable, and it seems very likely, that Russian intelligence got wind of what was planned some considerable time ago. It is also obvious that many moves would have to be made by America and Australia when the negotiations had reached various stages of maturity, long before anything firm had been decided upon. But even in those early stages there is no doubt that the Communist Party was alert to what was proposed, and if you consider the authors of early questions in this House on the subject you can be pretty certain that those gentlemen knew all about it, even though their right-wing colleagues were still fast asleep.
But the most serious feature of the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was its gross dishonesty concerning the facts in connexion with joint control. The honorable member spent most of his speech trying to sell to the Australian people, over the radio, the proposition that American nuclear weapons located in other countries were in fact under effective joint control. I do not want to go over all the ground traversed by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) this afternoon. He documented case after case and showed that no such joint control existed. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has adopted this line, of course, essentially as a cover-up operation. The one case in which he can quite rightly refer to joint control is that of the Thar missiles in Britain. These missiles have been passed over to Britain to form part of Britain’s defences, and in the case of the Thor missiles it is really a matter of Britain consulting the United States before Britain releases the missiles. The fact is that joint control, as far as nuclear weapons are concerned, is a myth. An essential part of the case of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was built up on a false basis.
We should not confuse a relay broadcasting naval signals station with nuclear weapons. If this station does play any part, or is designed to play any part, in the firing of Polaris missiles, those missiles will be a very long way from Australia. They will not be fired from Australian soil. There is no real parallel between what will be a naval message transmitting station and a big and powerful nuclear base with guided missiles and a whole nuclear armament.
Another effect of the adoption of the Opposition’s proposition is that in the ordinary transmission of messages from the President of the United States, or from the defence head-quarters of that country, to American naval forces the Australian Government would have the right to hop in and stop such transmission at a critical moment. Once the station is opened, the passage of messages will be a continuous process, and apparently what the Opposition would want to do would be to say “ no “ if a particular signal was sought to be transmitted in an emergency. In other words, in the event of a message being transmitted after a nuclear attack on the United States, the Australian Government, if the Labour Party was in office, would have the right to stop the transmission of that message until the Government had blown the whistle, summoned the 36 and asked them whether the message should be permitted to pass. This would be a hopeless position. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition skated around it by talking about pre-determination. Can you imagine what hope the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or any Labour Prime Minister or potential Prime Minister would have of pre-conditioning the 36 and achieving predetermination?
The truest words in this debate were spoken by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), who said that this issue deeply divides the two sides of this House. Also, of course, it deeply divides the Labour Parry. It is a sad thing for Australia that it does, and it is a sad thing for the good, stalwart, patriotic members of the Labour Party that it does. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has, of course, been placed in an almost intolerable position by this state of affairs. We would probably not be wrong in assuming that if left to himself the Leader of the Opposition would like to see this station established, and established on the only terms on which it would be a practical proposition. That is his desire, but no doubt inspired by Communist and other extreme left-wing sources there has been strong opposition in the Labour Party to this measure. It came forward, first, in its most dangerous form in a resolution from Western Australia. The unfortunate and embarrassed Leader of the Opposition began by appealing to the federal executive but apparently it was opposed to the station, though he did succeed, at that stage, in putting a ban on Labour members talking about the matter until the 36 faceless men of the conference had made their decision. The serious part about this is that when he appealed to those men who constitute the governing force of the Labour Party - the 36 men - as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has said fifteen of the 36 were opposed to having this signal station on any terms at all. The Leader of the Opposition finally reached a stage when they would only just agree to a course of action which would render the building of the signals station impossible but without appearing to do so. For obvious reasons, mentioned by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and the honorable member for Mackellar, the Opposition in the conference is a great deal stronger than it is amongst the members of the Labour Party in this House. At least we can see that when members of the Parliamentary Labour Party meet in Canberra the majority of them in favour of the establishment of the station is much greater than in the conference.
Let us now consider the unfortunate position in which the Leader of the Opposition finds himself in this curious exercise of trying to run God and Satan in harness at the same time and keep a firm front. We can sympathize with him in the course to which he has resorted. He has succeeded temporarily in giving to members of his party a spurious appearance of unity. He appeals to the public by saying, in effect, “ We will not oppose the motion for the second reading of the bill “ but he then seeks to placate a section of the party by indicating his intention to propose an amendment to the motion for the third reading which would kill the bill.
It is curious that the Leader of the Opposition - as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt has already pointed out - should refer to the radio installation as becoming obsolescent, this view apparently being based on an odd word he had with Sir John Cockcroft. The Leader of the Opposition said that the station is going to be out of date and obsolescent in about two to five years because by that time Telstar will take the place of this kind of station. He reasons in this way: The station will take almost two years to build, so that it will be out of date by the time it is built and there will be no need for it. This is a very curious attitude, because apparently the United States Navy is very ill-informed on this subject. It is not very long since I read that the United States Navy spends more per annum on scientific research than is spent on all branches of scientific research in the whole of the United Kingdom. A lot of that research has been in the field of communications and has shown notable results.
Had the Leader of the Opposition really been anxious to consider whether this station would become out of date he might have considered another development. I refer to satellites, circling the earth, from which nuclear warheads can be launched. That technique has already proceeded some way and part of it was used the other day by the Soviet in its latest moon shot. The military implications of that were clearly noted. One of the great interests of the United States and Soviet service authorities in space is this very development.
The time is probably not far distant when satellites circling the earth will be able to pinpoint any position on it and discharge nuclear warheads at it. This is a very inconvenient development for the Leader of the Opposition and it is just around the corner. It so happens that the force of gravity is such that satellites pass as freely over southern skies as they do over northern skies. Perhaps the Labour Party has some hitherto secret method by which the force of gravity can be so amended that that will not be so. But the world will certainly wait with great interest the unfolding of this great discovery.
The Leader of the Opposition and other members opposite have drawn red herrings across the path. A powerful section of the Opposition really is opposed to the station but the Opposition realizes, nevertheless, that the people of Australia do want it. Honorable members opposite have therefore sought refuge in drawing red herrings across the trail. One of them is that Australia should retain the right in moments of crisis, when perhaps this communications station is needed for instant nuclear retaliation, for the Government to hold up proceedings until it has made up its mind whether a crucial message should be passed on.
Another story told by honorable members opposite was about the secret agreement, but that was blown out to-day and I will not go on with it. Another and more important aspect of this question is a much more likely situation than a nuclear war - the ordinary and more conventional type of warfare. Provided the deterrent is kept effective on both sides we have virtually a nuclear stalemate and it is in these conditions that the proposed station may perhaps be even more significant.
Although the United States Navy has Polaris submarines, they are only a very small proportion of the total number of submarines operating on either the Russian side or the American side. Nowadays sea power is exercised primarily by large air craft carriers and submarines. They are the two major weapons to-day, around which are many ancilliary craft. In our area we depend in the end, in a nonnuclear war, on American sea power and America’s capacity to control the seas around Australia and particularly to the north. For most of our lives this job has been done by Britain and it has been British sea power which controlled the situation. But provided sea power is held in the hands of our allies, Australia cannot be invaded but her supplies can be moved and her war effort can be conducted. The moment control of the seas is lost - whatever else may be our position - Australia becomes almost fatally vulnerable. It was United States sea power which saved us during World War II. and made our land campaigns possible. To keep the United States sea power as strong as possible lies at the very root of our security.
There has been a lot of talk about what Labour did during the war. We all remember Mr. Curtin’s appeal to America - unabashed and without inhibitions. Some such words were used to describe it. In those days the Labour PaTty turned freely to the United States. The Labour Government acknowledged United States help and, in fact, placed the Australian armed forces under American direction and much of our economic effort indirectly under American control. That was a separate situation. A large section of the Labour Party would like to do the same thing again but we must recognize that another large section of the Labour Party still comprises isolationists. They have not yet woken up to the kind of world in which we live. Many of their councils are governed by a kind of ostrichlike folk lore. What really causes trouble on this issue is certainly not the great body of Labour supporters but that small, very powerful and determined element which directly and indirectly comes under the sway of Communist and neo-Communist influences. That section of the Labour Party has. a long and ugly record. It is a pity for Australia that the Leader of the Opposition has been faced with that dreadful position.
One point which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro made very strongly was that we are tying ourselves up for 25 years. Can any one in this House visualize Australia being sufficiently populous in 25 years, or sufficiently powerful at a time when power is being cast on an increasingly large scale, to defend herself unaided? Can any one see any source of power which is likely, within 25 years, to replace the United States as our only possible ultimate shield? If any one does, he should not complain about 25 years being too long. He should explain his views.
It is unfortunately true that members of the Labour Party, not necessarily in this House but certainly outside it, are strongly opposed to the United States and in fact to anything which would ultimately lead to the downfall in this area of Communist forces. The position will be the same in 25 years. What is the Labour Party’s attitude? Apparently many members of the Labour Party consider that America should come to our aid if we are attacked, should provide armed forces on a large scale and should bear the main burden of Western defence. Yet when we are asked to make a tiny contribution to the security of the Western world by permitting the United States to construct a naval communication station in one corner of our continent, honorable members opposite display petty meanness and isolationism of the very worst type. For a very long time our security will depend upon the United States and its armed forces. The majority of the Australian people know that. AH that we can do is to help the United States with the establishment of this station and give very sympathetic consideration to any similar requests made to us.
.- This bill has been acknowledged by Government supporters and emphasized by Opposition members as one of the most momentous that has required the consideration of this Parliament. It is regrettable that the time allotted to the debate has been limited to two days. That means that many honorable members who wish to speak on this issue will be denied the opportunity to do so. We on this side of the House have been required to ballot for a place on the list of speakers, so if various constituencies do not hear their representative express a view during this debate they will know that this is because the Government has prevented proper consideration of this most momentous and important item of public policy.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) referred to the deplorable depletion of arms and equipment which was evident when Labour assumed office in October, 1941. I was a member of the War Cabinet at that time and I can verify the honorable member’s statement. Australia was ill-prepared to meet any attack that was likely to be launched against it, and it was only after some time that we were able to mobilize this nation’s resources so as to be in a position to resist, with our allies, the enemy that threatened our shores. The honorable member for East Sydney replied to a statement by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) regarding Manus Island being made available as a base for the American forces. Government supporters have repeated constantly the statement that the Labour Government was responsible for denying the continued use of Manus Island as a base for United States operations. The honorable member for East Sydney to-night indicated the exact position by reading a letter which was written by Mr. John Dedman, the then Minister for Defence. To further confirm that statement and to nail the claims of Government supporters once and for all I should like to read to the House a statement which was made by the right honorable H. V. Evatt, the then honorable member for Barton, who was Minister for External Affairs at the time. I am indebted to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) for bringing the “ Hansard “ record to my notice. Dr. Evatt was personally concerned with the future use of Manus Island. The “ Hansard “ report of 9th February, 1 949, is in these terms -
Mr. Abbott.; The United States of America wants back Manus Island for its own use.
Dr. EVATT. ; The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) has been very consistent on that point. I think that he has been very wrong about it. He knows very well that there are two points of view with regard to Manus. One is that that base should be completely handed over to the United States of America. I think that is a completely preposterous proposition. No suggestion of that kind was ever put to us by the United States of America at any time.
– Who said that?
– Dr. Evatt, who was then the Minister for External Affairs and directly concerned and interested in this matter. He continued -
How could we give up part of a territory which under our trusteeship responsibilities is an integral part of a territory which Australia is bound to defend? According to Admiral Hamilton, Manus is the Scapa Flow of the Pacific, and it is the duty and right of Australia to develop it as the forward base for our carrier arm. 1 should be surprised and astonished to hear that any reason was given to anybody in this country to complain about that attitude. We have never received any complaints about it. The President of the United States of America has not so much as breathed a word on the subject. As I have said, the relations between our two countries could not be more cordial than they are to-day.
That is a complete denial of the accusations made by honorable members opposite about the Manus Island base. It verifies what was said by the honorable member for East Sydney to-night. It represents full justification of the position of the Labour Government at that time. It gives a complete and emphatic denial to those who have said otherwise.
I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on the splendid speech that he delivered in this House last Thursday on this proposed communication station at North West Cape. I thought his speech was reminiscent of those made by that illustrious leader in war-time, John Curtin. Good, wholesome Australian sentiment was expressed in its text.
For two reasons I claim to speak with some positive understanding on the subject that is before the House at present. I refer to, first, my experience as a war-time Minister for the Navy and, secondly, my knowledge of the American people. No nation can claim to be supreme in its powers of government if it has not authority in respect of actions in its territory. That is axiomatic. The rights of the Australian nation reside in this Parliament. Our first duty is to our own people. They must always be our first consideration.
By that right to nationhood we have an opportunity to offer friendly relations. Some nations respond with greater goodwill than do others. It is to those countries which seek good understanding that we feel the closer drawn in our associations and interest. The United States of America is one of the countries with which we have extremely close ties of friendship. We respect, appreciate and value that goodwill. We came to realize this the more by the stern demands that war made upon our countries. Respect and mutual trust were further cemented as we shared as partners in a common cause.
That brings me to one aspect of this agreement between Australia and the United States for the installation of this communication station at North West Cape. The agreement, in its text, does not exclude explicitly the possibility of joint control. However, the interpretation that has been given by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) and later by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) makes it necessary to secure a more positive assurance of Australia’s right not only to have the use of the communication centre for Australian defence forces but also to share in the responsibilities of its control. There can be no logical objection to that because Australia has already proved its ability to share responsibility with the United States. During the war tense and urgent problems arose, but they were speedily resolved between the commander-in-chief, General Douglas MacArthur, and the Prime Minister of that time, John Curtin, by daily communication secured instantly by secrephone By that means they consulted one another about the things that should be done. There was joint control in regard to the operations that were so vital at that time to the defence of this country as well as to the progress of the forces of the countries that were allied with us. It was necessary to have proper co-ordination of effort and understanding in order to determine how the forces could best be employed.
At Washington and the United Nations there was the same co-operation, irrespective of the political complexion of the government. As the Australian representative on the Far Eastern Commission which was convened in Washington, I sat as a full partner in controlling the operations of General Douglas MacArthur who, on behalf of the allies, commanded the occupation forces in Japan.
– They were under joint control.
– Yes, they were. As the Australian representative on the Far Eastern
Commission, I sat with the United States representatives and those of other allied nations. I had equal power with them and equal opportunity to express my views. I say that there is no reason why there cannot be joint control of this station, with the mutual confidence and satisfactory understanding that should exist between two governments. “ I know the American citizen as well as does any other member of this Parliament. I engaged in negotiations with the official heads of State. I met the ordinary people and engaged in their life as a member of their community for almost five years. In that time you get to know people. I have a great liking for the American people. They are much akin to our own people in their institutions and industries. However - I trust that I will not be misrepresented or misunderstood when I express this view, because I know that the average American citizen would acknowledge it - by their nature they have an impelling feeling for urgency and speed. That is a national characteristic. It is that element in their make-up that gives many people in the free world the thought that haste in making a decision could incur grievous consequences, and that therefore we must make every endeavour to ensure that some decision made in error because of haste does not bring grievous consequences to this or any other country.
At the first meeting of the United Nations in London, I was President of the Security Council. Sitting on my right was the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mr. Stettinius. He was most impatient about the proceedings of the council and kept saying to me, “ Get decisions, get votes, get decisions “. I said to him, “ But Mr. Stettinius, to get votes or decisions is not necessarily to get agreement and if the decisions of the council are to be effective, they must be uniform “. He did not seem to appreciate that mutual understanding, respect and agreement were essential if peace was to be maintained amongst nations that were in dispute over some matter. I have had some experience of men, including those in high positions, who seek urgency and speed in dealing with matters, even those important matters on which. peace depends..
In common with other members of the-, Australian Labour Party, I believe that the installation of a communication station is not inconsistent with Labour policy. I know from the grave experience of war that it is necessary to provide a radar screen and communication installations. If we had had such installations in 1942, we may have been able to protect the Australian and allied naval vessels that were lost in an unequal encounter with the Japanese fleet. We would also have had some warning of the danger that may have been lurking in the path of convoys bringing back to Australia from the Middle East the best of our fighting men who were needed to help defend our shores. However, despite all this I believe that if a communication centre on our territory is essential for defence, it is reasonable, right and proper that Australia should have joint control with the United States of America of the project. How can we justify our partnership with Great Britain at Woomera if we do not also seek partnership with the United States of America in this communication station? We insist on a partnership with Great Britain in the Woomera project and the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury in my electorate, but we will not insist on Australia being given a share in the control of the station at North West Cape.
I am sure that when the Leader of the Australian Labour Party meets the President of the United States of America and his advisers, there will be a warm appreciation and understanding of Labour’s intentions. The Prime Minister proudly waved the agreement and said that certain of the clauses were actually his own drafting. If this is so, the Prime Minister must accept additional responsibility for not having incorporated in the agreement some special and definite provision giving Australia a share in the control of this installation. The Government has been weak and has not maintained Australia’s dignity in this matter. It should have insisted that any country seeking to undertake defence or other operations in this country should recognize Australia’s sovereign rights.
Do honorable members opposite believe that safeguarding the sovereign rights of Australia is wrong? Do they think it wrong for Australia to ask that it be consulted on these matters and that it be given the right to determine whether it will be committed in the event of a war? These matters are basic to the continued independence of Australia and its people. I have always found that people in the United States of America have a respect for Australia and are willing to co-operate with Australia on matters of mutual concern. It would not be proper for me to refer to the many instances in which this willingness was shown during my term as ambassador in the United States. I believe, however, that I am entitled to show the extent to which the Americans went in dealing with a Labour Minister. I refer to Dr. Evatt, who was at the time attending a meeting of the United Nations Trusteeship Council. At one of the sessions, the proceedings were not very easy for Australia. I was told to interview the leader of the United States delegation. With prompt and clear emphasis he said, “ You tell your Minister that Australia can have whatever your Minister thinks will serve its interests best “. This is what happens when we have a Minister who will stand up for his country and who will insist on our sovereign rights being recognized. When we do this, we earn the respect of those with whom we negotiate.
I had another example of this attitude when I was Minister for Munitions. A joint committee dealt with questions of production. Honorable members may remember how Sydney Harbour became cluttered up with landing craft which were required for use by our troops in their advance upon the islands to drive back the Japanese forces. Unfortunately, those landing craft did not have the necessary power units. We had been promised the power units from America but, unfortunately, for some reason we did not receive them. I decided that we could wait no longer and that we would make in Australia whatever motors were required to meet our own needs. The American lend-lease representative became very concerned about the attitude that I was adopting. I told him emphatically that there was such a thing as reciprocal lend-lease and we were under no obligation in respect of these motors. Finally, he said to me, “ I must admire you for standing up for your own nation “. We need that attitude to be adopted more often; if it is we will certainly earn the appreciation of our friends. It would seem that Australia is forgotten by this Government when it is considering policies which could have serious effects on Australia’s interests.
Honorable members on the Government side have suggested repeatedly that a Labour government would be unwilling to co-operate with the United States of America. This is a sinister and damaging insinuation, and history proves it to be false. On every occasion when Australia has been faced with a crisis, the Australian Labour Party has been called to office. On three occasions now the palsied and ineffectual efforts of Liberal Party and Country Party governments have resulted in the people demanding that a Labour government should take over and become the protector of this land. I say that the people of the Australian nation would like to have the opportunity of expressing their view upon the attitude that has been adopted by this Government towards defence during its period of office, and particularly at this time. The members of the Government, however, would not dare go to the people on this issue for they know that if they did so they would be politically scorched alive by the withering answer of the electors.
.- In opening his speech, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) said he regretted that we had only two days in which to debate this issue. The reason for that is that all honorable members want to conclude the sitting by next Thursday for reasons that are well known to them all. One thing you can depend on is that although the time for this debate is short I shall not take my full time as the honorable member for Bonython did; I shall take only portion of my time and allow my colleagues on this side of the House and as many honorable members as possible on the other side of the House to express their opinions on this very important subject.
Generally, the best way to begin a speech is to rebut what has been said by the speaker who has just concluded his speech because what he has said is still fresh in the minds of the people who have been listening to our debate. When the honorable member for Bonython was speaking about what he said to the Americans when he was representing Australia in the United States he said, “ It would not be right for me to state what happened when I represented Australia in America”. I agree entirely with that but, strange to say, the honorable member for Bonython is quite in accord with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in stating what happened in a secret meeting of this Parliament. I cannot understand the logic of that thinking. It appears to me not to exhibit what the honorable member for Bonython so proudly calls the Australian spirit. After all, Australians must be fair, and if one side of the argument is right then the other is wrong. I should like honorable members to ponder over what has been said by the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Bonython to-night. Of course, I come down strongly on the side of the honorable member for Bonython because I believe it would not be right for him to make disclosures about things that occurred when he was Australian Minister in the United States of America; but I am amazed to think that he can approve of what has been said by the honorable member for East Sydney. The honorable member went on to say that the Americans have a tendency towards urgency and speed. When it comes to combating the use of nuclear weapons, the very things we want are urgency and speed.
– The idea is not to use them.
– But if they are used an urgent realization of the situation and speed in dealing with it are important. But, strange to say, history discloses that the Americans are not given to urgency and speed. On at least two occasions the British and the Australians have deplored the length of time it has taken America to join in world conflicts in which both Britain and Australia have been engaged. If we can get more urgency and speed from the Americans in coming into a conflict to help us, then so much the better so far as I am concerned. That <s all I want to say about the honorable member for Bonython who, after all, generally puts hil case fairly. He wandered from that path a little to-night, and to the extent that he did so I hope I have successfully corrected him.
I want to speak now about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). It is a very old truism that a bad start to a speech may be forgiven, but a bad ending never. It is very doubtful whether there has ever been a worse ending to a speech than the closing words of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the chamber to-night when, after stating Labour’s case, he said, “Labour believes in no annihilation without representation”. I wrote down his words. That statement appears to me to be a gem, one of the best I have ever heard in this House. Just ponder over it - no annihilation without representation! What does it mean? If I wanted to distort the statement, I could make it appear to mean that, once having representation, let annihilation proceed - as long as you can make the representation annihilation may follow and everything will be all right. Of course, I know the honorable member did not mean that, but, for a man who has been in this House for a long while and made speeches here and elsewhere, it was a deplorable end to the case he submitted. I know every honorable member of the Opposition agrees with me when I say that. After all, they know what representations are. Representations may be successful or otherwise. We all have made representations to Ministers at times, but there has been no guarantee that those representations would be successful. To-night it would appear to me that the attitude of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that as long as the representations are made it is all right to carry on with the slaughter. I do not think he meant to convey that meaning, but if not he should have chosen his words better because they did nothing to improve this debate on the subject under discussion.
To-night we have heard a great deal about Prime Minister John Curtin. It was not my privilege to be in this House while he was Prime Minister but, from what I have heard, he was respected by both sides of the House. It was stated to-night - and because I wanted to have the words correctly recorded, I wrote down what was said - that when Mr. Curtin took over the reins of government and Labour assumed office he commented on the high state of efficiency of the defence forces. The honorable member for East Sydney said that, in making that statement, Mr. Curtin was trying to cover up the really deplorable state of our defences when he took over. I do not think that is correct. The non-Labour Government that preceded the Curtin Government began many things that played a magnificent part during the war. One was Australia’s participation in the Empire Air Training Scheme, under which so many Australian airmen trained in Canada. Those airmen later played a magnificent role in the Battle of Britain, which meant so much to this country. The Government that preceded the Curtin Government also sent troops to Malaya. I would say that if it had not been for the Australian troops in Malaya holding up the Japanese on the Malayan Peninsula for about six weeks there would not have been a Coral Sea Battle. Let us make no mistake about that. There would not have been a Coral Sea Battle and the Japanese would probabl’y have landed in Australia.
The Government that preceded the Curtin Government set the seal on a great war effort. Yet people say that the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was Prime Minister early in the war, walked out of office. Could we get anything more ridiculous than that? What happened was that two members who had supported the non-Labour Government crossed the floor of this House in 1941 and voted that Government out of office. One was the gentleman who was at the time member for Wimmera, whom I later followed as the member for that electorate, and the other was the gentleman who was then member for Henty. Those two members decided to vote against the Government. The member for Wimmera based his decision more on matters relating to the wheat industry than on the conduct of the war. I do not know why the member for Henty voted as he did. The Government and the Opposition of that day were fairly evenly matched, as the Government and the Opposition are to-day, and the decision of those two members to vote against the Government caused its defeat. It was not a matter of the Government walking out of office, but merely of two of its supporters crossing the floor and voting with the Opposition to defeat that Government.
– After a number of Ministers had been killed in an aircraft crash, too.
– As the Minister has just pointed out, a number of Ministers had been killed in an aircraft crash that had taken place at Canberra shortly before.
From what I have said, we can see that certain things said by Opposition members will not bear the light of truth. Honorable members opposite make statements such as, “ The Minister admitted certain things “. It is all very well for them to use such words, but the correct thing would be to say, “ The Minister made certain statements “. Some Opposition members think that people outside this Parliament who are listening to the radio broadcast of these proceedings may take more notice when a statement is twisted into the form, “ The Minister admitted this “. This sort of thing is all wrong.
I do not expect Opposition members to say whether I am right, but I can estimate - not guess - what happened among them. Is it not a fact that, before they came into the House to speak on this measure, they were told that, to serve the interests of the Opposition best, they must refer to this naval communications station as a base? We know that is right. They were told that. There is not the slightest doubt in the world that they were told to refer to the proposed station as a base. Most of the Opposition members in whom I have the greatest confidence do not deny this. Opposition members were told to use the term “ base “ to convey the suggestion that the communications station may be used as a base for vessels carrying nuclear weapons. This will be merely a communications station and will serve none of the purposes of a base. Therefore, I cannot see what other reason honorable members opposite have against calling it a station.
I go back now to what John Curtin said about Australia’s defence being efficient. Labour speakers agree that he said that but say that he did so to cover up the fact that our defences were so weak. I only hope that Opposition members will continue to act in the same tradition and not say, when our defences are strong, that we are so weak that any nation could invade us and take this country without difficulty. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that John Curtin, for the good of the Australian people, said that Australia’s defences were strong and, at the same time, tell the people of Australia and the world that Australia is so weak to-day that any country can come in and take over. Which is right? This question can be answered by me only by saying that the Opposition speaks with two voices.
The other evening, the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) said that he agreed that we should have a base. He wanted it to be under dual control, but he came to the conclusion that there should be a base. A lot of honorable members opposite say that we should not have a base. I have written down the statements made by some of them. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) was very much against having the station at all. He said, “ The approval of the base will be challenged on every voting-paper at the next election “.
– I said that the Government will be impeached.
– This is word for word what the honorable member said: “ The approval of the base will be challenged on every voting-paper at the next election”. Why not challenge it here and now? This is the time. Why wait until the next general election? If the honorable member is against the station - and he said he was - why does he not vote against it? There is an obvious answer to that question, but I shall not go into the details.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition put up a case that he considered was proven. He said that the base is not required. He then proceeded to divide the world into various areas in which he said that nuclear missiles would be used should a nuclear war come. He appeared not to be aware of the fact that without instant retaliation, and without stations like the one that we are discussing, the whole world would be ablaze in a very short time. He did not seem to realize that quick action is what will count. Quick retaliation against the enemy is what is important.
I made notes of certain other things that were said by Opposition members. I want to refer to some of them briefly. We were told that the proposed naval communication station would be a threat of forced entry into war by Australia - that if the United States took some action of which Australia did not approve we would be embroiled, in a, war. Another Opposition member said that we are tied to the United States through the Anzus and Seato pacts and that if the United States enters a war we must stand behind her with all the weight of arms and all the forces that we have. So what is the difference? I cannot understand what the difference is. On the one hand, Labour says that we have great faith in the American nation and then implies that we cannot trust it. America will spend many millions of pounds on this base. I find myself using the word “ base “ because Labour speakers use it all the time. But this is a communication station, not a base. The Americans are to spend many millions of pounds on it. Surely to goodness, after spending so much on it, they have the right to control it as they think fit, and especially as it is in our interests.
The Prime Minister made it very clear that the station is designed for communication with naval vessels generally and to permit speedy action in the defence of the United States and of Australia. But member after member on the Opposition side of the House has said, “The Prime Minister did not say that the station was designed to convey messages to submarines “. Every honorable member knows that submarines are units of naval fleets. These arguments that are used by Opposition members are only spurious and do not put a case for Australia or state the genuine attitude of this Parliament.
The honorable member for East Sydney said - I wrote it down - that a future president of the United States may be a leftist. He asked: Would we like to be tied to him? I shall not answer that question. I shall say only that at least the honorable member ought to understand how honorable members on this side of the House feel about being asked to tie themselves to the policy of certain Opposition members. I have watched very carefully the expressions on the faces of honorable members opposite when certain things have been said, and, if I were a betting man, I would make a wager that I could pick out those who really favour this station and those who do not, with a 10 per cent, margin of error. I am sure that I could do that just by watching the faces of honorable members opposite.
That concludes the comments that I want to make on what has been said by honorable members opposite. I would not be justified in my rebuke of the honorable member for Bonython if I dealt with those comments at greater length and perhaps restricted the time available to those who will follow me. I want now to state my case in relation to the proposed naval communication station. I am in full accord with the Government’s decision on this station. Some people say that Australia should remain independent. Does that mean independent in peace and not in war? Other people say that we should ally ourselves with strong nations. In that respect, there is no alternative in my mind to alliances with the countries of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. Does any one think that there is a real alternative? The only other course would be to ally ourselves with Russia and Red China. Does any honorable member think that should be done? Surely not. We want to have an independent role in peace, but we cannot afford to have it in war, because we are not strong enough. I believe that the only way to ensure our continued physical occupancy of this country and the only way in which to maintain the freedom for which our men laid down their lives in two great wars is to ally ourselves closely with the British Commonwealth of Nations, and with the United States of America.
.- The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) criticized the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for his remarks about the phrase “ annihilation without representation “. I point out to the honorable member for Mallee that what we on this side are objecting to is that the Government which he says that he strongly supports is prepared to accept the possibility of annihilation but is not prepared to attempt to obtain representation in decisions relating to the possibility of annihilation.
Once again in this debate we have witnessed the exhibition which honorable members opposite invariably put on when they are faced with a challenge from the Australian Labour Party to which they have no effective answer. The speech of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) was a typical example of the lengths to which some of them are prepared to go, by way of untruths, smears, misquotations and distortions, in their attempts to fool the Australian public anc? to try to divert attention from the real issues involved in the subject under discussion. Honorable members opposite employed much the same tactics in the last election campaign, when they had absolutely nothing to offer the people but knew very well that the policy of the Australian Labour Party was finding favour with the Australian electors. Apparently they have forgotten that they used those tactics in an election campaign which resulted in the majority of the Government in this House being reduced from 32 to two. I would strongly advise them, if they want to lose further ground in the next election, to use those tactics again. There is no doubt that the Australian public is finally becoming aware of the purpose behind these tactics. The people know that smears and untruths are used by the Government parties to cover up their own inefficiency. In this case, they are used also to cover up the Government’s lack of courage in measuring up to its responsibility in the matter of defence.
The bill now before us for consideration appears to supply the information which members on this side of the House have been endeavouring to obtain, without success, from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and other Ministers for the last twelve months. However, as the debate has proceeded, the issues have become more clouded and it has become more difficult to determine just what the agreement does provide. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) have gone to great pains to show that just because the agreement does not say what it is supposed to say, it does not mean that it does not say it. That is how I interpret the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs. It may sound a little Irish as I have put it, but not half as Irish as the interpretations we have heard from honorable members opposite.
This bill concerns the establishment of what is termed a United States naval communication station, and it is the most important measure presented to this House for a good many years. Not only is it very important, but it ‘ is unusual to the extent’ that it deals with the installation of a military station in Australia by a foreign power, for use only by that power. Under those circumstances, it is rather difficult to understand why the Prime Minister and other Ministers have been so loath to give any proper and straight-out information as to the station’s purpose and use. The Prime Minister and all other Government members know very well that the exact purpose of the base has never been made clear. Surely, Sir, the people of Australia were entitled to know what its purpose and its use would be. Certainly members of this Parliament were entitled to know, and, not knowing, were quite entitled to ask questions in the House and to receive firm and proper answers to those questions. But apparently the Prime Minister did not think so, because he became very critical of any one who dared to ask a question and at no time gave a direct answer.
Let us look at what the “ Weekend News “ of Western Australia had to say on this subject as recently as 30th March of this year. I should explain that this newspaper is not one that favours the Labour Party. As a matter of fact, it is usually very critical of the Labour Party. I shall read what it printed about the Prime Minister’s statements regarding this base. The comment came after the Prime Minis-; ter’s second statement, that of 26th March, which he refers to as giving “ further information “. The report is headed “ U.S. Base “, so the honorable member for Mallee should also criticize the newspaper for using that term. The report states -
Federal Parliament has resumed and Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies is coming under Opposition pressure to tell the Australian people just what are the implications of his Government’s decision to allow the United States Government to build a naval communications centre at Northwest Cape in Western Australia.
The only information on the obvious main purpose of the £40,000,000 radio base has come from the A.L.P.
The report continues -
At no time has Sir Robert Menzies even hinted at the true purpose of the station: that it will provide the United States with the means accurately to discharge nuclear missiles from submarines thousands of miles away from Australia and, by inference, because of this fact, will become a target for those at whom these missiles are being launched. Sir Robert has contented himself wilh slating the A.L.P. for the conditions it has laid down for its approval of the station.
The matter boils down to the exact degree of participation or consultation any future Australian Government might be expected to enjoy in the operation of the station, and on this matter Sir Robert has been very silent.
– What newspaper is this?
– The “Weekend News” of Western Australia. The report goes on -
Because of the possible way in which the station might be used, Sir Robert will be pressed to state in precise terms how the agreement, when it is finalised, will affect Australia in its relationship with its neighbouring nations in the near north, surely a matter of great importance. But it is another matter altogether whether Sir Robert will be prepared to say very much.. For the moment, he will have the excuse that the agreement is not finalised, but if the whole question of the station is to be a major electoral issue, as it surely will be, both the Opposition and the majority of the Australian people will demand to know more once it is signed or ready for signing.
If the experience of the British Labour Party in forcing information on the Polaris submarine base at Holy Loch in Scotland from the Macmillan Government is any criterion, the Opposition looks like having a hard task with Sir Robert but any reticence on his part could tell against him politically.
Here we have, in a newspaper that does not support the Labour Party but normally supports the Government, ample evidence that others beside members of the Labour Party are not satisfied with the attitude of the Prime Minister and others in regard to the giving of information on this subject. I thought, when first reading the agreement, that Article 3 was a vehicle whereby the Australian Government would be able to negotiate with the United States with regard to having some say in the use of the base, because nowhere in the agreement is it laid down that the United States is to be in sole control, nor does it say anywhere that the United States is not to be in sole control. So I suggest that it was reasonable to come to the conclusion that Article 3 was the part of the agreement which would supply an avenue of negotiation on that point. I would like to read the article in question. It states -
Knowing that the Australian Government was not at all concerned with joint control and, in fact, did not want such control, I thought that the United States authorities, after studying Labour’s proposals and finding them to be fair and reasonable, had decided that Article 3 should be inserted in the agreement, so that the door would be left wide open for further negotiation after the Labour Party formed a government following the next election, lt was only as late as this afternoon that the Minister, replying to a Dorothy Dix question from the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) took the opportunity - and took up a large part of question time in doing so - of reading documents and memorandums which, he claimed, showed that Australia had said it wanted consultation and that America would have nothing less than sole control. Then the documents went on to say that what the article set out might be what the Minister meant, and what it did not set out was what America wanted, and so everybody was happy in accepting something that was not there. However, if article 3 does not give Australia any rights in regard to any part of the operation of the station, I cannot see what good purpose the discussions or consultations are going to achieve.
Again I ask why the words “ on any matters connected with the station or its use “ have been added. If Australia can have no rights in regard to matters connected with the station or the use of it, what is the use of discussing them? Why not just say that the two governments will consult from time to time? That would let them discuss baseball or fishing or whathaveyou, while as the article is at present framed the discussion must be on matters connected with the station or its use, and such discussions can be completely abortive because no rights to Australia can flow from them.
I think it would be correct to say that all members of this House and, with very few exceptions, all other people in Australia, would agree wilh the principle of the construction of the base at North West Cape - and I say at North West Cape simply because it has apparently been accepted as the best and most convenient site.
– In whose electorate is it?
– It is in my electorate, which is a very good one and one that will stick to Labour. But I am also quite sure that while the people are in agreement as to the principle, they do not agree that Australia should not have some say in the operation and use of the base.
We agree that Australia and the United States must co-operate in regard to defence, for the benefit of both countries. We believe this is of the greatest importance now, as it was when the late John Curtin sought American co-operation during World War II. But while we accept the principle that the base should be established, we do not accept the condition under which America is handed all rights to determine issues which should be determined by decision of the Australian Government and not of some outside power. So we say that the station should be under the joint control of Australia and America, acting in co-operation and co-ordination for the greatest benefit to both countries.
Why should Australia not have joint control of the base with America? Is there something peculiar to Australia that prevents us from enjoying joint control in the same way as Turkey, Great Britain and Italy exercise joint control with the United States over defence installations in those countries? What is good enough for those countries is surely good enough for Australia. Some honorable members may suggest that the stations in those countries have been established for the firing of missiles, but is there much difference between a station which fires a missile and one which gives the instruction to fire? I suggest that both can produce the same result. I would like to point out to the House that Great Britain has gone further in the ma.ter of joint control than we are asking this Government to go. In that country there is joint control of the actual firing of the missiles.
We have heard only one argument from the Prime Minister and o:her Government members against joint control. It is along these lines. They all say that if war comes to Australia it will come very quickly. I quite agree that if war does come to Australia it could come overnight, or even more quickly. But then Government members go on to argue that joint control would mean that before anything could be done it would be necessary to call the Cabinet together, and that then the Cabinet would have to conduct a discussion, arrive at a decision and then forward its decision to the base. They say that this would result in unnecessary delays and that for this reason joint control would be “impracticable. That argument does not convince me at all. I am not convinced that we should not have joint control by reason of this argument put forward by Government supporters - and it is the only argument I have heard them put forward. It is, however, an argument that convinces me that if Australia should be attacked to-morrow or the next day, or next year, or at any time while this Government is in office, the Government will never be ready to meet the situation.
It is clear that this Government has no plan, and has made no decisions about what should be done by way of immediate retaliation if Australia is attacked. Apparently if war came quickly the Government would have to call the Cabinet together and go through all these devious processes that Government supporters say would cause so much delay before arriving at a decision on what should be done. I suggest that any government worthy of the name would, particularly in these troublesome times, be always in a position to come to an immediate decision if the need arose for it to do so. Would not the position be the same if this base were under joint control? Would not the governments be in constant consultation with each other, studying trends and developments all over the world, so that they would know instantly what move to make if war came to Australia? I see no reason why, with good government and good co-operation, there should be any need in an emergency to call the Cabinet together. I believe that all necessary steps could be determined well in advance of any outbreak of hostilities.
The fact is, as I see it, that the Government does not want to have any say in the operation of the base. It does not want to be in a position where it will have- to shoulder any of its responsibilities to the people of Australia. Government members have failed so miserably on previous occasions, in times of war and near-war, they have failed so badly in providing Australia with adequate defences, that now they have not either the competence or the courage to make decisions for themselves.
Has the Labour ?arty anything to be ashamed of if you refuse to insist on having government it will want to have some say on such important matters as the defence of our country, and on such vital questions as whether we will involve our people in war? I suggest it is something to be ashamed of if you refuse to insist on having a say and leave some other power to make the decision.
The honorable member for Swan, if I understood him correctly, said, with his usual disregard for the truth, that we would close the base if war broke out. We have never said anything of the sort. We simply say that we want the right to make decisions as to whether Australia will go to war or whether we will become involved in hostilities that develop between other countries. Surely it is the duty of a Commonwealth Government, elected by the people, to insist on such a right. Surely the people would expect the Australian Government, and not that of some other country, to decide whether we should be at war, or whether we should do something that would bring war. It is idle to say that because this station is to be only a communications base it will never become deeply involved. The truth is that it will direct messages to naval vessels, and those messages could be for the dispatch of missiles which might result in world conflict. When such a situation is likely to occur there can surely be no proper reason why Australia should not have the right to determine whether it will be involved. Honorable members might be interested in a report, published in the “ Sunday Times “, of views expressed by Mr. Brand, the Premier of Western Australia where, unfortunately, for the moment there is a Liberal Government. Mr. Brand said -
I have seen models and plans and when I was in the States recently I got more details.
According to all these things it is just a big installation for keeping in touch with submarines, space capsules and so on.
That is the first mention of space capsules, and I do not know what the “ and so on “ is. The report continues -
He added if later developments caused it to be considered as a military target for nuclear attack: “ There is only a few kangaroos and emus up there anyway.”
His thinking is evidently the same as that of Liberal and Country Party members in this House - completely unconcerned with what can happen to the people of the northwest. Every one knows that if this base is attacked the country for miles around it will be affected. But this Government, like Mr. Brand, gives no thought to the people employed and living at the base or those employed and living close to it. 1 realize that there are areas of Australia to which an enemy would assign priority for attack once Australia was involved in war; but, in my experience, communications have always been a very necessary part of either defence or attack in time of war, so the base area will automatically become a priority target if Australia is involved in war. If American naval forces fire on some other country’s vessels it is only natural that that country will want to destroy the communication centre which is giving the instructions for the destruction of its ships.
Surely we should be looking for means to defend Australia against any attack which may be made upon us! If this base becomes the subject of attack that will mean war to Australia. While we all pray that that time will never come, we know that war can come and that we could not survive if we were dependent upon Australia’s present defences.
In the time remaining to me I will read to the House some leading articles from the “ West Australian “ newspaper, which is noted for its support of Liberal governments, both State and Federal. We know that the *’ West Australian “ would turn over backwards to support Liberal governments. But it knows very well that if it went to the lengths of supporting this Liberal Government in matters of defence it would look ridiculous. The first article-
– What is the date of that article?
– It is 26th October, 1962. That is not very long ago. What has this Government done since then? The article reads as follows: -
Canberra is still acting as though our defence effort, now £210,000,000 a year out of a gross national product of over £7,000,000,000 should be little more than a token gesture to Seato. The spending of a further £56,000,000 over three years is a trivial addition that is unworthy of Australia.
The article also states -
Public opinion is far ahead of Government planning. The Government should expand its policy and order the necessary ships, planes and equipment for quick delivery.
Another article in the “ West Australian “ dated Monday, 11th February, 1963, reads, in part -
While the Federal Government continues to show indecision in defence, Western Australia is virtually defenceless, without aircraft and without facilities for servicing our own or allied ships.
An article in the same newspaper, of 27th February, 1963, is headed “Unbalanced Air Services Lack Striking Power” and states - lt is becoming increasingly difficult to detect any coherent pattern in Australian defence policy.
An article in this same paper, dated 31st January, 1963, states -
Our defences are inadequate and will continue to be too weak with the meagre additions proposed in the new two-year programme. The third of the continent in Western Australia remains virtually undefended.
Another article, dated 20th February, 1963, is headed “ Australia is Evading its Defence Responsibilities”. It reads as follows: -
Navy Minister Gorton would have no rejoinder if he should be told bluntly in Washington that Australia is not pulling its weight in defence.
So we are getting back to America. A further article in the “ West Australian “ dated 11th February, 1963, is headed “R.S.L. Wants Defences Overhauled”. It states -
The national executive of the R.S.L. to-day decided to urge the Federal Government to overhaul Australia’s defence measures.
This is a newspaper which normally supports this Government. It is obvious that the arguments being used in this debate by supporters of the Government are simply intended to be to act as a smoke screen in order to try to conceal from the people the fact that we have no defence, and in view of the way the Government is going we never will have any defence.
.- It was rather amusing to hear the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) spend most of his time reading newspaper clippings to the effect that Australia has inadequate defences and that the Government should do something about the matter. Yet the Labour Party has said that the construction of the proposed radio communication base at North West Cape should not be carried out. This contradiction is quite confusing. In regard to newspaper reports, perhaps I can be more up to date than the honorable member. I refer the House to two Communist newspapers, dated 16th May. One is the “ Guardian “ which writes up in lyrical verse what the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) said last week in the House. This journal thought he made a wonderful speech, and so do:s the Communist “ Tribune “. The “ Guardian “ has a photograph of the lover-boy of the Communist press, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), in the corner. I understand that I have the pleasure of preceding him in this debate. His photo again appears in to-day’s issue.
The “ Guardian “ deals with the agenda of Australian Labour Party branch conferences. It lists the agenda for the Victorian Labour Party conference, which is to commence on 7th June and gives the number of votes against the American base and against interference in Malaysia. The “Tribune” gives the agenda for the Australian Labour Party conference in Adelaide. This lists the items put forward by branches of the Australian Labour Party against the American radio communications base, for nuclear disarmament and for banning the bomb. I think that supports the argument that the only people who are getting joy from Labour’s policy at this stage are Communist supporters in Australia and outside it. This afternoon the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and many other honorable members opposite talked about the British Labour Party and the situation in England. If we are to examine what is happening in England, let us begin by looking at England’s defence policy. National defence policy has been increasingly based on the realization that no country can protect itself in isolation and that the defence of Britain is possible only as a part of a system of collective defence. That applies also to Australia. At the same time the United Kingdom continues to work for the attainment of international agreement on disarmament under effective control. So does the Australian Government. The 1962 White Paper on Defence stated that “ the basic objective is to make our contribution to the defence of the free world and the prevention of war in accordance with the arrangements we have with individual countries and under collective security treaties “. That is exactly what this Government has done. Its policy and its basic objectives are similar to those of Britain, as indeed they should be.
Australia and the United Kingdom are part of the system of collective defence of the free world. However between the United Kingdom and Australia there is one great and disturbing lack of similarity on matters of defence. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom has a policy similar to that of the government and indeed it can be said that there is a national policy; but here in Australia there appears to be not even a national Labour policy on defence, let alone a united outlook on this subject. No issue confronting this country has ever made this situation more plain to the Australian people and, indeed, the world, arousing feelings of regret and concern in the majority and great elation and joy in others, than the proposed establishment of the United States signal station at North West Cape.
To me the agreement with the United States of America for the construction of a naval communication station at North West Cape shows in a most practical form that our alliance with America is not just a hollow promise but is based on effective co-operation between our two countries in a spirit of mutual trust.
The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) made it clear to the House when introducing the bill that although the Australian Government had constitutional power to sign the agreement without presenting it to the Parliament the Government had decided to submit the agreement to the Parliament for approval before exchanging it with the United States Government. In a very comprehensive and well-prepared speech the Minister explained fully to the House, and indeed to the people of
Australia, the purpose of this station and the terms and conditions which had been agreed upon by the two governments. He explained that the station will be as it is described in the agreement - a naval communication station, a wireless station, nothing more or nothing less. Honorable members opposite have mentioned other countries such as the United Kingdom, Turkey and Spain and the agreements that they have signed. No one in this House has been able to find those agreements nor has any newspaper been successful in this regard, but perhaps some of our leftist friends have been able to obtain information through secret sources. The Minister also explained that the station will have no other capacity than to transmit and receive wireless messages, including signals at very low frequency capable of being received by submerged naval vessels as well as by surface vessels. The station will be used by Australia and by our allies.
Certain honorable members opposite seem to have the opinion, as has been apparent from their questions over the last few months, that it is all right for a naval surface vessel to be contacted by signal but - oh, my goodness - never a submerged naval vessel. Do they not know that mobility and ability to move undetected under water are the greatest assets that a submarine has? Do they not think it essential that submarines should be able to fix their position? Do they not realize that the majority of the Russian and the proposed Chinese ships are and will be submerged? Do they believe that the Western world should not be able to direct its ships to where they can be most effective in an emergency? Or is it their intention simply to impede the defence of the West and of the free world?
The establishment of the naval communication station at North West Cape will increase significantly the capacity of the United States of America to perform its part in the Anzus pact as well as in the maintenance of peace in the world generally. The permission by Australia to allow the base to be built here allows us to show conclusively that we too are prepared to play our part in this most important task. Let honorable gentlemen opposite realize that Australia’s future security must of necessity be tied up with the obligations that we have accepted with the United States of America under our alliances. Australia cannot isolate itself. Such a policy would be only suicidal. Do honorable gentlemen opposite feel that America has an obligation to protect us while we should not commit ourselves in any way to mutual defence arrangements?
From Australia’s viewpoint the most important change in the world situation must be the emergence of Communist China. China already has moved into Tibet, has moved against neutral India and has contributed to the maintenance of Communist regimes in North Viet Nam and in North Korea. She is strongly committed to nationalistic expansion and the world-wide extension of Communist imperialism. She is strongly pursuing these objectives throughout South-East Asia. Unless we of the free world can show that we have the means and are resolved to resist aggression, we and the other small countries will cease to exist. Before long China will announce that she has nuclear capacity. But even without this, weight of numbers must be on her side in any conventional war. The Communist parties throughout Asia - in North Korea, Month Viet Nam, Thailand, Malaya and Burma - are all pro-Chinese, as indeed it would appear is the great Indonesian Communist Party. We know also of the division in the Australian Communist Party on the Soviet and China lines. Perhaps the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) may be able to tell us which line is winning. China must be considered a direct threat to the small countries of Asia. Only by effective action by the United States and her allies can the spirit of these small countries and their desire to choose their own destinies be maintained.
However, let us look at the internal situation confronting Australia and endeavour calmly to find the true policy of the alternate government of Australia - the Labour Party. Where does it stand? How much of its recently changed policy - changed, I remind the House, by one vote - can be considered genuine? We must ask ourselves - indeed not only this Parliament but also the people of Australia and our allies - what would happen if the complete rejection of the base, as proposed by the seventeen at the federal
Australian Labour Party conference in Canberra on 18 th March of this year, had been carried and if Labour were in office and the one vote that defeated the rejection proposal swung to the left. How much of the executive decision was political opportunism and how much was honest?
In his speech, which sounded like an actor reciting bad lines - lines which he himself did not believe in but which the 36 directors of the play had made him deliver - Mr. Calwell said -
I accuse the Prime Minister and those of his colleagues who have discussed the station with having attempted in the most unscrupulous fashion to try to mislead the people about the attitude of the Labour Pary to the agreement.
But this is not the object of the Government. It is the object of the Labour Opposition. The tactics foreshadowed by the Opposition are designed to kill the bill, and thereby to oppose ratification of the agreement with the United States, and to do this in a manner which the Opposition hopes will not be obvious to the people of Australia. The Parliamentary Labour Party realizes that again it is caught in the net of intrigue woven by its left wing and pro-Communist supporters. Mr. Calwell may claim-
– Order! The honorable member for La Trobe will refer to the Leader of the Opposition in the correct way.
– I apologize, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition may claim that Labour’s tactics are a technical device to direct attention to the bill’s insufficiencies. He knows, but does not say - and hopes the public will not realize - that Standing Order No. 237 of this House provides that an amendment to defer the third reading of a bill for six months, if carried, shall finally dispose of the bill. In plain words, the agreement with the United States of America would be killed if Labour’s proposed amendment were accepted by the House. Let it be understood that that is Labour’s objective.
The rhetoric and the grand gestures about Labour’s concern being in the best interests of Australia are dangerous. The signal station is a station, not a base. Australia has the right to use the station. No nuclear arms or anything else are to be stored there. It is part of the communications network which is vital to Western defence. What are Labour’s objections? Can we accept this suggestion of joint control as genuine? Can we take seriously the suggestion that nuclear strategy can allow in emergency the delay and confusion that Labour proposes?
Let us imagine the situation in which one of the Communist powers launches a nuclear attack on the Western world. The United States President, warned of this, may have a matter of minutes to send a signal to United States forces to allow them to take counter-measures which may save the free world, which includes Australia. The signal is sent urgently to the United States commander at the signal station at North West Cape. Even seconds may count. Under Labour policy the commander, after receiving the signal, would then have to get on the trunkline or send a telegram to the Leader of the Opposition if he, by some tragedy, were the Prime Minister. He may not be in Canberra. He may be behind a bush outside a hotel. He may be waiting to get his instructions on the latest unity ticket. He may even be in Melbourne with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) waiting to hear whether the Victorian Labour Party executive intends to stop co-operating with the Communists on unity tickets. However, after some days he is found. What happens then? He has to rush to a telephone and find Mr. Chamberlain, who has to find the other 35 gentlemen who probably would have to find an available hotel with a free room in which to hold a conference. As the enemy would be a Communist power, the executive would probably take three days to come to a decision. Can we imagine the commander at North West Cape all this time explaining to the United States President that he is trying to get a decision from the Australian Government as to whether it approves of the signal or not? By that time there would be no president. No United States of America! The free world would be finished! Some sections of the Labour Party, I am sure, would be able quickly to come to terms with the enemy - their terms, not ours. But is this what the Australian people want?
The Opposition object to the agreement because there is nothing in it which enables the Australian Government to veto the use of the station. If the agreement provided for a veto then, in the event of war breaking out in which nuclear weapons were employed, a left-wing government could nullify the effect of United States nuclear weapons in the southern hemisphere. Could America accept this position? Labour members say that this is not their purpose. 1 agree that the majority are anxious to co-operate and are genuine in this desire. But let us remember also, when honorable members opposite lay claim to winning the last war, that one problem that still remains unanswered is what would have happened if Russia had stayed on the German side in 1940. Let us turn back the pages and recall the problem that Labour had to face at that time, a problem which circumstances spared the party from answering. I admit, here, that Labour leaders at that time spoke firmly for Australia. But what pressures from left-wing unions and delegates would have occurred if Russia had remained our enemy? The headlines in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 25th March, 1940, read as follows: -
LABOUR PARTY OPPOSES WAR ON RUSSIA. EASTER CONFERENCE DECISION.
The editorial in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of Friday, 29th March, 1940, read as follows: -
LABOUR AT THE CROSS ROADS.
Stalin’s men in Sydney must be wondering already whether too high a price may not have to be paid for the signal victory for their doctrines which was won at the Easter Labour conference. The strength of the Communist faction lies in its secrecy with which it works. While its influence is hidden - while it is content to burrow into the vitals of the Labour movement - it can exercise without inviting challenge a power out of proportion to its numbers and propagate its subversive doctrines unhindered. It is only when the results of the white-anting process are revealed as they were in the defeatist and pro-Moscow resolutions passed at the Trades Hall last Saturday that the nation takes alarm and counter action follows. 1 put this to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who is interjecting and whom I hope will brush his hair back so that he can hear me: Here is an issue on which every Labour leader and Labour adherent must swiftly take his stand. Is he for Moscow or Australia? Have we a similar situation to-day? Is . this again possible? Well, to gain some idea, let us look at some of the statements by certain honorable gentlemen opposite - the Parliamentary Labour Party - and consider them carefully. Let us note, also, the closeness of the remarks in point of time to to-day. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) who occupies a seat on the front bench of the Labour Party made a speech which is reported in “ Hansard “ of 29th November, 1962, at page 2737. This speech has been quoted extensively. I shall read only the concluding portion which is as follows: - 1 think it is most important for Australia at present not to get tied up with America. To put American bases on our soil is to be finally and fatally tied to American policy of action and the consequences of American action. In the light of the American action over Cuba I suggest that we can have no real and positive faith in the value to us of American action.
On 29th November, 1962, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) another front bench member of the Labour Party, made a speech which he concluded as follows: -
The proposition that we have a nuclear-free zone in the southern hemisphere, that we abjure for all time foreign bases and nuclear bases, is not suicide but salvation for the Australian people.
On 29th April, 1962, the honorable member for Yarra who will follow me in this debate, addressing the Communist-front Australia and New Zealand Peace Congress on the Yarra Bank made a statement which was reported in the Communist “ Guardian “ of 3rd May, 1962, at page 6. At this time the Communist propaganda was that the proposal was for a nuclear base although this had never been considered. The honorable member for Yarra was reported as follows: -
Addressing students at the Monash University in Melbourne, the honorable member for Yarra made a speech which was reported in the “News Weekly” of 20th March, 1963, in the following terms: - . . expressed the view that Australia had been on the wrong track for the past IS years, supporting the reactionaries in America. He hoped “ the forthcoming Federal Conference would endorse the Federal Executive’s October, 1962, recommendation - support for a nuclear-free zone and opposition to American bases - so that we could tell the Yanks to go home”.
Numerous speeches bv the honorable members opposite give much food for thought, but let us compare the defence and foreign affairs policies of the Communist Party and the Australian Labour Party. Common to both those policies are the following objectives: - Making the Pacific a nuclear-free zone, disbandment of Anzus and Seato, opposition to the re-arming of Japan, revocation of all agreements for the use of Australian bases by United States, British and other military forces, and drastic reduction of military expenditure to release money for the national need. The July decision of the Australian Labour Party federal executive cleared the way for two important drives by the Communist and pro-Communist forces. The first was the nation-wide petition organized by the Australia and New Zealand Peace Congress, and the second was the development of the attack on the proposed North West Cape station which was initiated ir, Western Australia. Can Australia afford to accept the present policy of the Labour Party as a genuine policy and risk finding that it has made a wrong choice - perhaps too late? The insidious propaganda which is being put out by Communist-front organizations, frequently using innocent dupes for their purpose is one of the most frightening and diabolical of schemes. It is intended for but one thing - to take from the people their will to resist. The most active Communistinspired peace bodies in Australia are the Australia and New Zealand congress committees for disarmament and international co-operation. These committees were set up to carry on the work of the Australia and New Zealand congress for disarmament and international cooperation which was held in Melbourne in 1959.
The idealistic phrases of these Communist supporters and their friends have differed little from what has been coming out of Moscow since the last war when the Soviet began the calculated campaign of world conquest, and from Peking since the Communists commenced their drive forward. They say to the West: You should abandon all military and naval bases of whatever nature; you will terminate all missile and space exploration, leaving both fields for the Communists: you will terminate all nuclear and thermo-nuclear experiments and leave these fields to the
Communists; you will not tolerate nuclear submarines - only Communist ones; you will abrogate all treaties and alliances and mutual assistance for defence with other governments; in fact, you will give up anything that may give you any hope of resisting Communist advances and preventing Communists from over-running your country and the world. All this has the familiar ring of the debate which has been going on in this place. The Communist agents and stooges say, in effect: “ We are speaking in the cause of peace and removing the causes of friction and war. All you have to do is to surrender.” These actions are insidious, evil and despicable. Every word that these people use has represented the dream of the Communist leaders since the end of the last war. They say, in effect: “ Get out of this. Get out of that. Scrap this. Scrap your defences. Abandon your friends. Give the world to communism. Forget your responsibilities to humanity and surrender to us.”
The 25th April is hardly a month away. I often wonder what those whose death we commemorated on that day would think of some of the propaganda which we hear in Australia at the moment. However, I am confident that the majority of Australians are prepared to play their part in defence of liberty, goodness and freedom and that they welcome the agreement to join with the United States of America in the establishment of this most important adjunct to the defence and peace of the world. The Australian people have and will always agree that freedom without responsibility is self-destructive. Therefore, I am sure that this bill is supported by the majority of the Australian people.
.- It is extremely difficult to understand the position chosen to be taken quite deliberately by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) who has just sat down. His remarks were not made in the heat of the moment; his speech was prepared outside the chamber, and he carefully read it at a rapid speed. It was something which had been prepared coldly and deliberately - something viciously and deliberately distorted. Not one of the statements that the honorable member made about the attitude of the Australian Labour Party or of any one of its members to any matter to which he referred to-night is true. Every one of those statements is a half-truth or a complete distortion. If that came about as a result of a spontaneous speech or a statement in the House that might have been provoked, one could understand it and forgive him. But a deliberate statement like this, made coldly and with calculation outside, is that of a man who could be trusted with no power or responsibility; that of a man who is raw material for any aggressive or fascist movement which might arise in this country; that of a man who would have no respect whatsoever for the feelings or the position of any one else; that of a man who is prepared without provocation and without any incitement to allege disloyalty and dishonour in others; and that of a man who deserves no answer whatsoever. We have reached a situation-
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. I ask for an apology. The honorable member for Yarra is making me out as being a fascist. I am not a fascist. I have had to explain this to honorable members before.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
Wednesday, 22 May 1963
– This debate is to be brought quickly to an end as a result of the gag being applied.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. I asked for an apology. Do I not get one? I object to the words used by the honorable member for Yarra.
– Order! If my memory serves me rightly, the honorable member for Yarra did not say that the honorable member for La Trobe was a fascist.
– As long as he did not say it I will accept that.
– This has probably been the most important matter ever debated in this House. After this bill, Australia will never again be in the same position as it was before. Whatever we may think about the validity of and necessity for it, this bill will change fundamentally the position of Australia in the WOr16. Before this bill Australia was able to choose its course in war or peace. But no longer will it be able to make that choice. From now on we will be automatically committed to any action taken by the President of the United States in relation to involvement in nuclear war. We are inevitably involved from now on.
Many important consequences follow from that, but the matter at issue in this debate is a simple one. The matter at issue between the two main and great parties in this country is the degree of decision or influence that Australia should have in these important matters. The position taken by the Opposition - a clear and distinct position - is that the Opposition stands for the sovereignty of Australia. We say that Australia shall not be involved in war as a result of any decision by any other country, unless that decision is considered and made by the Australian Government.
What we propose to do in this chamber is to follow procedures which are calculated to have included in the agreement between the Australian Government and the American Government the conditions that our party has decided are essential. Any implication that a postponement of this bill for six months is related in any way to Standing Order No. 237 is a complete distortion of the truth. The position is that we are proposing the postponement of this bill because there is no other constitutional procedure available. We cannot propose an amendment of the agreement here and now because the rules of the House will not permit that. This matter has been checked by our party with the Clerks of the House, and that is the procedure that has been laid down for us. The only procedure that is possible under the Standing Orders of this House is the procedure that we have adopted.
My desire at this stage is to attempt to summarize the position taken by the Opposition up to this stage in the debate. We have submitted that the Government has endeavoured to conceal the true nature of the base that is proposed to be established in Western Australia. We believe that the Australian people are vitally interested and concerned in this matter. We do not accept any superficial judgment of their attitude that any gallup poll that has been referred] to can produce. We know that the question asked by the people who took that gallup poll was: Are you in favour of the establishment of an American radio station? That is a harmless question. That question concealed as much about the nature of the base as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and other members of this Government have concealed, lt was not until 26th March of this year that the Prime Minister or any one else was frank on this matter.
On 17th May of last year the Prime Minister made a long statement in this House. It takes up nearly two pages of closely typed foolscap. In no other part of that statement did the Prime Minister give any real indication of what was involved. In fact, the Prime Minister took up in this House and elsewhere - and so did other members of the Government parties - a position of criticism and intimidation of members of the Australian Labour Party who probed into the question in an endeavour to find out more. All the time the Government has taken up a position of implying disloyalty and association with Communists against any one who has seen fit to ask questions about this base. At all times the deliberate policy of those in charge of the Government was to endeavour to intimidate and to drive away the questions asked by members of the Opposition in this respect. But they have failed to do that.
The Prime Minister was completely deceptive, if not deliberately deceptive, when he left out reference to submarines in what he had to say on this matter, because every one knows - the Opposition has submitted evidence accordingly - that the significant thing about this proposition is communication with submarines. That is the only thing that counts, because in relation to every other naval vessel that will be around Australian shores there already exist in other radio stations the means to communicate with such surface vessels. The significant thing about this station which is proposed to be established in Western Australia is the very low frequency section of the station which will be there and which is necessary only for communication with submarines. It is necessary to have a very low frequency to penetrate water. Even then not a great depth of water can be penetrated - probably no more than 20 or 30 feet. So we will have submarines trailing aerials near the surface if they are any distance away from Che station. The vital thing about this station is communication with submarines, but it was not until 16th May, in answer to an interjection from me, that the Prime Minister was willing to mention submarines at all. No one could be deceived by the stupid explanation that he endeavoured to give to cover up that situation. He was not willing to mention the significance of communication with submarines.
It was only on 17th May that the Prime Minister was willing to mention that the actual decision to fire Polaris missiles from the submarines would be made by the President of the United States, and that that decision would have to be conveyed to those submarines through this radio station. It is only as a result of the Opposition’s action that the true facts have emerged. But for the action of the Opposition, the people of Australia would have had no knowledge of what was involved in this proposition. The Government would have chosen to ignore and to brush aside the interests of the Australian people in matters of foreign policy, as it has always done whenever it could.
Let me sum up briefly what the Opposition says this base is. First, it is a station which is designed and will be built mainly for the purposes of sending signals to fire Polaris missiles from submarines. Those signals will come only from the President of the United States. To what will those signals be sent? Probably to ten or twelve submarines which were described by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Macmillan, on 1 8th November, 1960, as “mobile underwater rocket bases “. “ That is what Polaris is,” said Mr. Macmillan. This afternoon somebody - I think it was the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) - said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain was not nearly as frank as this Government had been. But if we read the records of the House of Commons in November, 1960, we will find a great deal of frankness from him on this subject. Each submarine carries sixteen missiles and each one of them has a warhead equivalent to between 600,000 tons and 1 ,000,000 tons of T.N.T. or, in fact, a warhead 30 to 40 times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
– This was all well known. .
– It was not known by any one from anything said in this House. Not one honorable member on the Government side mentioned these things until forced to do so. Not one of them was prepared at any stage to discuss these things until they were forced into the light of day by the Opposition. The position is that this radio station is, as it has well been described, the Achilles heel of the nuclear weapon system in this part of the world. It involves almost certainly the inevitability of attack. Why does it involve this? Because if an enemy can get in first and strike this radio station with nuclear weapons, he can prevent the signal from being sent from the President of the United States of America to the submarines to fire. The station will be the first priority target of any enemy concerned in a war. It is extremely unlikely that nuclear weapons which would be fired at this station would be limited to Western Australia. The whole of Australia is likely to be involved and therefore I say that from now on the future of Australia is completely changed.
This decision vitally involves Australia in any nuclear war that might occur. Previously, there was a chance that we would be left out. There was a chance that, in the event of nuclear war, Australia would not be attacked with nuclear weapons. The whole case for isolation from nuclear war has been brushed aside by the Minister for External Affairs and other Ministers who consider there is no validity in it. But there is a chance of a very great validity in the case for isolating Australia from nuclear war. This is a responsibility that each and every one of us has to this country. If we can bring about survival in a nuclear war by exclusion from nuclear attack, that should be our prime responsibility. This is the view of people of great sincerity in many parts of Australia, but it has been held up and distorted by members like the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who have rat-trap minds, as inevitable evidence of Communist association.
The Australian Labour Party has had the courage and the guts to face a situation that hardly any honorable member on the Government side considered was a moral question at all. Supporters of the Government take everything as a matter of routine - the routine of the cold war emerging from one position to another inevitably without any thought of the moral questions involved. But the Labour Party did “not take that easy view of the situation. It faced up to all the consequences of the moral decisions involved. Many people, Christians and pacifists, with greater concern for their fellow men than any one on the Government side can claim to have, also have taken up this position. That is evidence that this view does not identify any one with communism.
The Australian people from one end of the continent to another must now awaken from apathy and disinterest. Nuclear war is now a vital question for Australia and its people as it never has been before. If there is one thing involved in the acceptance of this base it is that we will not be able comfortably to avoid our responsibility for making decisions because we will not be able so easily to consider that we are isolated and that we can think of lighter and easier things.
We are facing - and will be facing every day from now on - a position which might lead to our own complete and total destruction. Therefore, we must seek to have more say in our affairs and to put the Australian point of view more clearly and positively. No longer can we be disinterested and unconcerned. We will not bc able to leave things to the United States or somebody else. We must be concerned - and vitally concerned - in these matters from now on. We must seek and work more than ever for disarmament. We must question the assumption that all the faults in respect of disarmament are on one side only. We must seek the establishment of conditions in our association with other countries.
The Australian Labour Party recognizes that we are involved - by world events and by this bill - in everything that goes on in the world to-day. But we should not ba involved without conditions. We are involved in an alliance and an association in which we are parties principal and not minor characters. We are involved as a co-operating partner and not as a neutral satellite. What conditions does the Labour Party identify as essential in this situation? These conditions emerge after very detailed and great consideration - consideration for which honorable members on the Government side have no respect. They brush these conditions aside as unimportant and insignificant - matters about which they were not prepared to have party meetings. They sneer at faceless people outside, but those faceless people are citizens of Australia. They are members of the general public who have the same rights and liberties as any one who has been in the gallery of this House during this debate. They have the same feeling of responsibility and the same dedication to the interests of Australia as any one else can claim. This term “ faceless people “ indicates the lack of respect that Government supporters have for the ordinary common citizen outside this place. According to Government supporters, people must have special distinctions to escape from this classification “ faceless “.
One of the conditions established by the Australian Labour Party is that Australian sovereignty must be maintained. One has only to look at this agreement to see that there is no sovereignty in it. We believe that Australia’s involvement in war is a question for Australia alone to decide at all time’s, and that in the event of war, Australian territories and facilities shall not be used to involve Australia in war without the prior knowledge and consent of the Australian Government. Who will say that these conditions should not obtain? They have always been of great significance to Australia. It was a Labour government which established an Australian Navy to avoid being subject to or part of the British Navy.
In the much discussed question of Manns Island, the question of sovereignty was vital. I shall quote from Hansard “ of 17th February, 1949. The strength of the Labour Partys’ decision on Manus Island was based on the opinion of Sir Thomas Blarney who had been commanding officer of the land forces in the South-West Pacific area. Sir Thomas said on 7th July, 1947 -
The Commonwealth would be following a very short-sighted policy if it established joint control of Manus with the United States. Manus Island is vital to the defence of Australia and should be held solely under Australian control.
That was the issue involved in relation to Manus at the time, and the decision taken by the Labour Government in Australia was one it was advised and recommended to take by senior military officers. To-day we stand upon the tradition of Australian sovereignty, the tradition of not being involved in war unless the Australian Government makes the decision. That is the condition on which the whole structure of Australia has been built over the years and we do not intend to give it up now.
What is the Government’s attitude? Does it attempt to deny the validity of any of these principles? Not one word of denial has come from the Government side of the validity of the principles that have been so well stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in this debate. Not one member on the Government side has chosen te debate, examine or deny any of these conditions. The only answer Government supporters have chosen to give to the position taken by the Labour Party is that these conditions are impossible and that the United States of America would not accept them. Has the Government tried to get the United States to accept them? Is there any evidence that the Minister for External Affairs or anybody else has said that the United States has ever asked for these conditions? The Opposition has produced some disturbing facts for condemnation by the Parliament and the people. We were able to produce facts to show that the agreement between Mr. Attlee and President Truman in 1951 concerning the stationing of bombers in England gave the British Government the right to say whether the bombers would take off on a mission or not. We produced the quite startling evidence for the research conscious members on the Government side - there are one or two of them, according to the best informed papers - that the Thor missiles stationed in Britain in 1951 were not United Kingdom missiles.
In “ Keesing’s Contemporary Archives “ at page 16063, the following statement appears -
The agreement for the supply of United States ballistic missiles to the United Kingdom was signed in Washington on February 22nd.
That agreement has been quoted several times by honorable members on this side of the House. Clause 7 says -
The decision to launch these missiles will be a matter for joint decision by the two Governments.
Mr. Duncan Sandys said the Government and not some military officers would make the decision. We were able to show that this position obtained also with Polaris missiles.
This was done by directly quoting from column 602 of the House of Commons “Hansard” of 4th November, 1960. Mr. Watkinson, the Minister for Defence said -
To come to the detailed problem of control, I must return to what the Prime Minister said on 1st November.
He said that the Prime Minister for some reason or other did not make a complete statement about the position. The honorable member for Wannon has been using the incomplete statement of the Prime Minister to establish his position. For the information of the research conscious member for Wannon and those people who were able to assist him. I point out that Mr. Watkinson said -
That is, the Prime Minister - actually mentioned this, but perhaps I might make it plain to the House that our control within territorial waters is absolute. We have a firm assurance that these missiles would not be fired in any circumstances in United Kingdom territorial waters.
In contrast to this, we are erecting a communications station in Western Australia which will be used to fire not one submarine’s missiles but the missiles of every submarine in that area. We are erecting a device that would invite retaliation and attack far more than anything at Holy Loch in Scotland would. But the United Kingdom was concerned to obtain an undertaking from the United States that missiles would not be fired in territorial waters without the consent of the British Government. On the other hand, the Australian Government has been prepared to accept a base which will be used to fire the nuclear missiles of perhaps ten or twelve submarines in various parts of the Indian Ocean without asking for any undertaking or guarantee whatever.
The Opposition has been able to show by quotations from “Keesing’s Contemporary Archives “, of which details have been given, that an agreement similar to that with the British Government applied to Greece, Turkey, Italy and even Spain. It was made quite clear that the agreement to give joint control to those countries was not limited to conditions other than those of emergency. Joint control applied to the emergency use of the missiles just as much as it applied to other uses. The Australian Government has chosen to do what these other countries were not willing to do. The Government has been willing, as it always has, to put the position of Great Britain, the United States or some other of its great friends before Australia’s position. We have a greater respect for many of these nations than has the Government. I will put my respect for and understanding of the United States second to no member on the other side of the House. For many years before I came here I lectured on the United States and I came to understand the significance of the United States, I am sure, far more than has any one on the other side of the House, with few exceptions. I will put my affection for the best side of the United States in no way second to that of any one on the other side of the House.
What is the nature of this bill? It is an agreement in which the Government has asked for nothing. The Government no doubt looked at the Anzus treaty and saw an undertaking by the United States to do something in accordance with its moral obligation. The Government had a wonderful opportunity with this agreement to add something to what it already had, but the Government was not prepared to take the opportunity. It was not prepared to seek from the United States an agreement to consult on events leading up to an emergency situation. Every one knows that in the last fifteen or thirty minutes of a crisis - we should hope it will never come - consultation cannot take place, but consultation can take place before that situation is reached. We know that on the three occasions when nuclear weapons were likely to be used, consultation had to take place. Mr. Attlee had to go to Washington in 195 1 when the Korea crisis arose. Mr. Eden had to go to Washington in 1954 when the Dien Bien Phu situation arose. And lo and behold, who did we find in Washington in 1955 telling the American Government that it should not consider nuclear weapons in the second Formosan crisis? We found the Prime Minister of Australia there doing it very secretly, telling no one and not even making any obtainable public reports.
Some provision for consultation could have been included in this agreement. We could have come closer to the United in the events that might lead up to a crisis as a result of something that could have been put in the agreement. But nothing of that sort is attempted. This was left, no doubt, to the legal luminary, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) who is more concerned, I should think, with legal terminology than he is with the empirical representation of Australia’s interests in international affairs. So we have gained nothing in this agreement. We could have had something in the agreement about territorial changes in Australia and in Australia’s Territories. We could have sought an agreement from the United States that it would not look favourably upon any territorial changes to the north of Australia. We could in that way perhaps have gained some specific and positive security in relation to Indonesia. But no one on the Government side considers that any of these matters are necessary. The Government is quite willing to take whatever the United States is prepared to hand out. But presumably no Minister or any member on the Government side is willing to put Australia’s interests sufficiently far forward to ask for more than the United States is prepared to give.
– Are you in favour of the base?
– We are in favour of the base if this can be achieved, but we are not in favour of a base that gives Australia nothing in exchange for this vital undertaking which we have given to the United States. This agreement is completely one-sided and unbalanced. It gives to the United States something that is of vital importance to the United States, but it gets for Australia nothing that is important to Australia, except some extension of the moral understanding and undertaking that exists between us and the United States. Here was a golden opportunity to develop the Australian contractual treaty relations with the United States still further. Here was an opportunity to obtain something in this agreement that would have given us an assurance of United States assistance against aggression should it take place. But there is nothing of this. All we have is what was in the Anzus treaty. This is a provision that the constitutional procedures of the country shall be used to determine what takes place. It is worth noting that in the Anzus treaty there is a requirement that constitutional procedures will be used by both countries, but there is no requirement in this agreement that any constitutional procedures will be used.
This agreement is completely empty of content and it is not worth the paper it is written on, as far as Australia is concerned. This is a vital undertaking for the United States. The agreement for Australia is negative, conditional, indefinite and vague, but for the United States it is positive, substantial and of vast importance to that country. I refuse to believe that any government concerned to act in the best interests of Australia could not have done better than this. 1 am -absolutely certain that the United States would have responded to a positive control in relation to this station.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has challenged the Government to hold an election upon this issue. Is the Government going to take up that challenge? Let us fight an election on the issue of Australia’s sovereignty and the right of Australia to avoid being involved in a war unless the Australian Government decides to be so involved. Let us fight an election on the issue of whether Australia will be subject to annihilation without proper representation. That challenge has been issued to the Government, but there is no sign whatever of the Government accepting it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), in his usual way, has endeavoured to skip over the points that do not support his argument and to lay great stress on those that do. He tried to wipe off the telling effect of the recent gallup poll by saying that the people interviewed were asked only whether they were in favour of putting a simple, innocuous radio station at North West Cape. I remind honorable members that the report on this survey says something entirely different. It states that more than eight out of ten people knew of the base being established in northern Western Australia, that those being interviewed were told that the radio station was for the purpose of keeping in touch with .submarines carrying atomic or nuclear rockets and that they were asked, “ In these circumstances do you favour America building a station?” To that question, 80 per cent, said “ Yes “ and only 11 per cent, were opposed.
The honorable member for Yarra said also that the Opposition had no course but to move for the postponement of this bill for six months. I say to honorable members opposite that if they were honest, they would oppose it. However, electorally, they are. obliged to accept it. The honorable member made another mistake. He conceived in that warped mind of his the idea that if a signal to launch nuclear missiles is sent from this radio station, the retaliation will take the form of a nuclear missile to blow up the radio station. The target would be only a tower some 1,300 feet high. A Russian submarine with conventional weapons could soon put that type of station out of action. Yet the honorable member for Yarra has tried to fool honorable members with the idea of nuclear retaliation - with the rain of death about which we have heard from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser).
The honorable member for Yarra and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) made a great point of a suggested similarity between this station and United States missile bases in other parts of the world where agreements for joint control have been concluded. The honorable member for Yarra tried to liken those bases to a radio station which will transmit signals to submarines outside our territorial waters. The public must be told again and again that this is a radio station or a radio base; it is not a nuclear base, a navy base or an army base. It is purely a station for the relaying of radio signals. I understand that, apart from internal security measures and guards to protect the installations, it will not otherwise be militarily protected. 1 think honorable members should not be blind to the fact that the establishment of United States bases within our territory would give us a much greater measure of support than that which we have under the existing treaties. We may even yet have cause to suffer because there is not a United States naval base at Manus>. We may even have to face in the future a United States request to establish a naval base in Australia.
Are we so naive as to believe that the Russians, who have more submarines than the rest of the peoples of the world put together, will not at some time or other produce a device similar to the Polaris, even if they do not already have one? Russian submarines even now are patrolling our shores, but the Opposition pushes for a nuclear-free southern hemisphere. Do honorable members opposite think that that would impose any restraint on our potential enemies? None of us wants war of any kind, let alone a nuclear conflict, but we must not forget on which side we stand. The sides have been picked in this show and the gauntlet is down. It is no good being frightened about the result. We know which side we are on, and there is no doubt from the actions of the Communist forces in this country that they know which side they are on. They pledge no allegiance to the Crown nor to this country. They do not honour the sufferings of our pioneers or the sacrifices of Australian men and women in previous wars. Their policy is to tie up the waterfront and to deny us exports, which are our life blood. They speak of one-sided disarmament, of a southern hemisphere nuclear-free zone, and of boycotting supplies for the base at North West Cape. Are these things designed to help Australia, or to help some other power? As the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said a few weeks ago, the actions that I have mentioned are treasonable, yet we find many members of the Australian Labour Party subscribing to these concepts.
There is no doubt about the importance of this radio station. The vital point revealed by the gallup poll was not that 80 per cent, of the Australian public or 1,800 of those interviewed were in favour of the base, but that 74 per cent, of Labour voters who were asked the question, after being told that the submarines would carry nuclear weapons, gave the same reply. There is no doubt that this must have shaken to a great degree the left-wing moiety of the Australian Labour Party. 1 think the establishment of this station is of great importance to Australia, but there is one other factor of vital importance which has emerged. For many years the parties comprising the Government have been trying to tell the Labour-voting people of Australia that the formulation of the policies of the Australian Labour Party is not in the hands of the representatives that they elect to the Parliament, but that, whether Labour is in or out of government, the directions of its federal executive or conference are paramount. Not only are Labour members obliged to obey those directions, but fear of losing their endorsements keeps even moderate members in line. I think it was a revelation to many people when they read in the press of the overwhelming number of Victorian Labour Party moderates in this House who toed the Victorian A.L.P. line on this issue. I remind the House that the six delegates to the federal conference who came from Victoria voted en bloc against this radio station, unconditionally. It was this kind of direction, particularly on foreign affairs and defence, that caused the 1955 split and the formation of the Democratic Labour Party, which also was trying to tell the Australian public this story. Now at least we have a searing spotlight on the crisis between the right and left-wing factions in the Australian Labour Party. This has caused the picture to stand out in stark reality, and this debate has removed any doubt that the policies of the Australian Labour Party are laid down by this 36-man body. The majority of them are trade union leaders and too many of them are representatives of Communist-controlled unions. This 19 to 17 decision in favour of this station shows how policy can be affected by the whim of one man. I think it shocked the majority of the people of Australia to learn how deeply the Communists have infiltrated into the Labour Party-
– What are you so happy about?
– I am not happy; I just hate to see a party that was once so strong now split in this fashion by the Communists. Let us have a look at what has happened in this set-up; let us have a look at what happened to the Leader of the Opposition. Having his hand on the pulse of public opinion, he detected a change in the attitude of the public towards the defence of this country and decided that perhaps the present A.L.P. policy was not exactly what was wanted and he had better change it. While trying to change horses in mid-stream, he said, in effect, “We must get away from our ordinary policy of cutting down the defence vote and so on, and we must push the Government for not having more adequate defence and for not having fully equipped forces “. But he reckoned without these 36 so-called faceless men who direct the policy of the party, and he overlooked the fact that the left-wing group of this federal council was so set on denying the United States of America this communication centre at North West Cape.
As I have said, as a result of this exercise there is widespread alarm in Australia to find out just how far Communist infiltration has progressed towards turning the Australian Labour Party into a popular front party. Here I refer to what Senator Cavanagh said in the Senate on 7th November, 1962. He is reported at pages 1269 and 1270 of “ Hansard “ of that date as having said -
I am enunciating Labour policy . . . whether we like it or not. Communism reigns over a large portion of the globe. At the present time Communism has ambitions. It is not getting on too well with what we call Western democracies, but whether we like it or not it is an established part of the world system to-day and we must learn to live wilh it or perish.
A policy of so-called peaceful co-existence! There is no need to traverse again the factual and recorded instances, which are too numerous to mention, in which Labour policy is on all fours with that of the Communists. Nor is there need to prove how many times the Labour Party has attacked the Government for spending too much money on the defence of this country. No one will deny the 1945 campaign election bid of the former Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, who wanted to cut the defence vote by £100,000,000 per annum to increase social services, or the many other attempts to undermine our defence efforts. [Quorum formed.]
I wish now to refer to a body known as the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. This body was affiliated with the World Peace Council, a body which was banned by the British Labour Party as being a Communist organization. It pursued a campaign for disarmament, but completely neglected the fact that both nuclear and conventional weapons should be included and that a system of international inspections is required. It attacks the free world which agrees to both these requirements, and it pursues policies on side with Russia, which is the only power standing out against those requirements.
Some few months ago, I was rather surprised to receive a letter from the town clerk of a municipality in which I understand eleven of the twelve councillors were elected on Labour endorsement. This letter, which is signed officially by the town clerk, states that he has been directed by his council to inform me that the council supports this organization’s point of view calling for a reduction of the provision of £200,000,000 which is made in respect of defence each year. To that letter was attached a letter from the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament which states -
Our purpose will be to impress upon tha. Government and the Opposition the need for National Budgets to take into serious consideration the allocation of moneys in such manner as to meet the urgent requirements of the peoples in many fields such as education, health, social services, &c. From our point of view much of this can be achieved by re-thinking all the situations which cause our Government to spend no less than £200 million on defence per annum.
This letter is signed by a man named S. Goldbloom, and I remind the House that this Mr. S. Goldbloom stood for election as Labour candidate for the La Trobe electorate in 1958. At the last general election, he stood as a Labour Party candidate for the Senate. He is the secretary of the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament, which has been condemned by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), and Mr. Casey, now Lord Casey, when he was Minister for External Affairs, as a straight-out Communist-front organization. This Mr. Goldbloom rejoined the Victorian Labour Party, and, as I have said, contested the La Trobe seat as the endorsed A.L.P. candidate in 1958. He rejoined the Labour Party after the 1955 split. His endorsement was objected to by the chairman of the A.L.P. Migrant Advisory Council in Victoria, Mr. Bono Wiener; and the secretary of that council accused Mr. Goldbloom of being a hidden Communist.
They requested the Victorian Labour Executive to withdraw Mr. Goldbloom’s endorsement. The result was that the two migrant leaders were expelled from the A.L.P., its Migrant Advisory Council was disbanded and Mr. Goldbloom was allowed to contest the seat of La Trobe as a Labour candidate. This was the man who had been associated with the A.L.P. He is the man who is sponsoring this campaign for a reduction in the vote of £200,000,000 a year for defence.
Perhaps that might not seem so strange, but I received from the same organization another letter dated 2nd April, 1963, which invited me to joint its ban-the-bomb march into the city. This letter from the Northern Regional Committee of the Australia and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament is signed by a former mayor of the same municipality as that to which I have referred. The chairman of this committee is a man to whom we have listened in this House to-night, the honorable member for Wills, Mr. Gordon Munro Bryant. It is stated at the top of this letter that Mr. G. Bryant, M.H.R., is the chairman of the organization. He is a man who speaks here with two tongues. He has been to New South Wales and has addressed the Australian Defence League on the need to build up our defences in this country. Yet he comes here and speaks of principles, although he is chairman of an organization which is anti-Australian and which condemns expenditure on defence and wants to have the defence vote reduced. Is that the kind of thing that we may expect from honorable members opposite who speak to us about principles and sovereignty? These people have no principles whatsoever. I challenge the honorable member to deny that he is chairman of the northern regional committee of the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament.
Do not run away with the idea that only we on this side of the House have branded this organization as a Communist-front organization. I have in my hand a photostat copy of an item in the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ of 22nd April last in which it is stated, in reference to the banthebombmarch -
Ten members of the Melbourne University A.L.P. club slipped into the march ahead “of the Seamen’s Union contingent as it left the Trades Hall.
They carried placards condemning all nuclear testing, Russian included, and attacking Communist colonialism - “No Foreign Troops in Angola, Hungary “ . . . “ Chinese Colonialism - Tibet, India, next?”
The students’ pamphlet said: “ It is obvious that the ANZ Congress is not an organization genuinely interested in peace. It is” a phony ‘ front ‘ organization “.
So the Melbourne University A.L.P. club also condemned the organization as a Communist-front organization, or a phony front organization. The honorable member opposite of whom I have been speaking, and who perhaps has had a better chance than have other honorable members opposite to evaluate the defence needs of this country and to give a lead to his party, is tied up with an organization which is definitely antiAustralian and pro-Communist. That is typical of the Aunt Sallys which the Opposition has put up on all sides.
I am afraid that the Opposition, in taking the stand that it has on this bill, is merely trying to save face with its 36 executive members. It is rather horrifying to think that, but for one vote in this House, the Opposition would be the Government, and that, but for one vote on the federal conference of the Labour Party, the Opposition would be dedicated to opposing this base. This exercise shows that the Opposition is completely out of step with public opinion. Honorable members opposite may make as many threats as they like about an early general election. I know on which side of the House members will be running for cover, and so do they. It is most upsetting that, in circumstances in which a powerful ally has sought to establish a base, people who are not Australians - they cannot be Australians if they hold such views - are prepared to cause a possible rift between allies because of political concepts. I condemn such un-Australian conduct. I support the bill.
.This debate must be the most disappointing for the Government in the current sessional period. The Government had hoped that the members of the Opposition would oppose the establishment of the base. The speeches of most Government supporters who have spoken must have been written prior to the decision that has been made by the Opposition, because every speaker on the Government side has suggested that we are opposing the base. Having done so, they have set out to show that we are anti-American. Since we are not opposing the base, and are not anti-American, it would have been a very good idea if the supporters of the Government could have had an opportunity to go outside and get their political bosses in Ash-street and in the other head-quarters throughout the Commonwealth to re-write their speeches for them. Instead, honorable members opposite have embarked on a McCarthytype hunt.
They took their lead from the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). We excuse him, because we know that under every car pet. in every wastepaper basket and under every table he sees a Communist. We know that in every dream he has he dreams of a red man who is a Communist. Every supporter of the Government who has spoken in this debate has set out on a McCarthy-type exercise for the purpose of trying once more to gull the people into believing that the Australian Labour Party is a Communist party. The fact is that the members of the Labour Party are the true democrats of this country and will be the saviours of the people from these McCarthy-like tactics which have been adopted in order to smear the members of the Labour Party with communism. We will be the democratic saviours of this country from the fascist-like tendencies which characterize many supporters of Government parties. Of course, I could not possibly hope to make my point clear to some honorable members opposite because they are so blind that they cannot see, and will not see, the truth, which is that the Labour Party is supporting this base and is not anti-American.
I remind honorable members opposite that it was a Labour Prime Minister who first asked America for its support. I should not need to remind them, at this stage of the debate, of what Mr. Curtin said on 29th December, 1941. According to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ at that time Mr. Curtin said in his New Year message -
Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it clear that Australia looks to America free from any pangs of our traditional links of kinship with the United Kingdom.
That was the first occasion on which any Australian national leader had looked to America. As with every other example of enterprise that Australia has shown in the field of government, it was a Labour Prime Minister who showed it on that occasion.
– Why not close on that note?
– I can understand that the honorable member for Moore does not want to hear me say what a rotten type of citizen we have here representing electors of Australia and putting forward such unAustralian views. Naturally, he does not want to hear me. I am worried because there are about 40,000 electors who elected each supporter of the Government. The’y come to this Parliament and without logic, with practically no reasoning and without truth, make allegations which ought not to be heard in this Parliament. I worry very much about whether the forms of this House cannot be used to prevent people of that kind from making these smearing accusations.
Honorable members opposite, having failed to show that we are opposed to the base, although they have tried to do so, and having failed to prove that we are anti-American, have indulged in smearing, McCarthy-like tactics. Of course, the facts have emerged on this side of the House, from the masterly exposition of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and from every member of the Labour Party who has taken part in the debate. The facts are that we are concerned to ensure that in connexion with this treaty there are reasonable conditions which are consistent with the dignity and the independence of Australia. Is not that the situation? As usual, the Labour Party is fighting for Australia. We are fighting for its dignity and its sovereignty. We are fighting to ensure that there will be dual control of this base which is to be built on Australian soil. We are fighting to ensure that we shall not be involved in war unless we have the right to say we shall be involved, or unless the Government has that right. Those are matters of principle and dignity consistent with the position Australia has already attained. When we speak of our conditions we want to find out Whether the
United States has said anything to indicate objection to the conditions which the Labour Party is suggesting. In this matter, of course, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was wanting to speak for the United States of America. He suggested that the conditions that we wanted to impose on the establishment of the base at North West Cape would be unacceptable to the United States.
Let us look at the situation. On 23rd March, 1963, the Melbourne “Herald” reported Randall Heymanson, in Washington, as follows: -
No changes in the United States plans to establish a radio base on the Exmouth Gulf of Western Australia are expected to follow the Labor Party’s announcement of its conditions of operation.
Secondly, on 24th March, 1963, the Washington correspondent of the Sydney “ Sun-Herald “ was reported in these terms -
The State Department spokesman expressed surprise at rumours that the United States might be having second thoughts about the base. Nothing has happened to change our plan as agreed by the Australian and United States Governments. The spokesman discounted a Canberra report that the Labor Party’s declaration was so hedged by qualifications that it would not be acceptable to the United States if the Laborites were in power.
Thirdly, on 24th March, the Canberra correspondent of the Melbourne “ Age “ was reported as follows: -
Fourthly, on 26th March, the Canberra correspondent of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ was reported as having stated -
Sir Robert Menzies’ charges that the Labor decision might endanger the security of Australia by presumably deterring the United States from going ahead with the station appear to have been already dispelled, if sources close to American official opinion in both Canberra and Washington are to be believed. They have stated that the A.L.P.’s conditions will not bring about any change in plans.
Some Government supporters and Ministers have expressed annoyance at such information on the United States attitude being published by Australian newspapers, because those reports completely undermine the Government’s case.
– The Government is playing politics.
– Of course. United States spokesmen have made no statements whatever that would lead anybody to believe that the United States would not have accepted Labour’s conditions. On the contrary, it would have accepted them, and we in the Australian Labour Party believe that when we are elected to govern at the next general election we shall be able to re-negotiate the agreement on the principles that we have stated. We are satisfied that the United States Government will accept our conditions, and we pray that this Government will go to an election on this issue, for we are sure that Labour will be elected to govern if it does.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) said quite clearly that a gallup poll had shown that 80 per cent, of the people of Australia favoured the establishment of the base. I was one of those who made up the 80 per cent. Let me say to the honorable member for Maribyrnong and other honorable members opposite who are full of these accusations, including the honorable member for Moore, who is not in his own seat, by the way, Sir, that the best gallup poll is an election. Let us have an election. That is the gallup poll that tells the story. If honorable members on the Government side of the House want an election, let us have it. We shall welcome it, and we shall come back with strength and the numbers and shall form a government.
The Government has been very evasive on the whole matter of this base. It is quite clear that if the Australian Labour Party had not taken the initiative the people of Australia would not know anything at all about the base. The gleaning of information began on 16th March, 1961, when the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) a question on the matter. The Minister answered -
There has been no request from the United States Government to this Government for any station of any sort in the north of Australia.
On 15th August, 1961, the honorable member asked the Minister a further question about the base, and the Minister replied -
I refer the honorable member to the statement that I made in the Parliament in September of last year.
On 6th September, 1961, the honorable member again asked the Minister a question on the subject. The Minister, in the course of his answer, stated -
There is no intention of using anything but a conventional power source for such a station.
On 27th March, 1962, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), who is Government Whip, asked the Minister for Defence a question about the base, and the Minister, in his reply, made a better statement about the matter. On 17th May, 1962, the Prime Minister made a statement o» the subject. But none of the things said on behalf of the. Government on all occasions was clear, and each piece of information was dragged out by questions asked mainly by honorable members on this side of the House. On 28th August, 1962, the honorable member for Reid asked a further question and received some sort of an answer. Throughout, all that was said was evasive and nothing was clear.
On 1st May, 1963, the Sydney “Daily Mirror “ published an article under the headlines -
Writer accuses PM.
Deception over US radio base.
The article was in these terms -
NEW YORK, Tuesday.- The Australian Government deceived the public over the US radio base at Learmonth, West Australia, according to the American magazine Reporter.
An article in the Reporter accused Sir Robert Menzies of having tried to hide the bases’s close link with America’s nuclear strike force.
“PRIME H-BOMB TARGET “
Written by aa Australian journalist, Dennis Warner, the article said that the Labor Party . . had shown Australians that they had been fooled.
The base was a significant military installation and a priority target in any nuclear war.
Until the Labor Party debate few Australians knew much about the station, Warner said.
The news, as the Government had hoped and planned, had excited little interest
Beyond the Prime Minister’s deliberately vague description neither the Australian Labor Party nor the public had been given any information.
To all intents and purposes it was just a costly radio station, said Warner.
By attempting to conceal what was bound to come cut one day, the Government had brought charges that it was a ventriloquist’s doll for Washington.
Warner said that the Government’s strange behaviour showed its deep anxiety over current trends in Asia. “Torn between the need to avoid offending neutralists and the even greater need to link itself more closely with the US, the Government likes to eat its cake without giving the appearance of having it,” he wrote.
– Have a go at the advertisements on the back.
– The advertisements would say, “Get rid of the Liberal Party of Australia Government and put in an Australian Labour Party government “.
One of the planks in our platform is joint control. We believe that joint control of this station is consistent with dignity and Australian tradition. We believe joint control to be in line with agreements made under the North Atlantic Treaty by Britain* and Italy and under the Central Treaty Organization by Turkey. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) said, “ Nobody can find these agreements “. I have in my hand a copy of an agreement for the supply of United States ballistic missiles to the United Kingdom. My possession of it almost compels me to say that the honorable member perjured himself. Not only I but also many other honorable members have copies of this agreement. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) quoted the agreement last Thursday evening, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and other honorable members quoted it to-day. Lest the honorable member for La Trobe doubt me, I point out that I have obtained a copy of the agreement in an extract from “ Keesing’s Contemporary Archives “, 8th to 15th March, 1958, at page 16063. The relevant part of the extract reads as follows: -
An agreement for the supply of U.S. ballistic missiles to the United Kingdom was signed in Washington on Feb. 22 by Mr. Christian A. Herter, U.S. Under-Secretary of State, and Sir Harold Caccia, the British Ambassador. The agreement - in the form of a Note exchange and an accompanying memorandum - was published in London and Washington on Feb. 24, the text of the memorandum being as follows:
Ten clauses then appear. I want to quote only clause (7), because that is the relevant one.
– - That is a newspaper report.
– This is not a newspaper report. It is a printed copy of the agreement and, for the information of the honorable member, I point out that it is taken from “ Keesing’s Contemporary Archives “, which is accepted as an authority by all national libraries and all libraries of any real standing throughout the world. I would not expect the honorable member to know about “ Keesing’s Contemporary Archives “. Indeed, I am sure that he has never heard of it. Clause (7) of the agreement reads -
The decision to launch these missiles will be a matter for joint decision by the two Governments. Any such joint decision will be made in the light of the circumstances at the time and having regard to the undertaking the two Governments have assumed in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
The Prime Minister and various Government supporters have said that joint control will not be practicable. I have shown that in the agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States joint control is believed to be practicable. The same principle is inherent in other agreements made between the United States of America and other Nato countries and between the United States of America and Turkey.
Only recently, there emanated from Washington a suggestion for a direct telephone line between the White House and the Kremlin so that the President of the United States could ring Mr. Khrushchev or Mr. Khrushchev could ring the President. If that is practicable it is just as practicable to have a telephone line between the White House and the Lodge in Canberra, so that the President of America can ring up the Prime Minister. I bet the telephone would be engaged every time he rang! But the President could ring up the Prime Minister if he wanted to and make direct contact.
Let us be partners in this undertaking, not a lackey, and not a passenger. Let us assert ourselves for once in this contribution we make for the defence of the country in which we are so vitally interested. Is it not important that we should retain our dignity? Is it not important that we should retain our standing? The honorable member for Swan is interjecting. How would he know of those things? Obviously, he would not know what I am talking about because I am speaking for the welfare and good of Australia and some honorable members opposite just would not understand. When we want to fight for Australia and its dignity, obviously they would not know anything about such matters because they are not members of the proper party that really represents the people of this country.
The Australian Labour Party is totally opposed to Australia being involved in war by mistake, by default or by the decision of any other government. We must make up our own mind. We support the Anzus pact. We believe in the mutual defence treaty that exists between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. We believe in all of those things.
– Why do you not believe in this base?
– I have said seven times in this speech that I am for the base, but he is either deaf or has been asleep. None so stupid as he who will not learn! Admiral Sides was here recently and was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 6th May as saying that the base would not be a priority target. He did not give us a written guarantee of that. He did not guarantee that it would not be a military target; he just said that it would not. But when I turn to the Sydney “Sun” of 2nd April, 1963, I read the following item under the heading “ Australia as Red Target”-
Australia could be one of the first targets in a “ nuclear blitzkreig “ planned by Russia in the event of war.
A Soviet blueprint for mass destruction of the United States and missile attacks on its allies was revealed to-day in the authoritative American magazine, “ U.S. News and World Report “.
The Labour Party maintains that Australia ought to be consulted, and that we should not be involved in war when we have not given our decision. I think that that is reasonable. Any reasonable man agrees that we should object to any attempt by the Government to give away Australia’s right to make a decision as to whether it should be involved in war. Finally, Sir-
– Hear, hear!
– This will take a little time. To explain something to the honorable member for Moore will take twice as long as it would take to explain the matter to anybody else. Each Government supporter who has spoken in this debate has expressed his gratitude that at last we have something good in the way of defence. Each one has suggested that when we get this base we will really have something in respect of defence. Is it not pretty horrible that this Government, after being in office for fourteen years, and after spending more than £2,500,000,000 of the taxpayers* money, has to say to the world, in effect: “ We are completely defenceless. Our only salvation is to get America in. We cannot do anything for ourselves.” Government supporters have been saying all day that we are defenceless and that we cannot do anything for ourselves. They have not said that we have spent on defence more than £2,500,000,000 over a period of fourteen years, but they have said, in effect, that we have no defence. They all are very thankful that America is to build this base.
Let us have a look at the record of this Government on defence. I quote from the defence statistics circulated by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) for the years 1950-51 to 1960-61. I shall not quote all the information. In the Royal Australian Navy in 1952 there were 14,144 personnel in the permanent forces and 7,398 in the citizen forces making a total of 21,542. The estimated average strength in 1962-63 was 11,392 in the permanent forces and 6,543 in the citizen forces giving a total of 17,935. That is nearly 4,000 fewer in the permanent forces in 1962-63 after an expenditure of £2,500,000,000 on defence!
In the Army in June, 1952, the permanent forces numbered 27,572, and the citizen forces 42,858, making a total of 70,430. In 1962-63 the estimated average strength for the Army is, permanent forces 22,100, citizen forces 30,370, making a total of 52,470. So there are 18,000 fewer men after ten years in which the Government has spent £2,500,000,000 on defence!
– What about equipment?
– I understand, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how much this recital hurts the honorable members opposite but I must give them this medicine, because it may wake them up to the needs of Australia. In the Royal Australian Air Force in 1952 the permanent forces numbered 15,527, and citizen forces 5,512 making a total of 21,039. For 1962-63 the estimated average strength for the permanent forces is 15,860, and citizen forces 810, giving a total of 16,670, or 5,000 fewer than the number in 1952.
– What about equipment?
– I do not want to waste the rest of my time giving figures on equipment, but the figures show that the position is worse to-day than it was in 1952. We still have obsolete ships. We still have obsolete aircraft. We still have Canberra bombers which even the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) says are obsolescent. Do not let us worry about equipment. Let us be satisfied to accept what Government members themselves have said. We are defenceless and this Government is anxious to obtain this American base in order to be able to say to the people of Australia: “ We cannot defend you. We have thrown the taxpayers’ money away, but we will get the American Government in.”
Let me quote from “ The News “ published in Adelaide on 14th February, 1963. The article is headed “Sensational report from our man in Washington. Our Weak Defence Shocks U.S. Leaders “. The article, written by Raymond Kerrison, reads -
Australia’s defence system is so “ inadequate and obsolete” that it has become a major concern of the United States.
Our defence posture has been the subject of a high level review in Washington. The review, held in secrecy, was conducted by the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.
Officials here are reluctant to talk about it but I have learned the committee was told:
Australian defences - where they exist - may be likened to bows and arrows in this age of sophisticated weapons.
Our air defences are negligible, our aircraft are obsolete, and our Navy, although about to be expanded, is seriously underpowered.
The Australian Government is not spending an adequate amount of its revenue on defence.
Is it not dreadful that men in America are saying that the American Armed Services Committee has come out with the report indicting this Government for its lack of defence preparations? Now, in this debate, we are discussing what articles there ought to be in the agreement. The Labour Party says clearly that we should preserve Australia’s dignity and standing. Let us put some effort into our fighting to-day, as the veterans and pioneers did in the early days. Let us say to the people of the world, and certainly to the Government of the United States: “ We are not going to give away any part of our sovereignty. We are asking you to trust us and you ask us to trust you.” If there is to be mutual friendship let us say to America: “ This is a matter of mutual trust You trust us and we will trust you. Let us together control the orders that will go from this base to submarines to send Polaris missiles to the enemy. Let us do it together. Let us say to ourselves as good friends, that we trust each other and that the base will be under our joint control.” Let Australia stand up with its full personality and say that when we want to be involved in a war, our Government will be the Government to say so. The Labour Party will support the base, but we will move amendments because we believe it to be consistent with dignity that Australia should say, “ Let us hope that the Government in its wisdom will fight properly for the preservation of the pioneer spirit of the Australian citizen “.
.- It must be very embarrassing for the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), who is a comparatively new member of this House, to have to suffer for the sins of commission of his colleagues in this debate. He naturally has had to make a spirited defence in order to cover his innermost feelings. It must be an objectionable defence for him to make.
This debate, which centres on a bill to provide a naval communication centre at North West Cape, has covered a wide range of closely related subjects and is about to finish. Before that happens, Sir, may I say briefly something about the struggle that has been waged by certain sections of the community to prevent the acceptance of this request by the United States Government? Let me repeat that by permitting the building of this base for defence purposes the Government will ensure that we do not surrender any part of Australia’s sovereignty. When built, the base will be operated solely by Americans, but it will be available also to our defence forces. The United States of America will enjoy security and freedom of operation, but the terms of the concession specifically prevent the base from being built up as a base for attack, either by rockets or warships.
As a base for communications, it will be an important link in the global strategy of the free world. It is this fact which seems to have caused so much anguish in the Communist Party in Australia. It is this aspect that I want to refer to for a few minutes, because I believe that people outside Australia are most concerned about the influence that this party wields in our country. It has been exemplified in this debate to an alarming degree. One of the wonders of Australian politics, particularly to people who live outside this country, is that such a small party as the Communist Party, not represented in this Parliament or in the State Parliaments, can exert such influence in the community. Let me take this a little further. In April of this year the Tasmanian State Conference of the Communist Party was held in Hobart, and the General President of the Australian Communist Party, Mr. Dixon, made it perfectly clear that his party opposed the building of the base at North West Cape. He said that in the event of war between the People’s Republic of China or the Soviet Union and the free world - as represented by the United States - nuclear submarines could be directed to their targets from the base. He went further and said that there is only one position Australia can take up on this question, and that is not to have any part in what he described falsely as “ arsenals of nuclear weapons or bases in our territory “. He recommended that the Communist Party unite its forces to demand the abolition of the base. I want to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, and the attention of this House, to the words of the General President of the Communist Party at the Hobart Conference, as recorded in “ The Tribune” of 24th April. His concern was not for Australia’s security, but for what would happen to the Soviet Union in the event of war - a country that is already armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.
Within a few days of this statement being made in Hobart, at least five members of the Opposition brought petitions to this Parliament couched in terms similar to those expressed at the Communist Party conference in Hobart. These members, I would say, either believe in the terms of those petitions, or, if they do not, believe that the influence of the Communist Party is so strong that they dare not resist its demands. That, to me, is one of the greatest dangers confronting the people of Australia to-day. The influence of the Communist organization is so great that certain sections of the community fear to resist its demands. I remind you, Sir, of the petitions that were brought into this House by members of the Opposition only a few days after that conference, and I point out that the Opposition party is the only party in this Parliament that has dared to bring in any petitions relating to that conference. It is obvious from what has been said in this debate that there have been for some time now developments within the apparatus of the Australian Labour Party which future political scientists will examine with awe and wonder.
I want now to refer to the cliff-hanging, if I may so describe it, attempt of the Australian Labour Party junta to lift off the load of its left wing, so that it can struggle into some sort of position in which to face the Australian people. This struggle is concerned largely with defence and has produced some very weird results indeed. Were the issues not extremely serious, with vital overtones for Australia’s future position in the Pacific and in South-East Asia, the results would be really laughable. You . will recall, Sir, that the situation arose from the fact that the Labour Party vehe-. mently objected, irrespective of what face it may put on the matter during this - debate, to the establishment of a radio station at North West Cape, to be a joint United States and Australian station. The establishment of this naval communication centre was agreed to by this Government at the behest of the United States. It will be recalled that the Prime Minister subsequently announced the general terms of the agreement which was to be made.
This was hardly done before some members of the Labour Party began in this House what appeared to be a concerted move to attack the project. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) explained to the House in some detail last November how his party’s executive was opposed to the purposes of the base. In clear ringing tones he told us that there was no division in the Labour Party on this matter and there had never been a suggestion of a division.-
I am sure that the honorable member for Parkes sincerely meant this at the time, and wishes that he could still be so forceful about it. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and others have already given us a pretty fair picture of a party taking a very definite stand on this matter. It was about eight weeks ago - in March - that the fascinating developments began to occur, when a division was supposed not to exist. Serious breaches occurred and the most influential “ No base in W.A.” supporter, Mr. Chamberlain, was outvoted by one vote on the executive. No less a person than the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope), Sir, tells us that the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member for Reid and others were mistaken about policy on this big issue. Some one, he said, had posted misleading information on the party notice-board. That is what the honorable member for Watson told us. This inconvenient policy of opposing the communication base, I believe, was never Labour policy. The inference is that in future the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for Reid, I suggest, had better make sure that they are looking at the right board in their party room.
The Leader of the Opposition himself, in a public statement a few weeks ago, on the North West Cape project, put a wonderful ring of irony into his words when he said1, “ The Labour Party is realistic “. Sir, so am I. I do not believe that anything in the Labour Party has changed. I believe that the hard core of Australian Labour Party opinion is still committed to the wuzzy idealism of the “ ban-the bomb-ers “, the traditional isolationism of “ It can’t happen here “, the dangerous lethargy of the policy that we had better be red than dead, or to such stuff as has been confided to this House by the honorable member for Reid, that we need have no fear of the people of red China, although there are Indians dead on Indian soil to prove him so tragically wrong. I’ have sat here for years and heard coming from the Opposition all these ideas about nuclear-free zones and the uselessness of the South-Bast Asia Treaty Organization. I cannot believe that a mere Duggan dodge is going to get honorable members opposite to sing a different tune.
I should like, Sir, to direct particular attention to the bid made by the Australian Labour Party in its statements after its recent head-count in Canberra, linking the North West Cape communication centre with the stockpiling in Australia of nuclear weapons. This is the bit of the statement that escaped treatment at the hands of the new image-makers. This is an indication of our old friends, the woolly-minded lefties at work. For years it has been the Communist and near-Communist role in Australia to drag the peculiar terror of nuclear weapons into defence and foreign policy issues. The idea is to frighten people just for the sake of frightening them, because frightened people can be relied on not to face issues. Fear saps resolution; fear dulls initiative; fear is a weapon - so runs Communist thinking on these matters.
Let us say loudly and clearly where the truth lies. There never has been any suggestion that the North West Cape base would be a centre for stockpiling nuclear weapons. There has been no suggestion that any stockpile of nuclear weapons be established in Australia. The North West Cape base will be an important part of a world pattern of defence establishments; but then, Sir, it will not, after all, be the first such establishment in Australia. Largely at the instigation of this Government, there are already in Australia many important defence establishments at which vital research and development work is going on. We are already deeply committed to a complex programme with the United States of America, Great Britain and other countries of the Atlantic alliance. This programme covers missile development and manufacture, space research and satellite launching. The Labour Party will find, Sir, now that it has decided for a time to try to get back into the defence picture, that things have changed vastly since it was ousted from government. When I recall how pettishly a Labour government forced our American allies to abandon their base at Manus Island I ask: How can these people be trusted? The evidence is clear that if they ever get back into power they will do, in regard to the North West base, what they did in regard to Manus Island. It is my profound hope that nothing will happen to interrupt the programme of defence development. The powerful, thwarted left-wing of the
A.L.P., on its own undertaking, will certainly cut our defences if it gets a chance. What the Labour Party leader says on national and international policy in this chamber no longer matters. It is not worth a row of beans. What does matter is what the radical, left-wing Labour executive says. What matters is what the 36 men say, as evidenced recently in Canberra, when the Leader of the Opposition was kept waiting for days outside a meeting convened to tell him what he could say and what he could not say about the North West Cape agreement.
If I understand the Leader of the Opposition aright, he is now trying to enunciate a defence doctrine based on a new foreign relations concept of limited liability. What he seems to be saying is, “ We will not be committed beyond the point that we name “. The idea of limited liability, Sir, was developed by the lawyers about 100 years ago. It proved to be a first-class way of enabling people to limit their risk when entering a foreign enterprise. But does anyone seriously believe that this cautionary contrivance of commercial conduct can be made the basis for international policy and international treaties? Can we offer a hand to be shaken on condition that it is not shaken too hard? In other words, the Labour Party leader believes that our attitude to the North West Cape project should be to encourage the United States Government to spend £33,000,000 on’ the construction of a low frequency communication station, but if the United States Government wishes to use the station for conveying messages in order to defend its country from nuclear attack, it must first ask the permission of the Australian Government. And if Labour happens to be in power, it would be a question of referring the matter to an outside executive of 36 men.
I believe, Sir, that we can give a lead to international conduct from commercial practices, a lead that has special significance in this dangerous, sudden world in which we live. I believe that our principle in treaty obligations should be that of partnershipjoint agreement of the utmost good faith, with nothing held back and everything committed. The Government, without apology, regards the United States as our parnter, just as much as is Britain. Over and above the details of any treaty, we make no secret of the fact that we are morally pledged to our partnership with all our resources. There is no withholding, no limited liability. Let me end on this- note: We have faith in our partner, a faith which is as important as our commitments; and I strongly believe that that is the feeling, that permeates the minds of most of the people of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
House adjourned at 1.41 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Once again, I set down for the information of the honorable member that (as shown in paragraph 101 of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Salaries and Allowances of Members of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1959) unrestricted travel facilities, including by official car transport, are available to the Prime Minister, ex-Prime Ministers (while members of Parliament), Ministers, the President, the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition and their wives. 3 and 4. It has been the practice for many years, including during the administration of the previous Labour Government, for Commonwealth car drivers to endorse trip sheets for this group of persons with the words “ as directed “ and to show the total mileage only.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Postmaster-General’s Department. - One permanent clerical assistant, Grade 1; one permanent junior postal officer;one temporary telephonist; one exempt postal officer; two exempt linemen, Grade 1; three part-time cleaners.
Department of Civil Aviation. - One exempt groundsman.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 3. My first observation in reply to the questions is that the programme in each State was primarily a State matter and that the programme for the visit was determined in consultation with Her Majesty and His Royal Highness. However, I may add that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had visited a number of repatriation hospitals during their 1954 tour. With this in mind and having regard to the short period of the 1963 royal visit to each State captial, no arrangements were made for visits to repatriation hospitals on this occasion. However, wherever possible, facilities were made available for disabled ex-servicemen along the progress routes in each capital city.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Her Majesty The Queen and HisRoyal Highness Prince Philip asked in the course of the initial discussions about the 1963 visit that arrangements should permit them to visit Canberra and each State briefly, and that the visit to each place should centre aronnd a notabla event at that place. This meant that the 1954 . pattern of an extensive tour State by State and the long series of formal occasions which that involved would not be repeated. The programme which was arranged, including the happy arrangement for the utmost use of the Royal Yacht, “Britannia”, secured the result which was in mind.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 6. The only guests at functions arranged in Canberra during the two visits of Her Majesty The Queen earlier this year for whom allowances were provided were senators and members. They received the usual Canberra daily allowance of £4.
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1, 2 and 3. Types of cheeses were not recorded separately prior to 1st July, 1959. Schedule 1 shows origin, quantities and values of all types imported during the years 1957-58 and 1958-59. Schedules 2-7 show the different types of cheese now recorded, together with their origin, quantities and values, imported during the last three years.
d asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The honorable member is presumably referring to the Independence Day speech of President Soekarno on 17th August, 1962. Questions on this matter were answered by myself on 30th August, 1962, (“Hansard” p. 869), and by the Prime Minister on 29th November, 1962 (“Hansard” p. 2706-7).
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What was the value of Australian exports to each European Economic Community country during! - (a) each month in the financial year 1961-62; and (o) each month for which figures are available in the financial year 1962-63?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) As sales tax returns do not always indicate the precise amounts of tax payable on motor vehicles, accurate statistics of tax on this account cannot be compiled. However, the sale value of motor cars and station wagons is identifiable from the available statistics in a separate rate class, and on the basis of these statistics, and statistics of registrations of commercial motor vehicles, it is estimated that the sales tax payable in 1961-62 in respect of motor vehicle sales was £50,000,000. (b) Total collections from customs and excise duties on petrol and diesel fuel amounted to £66,000,000 in 1961-62. The dissection of these collections between road users and other taxpayers is not available, (c) Revenue from customs duty on vehicles and parts totalled £6,400,000 in 1961-62. (d) With the possible exception of local imposts in its Territories, the Commonwealth does not levy road user taxes, as such.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1. (a) An answer cannot be furnished to this question as statistics have not been kept of the number of requests received for assistance in respect of a second war service home, (b) The information sought in this question is not available for each of the last ten years, but details of the number of cases where ministerial approval has been given to the granting of assistance in respect of a second war service home for each of the financial years since 1956-57, including the current year up to the end of April, 1963, is as follows:-
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he introduce legislation which will compel overseas companies to make available a reasonable percentage of their shares for purchase by the Australian investor?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
This question raises important matters of policy and it is not customary to make statements of policy in reply to Parliamentary questions. I can say, however, that the Government has no such legislation under consideration.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630521_reps_24_hor38/>.