25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CROSS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government (1) instruct its representative at the United Nations to condemn the French Government’s proposal to test nuclear weapons in the Pacific, (2) again protest directly to the French Government with a view to cancellation of the tests and (3) use all appropriate means at its disposal to obtain an extension of the treaty to cover underground tests.
Petition received and read.
– I address a question to the Pstmaster-General. Does the honorable gentleman agree that the increase of £6 in telephone rentals will place an added burden on pensioners in particular? Will he consult with the Minister for Social Services with a view to pensioners being provided wilh a telephone either rent free or at half rental rates? If that is not acceptable, will he consider relieving pensioners of this increased rental of £6?
– I quite acknowledge that the increase in telephone rentals must create some additional burden on everybody who has a telephone. As to the second part of the question, I think the honorable member should make representations direct to the Minister for Social Services.
– He told me to refer it to you the last time.
– It is his responsibility. The Government has decided that requests for concessions with relation to social services for pensioners or others in receipt of social services should be made to the Minister for Social Services and that requests on behalf of repatriation pensioners or exservicemen should be made to the Minister for Repatriation.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I regret troubling the Minister but, as the Minister for Defence is in another place, I have to do so. Is it the intention that a statement on defence should be made during the current Budget session? Does the Minister know whether it is the intention to do as was done last year and group all defence departments together and allow 15 minutes to discuss defence? Will he confer with the Minister in another place and ask him to confer with the Leader of this House to see that the estimates for each of the defence departments are taken separately or that a statement is made that can bc debated by the House?
– I imagine that the debate on the Defence estimates will range over a pretty wide area. I think the breaking up of the debate on the printed estimates is a matter on which the honorable member should seek the indulgence of the Chairman of Committees. No statement will be issued in connection with the Defence estimates, but a printed report will be distributed to honorable members. It is proposed, short of the indulgence of the Chairman of Committees, to group the estimates of the five defence departments together for debate.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. In view of the fact that the Treasurer is using the national broadcasting network to advertise the sale of bonds in the current Government loan, will the Minister give consideration to arranging for all government-owned enterprises, such as the Commonwealth Bank, Trans-Australia Airlines and the Government shipping line, to use the national television and broadcasting services as means of advertising?
– It is the responsibility of each of the instrumentalities mentioned to arrange its own advertising. It has been determined that the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall not undertake advertising for payment, although en some national issues appeals are made over the A.B.C. in special instances.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the contradiction, in substance, between the alleged statement on foreign affairs made by a member of the Opposition that “ no-one can properly claim that America is being attacked”, and the statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that “ as a result of its response to the attack made on its destroyers, America could expect to negotiate from a position of greater strength “, can the Minister inform the House whether the impending debate on foreign affairs will take place this morning or whether honorable members opposite will first be allowed to settle their differences?
– It is my understanding that the debate will proceed this morning. I am sure that honorable gentlemen opposite have had a long experience of trying to settle their differences. I cannot contribute with expertness to the solution of their particular problem.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: What protection exists for businessmen or tradespeople who are owed money by diplomats or representatives of foreign countries who have either left Australia or are about to leave with substantial accounts unpaid? If business houses or tradespeople submit to the Department of External Affairs evidence of these debts, can the Government or the Minister make representations to the heads of diplomatic missions in the case of employees of those missions, or, in the case of debts owing by the head of a mission, to the Government of the country concerned?
– I am sure that if the honorable gentleman has a particular case in mind and brings it to the notice of my Department, or asks the person who makes the complaint to bring it to the notice of my Department, we will use our good offices as best we can to see that obligations are honoured.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has he noted that it has been reported recently that in a statement Sir William Gunn said that he favoured a more liberal export of Australian merino rams? The Prime Minister will know that at present the restrictions are so rigid that they can be regarded as a ban on exports. As this matter is of great national importance, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether any move along the lines suggested by Sir William Gunn is contemplated. If it is contemplated now or will be in the future, will the Prime Minister make a statement on the subject in this House so that it may be fully debated before any approval is given?
– -I ask my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to answer the question.
– This matter has been raised from time to time. Naturally, the industry itself is very interested in whether or not rams are exported. As the matter was raised with me during the last sessional period, I wrote to the Chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and asked whether the Conference had any particular present day opinion on the subject. Up to date I have received no reply from the Conference. As everybody knows, it has had more important matters on its plate to discuss and no doubt it was dealing with them.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Does the 1964-65 Budget make any provision for finance to be made available for the specific purpose of constructing the main dam over the Ord River? If not, is not the Government’s failure to make such provision contrary to the views which the right honorable gentleman expressed when he opened the diversion dam? Is he aware that any delay by this Government in providing finance will in turn delay construction of the dam and subsequent development of the Ord River project? Will the right honorable gentleman tell the House whether finance is to be made available and, if so, when?
– The matter referred to by the honorable member is, as he knows, a very large matter in which very large expenditures are proposed. AH I need say is that the matter is still under examination by my Government, and that is why no decision has so far been announced.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I remind him of what he said yesterday about the interest of honorable members on this side of the House in the question of apprenticeship. Does the Minister realise that the great antagonism that developed within trade unions to the Government’s scheme arose out of the lack of definition of the area in which the scheme was to operate? Before the Minister again twits honorable members on this side of the House, will he have prepared for this Parliament particulars of the actual areas and, if possible, of the employers in the areas in which this shortage of skilled labour exists? Will he also state the number of skilled artisans required by the employers in the industries concerned, setting out clearly what these employers have done in respect of their own apprenticeship requirements? Will he set the picture up clearly so that this House, apprentices, trade unionists and workers generally will understand clearly what is intended?
– I have answered several questions similar to that asked by the honorable gentleman. I am sure that, so far as the substance of his statement is concerned, it is incorrect. The true area of dispute as between the trade unions and my Department was primarily as to whether or not there was a deficiency of skilled men in the metal and electrical trades. Our answer to that was that on the current statistics in these occupations there are eight vacancies registered for every person who is available. Frankly, Sir, we felt that the facts spoke for themselves. Nonetheless, we agreed to let the trade unions have further facts to explain and not so much to justify as to prove that what we were saying was correct.
As to the second point of the honorable gentleman’s question, the unions did put before us facts designed to show that we did not thoroughly appreciate the difficulties that the metal and electrical trades faced. I have looked at the difficulties that arc raised and a conference to discuss them has been set down for next week. I think that the less said about the matter in the meantime the better it will be. We want the conference, when it starts, to be free from any kind of political antagonism or hostility. If we are to be successful, politics ought to be kept out of it. I hope that the trade unions, the Department of Labour and National Service and the employers will at least be given an opportunity to undertake these negotiations without any political pressure whatsoever.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the production of molasses - a byproduct from the crushing of sugar cane - increased considerably in recent years? Is a proportion of the annual output used in local chemical manufacture and is there also a considerable demand for raw molasses for stock fodder? In view of the need for supplies to be made available to dairy farmers for seasonal fodder usage in the Northern Rivers districts of New South Wales, where sugar cane is grown, can the Minister make known details of the arrangement agreed to by the Australian Molasses Pool and the Government concerning export licensing, and the quantity and charges agreed on for molasses stock fodder supplies?
– The production of molasses has risen as the production of sugar has increased. The honorable member is right in his assumption that some of the output is used in chemical manufacture. There is also a continuing demand by dairy farmers and others for molasses. The overall arrangement with the Australian Molasses Pool is that it is to supply all the requirements of Australian consumers at reasonable prices. Full details of the arrangements made will have to be set out on paper, and if the honorable member will put his question on the notice paper I shall see that they are supplied to him. I do not expect that there will be any shortage of supplies for dairying or for any other Australian requirements. If the honorable member for Cowper or any other honorable member hears of any shortage and informs me, I shall be happy to take the matter up with the Pool immediately.
– I direct to the Minister for Territories a question concerning the leasing of an area of 13 square miles on Groote Eylandt to the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. for the extracting of manganese deposits. Were the Aboriginal people consulted about the alienation of this area of the Arnhem Land Reserve, and what compensation are they to be given?
– The missions and the Aborigines were consulted and the agreement with the company was made with the full co-operation of all concerned. With respect to compensation, royalties will be paid. In fact, double royalties are paid in the case of a lease such as that on Groote Eylandt. These royalties are paid into a trust fund for the benefit of all the Aborigines in the Northern Territory. The interests of the Aborigines are fully protected by provisions written into the agreement signed by the company. I shall be happy to provide the honorable member with a copy of these provisions if he wants it.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. He will recall that, when he presented the Budget on Tuesday evening, he announced that the price of a packet of 20 king size cigarettes would be increased by 3d. ls he aware that it has now been reported that the price has risen by 4d. a packet, and does he intend to take any action to stop this malpractice?
– If the honorable gentleman studies the language of my comment on this matter, he will see, I think, that it was to the effect that the increase in the price of leaf would be broadly of the order of 3d. for each packet of 20 king size cigarettes. We do not determine the price of cigarettes. We determine the duty which is leviable on the tobacco and leaf. A spokesman for the cigarette manufacturers contacted me yesterday and explained that, because of the margin which normally operated, it would be necessary for the price of some packets of cigarettes to go up by 4d., whilst that of others would go up by 3d.
– Did you believe him?
– It is not necessary for me to believe him. I repeat that it is not our function to fix the prices of these commodities. Inside the trade itself there is competition between one manufacturer and another which can resolve this question. I repeat that the price of some packets of cigarettes is going up by 3d. and the price of others by 4d.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the paltry rises granted to pensioners in the Budget, will he consider making the rises retrospective to 11th August, the date of the bringing down of the Budget?
– The riSe which the honorable member describes as being paltry will involve an additional expenditure of approximately £20 million in a full financial year. The usual practice will be adopted - the practice followed by the Opposition when it was in government, and indeed by all previous Governments. These additional payments will become effective after the appropriate bill receives the royal assent.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Territories a question. Is he able to inform the House whether any progress has been made in regard to the problem of the resettlement of the people of Nauru, and whether steps are being taken to acquire Curtis Island, off the coast of Queensland, for this purpose?
– We are at present negotiating with representatives of the Nauruan people on this matter. I am not prepared to make any statement yet on the progress of the negotiations. The answer to the second part of the honorable member’s question is that we are negotiating with the Queensland Government for the acquisition of Curtis Island for the eventual resettlement of the Nauruans.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. Can he say whether the existing means test applicable to a pensioner medical entitlement card was discussed prior to the framing of the Budget? Can he also tell the House what reasons prompted the Government to retain the present severe means test, which deprives a large section of pseioners of this much needed social service?
– I regret to say that the honorable member for Adelaide falls into a common error. The pensioner medical service is provided under the National Health Act and has little to do with the Department of Social Services. If the honorable member will address his question to the Minister for Health he will receive a full and adequate reply.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the proposed Commonwealth Secretariat. Can he indicate what form the Secretariat may take, and how long it will be before that body will function?
– The general idea of having the Secretariat was approved by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference and is referred to in the communique. Since then discussions on the official level have been proceeding as to what the precise functions of the Secretariat should be and how it should be constituted. I have at present under consideration a message from the Prime Minister of Great Britain suggesting the form of a preliminary investigation on the official level. I think it will be some little time before the Secretariat is constituted because obviously, as the honorable member will appreciate, there will be many differences of opinion on what powers it ought to have. I intend to say something about this next week when I make my report on the Prime Ministers’ Conference, but I do not expect any definitive results on that point for some time.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Can he inform the House whether any announcement as to the date of the holding of the next Senate election will be made in the near future, or are the current differences between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party in Western Australia and Queensland preventing a Cabinet decision from being made on this question?
– I have every reason to believe that when the dale of the Senate election is announced it will be announced as the result of complete unanimity between the two parties in the Government.
– My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that owing to the reduced export market for Australian flour, flour mills long established in country towns in the Victorian wheat belt are closing? Is there any prospect of increases in export flour sales, or other means by which it will be possible to keep these mills operating? The right honorable gentleman will recall the advocacy of the honorable member for Wimmera on this matter.
– Unhappily, I am aware that the flour milling industry is in considerable trouble through diminishing export markets. Very considerable efforts have been made to try to sustain flour exports and thus the industry. The Australian Wheat Board itself and the grower members of the Board have endeavoured, in the costing of wheat, to make some accommodation to help the flour milling trade in this respect, but the fact is that the flour milling industry was geared during the war and immediately after it to meet the requirements of a number of countries which have since either gone into flour milling for the first time or extended their own flour milling and wheat producing capacities. There were no flour mills in the Philippines, which was an important market for us, but now there are efficient flour mills there. There were no flour mills in Singapore; there are now two efficient flour mills. There were no flour mills in Malaya; there are now plans to erect flour mills there. We encountered a period of competition through the whole Indian Ocean area from flour gristed in Germany and France.
What the Government did was to negotiate in 1958 an agreement with Ceylon for her to take 100,000 tons of flour a year. That agreement still stands. It was negotiated at a time when Ceylon had not bought a ton of flour for about 18 months. The Government negotiated an agreement for Malaya to take 80,000 tons of flour a year. This obviously will diminish as the capacity of Malaya to grist its own flour increases. We negotiated, with some difficulty, an agreement with France under which France agreed to minimise her exports of flour gristed with subsidised wheat into the area which was a natural geographic market for the Australian flour milling industry. I have mentioned some of the not inconsiderable things that we have done to try to meet the problems of the flour milling industry, but these problems still remain.
– I remind the Minister for Housing that on Tuesday last he advised the Parliament and the nation that legislation was now being prepared to give effect to a promise contained in the Government’s policy speech before the last election relating to the Housing Loan Insurance Corporation. I understand from previous information released concerning this matter that provision will be made for the discharge of existing mortgages. If that is so, will the Minister now consider rescinding the ministerial direction that has applied during this Government’s term of office which prevents eligible ex-servicemen under the War Service Homes Act from discharging existing mortgages?
– Of course, the provisions of the new bill will become known to honorable members when it is introduced. The other portion of the question is a separate and difficult one. The direction mentioned exists because of the very large number of ex-servicemen who are eligible for war service loans and who have not yet received them. In fact, about three quarters of eligible ex-servicemen from the Second World War and subsequent hostilities have not yet received a loan. The War Service Homes Division is the cheapest lender for housing in Australia and its terms are very generous. Therefore, there is a long waiting queue for loans. Even to eliminate the waiting list for loans for used houses would cost in the vicinity of £16 million or £17 million, so a system of priorities has been established. No doubt this is known to the more experienced honorable gentlemen opposite who had to deal with the situation in their day. Our highest priority at present is the elimination of the waiting list for loans for used houses. Until we achieve that objective other easements can hardly come into the picture.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Navy. Have complaints been received respecting the out fitting with uniforms of members of sea cadet units? Does the honorable gentleman agree that replacement of a unit’s set of uniforms every three years must result fa ill fitting and patched clothing, and that this provides no keen incentive for boys who seek a naval career? Have any steps been taken to amend the existing regulations covering the issue of uniforms to sea cadets?
– I think that the situation in Western Australia is slightly different from that in other States. Certain difficulties relating to the issue of uniforms to sea cadets in Western Australia have been brought to my attention. Currently, officers of my Department are investigating this matter in an attempt to iron out the difficulties that have arisen. I can assure the honorable gentleman that, in the future, the situation will be much more satisfactory than it has been in the past.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. In view of the unrealistic and unwarranted increase which the Minister has placed on telephone rentals in the Newcastle telephone area where the service cannot be compared with that in capital cities, will the Minister now consider providing relief from these high rental charges to pensioners and blind persons, especially base rate pensioners who have been compelled to install a telephone for medical purposes?
– The Government’s policy is to provide sums of money for pensioners and then leave it to the pensioners themselves to determine how that money will be spent. The Government has adopted this policy rather than give special assistance to one section of pensioners and not to another.
– I ask the Minister for Territories a question about the proposed resettlement of the people of Nauru. Does not the Minister himself favour the proposition that if the people of Nauru are moved to Curtis Island they should become citizens of the Gladstone Shire? If so, will the Minister undertake not to close his mind completely to an arrangement that would place these 2,700 people of considerable Christian and cultural development in a constitutional situation shich might be much more appropriate to their natural desires to govern themselves and live in circumstances in which their own cultural conditions might be preserved?
– As I indicated in answer to a previous question, this matter is at present under discussion with the Nauruan people. The Australian Government has publicly made it clear that it is not prepared to give these people full sovereignty over Curtis Island. If an agreement is reached with these people I have no doubt that we will be able to give them some kind of local autonomy, but I am not prepared to make any detailed statement on the matter yet.
– Mr. LUCHETTI. - I ask the Prime Minister whether he recalls a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers in 1945 to formulate a national approach to the matter of decentralisation of industry. Has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been directed to the numerous statements made by State and local government leaders, as well as by planners, industrialists, and, recently, the Deputy Prime Minister, in support of the desired distribution of industry? Is the Prime Minister now impressed with the importance of the need for the Federal Government to give substantial assistance to the decentralisation of industry in Australia? If so, what does his Government intend to do? Will it match the valuable help given by New South Wales in offering freight, housing and other assistance to enable industry to be established in country centres?
– I confess that the honorable member has me beaten. In 1945 I was the Leader of the Opposition. I am not aware that I was invited to attend a Premiers’ Conference or whatever the meeting was. I do not remember anything about this matter, but I will look into it.
– I preface my question to the Postmaster-General by reminding him that shortly telephone rentals in Canberra will be increased from £8 5s. and £8 17s. 6d. to £20 a year, bringing them into line with rentals charged in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities. Is it true that subscribers to the Canberra telephone exchanges have access to only 24,000 subscribers on a unit fee call basis, compared with more than 400,000 similar subscribers available to every subscriber in Sydney?
– I am not certain of the number of people who may be called on a local call basis in Canberra compared with the number in Sydney or Melbourne, but I do not accept such a comparison as a criterion in determining the rental to be charged for a telephone, I believe that people in Canberra call as many people as do people in Melbourne and Sydney. The fact that Sydney subscribers are able to call on a local call basis 400,000 other subscribers does not mean that Sydney subscribers call more local subscribers than do Canberra subscribers. The important factor is the service that is provided. The status of Canberra justifies its being regarded as a capital city in Australia, and telephone subscribers are being called upon to pay rentals in keeping with that status.
– Has the Treasurer given consideration to decentralising the administration of the Taxation Branch? What substantial reasons can be given for not providing, as a first step, Taxation Branch representation in all provincial cities?
– There is of course decentralisation of administration of the Taxation Branch in the sense that in each capital city there is a section of the Branch which covers the activities of that State. From each State section of the Taxation Branch, as I understand it, officers visit from time to time the various country centres in the State. I do not have available to me offhand the details of how extensively this method operates or whether the practicability of further decentralisation by having offices in some of the major provincial cities has been investigated; but I will take up the matter with the Commissioner of Taxation and see that a more detailed answer is supplied to the honorable member.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Services, is similar to the question I asked the PostmasterGeneral, who suggested that it should be referred to the honorable gentleman. I draw his attention to the fact that telephone rentals have been increased by £6 a year and I ask him whether he agrees that this increase imposes a burden particularly on pensioners who may require a telephone for medical reasons. I also ask the Minister to give consideration to the suggestion that his Department supply pensioners with telephones rent free or at half the rental charge. If his Department cannot act on my suggestion, will the Minister consider relieving pensioners of the burden of the additional rental charge of £6?
– A great many requests for concessions are made from time to time to me and to the Government. All of them are given the consideration which is their due. Quite obviously, for financial reasons all of them cannot be granted, and a considered judgment has to be made by the Government and by the Minister. In this instance, and in previous instances, when the choice has been an increase in the rate of pension, or social service benefit, or a concessional rate for telephone services, the favour has gone to increased pension rates, increased social service benefits, liberalisation of the means test, or whatever it might be.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: Is the increasing age of exservicemen altering the pattern of disease which is being treated at repatriation hospitals? Is it anticipated that advancing age will result, at least for a time, in an increase in the number of patients being treated in these hospitals? Are any steps being taken to keep repatriation hospitals up to date and to cope with any anticipated alteration in the frequency of various diseases?
– There is a definite change in the pattern of medical treatment supplied by the Repatriation Department There is also, as I stated recently, a very clear indication that there will be an increase in demand for expanded medical services for another decade: the peak of repatriation services will not be reached, we anticipate. until about 1975 or 1980. It is expected that from that time the demand will taper off only gradually, which means that we must provide additional hospital facilities throughout all States. We have that very much in mind at the present time.
It is our ambition to provide the best medical services available not only in Australia but in any part of the world with a repatriation system. I believe that we have already achieved that standard and that it will be maintained in the future. To do so, regular visits overseas are made by departmental medical officers in order that they may keep abreast of the latest medical advances. By so doing they are able to maintain the high standards that have already been achieved here.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government yet received a report on the inquiry into tertiary education in Australia? The Prime Minister may recall that at this time last year the report was expected by the end of that year. Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that delay in this matter will not prevent urgent consideration of the need to increase substantially the number of Commonwealth scholarships available to the greatly increased number of students who are expected to complete their matriculation at the end of this year?
– I cannot say with precision when this report will be available. I am disappointed that we have not received it before this; but I now understand that we are likely to receive it almost any time. I can assure the honorable member that as soon as it is received it will be given the most prompt consideration, because I am perfectly certain that it will have important implications for the future.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) each speaking without limitation of time on the motion to take note of the Ministerial Statement on incidents in the Gull of Tonkin.
Debate resumed from 11th August (vide page 23), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the House take note of the following paper: -
Incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin - Ministerial Statement, 11th August 1964.
. -Mr. Deputy Speaker, I take it that you have been advised by the Government that there is no objection to the debate on the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin being extended to include discussion on recent events, particularly in the past two weeks, in areas other than the Gulf of Tonkin, such as Malaysia and Cyprus.
– The opinion of the Chair is that the discussion, whilst not being limited to the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin, should be limited to events in the Asian area, such as those related to Malaysia, and that matters outside the Asian area should not be referred to, except perhaps incidentally or in a passing reference which is related to the general debate on the Asian area.
– If I may speak on this point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would point out that on Tuesday the Leader of the Opposition indicated that he would like Cyprus to be brought into the area of discussion. I want to say that I have no objection whatever to that course and that I would be quite willing to say something about Cyprus myself.
– The House is in charge of its own business. The course that has been indicated by the Prime Minister will be followed by the Chair.
– The little that I will say about Cyprus will be only in the nature of a passing reference.
This debate takes place in the lurid shadow of disturbing events in places as far apart as the Gulf of Tonkin and Cyprus - events which once again have raised the spectre of war and of nuclear war itself. In view of what has happened over the past two or three weeks, it is the more surprising that the Government has had to be pressed into holding this debate, despite the long winter recess and the fact that the forthcoming Budget debate will occupy the House for some weeks to come. Yet, upon reflection, it is perhaps not so surprising, because the barrenness of this Government’s thinking on foreign policy has become fairly apparent and its silence at least spares us from having to suffer a repetition of those platitudes which pass for policy on so many matters which are vital to this country. But, whilst silence and evasion may suit the Government, they do not suit the Labour Party and they do not meet with the support of the Australian people.
The Government’s idea of conducting a debate on international affairs, both in the Parliament and within the country at large, is to try to force a wholly false and futile distinction about pro-Americanism and anti-Americanism, so-called, as if labels of that sort could settle any question. Imagine members of this Government trying to brand the Labour Party as antiAmerican. The Labour Party forged the Australian-American alliance at a time when the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had demonstrated his complete incapacity to lead the nation in the deepest crisis in its history. When the then Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, called upon the American people to come to our aid, a man who later became a deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Sir Eric Harrison, attacked him in this House for being anti-British in calling for American aid. In quite recent times I have been told by the Prime Minister that I sometimes indicate an anti-British bias. Of course, that is just as false as was the charge made against us in the war years of being anti-British because we brought Americans to our aid. Whilst this attempt to apply false labels to the Labour Party may pay political dividends at home - it has done that - it is positively dangerous when it becomes the basis for the conduct of affairs abroad.
There is evidence that the cliches of the domestic debate have come to affect ministerial thinking. Ministers have even fooled themselves. They now believe the false stories that they tell about us. For instance, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), on his first mission abroad in that office, said in Saigon on 14th June - not so long ago -
This is a power struggle and an ideological struggle and you have to stand up and be counted. You have to say which side you are on.
That remark was addressed directly to all the peoples of Asia and Africa. I suggest that in its context that gratuitous advice was so much pompous nonsense. It betrayed a complete lack of understanding of the attitude of the Afro-Asians to the cold war. What the Minister was urging was that the peoples of the world should array themselves between two mutually hostile blocs without hope of toleration or accommodation. That is just not the Afro-Asians’ view of the world or of their future in the world. Nor is it in Australia’s interests that the Ministers view of two mutually menacing monoliths - for such is undoubtedly the logical conclusion of his insistence that each and every nation stand up to be counted - be accepted.
Curiously enough, the Minister delivered a call to alignment in Malaysia; but only a few months ago the Prime Minister took two columns of “ Hansard “ to explain that it was impossible to have a firm treaty with Malaysia because that country insisted on remaining non-aligned. I have the highest personal regard for the Minister. He is a man with an obvious desire for selfimprovement. When he was younger he used to describe himself as a journalist. Now in “ Who’s Who “ he describes himself as an historian. We may see him as the leader of his party in the not too distant future. In that happy event, we may find him calling himself a statesman But I suggest that he could greatly improve himself as a Minister for External Affairs if he heeded the advice of his distinguished predecessor in office, Lord Casey, who frequently urged us to try to understand how Asians really thought. It is clear that the Minister does not yet possess the wisdom that would come from such understanding.
I now turn to the Minister’s statement on the South Vietnam crisis which the House is to note. This provides further evidence of the inadequacy, not to say dangerous inadequacy, of the Minister’s thinking and that of the Government of which he is a member. The Minister has given this Parliament and the people we represent - all of us - a counsel of despair, for he has committed himself to a policy which he knows and implicitly admits cannot succeed. In his speech on Tuesday the Minister said -
In the face of events, the Australian Government is convinced that, whatever possibilities the future may hold for a genuine settlement in the region, there is no current alternative to the effort of assisting in South Vietnam to preserve its independence and there is no current alternative to using force as necessary to check the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism. Our own defence measures and such aid as we have been able to give to neighbouring states are influenced by this realisation.
My comments on that statement are these: This observation by the Minister can be interpreted only as meaning that for the foreseeable future, the Government has closed the door, as far as it is concerned, on any attempt to secure a settlement of the South East Asian problem by any other than purely military means. Everbody in this House knows that sole reliance on military means is foredoomed to failure. The Minister says in effect that the attempt to apply political, economic and social solutions must be postponed indefinitely, or at least until a decisive military victory is gained. But what is the victory that is sought and what is the price we are willing to pay for such a victory? South Vietnam is in a state of civil war, aided, the Minister says, by subversion from North Vietnam, which itself is aided by Communist China. Therefore, is the military victory that the Government awaits a victory for the regime of General Khanh in the civil war or a victory over North Vietnam or a victory over China?
The Minister speaks of the “southward thrust of militant Asian Communism “ and refers to the possession by North Vietnam of the largest army on the South East Asian mainland. The manner in which he connects these ideas together clearly indicates that he is thinking in the strategic terms of previous wars in which the onward march of an invading army could be stopped by a decisive battle or a decisive defeat. But the war in South Vietnam is not that sort of war. It is a civil war; it is a guerrilla war. Whatever aid the Vietcong draws from North Vietnam or from China, its basic strength derives from the support it receives from within South Vietnam itself. Indeed, the highest American authorities deny that the struggle within South Vietnam itself is being conducted by North Vietnam forces. That may come as a surprise to some honourable members opposite, but here is the evidence: The U.S. Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. McNamara, said on 23rd July last -
I know of no North Vietnamese military units in South Vietnam.
The former head of the American military forces in South Vietnam, General Paul Harkins, said in Saigon early last year -
The guerrillas obviously are not being reinforced or supplied systematically from North Vietnam, China or any place else. They apparently depend for weapons primarily on whatever they can capture. Many of their weapons are home made.
There is not a single line or word in the Minister’s statement to indicate that he understands the nature of this war or wants the people of Australia to understand it. Yet he insists that there is “ no current alternative “ to seeking a military solution alone. In this endeavour, he associates Australia with the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, He says - we ourselves within the limits of our capacity are determined to stand with our allies in S.E.A.T.O. in the defence against Communist aggression in South East Asia.
Yet the third most powerful partner in that alliance, France, is resolutely opposed to a policy which relies on a purely military solution, and General dc Gaulle has again and again said that military victory is, in his view, impossible of achievement. But the Minister presents us with a statement deliberately framed to imply that all the members of S.E.A.T.O. stand united and unanimous on the policy which, he says, is the only “ current alternative “. Thus this statement, this misleading and evasive statement, is yet another document in the vast file accumulated by the Menzies Government under the heading “How not to trust the Australian people”.
The way in which the Government has embarked on a policy of piecemeal commitment of Australian troops in Vietnam, without a single coherent statement of its aims or intentions, without any attempt to explain to the people the nature of the war there, has been thoroughly discreditable. The Government has done nothing to awaken the Australian people to the realities of the situation in Vietnam, nothing to enlighten them as to our true role in Vietnam and nothing to prepare them to understand the nature, much less the origins, of the present crisis. Our military commitment there, small though it be, its extent and the reasons for it, have been treated by the Government, not as a matter of life and death for Australian sons, but as an exercise in piecemeal propaganda and cheap publicity. The frankness to which the people are entitled has been withheld.
If this statement by the Minister, with the bleak and despairing message it contains, is to stand as a final statement of Government policy it is perhaps little wonder that the Government has not dared to be frank. The aim of the policy of the Australian Labour Party is to open the door which the Minister has so brusquely closed.
– To China.
– Yes, and after the next American election, there may be changes in America’s attitude towards China. If that should happen the Menzies Government will recognize Red China. That is my prophecy as of this moment.
Our policy in respect of Vietnam is to replace reliance on a purely military solution with attempts to seek a political and social solution. The situation that 1964 has inherited obviously makes the abandonment of the military effort impossible. Nor do we advocate such an abandonment. The search for a political settlement requires negotiation, and it is imperative that the anti-Communist forces should negotiate from a position of strength. The reason why we believe that it is urgent that a political settlement should be sought is that our position of military strength, weak as it already is, will almost certainly deteriorate. As far as Australian military involvement is concerned, we demand an end to the policy of piecemeal commitment and deplore the lack of any formal agreement, or agreement of any kind, which covers the presence of the Australian contingent in South Vietnam.
However, while recognizing the impossibility of abandoning the present military effort, the Australian Labour Party urges endeavour upon three main lines - through the United Nations, through the Geneva conference and through a concerted plan of economic aid. In all these three Australia can play an important part. Let mc deal first with the United Nations. Not the least reprehensible part of the Minister’s statement is his contemptuous reference to the United Nations. This is in striking contrast to the attitude to that body of the President of the United States. The Minister says -
Most Australians clearly recognise that, in a world where there is aggression, peace can be establsihed and the principles of the United Nations Chaner applied only after aggresion has been made to fail.
If that means anything, and I suppose it is meant to mean something, it means that the Government dismisses the United Nations as a more or less useless body. The purpose of the United Nations is to preserve peace and prevent aggression. Hopes for its success rest on the principle that its authority and influence will be invoked as soon as aggression occurs. This is precisely what President Johnson did, in his words, “ immediately and urgently “ when the Gulf of Tonkin crisis arose. But the Minister for External Affairs assigns to the United Nations a secondary role. This consistent and persistent downgrading of the United Nations by the present Government has resulted in so many opportunities being lost by Australia in the cause of the selfdetermination of peoples and the resistance to aggression.
The second course is for Australia to press for the re-convening of the Geneva Conference which, after the fall of the French Empire in Indo-China, fixed the partition of South and North Vietnam and guaranteed the neutrality of Laos and Cambodia. It is clear that the re-convening of the Conference is the essential preliminary to any attempt to achieve a political settlement in the whole of this region.
The third course to which I have referred is the need for an expanded programme of economic and social aid, which I and which my colleagues see as part of the inevitable economic and social revolution that must take place in South East Asia. None of us on this side can defend the corrupt regimes that exist in South East Asia. I, of course, am completely opposed to the Communist philosophy and the Communist system of government. We have no reason to be proud of some of the governments of the countries with which we are allied and to the defence of which Australian troops are being committed - and committed, I repeat, in piecemeal fashion without any explanation to the Australian people of the purpose for which they are being sent or of the obligations of the countries which they are assisting to help Australia in the event of trouble in which we might become involved at a later period.
– Could you be a little more specific?
– I am much more specific than the Minister, but I cannot be as specific as I should like to be unless the Government tells the whole story to the Parliament and we can see to what extent we are involved and where this is all heading. I hope that some back bench members on the Government side will try to make the Prime Minister be a little more specific, if they can muster enough courage to tackle him in their party room.
I have stated repeatedly that our endeavour must be to ensure that the inevitable economic and social revolution in South East Asia is not a Communist revolution. If we are not careful it will be. It is for this reason that the Australian Labour Party has pledged itself to a policy which, when implemented, would provide the expenditure of 1 per cent, of our national income on overseas aid - a small pledge indeed, and a modest beginning for so great an end. There is India, .a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with 450 million people, two-thirds of whom never have one full meal from the day they are born to the day they die. We who are proud of the affluent society refuse to give even 1 per cent, of our national income to help India - a country inside the Commonwealth - let alone to help the other needy nations of the world. We will not be allowed to evade our responsibilities much longer before the bar of world opinion. My colleagues who will follow me will elaborate on the various aspects of this question.
I shall now sum up briefly our attitudes on Vietnam: The war must not be widened, for that way lies nuclear disaster. There can be no reliance on the purely military solution in Vietnam, for that way lies unending and futile bloodshed. Australia must urge and be willing to play a full part in the search for a political, economic and social settlement of this most tragic situation. And when there is a settlement of South East Asian problems - we all hope and pray that there will be - it must be made in an Asian context. It should not be dictated either by China, the United States or any other great power not immediately connected with the problems of the area. Let me emphasise a most important point. The Government has never said why Australia is participating in the South Vietnam conflict. Is it because we are committed under S.E.A.T.O., or under some other treaty? Attempt after attempt has been made by Opposition members - by question and by speech - to secure a clear and unequivocal statement by some Government spokesman on this question and all have so far failed. Let the Government answer the question now.
I turn only briefly to the other two matters - Malaysia and Cyprus. I wish first to say how deeply we on this side of the House deplore the inept remarks of the Prime Minister in New York, when he used whatever power of speech he might possess, to prevent further talks between Indonesia and Malaysia. He poured contempt on the idea of summit meetings between these nations in precisely the same terms as he used against summit talks between great nuclear powers when Dr. Evatt first advocated them. Of course, we all know the story of the Prime Minister’s conversion. Having sneered and jeered at Dr. Evatt’s proposal for years, he became firmly convinced of the great merit in summit meetings the day after Mr. Eisenhower, Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Khrushchev decided to have one. Thereafter, there was no firmer advocate of the importance of summit conferences than the Prime Minister - until he arrived at the question of whether there should be a summit conference between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Nobody here, least of all I, wishes to add to the difficulty of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Nobody wishes to force him into a conference which he may not want. I believe, with Mr. Robert Kennedy, the Attorney-General of the United States, that this particular Asian problem will be solved by Asians and by Asians alone. But the Australian Prime Minister, by his gratuitous remarks - delivered typically enough at some sort of banquet - has done his best to prevent all further talks between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. There has been a slight cooling off of the IndonesianMalaysian dispute in recent weeks or months. Although we who know Dr.
Sukarno will not be lulled into any false sense of ease or security, Australia should be making the most of every possible opportunity to bring the disputants together. The Prime Minister’s New York speech has, regrettably, made any such move, delicate as it would be in the best of circumstances, even more difficult.
On the question of Cyprus I wish to say only this: The Labour Party, knowing the history of Cyprus, and the long story of its inter-communal feuds, cannot take sides on the issues involved in this most cruel and complex question. But it cannot, and will not, condone the act of outright aggression by the Government of Turkey against Greek Cypriots. I do not think that any member of this House would attempt to defend or condone that piece of wanton savagery. We would not want to condone any act of outright aggression by the Government of Turkey any more than we condone aggression by any nation at any time anywhere in the world. In our view, it is clear that Turkey has committed an act of aggression. Therefore the Australian Government should protest, in the strongest possible terms, both directly to the Turkish Government, and through its representative at the United Nations. We should intervene, or participate, in the work of the United Nations to secure an end to the senseless slaughter of innocent Greek Cypriot people and also of innocent Turkish Cypriot people, and bring the unhappy conflict to an end.
There is one matter which I have not mentioned, and yet it is implicit in every word I have said. I refer to defence. It is only the degree of our defence preparedness which can make a debate on external affairs truly relevant. In the Budget debate that begins next week I intend, to the best of my ability, to expose the full measure of the fraudulent nature of the Government’s defence policies. In the meantime I ask the House only to compare the big words used by the Minister for External Affaire in his statement about intentions to abide by our commitments and help in the defence of our region, with our real capacity to do so.
If we do not have the forces to ensure our own defence, how can we help defend Malaysia or South Vietnam - to mention two areas where we are now involved - or any other area in which this Government may decide later to involve us? The Minister said -
Our own security in Australia is inseparable from the security of the region. We cannot profess to be concerned with the one without being ready to do something about the other.
Might I change the Minister’s language slightly and say, for myself and my Party: The security of Australia is inseparable from the defences of Australia. We cannot profess to be concerned with our security without being ready to do something about our defences.
– I propose to say something at, perhaps, some little length about the events in and around Vietnam, but before I do so, I think I should make a reference to one or two points that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), I think the honorable gentleman has almost a fixation about me. I appear to pop up like King Charles’ head in all his speeches. I can understand that. But may I just make a reference to what the honorable gentleman said about my alleged views on summit conferences? It is quite true that I made a speech in New York. It was a lunchtime speech and if anybody regards that as riotous living, he is welcome to do so.
– It depends on the lunch.
– You do not get much if you are going to make a speech. What I was putting to that audience in New York was that there was no virtue, in itself, in having a summit meeting. A necessary condition of a summit meeting was that people on both sides - or on three sides in this case - should approach the matter in good faith and with a genuine desire to arrive at a settlement. I made the point that if one side - as in this case - went through the motions of saying: “ Yes, we will have a summit meeting “, and while the meeting was actually on, weakened the position of the other negotiators by military action - and that is the position along the frontiers of Borneo - then that is not a genuine summit meeting at all. It would be a dangerous kind of meeting to have because, by its implicit concession to force, it would be a form of appeasement. That ls what I said in New York, and if the
Leader of the Opposition disagrees with that, he is welcome to do so. I certainly have no apologies to make for those views.
The Leader of the Opposition then said something of the usual kind to the effect that instead of talking in military terms, we ought to be increasing the aid we give to under-developed countries. It is very interesting to recall that we have two underdeveloped countries in our immediate neighbourhood and for which we have an immediate responsibility - Papua and New Guinea. If you take our net expenditure there - because we get no exploitation of these territories - and what we pay through the Colombo Plan and the aid of an economic kind that we give under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation agreement in all its various forms and through certain specialised agencies of the United Nations, you find that Australia today is providing the equivalent of 100 million American dollars a year for these purposes. In anybody’s language - and certainly in mine - that is a very substantial sum of money. Therefore I put these facts on the record because I would not have it believed that this country is falling down in its human responsibilities.
I propose to say something now about Cyprus. I will not speak at any great length on this subject because it is more a matter of giving some information to the House. I propose, then, to address myself to the nub of this matter - the argument that goes on about Vietnam and our relations to it and the activities of certain small Australian forces in South Vietnam. The Republic of Cyprus - I want to get this matter out of the way first - was established as an independent state in 1960 following negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers. As honorable members know, the outcome of those negotiations was accepted by Great Britain. The settlement brought an end - or so it was believed - to a long-drawn stalemate which had been caused by the preceding Greek Cypriot campaign for Enosis, or union with Greece, in the face of Turkish refusal to contemplate Cyprus falling into Greek hands and the consequent difficulties of Great Britain as the governing or colonial power.
The settlement made in 1960 provided for special constitutional safeguards. These were, in effect, a veto on certain legislation for the Turkish minority and for the right of the guarantor powers - Greece, Turkey and Great Britain - to intervene if the terms of the settlement were contravened.
That settlement was received at the time with some hope. It has not worked out. In the opinion of the Prime Minister of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, the Constitution has failed. Disputes have arisen between the Turkish minority and the Greek Cypriot majority while Greece and Turkey, from the outside, have maintained, (a) great interest, and (b), from time to time, activity. These troubles began at the end of 1963 when Archbishop Makarios said the Constitution was unworkable.
Attempts to settle the dispute were made, first, through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - because both Greece and Turkey belong to N.A.T.O. - and then when they failed, attempts at a settlement were made through the United Nations Organisation. Through the Security Council which acted on this matter, the United Nations arranged in March of this year for a United Nations force to go to Cyprus to restore order. The United Nations also appointed a mediator and requests were made for certain financial assistance to which we made a small contribution. A request was also made for a police force for ordinary police purposes and Australia, through the courtesy of the various State Governments, has made a contribution to this force. The Security Council passed a series of resolutions concerning these arrangements on 4th March and 13th March and again on 20th June of this year.
In spite of these actions, the position has remained difficult and perhaps has become more difficult. It is very hard to say that and I do not want to say anything which would appear to allocate any blame because I do not think it is for us to do that. I believe, as I am sure all honorable members believe, that in this complex affair - and it is immeasurably complex - it is important to stand behind the United Nations Security Council and to do all things possible or to encourage all things possible to be done to avoid civil war or a continuance of it and to bring about a peaceful settlement of the problem.
This was the position when the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations met in London. After considerable discussion, b statement on this matter was made in a communique and I quote from it-
The Prime Ministers expressed concern about the situation with regard to Cyprus. They reaffirmed their full support for the United Nations Security Council resolutions of 4th March, 13th March and 20th June 1964. The Prime Ministers asserted that the Cyprus problem should be solved within the framework of the United Nations and in accordance with the principles of democracy and justice.
They appealed to all countries concerned to refrain from any action which might undermine the task of the United Nations peacekeeping force to which a number of Commonwealth countries are contributing, or might prejudice the endeavours of the United Nations to find a lasting solution in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
This, I venture to say, was impeccably correct. The United Nations Security Council met again in emergency session, things not having improved very much, on Sunday last. The President appealed to the Turkish and Cypriot Governments to cease hostilities. Now a resolution has again been passed. I was going to read it in its full terms, but it can be summarised by saying that it calls for an immediate cease fire by all parties, it calls for their co-operation with the United Nations peace keeping force and it calls upon all States to refrain from any action which could exacerbate the position. I think it will be agreed by all honorable members that we will not help a settlement of this extremely difficult matter by offering observations from the sidelines or by taking sides, because without a great deal more knowledge than any of us can have it might be very difficult to apportion all the blame to one party and none of it to the other. We all want a peaceful settlement, and the greatest prospect of that settlement will come from backing the actions of the Security Council.
Now I would like «o turn to the matter which was the subject of the original statement by my colleague, which has given rise to most of the debate, both outside the House and in it. My colleague’s statement was a clear and objective one. It did not go in for fireworks. It put the House in possession of whatever official knowledge we had of these matters. I therefore do not need to repeat what he said. If it is any comfort to anybody io know it, I can say that before he made his statement he discussed the matter with me and we agreed that he was the appropriate Minister to make the statement. So he made it.
The Australian Government thought that the action of the United States of America, under attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, under attack in international waters, was well warranted and ought to be supported, and we said so. Many people in different parts of the world said so. Oddly enough, I did not wait, as I am occasionally charged with waiting, to find out what the majority were doing. We were the first people to make a public announcement after the President’s speech and after his indication of what he was going to do. Not for the first time, we were the first to speak. Does anybody seriously quarrel with what the President did? I almost pause for a reply, because the Opposition, as 1 will show without any difficulty, has occupied the most ambiguous position on this point. It is a biterly disappointing fact that the one sour note that reached the public print should have come from the Leader of the Australian Labour Party, the great alternative governing party in this country, accompanied by a sort of lecture to the President on his duty not to extend the struggle and to see that he had resort to the United Nations - he having publicly stated that he wanted no such extension and that he would seek such resort, and having acted accordingly.
It is just as well, I think, to recall what the President said. My colleague quoted the language of the resolution of Congress, and I want to quote from the text of the President’s nation-wide statement which preceded that resolution. After referring to the attack and the orders he had given, he said -
This new act of agression aimed directly at our own forces again brings home to all of us in the United States the importance of the struggle for peace and security in South East Asia. Aggression by terror against the peaceful villagers of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America. The determination of all Americans to carry out our full commitment to the people and Government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage.
Without anticipating in detail what I will say a little later, it will be observed that the President referred to “our commitment to the people and Government of South Vietnam”, which does not arise from a treaty. He has no treaty with South Vietnam. I will explain a little later, if it needs to be explained, how these things arise and flow from the South East Asia Treaty, but it is worthwhile just reminding honorable members opposite the America does not feel it necessary to talk about a formal treaty before going to the aid of South Vietnam, and that America recognises a commitment that has not been drafted by a lawyer. This is a very important statement. Then the President went on -
Yet our response for the present will be limited and fitting. We Americans know, though others appear to forget, the risks of spreading a conflict. We will seek no wider war.
Then he went on to say -
I have instructed Ambassador Stevenson to raise this matter immediately and urgently before the Security Council of the United Nations.
He ended by saying -
It is a solemn responsibility to have to order even limited military action by forces whose overall strength is as vast and as awesome as those of the United States, but it is my considered conviction, shared throughout your Government, that firmness in the right is indispensible today for peace. That firmness will always be measured. Ils mission is peace.
I venture to say that that was an historic and important statement, and it was followed by a resolution in Congress which was carried in one House with one dissentient vote and in the other House unanimously. I propose to refer to that resolution, which my colleague read to the House earlier. I believe that the resolution has no direct precedent in American history. We are living in a most historic period. I will quote just the operative passages of the resolution, if I may do so without wearying the House -
The U.S. regards as vital to its national security and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in South East Asia.
This is the American Congress speaking. Now, Sir, if I may interrupt the reading of the resolution, if we cast our minds back, particularly those of us who have been seised of the responsibilities for the Government here, we will remember very vividly how anxious we were only a few years ago about the possibility that in the conflict of ideas between the Western powers and the Soviet Union, and in the building up of the nuclear deterrent to armed hostilities in that connection, South East Asia might be overlooked. There was a very strong feeling at one time that perhaps it was a little in the background. The answer to that anxiety is in the passage I have just read.
In all my discussions with the late President Kennedy and with President Johnson and with the Administration of the State Department I felt there was a growing realisation of the importance of South East Asia. This was a matter of some satisfaction to us because although we knew all too well the vital significance of the relationships across the Atlantic, we also felt that the problems of South East Asia came very near home and that our immediate security in Australia was much involved in them. Therefore, I repeat that this resolution by Congress is of historic importance. The resolution continued -
Consonant wilh the Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance wilh its obligations under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, the United Stales is therefore prepared as the President determines to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol Stale of the South East Asia Collett ive Defence Treaty requesting assistance in defence of its freedom.
In this resolution we see the constitutional process referred to in the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact and in the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty at work affirming the power of the President to take action as commanderinchief. The importance of this cannot bc overlooked by any Australian unless he is bemused by academic and unreal ideas. After all, the matter of substance is the defence of freedom in South East Asia. 1 would sum this up by saying that the congressional resolution removes constitutional restraint on the President’s freedom of action. Of course, he still remains subject to the practical restraints which arise from his need to have in Congress broad support for whatever he does. But the important thing is that the resolution has affirmed that the maintenance of peace and security in the region - this region immediately adjoins us - is in the vital interests of the United States. We would indeed be blind, Sir, if we did not realize and acknowledge that it is also in our vital interests.
The South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty ought to bc referred to. I should have expected its provisions, in the broad, to be very well known and not matters which needed to be recited every week, every year, or once in any other period of time. However, I think I should mention them, because they have been overlooked by some of the spokesmen opposite. The Treaty was made in September 1954 and was ratifial early in 1955. It was negotiated on behalf of Australia by my Government. The parties to it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, France, Australia and New Zealand. The Treaty itself paid proper attention to the promotion of the economic wellbeing and development of all peoples in the Treaty area. If honorable members care to look at Article III, they will find that this idea of economic advancement is not new and has not been suddenly discovered by the Opposition.
– Name it. It is only peanuts. Sir ROBERT MENZIES- It has been of substantial assistance. It reads -
The Parties undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operate with one another in the further development of economic measures, including technical assistance, designed both to promote economic progress and social wellbeing and to further the individual and collective efforts of governments towards these ends.
The parties to the Treaty were well aware of these points. The Treaty acknowledges that one of the facts of life was that unless there was resistance to Communist aggression there would be no opportunity for economic advancement, peaceful life and peaceful development. Article II reads -
In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly-
In other words, there is a joint and several obligation; it is not necessary to have a unanimous decision to discharge the obligation - by means of continuous and effective self help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and to prevent the counter subversive activities directed from without against their territorial integrity and political stability.
Article IV reads -
That is, the protocol States, including South Vietnam - would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. Measures taken under this paragraph shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.
As I have just indicated, the Treaty provided for the designation by unanimous vote of nations as protocol States. South Vietnam, like Laos and Cambodia, is one of the protocol States.
The Treaty contemplated, therefore, that the protocol States might have to be defended against aggression. It stated with particularity -
It is understood that no action on the territory of any State designated by unanimous agreement . . shall be taken except at the invitation or with the consent of the government concerned.
We are in South Vietnam to the extent that we are there by the invitation of the Government of that country. The U.S.A. is there by the invitation of the Government of South Vietnam. We have no subsequent treaty with the protocol State; neither has the U.S. It is very disturbing, to say the least, that the Australian Labour Party should choose this period in international history to assert that Australia, which is acting at the request of South Vietnam, should not do so without some new and special treaty with the Government of South Vietnam. What a barren performance that would be of the obligations of the South East Asian Collective Defence Treaty. The Leader of the Opposition said that people had not been sufficiently informed. I should have thought that these matters were almost as familiar in the minds of people as anything could be. They have been referred to very frequently. I remind the House that extensive statements about our activities in South Vietnam have been made at the time of each performance on our part - first, by the late Mr. Townley when he was Minister for Defence, and later by Senator Paltridge as Minister for Defence.
I am sorry if I seem to overdo it, but the point I want to make is that what is going on in South Vietnam through us in a small way, and through the U.S. in a large way, is the direct consequence of a treaty to which we are one of the parties. As a matter of fact, in 1961 South Vietnam appealed to the U.S. to increase military aid because of the violation of its territory in the north and the U.S. responded, but without a military alliance and without a treaty. It is interesting to recall that the Opposition - the Leader of the Opposition repeated the claim this morning - has long made it a matter of pride that when in government it invited U.S. forces to come here during the war. Did it make a treaty? Did the United States require a treaty? Did
Australia require a treaty? No, because the realities of life were so overwhelmingly clear that this poor academic nonsense about having a treaty was never even thought of. But today we are told that this is exactly what ought to be done.
I have already taken quite a long time, but I just want to mention one or two other aspects of this matter quite briefly. I notice that the Opposition, including the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party, is saying that the right way to handle this matter is to reconstitute the Geneva Conference. Of course, the Geneva Conference established the cease fire and the boundary at the 17th parallel, and declared for a cessation of armed hostilities. What is it to be reconvened for? The Leader of the Opposition said the other day that the powers should meet to resubscribe to and honour the agreements. But who has broken the agreements?
Is it suggested that somebody not in the Communist zone is conducting a war of aggression? Does anybody think such nonsense for a moment? The people who are violating the cease fire and the essential substance of the Geneva accords are the people from the north, the north Vietnam forces, the Vietminh, backed as they unquestionably are at suitable times by the Communist Chinese, and having as their agents the Vietcong in their pockets of activity around South Vietnam. If there is any reaffirmation of belief in a cease fire to be made, it ought to be made by the people who are violating the agreements. The powers may, for all I know, have another conference in Geneva or elsewhere, and it will be a very good thing if a precondition is that there is a cessation of hostilities, a termination of these guerrilla activities, because, for the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, I believe firmly that good faith is an essential to any conference that may be called.
The Leader of the Opposition has a general view which he puts. He appears to think that Australia is unnecessarily buying hostility with the Asian people. He is always fond of trying to create some division between the past and the present in this Government. He says we are buying hostility. Does he really believe that we would cultivate the respect of the Asian people if, as I rather think he would like us to do, we abandoned our support of Malaysia, which is vigorous in all respects, or if we said to South Vietnam and to the South East Asian Treaty countries that we were quite happy to have an agreement with them but that we were very reluctant to perform an agreement? Is this the way to acquire the respect of our Asian neighbours? Sir, international goodwill is not to be firmly established on a basis of a denial of treaty obligations or a denial of the overall importance of resisting Communist aggression.
But the Leader of the Opposition is not the only spokesman for the Labour Party. ] think 1 have some right to expect that his most prominent colleague in the victory of the left wing in Victoria recently, a person whom 1 might describe as his running mate - the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. 3. F. Cairns) - a prospective deputy leader a’ least speaks with some authority on behalf of the Labour Party. If he does not, then the party has a curious way of disowning him. On 9th August, the honorable member for Yarra made a powerful speech, I gather, to 2,000 people at a Hiroshima commemoration rally in Sydney. He had, of course, an audience of people who advocated nuclear disarmament, ignoring the fact that if nuclear disarmament proceeded alone, the Communist powers would have overwhelming military strength. These people also apparently carried slogans about no war in Vietnam, a consummation devoutly to be wished for, I must say. But the pleas ought to be addressed not to our side, but to the other side if they are to have any true value.
The honorable member for Yarra is reported, I hope accurately, as having said that Australia should not follow the United States line - of course, we have heard him say that many times - which he defined as pursuing a policy of war which had no basis in morals or justice. He was not talking about some war of the 1 9lh century; he was talking about these incidents that have been engaging our attention; he was talking about these activities of war in the Gulf of Tonkin and, by the way of counter attack, on the shores of North Vietnam.
I have reminded the House, and, I hope, the people, of what the President of the United States said, and the manner in which he dealt with the matter and the manner in which Congress dealt with it - the high level on which the whole thing was put and the immense importance of it to the future of this country - yet a prospective leader of this country is heard to say that they are pursuing a policy of war which has no basis in morals or justice.
If that is not the view of the Opposition - and I do not believe for one moment that it can be - then 1 hope there will be those who will be willing to say so in their turn. It was really an extraordinary summary of American policy, lt is apparently both moral and just that aggressive Communist powers should seek to strike down free people but immoral and unjust to resist them. The honorable member for Yarra went on to say, according to the report, that the United States could not claim that it was being attacked in the present Vietnam crisis - I think the crews of the American destroyers would be fascinated te know that - or that it was acting in self-defence. He says that the United States cannot say that. The U.S. has said it. The honorable member for Yarra is challenging the veracity of the head of the American Administration. He is challenging the intelligence and information of the entire Congress of the United States which has every avenue of information available to it.
The honorable member for Yarra elaborated this astonishing proposition by saying that the North Vietnamese torpedo boats - I like that, because it admits that they were North Vietnamese - had been within a few miles of their own shores when they came in to attack the United States ships. Docs he really deny that they were 30 miles off shore, as has been stated authoritatively in America?
– Do the Americans deny that they were involved in the attack on Cuba?
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has a singular talent for changing the subject, and I sympathise with him. If the honorable member wants now to set up another attack on the United States over Cuba, over what I thought was a remarkable effort on behalf of freedom by the late President Kennedy, let him say so. If we are to have a symposium of hatred and criticism of the United States, let us have it. At least we will know then where the Opposition stands. But to resume what I was saying: Is it really denied that the American destroyers were 30 miles offshore? Does the honorable member for Yarra or anybody else assert that the warships of a nation when steaming in international waters may be attacked’ with impunity?
The honorable member went on to charge the United States with helping to prevent political, economic and social changes in South Vietnam. This, of course, is a monstrous falsehood. But he ended up by saying that Australia should call immediately for a ceasefire in Vietnam, to be followed by talks between all countries involved in the conflict. He is unaware, presumably, that the President of the United States has already put all these courses of action in train. We, Sir, do not direct ceasefires. This is not our function. The honorable member overlooks the obvious fact that no country has a greater interest than we have in the cessation of armed hostilities in South East Asia, provided that that cessation does not yield the field to the onward sweep of Communism.
The honorable member also overlooks the fact that President Johnson himself took the earliest opportunity to encourage action by the Security Council. I have already referred to what the President said in his Address to the Nation. We in Australia are in a position in the world in which we have, no doubt, great opportunities, but equally, no doubt, face great risks. The Opposition, in more recent days, has been rather fond of saying what we ought to be doing about defence. I do not resent any criticism in that field, because I do not regard our provision for defence as static. It must go on, develop and march with the times. The plea from the Opposition would be more eloquent if we had heard it over any considerable period of time. The fact is that we are, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out in the Budget Speech, spending 50 per cent, more on defence than we were four years ago. And, as I say, that is not the end of the story.
I do not want to occupy time on this, as it will no doubt be debated, as some one was suggesting earlier today; but let us suppose that the Opposition, being in office, spent much more on defence. Why would it do it? This is a question that the Opposition really should put to itself. Why would it do it? Would it do it because it thought that Australia’s defence was a matter for Australia alone? Does it have that isolationist view? I could not believe that. Does it really believe that if we were attacked by a great power we could defend ourselves without allies and without mutual systems of defence? It could not believe such nonsense as that. Therefore, presumably, it would do it so that we might be in a position to make an effective contribution, worthy of us as a nation, to the common defence. But if we are to do that there must be some system of common defence. If we are to do that we really must have these alliances in substance with the people who have the greatest power to preserve freedom and who carry the major burden of its preservation.
Surely the Labour Party must agree with that. If it does not, presumably it would never, if it had been in office, have tried to secure the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact or the South East Asia Treaty. But suppose it had entered into these pacts, and suppose it realised that the defence of Australia, and indeed of freedom generally, were a matter of community of effort, of broad alliances with, to use the phrase that the honorable gentleman objects to so much, “great and powerful friends in the world “. Suppose it understood that. Are we really to understand that, having made those treaties, having done whatever it thought proper in the defence field, having perhaps more forces than we now have, it would have said in those circumstances, when Vietnam, a protocol country, asked for help: “ No. We are very sorry. We cannot give you help. We know that America is doing so. That is all right for America, but we cannot give you help unless you now sit down and thrash out a special mutual treaty with us.”? I end there, because I referred to it earlier.
This, to me, is the most fantastic evidence of the utterly unreal and utterly academic approach that these people have when they consider these great problems. When they did have the responsibility of government, when there were real things happening that they understood, they had no such approach. They did not talk about treaties then, but now they do. Now they want to put a clog in the operation of the machinery of the South East Asia Treaty. Why? ls it because they believe in the Treaty, or because at heart they do not believe in the
Treaty? Or is it because, which seems most probable, they have such deep divisions of opinion between soberminded right wing members of the Labour Party who, I will undertake to say, have agreed with almost everything I have said today, and a left wing which, in its heart, is not hostile to Communism but, in its heart, is deeply hostile to the United States of America, the greatest free power in the world?
.- Everybody in this Parliament must recognise that when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) speaks he does so under certain inhibitions which prevent him from saying all that he thinks about every situation in the world. They must recognise also that others in the Parliament who do not carry the same responsibilities are perhaps freer to speak. But what is regrettable is, again, the completely erroneous kind of judgment, not on those matters where, if he said anything, he might create an international situation, but upon those matters which are entirely in his own jurisdiction. Once again we have had tremendous firmness of statement, with no explanation whatever as to the pathetic military capacity to carry it out.
The Prime Minister speaks about the strength of Cabinet’s position on Malaysia, but the whole world speaks of Australian “ token forces “ in Vietnam and Australian “ token forces “ in Malaysia. It is this appalling contrast between capacity to act and strength of statement which is one of our main problems as the Opposition in looking at the Government. There seems to us to be a maximum commitment combined with a minimum capacity - and this has gone on for a number of years. The second matter, concerning something entirely in the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister, was his reference to New Guinea. To make our position there seem something very satisfactory he resorted to a method of statement about our aid for undeveloped areas. If we included Papua and New Guinea, aid was 100 million dollars. Why dollars; except that 100 million dollars sounds a bigger sum than the same amount stated in pounds? We have not yet a dollar currency. Our expenditure in Papua and New Guinea is £28 million. I believe this to be very inadequate. Before the war our expenditure in Papua and New Guinea was £100,000. The late Mr. Ward, when Minister for External Territories, raised the figure to £2,500,000. The present Government has raised it to £28 million. But in this sum there is an expenditure of a little over £3 million on education in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which has more children of school age than Victoria has. Expenditure on education in the State of Victoria, public and private - from university all the way down to primary - is £65 million. If we are to look at the preparation of New Guinea to stand on its own feet, let us look at it in the perspective of these two figures. New Guinea would not be prepared for independence in 50 years on that: basis, and we have not 50 years.
The other point was the Prime Minister’s reference to constitutional processes. Let me say to the Prime Minister that none of us has any doubts whatever about the constitutional processes of the U.S.A., but we do have very deep worries - and there are grounds for concern after the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem - about the unconstitutional processes of the South Vietnam Government and whether that Government in fact rests upon the consent of the South Vietnamese people. A government involved in guerrilla warfare, if it does not rest upon popular consent, is not a very strong reed upon which to build any policy at all. We know all about the constitutional processes of the U.S., but we definitely want to know more about the constitutional processes of South Vietnam. While a great state of tension has arisen over the repelled naval action by Vietcong forces in the Gulf of Tonkin, three months ago on 3rd May 1964, those same naval forces, apparently through frogmen, sank the U.S. aircraft carrier “Card” in the harbour in Saigon. Curiously enough, this produced so little ferment in the world that when I was trying to find the actual date of the episode I found pressmen denying that it had actually taken place.
The Government’s foreign policy in South and South East Asia might be described as that of a government dealing with a number of independent States, the independence of which the Government has always regretted. It seeks to play a part in the politics of power, without power. It has no power, because it has no effective defence policy. The Government plays no significant part in the politics of international welfare, because it will not ask the Australian community for any significant diversion of wealth from the luxuries dear to an affluent society, to help close the gap between the developed and the under-developed world. It says little of the Colombo plan or of social conditions in South East Asia, and if anyone speaks about social conditions and political conditions in South East Asia the Government evinces very considerable irritation, as if the military shield alone, with nothing happening behind it to consolidate, were a total policy.
The Government can play no effective part in the politics of ideology because, since Suez and before it, its leader is regarded in Asia and Africa as having at best only a tepid sympathy with the legitimate aspirations of the Asian and African people. This is shown at every conference of Prime Ministers. As the Prime Minister has spoken of South East Asia on a number of occasions, he has conjured up in my mind the picture of an occasion when he made one of his speeches in the Parliamentary dining room at a national reception. The occasion was the reception to Ngo Dinh Diem. That dignified Asian statesman sat next to him and received his praise. He was commended by the Prime Minister as a figure of sanity and competence in the South East Asian scene. When he was murdered by the present leaders of South Vietnam, his death was passed over in silence in this House, in contrast to the obsequies usually given to foreign statesmen, although he once sat on the floor of this House as an honoured guest. The charges made against him that he persecuted Buddhists have been largely withdrawn by the Press and by the press officers of the United States State Department who made them.
I fear the consequences of political assassination more than I fear almost anything else. They may not be immediate. They always destroy faith. They are uncontrollable. The assassination of an Austrian archduke produced 20 million dead. The assassination of President Kennedy may lead to power for a President Goldwater, and set the world on fire. The assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem has struck a blow at the credentials of the men who succeed him and has divided the non-Communist elements of South Vietnam. It was the most anti-Communist elements of South Vietnam - the Catholics - who demonstrated in
Saigon for the removal of Ambassador Lodge. A price is going to be paid for that assassination.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has asserted that Communism can be stopped in South East Asia only by force. Whose force? Clearly he means the force of the United States. This force can be applied only in a situation where many in South East Asia are prepared to co-operate to prevent the spread of Communism. They will do so if they trust the motives of the West. I doubt whether trust has risen since the death of Ngo Dinh Diem. This Government will need to change its international demeanour very considerably if it is to be one of the factors in the world that Asia and Africa will regard as completely trustworthy.
Generally speaking, there is in Asia and Africa no middle calss and no industrial working class. The bloc support for both economic Liberalism and Socialism is relatively weak. Private capital tends to be foreign and therefore tends to be suspect in an era of independence. Leadership tends to be in the hands of either the old elements of society under challenge or in the hands of an intelligentsia during any transition which takes place from an agrarian and static society to a modern, industrial and urban society. If the general material and cultural level of a people rises, if there is a large skilled working class, and if there are mumerous and influential middle class groups, the intelligentsia loses much of its importance. These conditions do not obtain. It is safe to say that this Government has always been hostile to those people who have proven to be the wave of the future in their own countries - until they have established themselves in power. The Liberal party, in opposition and in government, was markedly hostile to Gandhi, Nehru, Azikiwe, Banda, Nkrumah, Nasser and Sukarno in the period of their rise which may or may not have coincided with one or other phase of the Liberal Party’s fortunes in this country. Its spokesmen always denied that these persons represented their people, till their emergence, via prison, as presidents, prime ministers or governorsgeneral demonstrated that they did.
Let us treasure for the record the Prime Minister’s attack on the Chifley Government on 24th September 1947. The accusation of Communism was, of course, made then. It is always regarded as being a contemporary accusation as to the contemporary situation in the Labour Party, but as you go back you cannot find any period of time when it was not made. On 24th September 1947, as reported in “ Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates “, volume 193, page 179, the Prime Minister used for the first time a phrase that he came to repeat, “ ecstacy of suicide “. It always describes the end of white rule. Another theme, with variation, is: “ What is all this talk about colonialism? I was born in the colony of Victoria.”
– Tasmanians colonised Victoria.
– In answer to the honorable member’s interjection, let me say that the comment of Nehru when he heard that was: “Does this man think that life in the colony of Victoria was the same as life in India? “ On 24th September 1947, the Prime Minister said -
So far as Australia is concerned the nearest problem to us, geographically speaking, is the problem of the Netherlands East Indies; and if we are to be judged by results, then I want to say plainly that this Government . . .
That was the Chifley Government - has accepted a policy in relation to the Netherlands East Indies formulated by the Australian Communists, which is a policy of driving the white man out of the Netherlands East Indies just as their policy is to be pliant and complaisant in respect of elements which would drive the white man out of South East Asia and, indeed, out of the whole Asian continent. If that is our policy, then it represents what a great commentator once described as the very ecstacy of suicide - that we a country isolated in the world, with a handful of people, a white man’s country with all the traditions of our race, should want to set ourselves apart by saying to our friends here and there, as in the case of the Dutch, who have been great colonists and our friends, “Out with you, we cannot support you “. The moment there is any trouble we automatically say we are in favour of the rebels. If that is to be our policy, then we shall bc a very lonely country.
Sifting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Government seems to be developing a psychology based on the idea that Malaysia is a cordon sanitaire between us and Indonesia. In point of fact the reverse is the truth. Indonesia lies between us and Malaysia, and it is perfectly legitimate, if these small Australian forces are disposed in Malaysia in anticipation of Indonesian attack, and if an attack occurs and we are at war with Indonesia, to ask: Where are the lines of communication between us and our Australian force in Malaysia? The most likely place for such a conflict between us and Indonesia would be East New Guinea. We have had a conspicuous silence about the problems of our own part of New Guinea, after disquieting episodes such as the mutiny in the Pacific Islands Regiment and the recent mutiny of the police, who are the forces of law and order. We are worried about these things. If that is the field where conflict is to take place, we are worried about Indonesia’s radio propaganda offensive in East New Guinea, which is more effective than a good many of us care to admit. We are worried about the bid made by those on the Indonesian training sailing ship that went into Port Moresby harbour a year or so ago for the minds of the native people of the Port Moresby area - a bid which, according to some of my informants who are responsible officers in New Guinea, was not without some effect.
We reserve the right to judge Communist China on its racial policy. That is a policy of genocide in Tibet. Let us remember that a large number of people in the world today reserve the right to judge us on our racial policy. Yet this Parliament sits complacent while the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission makes an award in the pastoral industry applying to all employees except Aborigines. Are we to say that a man, because of the colour of his skin, is not entitled to a proper wage? In fact, we say it. In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, we refuse to ratify a whole series of International Labour Organisation conventions which represent the best thinking of the world on this problem and which, in some respects, represent the conscience of the world.
Twentyfive years ago, the whole of South and South East Asia, including India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, as it then was, the Philippines, French Indo-China and Portuguese Timor, was under European rule. In that immense area, the only European authority that remains is in Portuguese Timor. The whole of the rest of that part of the world has gained independence and freedom. The peoples there do not want European rule. There is a complete psychology of opposition to it. Those peoples are disposed to be critical of any European rule that still exists. Father T. J. Sheridan, in an article in the “ Catholic Weekly “ of 30th July this year, writing of Thailand, described it as the best country in Asia to be in. It has no problem of Communism, he stated, and it has no problem of colonialism. It is the only country in Asia that has not been under European rule. That is a pretty chastening thought. He does not link colonialism with Communism.
Every realist here knows that we are now confronted by this appalling problem of the guerrilla forces in North Vietnam, which are introducing a new application of the Communist theory of guerrilla warfare by attempting to apply guerrilla tactics to sea warfare, as was demonstrated in the attacks on United States warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. Everyone knows that these guerrilla forces came into being and gained their prestige during nine years of completely futile and useless attempts by France to establish its authority in Vietnam. In the main, those attempts were sympathetically regarded by the Government of this country. Yet they proved completely disastrous. The contrast with Thailand, where this kind of interference did not take place, is something that we ought to think about.
I am sure that Asia wants a clear view of our attitude on racial questions. If we are to have an intelligent ideological strategy in Asia, our strategy must embrace the people of Papua and New Guinea and the Aboriginal people, of whom we take no notice, but concerning whom the world takes a great deal of notice. Why should not the peoples of the world take notice of our attitude? If I want to make a test case about Communist China, I do not care how many dams the Chinese Government has built across the Hwang-ho River. I do not care anything about the achievements in a field such as that, important though they may be to the people of China. The international demeanour of China is what concerns me in these matters. If I make a test case about what the Chinese are doing in Tibet, why should not they make a test case about our racial policies?
Our policies on racial matters occasion the greatest disquiet. We are practically unconscious of them. Unconsciously, we say that a person who is an Aboriginal shall not receive a decent wage. We will not ratify conventions governing labour conditions in Papua and New Guinea. What is the situation in that Territory? Wages on plantations are only 30s. a month. There is a flight of £5 million of capital from the Territory a year - largely from plantations. At least, this shows that a few people can afford something. The Tolai and the Chimbu people have taken over plantations that they are conducting for themselves. Last year, the Tolai people, as a tribe, made £1 million and the Chimbu people made £250,000. They recognise the difference between owning a plantation collectively as a tribe and being at the receiving end of a wage structure based on our flat refusal to take any notice of the conscience of the world as expressed in these conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
Every utterance this Government makes on the racial issue shows lack of comprehension of the real nature of anti-colonial sentiment - the belief that manhood and dignity are denied subject peoples. The Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Conferences told African Prime Ministers they must not discuss apartheid, or the fact that the vast majority of the people of Southern Rhodesia may not have the right to vote in their own country. This seems to be taken abroad to mean in some way or other a doctrine of white supremacy - a doctrine that the whole of Asia must regard as poison.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Sir, I refer to the news broadcast on the national service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission this morning, in which, reporting the debate on the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads Bill yesterday, it was stated that I had said that the Bureau could not be left to the city slickers. I shall explain how the mistake in the broadcast occurred, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During the debate, referring to the men to be selected as members of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, I said -
They must not be men with a city complex.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) interjected -
You do not like the city slickers.
I replied -
The honorable member for Watson says that I do not like the city slickers.
I did not say it; he said it.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) should in one sense be congratulated on the performance that he gave both before and after the suspension of the sitting, because he quite successfully obscured his Party’s views on the difficulties in South Vietnam. Knowing something of his feelings and some of his problems, I can well understand why he wanted to do this. However, at the beginning of his speech he said something that perhaps requires some answer. He stated that there were a divergence and a contradiction between the strength of the statements coming from this Government and the capacity of Australia to act. That is quite naive. It is nonsense to judge the strength of our policies and our statements just on our own capacity to act. We have allies who believe in the same things that we believe in. Our capacity to act must be judged, not on our own endeavours or our own abilities, but on our abilities combined with the initiative and will of our allies. The honorable member implied that we can pursue a foreign policy only if we ourselves have sufficient forces to enable us to give effect to it. That is apparent in what he said. But this is quite unrealistic. We and our allies are inter-dependent, and there should be no need to say that the policies that we pursue depend on allies who believe in the same things that we believe in.
Last Tuesday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) rose after a very short statement had been made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), and, with apparent pride, said -
There is no such thing as a bipartisan foreign policy in this country.
This is a curious, statement, and curious in the tone in which he delivered it. Does he take pride in dividing Australia on matters which affect the security, survival and independence of the nation? Has he ever checked his premises in order to see whether he is right in what he is doing in these matters? Can he not see that Australia needs national unity in an exceedingly difficult world? Does he not know that a people who speak with one voice on great matters of survival will be respected and that their voice will be heard?
In a Press statement issued earlier he said something in which I can hardly believe he has any conviction. Did he believe what he said when he accused the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) of treating matters of life and death for Australia as an exercise in piecemeal propaganda and cheap publicity? A more accurate description of what the Leader of the Opposition does himself could hardly have been given by any one. These words apply to what he said, certainly not to what our Prime Minister says or does in these fields. So I cannot really believe that the Leader of the Opposition has any conviction in this opinion. I wonder whether the Leader of Opposition can ever stand far enough apart from himself and from what he does as to be occasionally ashamed of what he does. He is a leader who is kept in power by divisions in his own party and a leader who distrusts his own deputy - with good cause, as every person in this Parliament knows - and, as a result, flirts with a man of extreme radical convictions.
The House and most people in Australia know the Leader of the Opposition and know his character pretty well. We, in this place have a right to expect that the bitterness, distrust and rancour that his own party experiences have left with him should not be turned against this Parliament and against the Australian people, but that is what he does. It is natural that he should feel bitterness in matters of foreign policy, because on Monday of this week it was demonstrated in clear terms that there is no unity in his party. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) made a speech which was in flat contradiction of one made the day before by the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister quoted some passages from the speech of the honorable member for Yarra, who said -
This policy of war has no basis in morals or justice. No one can say war is justified because it will bring democracy and justice to Vietnam.
This is the view of the honorable member for Yarra. He could well have been summing up some of the views or arguments put forward by people who have circulated propaganda of one kind or another to members of this House.
We should make an effort to understand what is happening in South Vietnam. We should not make the sort of superficial judgment that is made by the honorable member for Yarra and people who think in the way he does. From 1954 to 1958 or 1959 the struggle against the Vietcong insurgents was going reasonably well. As a direct result of this, the Vietminh in Hanoi made the decision to accept direct responsibility for reinforcements and supplies in this war. It is not just a civil war, as has been said by honorable members opposite. It is a war directed from North Vietnam and, through the North Vietnamese, from Communist China. It has been reinforced through North Vietnam. It is supplied in large quantities with sophisticated equipment and arms from North Vietnam and Communist China. We can understand the Vietcong tactics. The purpose is to demonstrate that the central government cannot afford security to the people in the hamlets and villages. So this campaign is one of sheer terror, murder and attack of different kinds. If you have any qualities of leadership in a local area, you will be picked out for assassination. School teachers and school houses have been picked as subjects for attack. I think that last year 2,000 individuals were assassinated by the Vietcong.
It is worth noting the difference between the difficulties in South Vietnam and the former Communist menace which threatened the integrity of Malaya some years ago. People have asked why, if the British could overcome the difficulties in the Grown Colony of Malaya, it is so difficult to do so in South Vietnam. At that time Malaya was a Crown Colony and General Templar could say: “ Do this “, and know that it would be done. The Americans are in South Vietnam by invitation. They are advisers and they are working in a difficult field. In Malaya the Communists were largely Chinese and were very easily identifiable, but in South Vietnam they are people of the same race and are not easily identifiable. In Malaya the border areas could be cut off and the terrorists could be isolated. In South Vietnam there are open lines of communication for supplies and reinforcements to at least one and probably two or three other countries which support the Communist insurgents. The quality of the troops available to General Templar was probably infinitely superior to the quality of the troops in South Vietnam. We should recognise these difficulties and recognise that there is no comparison between the two situations. The task in this struggle is infinitely more difficult and more painstaking.
The Leader of the Opposition said that this matter could probably be dealt with if we devoted more attention to social and economic problems and did not pay so much attention to the military solution. This is said by quite a number of people, but it ignores the very elementary fact that social and economic solutions are useless unless there is military security. That is lacking in South Vietnam. You can therefore do nothing to provide more fertilizers for the farms and better implements for the peasants. You cannot enforce the tenant laws in a fair and just way. You cannot dig additional wells for hamlets and provide more schools and health services for the people of the countryside if there is no military security. The unfortunate fact is that in a large part of South Vietnam military security is completely lacking. One of the reasons for Diem’s failure in the strategic hamlet project was that he wanted to make a show over the whole countryside, so a hamlet would be established in one place and another elsewhere. But the hamlets were surrounded by the Vietcong and areas that had not been pacified. As soon as the military moved out the Vietcong would come back.
The present plan involves a much more painstaking approach, making sure that all of an area is cleared and leaving behind sufficient forces of one kind or another to prevent the Vietcong from coming back. The present plan also involves a social, administrative and economic programme that will move into an area immediately after the military venture has succeeded. But up to the present there has not been very much success with this plan. It was explained to me that, although the authorities had been training civil administrators to move in after the military venture, they did not want the military programme to get too far ahead of what would have to follow if loyalty to Saigon was to be established. I was told that there are now people with sufficient training to undertake the civil side of this programme and that therefore one should be able to expect some progress in the future. But the success of this programme will depend upon the quality of what is done by the South Vietnamese themselves.
In the United States of America there is a complete resolve to do what has to be done in South Vietnam in order to win. There is not the same complete agreement over the means to be adopted, because it is difficult, in a problem of this kind, to have complete unanimity in regard to the means to be used to allow the Government of South Vietnam to be viable and strong entirely in its own right. The decisions so far made by the United States of America are decisions to do much more of the same kind of thing as has been done in the past, but to do things well where they have been done badly and to do things effectively where before they have been ineffective. If this failed, it would certainly not be the end of the road and other methods and means would be tried.
It is worth noting that the United States of America had for some time felt particularly lonely in the struggle in South Vietnam, because it did not want this to be classed in any sense as an American war. The Americans are there by invitation, as the Prime Minister said, to support a country which is trying desperately to fight against Communism. I was fortunate to be in Washington when our Minister for External Affairs spoke in Saigon and when the announcement of the commitment of our Caribous to South Vietnam was made. This was extraordinarily welcome because the United States of America realises and recognises that this country is prepared to stand up and be counted with it. This was what was wanted, in many senses.
The importance of South Vietnam not only to itself but also to other countries in South-East Asia or Africa and South America could not be over-emphasised, because the tactics that are used there, if successful, will clearly spread to other areas.
Some people - and I would suspect that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) would be one of them - would say that if a country is peaceful and if the people are secure this kind of subversion can never be successful, but that is completely and utterly naive. Does he suggest that if the murder that is practised on the scale it is in South Vietnam were turned to Thailand there would be complete security in that country and no danger to it? If one cannot have security, social and economic harmony alone are not sufficient. If there is defeat in South Vietnam these tactics will clearly spread.
It is all the more important that the West does not allow them to spread, because in one sense this is the last kind of war available to the Communists. They tried force in Berlin and met with complete resolve and willingness to use nuclear power, and so Berlin is still free. They tried force in Cuba, with the result which is known. But there is this kind of war of subversion which is much more difficult to deal with and reply to. It is difficult to explain, but at some stage it may be necessary to be prepared to give the same total response and answer to this kind of threat as it was to the threat to Berlin and Cuba. At some stage this may have to be done.
According to the Opposition there are many views concerning the extent of the supplies and the importance of the suppliers of aid to South Vietnam. The statement of the United States Secretary for Defence quoted by the Leader of the Opposition is something that we should note with some care, because as read by the Leader of the Opposition the statement said there are no North Vietnamese units operating in South Vietnam. This, I think, is probably correct, because the North Vietnamese until a short while ago were not operating as units in South Vietnam; but North Vietnamese in the south are spread right throughout the Vietcong, not as units of the North Army but to provide a very thorough stiffening for the Vietcong. So, this statement cannot be used to say that there is no North Vietnamese participation in the war. It may well be that the supplies from North Vietnam that come from China will have to be prevented from coming into South Vietnam before this war can take a significant change for the better.
If this happens, of course, serious decisions will have to be made, because from the nature of the strategic problem involved you could not cut off these supplies in South Vietnam. They would have to be cut off in Laos or in North Vietnam itself. This involves what the President of the United States has said he does not want - some wider war - ‘but if a decision is made that this is essential to protect South Vietnam I hope that this policy will be adopted.
Since May of this year there have been some signs that something is being done to make the policy of involvement credible because from 1954 until at least May 1964 there was a policy that was not private but public, that the United States would never have her ground forces on the mainland of Asia. In those circumstances Hanoi and Peking could say: “ The war of subversion is safe. The Americans themselves have said they will not become involved with ground troops on the mainland of Asia. Therefore we can do what we like and .we will be safe “. Nothing will lead to war more quickly than to have a strong policy in which your enemies do not believe; therefore, you have to make a policy of strength credible. Statements have been made by various people in the United States administration and various operations have been undertaken over Laos; I have not seen anyone suggest a possible very simple answer to the question of the cause of the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. If the message has got through - as it certainly should have done - to Peking and Hanoi that the United States attitude had changed and became much tougher in this part of the world, it would be reasonable for them to seek out some means of testing this for themselves, to see whether it was really true. Would it be unreasonable, in this concept, to dispatch a gunboat or two against an American destroyer to see what would happen? If this was the reason, and it may well have been, they had their answer and should know what the United States will do in future.
There is one other point which is important in making a policy of involvement credible and trying to prevent these outside countries from interfering with their neighbours. You must not only convince Hanoi and Peking that you are prepared to be strong; you have to convince them that what you are doing has a limited objective of preventing them from interfering with South Vietnam. If they came to believe, rightly or wrongly, that what you were doing was aimed at the heart of their own regimes the commitment of their total forces would be inevitable.
The United States has said that the West will win in South Vietnam. Perhaps no man can guarantee victory, but if we do not try with all the strength at our command defeat is certain and the subjection of most of South East Asia and the spread of the threat to other areas will most probably follow.
While major energies must be directed to South Vietnam we should look at what we are doing in other countries to try to build up their strength in military and economic terms and to see whether their strength cannot be improved. We must - where possible by diplomacy; if necessary by force - establish standards of behaviour in those areas so that nations can live without fear of interference from their neighbours. Subversion and interference with neighbours must be made expensive for the countries that sponsor such action. The cost of this may not be cheap, but the longer it is postponed the greater the cost will be.
The struggle between the Communists and the free world has shifted quite plainly from Europe to Asia, and this has implications which are not happy for Australia. We will face difficulties which will stay with us until some time after Communist China has nuclear power and the means of using it. We will need a continued sense of direction and faith in the destiny of our country. In the past, civilisations have been destroyed and peoples have disappeared from the earth because they could not withstand the dangers that beset them. I cannot assume that Australia’s survival is inevitable any more than was. the survival of past civilisations that did not and would not accept the challenge that confronted them. Our survival requires courage, a sense of duty and direction, and some greater sacrifice from every one of us. Survival demands strength and wisdom in leadership. When these combine, as they now do, I have faith, but let us not think we can rest in this task. These problems will remain, I think for my lifetime, and there is no escape from the responsibilities they entail.
.- The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) spent much time in describing to the House his views of honorable members on this side of the Chamber. He tried to suggest there was disagreement among members on this side. I do not know where he gets his information, but I am of the opinion that there is disagreement on his side because I understand the party attached to his party is not very happy with the Government. Probably when the gerrymander is effected, about which the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) spoke not long ago when he was tendered a dinner at Murwillumbah -
– You accuse the Government of a gerrymander. We object to that.
– Order! The honorable member will address the Chair.
– We will see when the time comes. This debate is held, I hope, to see what ways and means may be devised of bringing about a satisfactory peace in South Vietnam. When we, on this side, say that all forms should be used to bring about a cessation of hoistilities we are classed by some people as suspect. This morning it was said that all means should be used, including the Geneva Agreement and the United Nations. We know that we cannot now bring the matter before the United Nations. All the parties involved are not signatories to the United Nations Charter, but we can register our protest to the United Nations. It is worth remembering that the countries that are signatories to the Geneva Conference are France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the Republic of China, the three associated States and the Vietnam Government. Why cannot these people be brought together to determine what can be done to stop this dreadful war which is now waging?
I remember when I was a small boy reading in the Press a remark passed by Dame Nellie Melba to Dame Clara Butt who was about to leave for Australia. Dame Clara said to Dame Nellie Melba: “What shall I sing to them when I get out there?” She received the reply: “ Sing them muck; they know no better “. I am sorry to say that that quotation, in some respects - and I do not mean “sing them muck” - applies to this Government in regard to its feelings towards the people of Australia. The Government tells the people what it likes and when it likes. But what the people of Australia want is a clear, precise and understanding statement of the serious position which obtains in the world.
It is obvious that the recent naval action in the Gulf of Tonkin was not taken as seriously by the Prime Minister as it should have been. We were told that the Government decided to make a statement after pressure by diplomatic sources and the Press. Now we are debating a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) when in my opinion that statement should have been made by the Prime Minister. Honorable members will remember the consternation that followed the request by the Leader of the Opposition that this debate be held. Evidently the Minister for External Affairs did not expect that the Opposition wanted to debate this issue because he called two Cabinet Ministers to his aid and after some consideration they agreed to let it proceed.
This performance by the Minister and his colleagues reminds me of something which took place at a football match in Melbourne not so long ago. After one of the players had kicked a goal, an infringement took place and a little meeting was held. The player was asked whether he wanted to go on with it and he said: “ No, let it stand”. Surely the Minister for External Affairs should have known that an important subject like this was worthy of debate. He should not have had to go to his two colleagues to see whether a debate would be allowed. That sort of thing is not good enough. The people of Australia expect better treatment.
In these modern times, military and political situations and crises will not stand still, no matter where they occur. They have to be dealt with immediately. Changes are taking place all over the world and most people find it hard to follow just what is happening. Communism is changing - and when I say this I am not speaking as an admirer of Communism. Many of those who call themselves Communists today have ideas different from those who professed Communism 15 or 20 years ago. There is no need to point this out really because most people realise how changes have taken place. No doubt 15 years hence the ideas of many Communists, and their attitudes, will have changed again. Some Communists may move closer to the Western allies and if this happens we should be ready to extend the hand of friendship and try to teach them our way of life.
Since the end of World War II an extreme growth of nationalism has developed in many parts of the world, and this in its crude manifestations could even rival Communism. We in Australia come in contact with these two movements. I daresay it is safe to say that our neighbour Indonesia is a country of strong nationalism. We in Australia have no desire to alter this feeling. So long as Indonesia can contain and retain her newfound feeling it is up to us to encourage it.
The present war in South Vietnam causes much concern. Well informed pressmen say that the war there cannot be won. Others have the view that a show of strength will be maintained in this area until after the presidential elections in the United States of America. I passed through Saigon about 12 months ago and iri the short talks that I had with people in the know, I was told that they could not last out longer than three years. I will be glad to hear the views on that point of honorable members who passed through that area recently.
If the war there is lost, as so many people seem to think, where do we stand in Australia? That is the point uppermost in the minds of most Australians. Will the 100 million Indonesians embrace Communism? Will we in Australia be cut off and become that little bit of Europe in Asia? I am afraid we will if the Indonesians do embrace Communism. I hope that these problems can be solved to the satisfaction of everyone. Australians do not want wars. We want to live in harmony with our neighbours.
This part of the world in which we live is bound up with treaties which overlap and surely leave room for much criticism.
In that context I want to refer to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. This Government has had numerous opportunities to explain to the people, in simple language, just what these treaties mean. I am sorry to say it has failed to do this. The signatories to S.E.A.T.O. are the United States of America, Britain, France, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand. The U.S.A., as a S.E.A.T.O. power is advising South Vietnam on how to win the war. I understand the U.S.A. is doing this at an estimated cost of 1 million dollars a day. Australia, as a member of S.E.A.T.O., is giving assistance in its own small way in an advisory capacity. France, on the other hand, has now recognised Red China and gives the Chinese advice. It would appear, from the little information one can get, that with the exchange of ambassadors between Peking and Paris, France is endeavouring to do something about saving a disintegrating western civilisation. France fought a futile war in Indo-China for eight years. President de Gaulle himself - so far as one can gather from the many statements he has made - is convinced that intervention in South Vietnam is doomed to failure.
Opposition members do not go along with everything that either France or the French statesmen say. We do not go along with every thing that President de Gaulle says. For instance, we do not want France to explode its nuclear bomb in the Pacific. We have asked the Government to do all it can to prevent this happening. I hope the Government will use all the diplomatic pressure it has to try to have this action’ stopped. New Zealand has taken this action. I feel it would be bad for Australia if this bomb were exploded as the experts say that there is quite a possibility that a lot of the fall-out would arrive on these shores because of the directions of the winds. It is a great pity that Red China and France did not sign the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963. It is evident both countries saw that by signing this treaty they would not be admitted to the so called nuclear club. As both these powers are aspiring, unfortunately, to gain their nuclear goals, it can be readily understood why they did not sign it.
The Australian Labour Party accepts the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. It is mischievous for honorable members on the Government side to say otherwise. Admittedly we criticised the sending of troops to Malaya. We did so because we say we should have a clear, concise and open public treaty. Until we have such treaties the people of Australia will never know what is going on. These treaties must be made as clear as possible so that everybody understands them. The presence of our troops in other parts of the world should be brought about by treaty only.
We on this side of the House have been accused of not doing enough for defence. This morning I heard the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) say the same thing. He said that the Opposition is always trundling up to the Government the question: “ What are you doing about defence?” On Tuesday last in this House I asked a question of the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) because I have been very concerned about what I call our unpreparedness in the north of Australia. I asked him a simple question, which I would like to repeat. It was -
Has the Minister seen recent reports in the Press that radar units in our northern area go out of operation during weekends? Are these reports correct? If they are, will the Minister take steps to ensure that a constant watch is kept?
The Minister said in reply -
Yes, I have seen those reports. As a rule, the radar stations in the north are not manned continuously, but it is not correct that they are manned only in normal working hours.
This is the important part of his reply -
At the moment we do not consider that the dangers to our north are such that we need to keep a constant watch.
That reply came from a Minister of the Crown. We are spending millions of pounds on defence. Yet we are told that the dangers do not exist.
Yesterday the Prime Minister found it necessary to pay a great compliment to Sir Winston Churchill. The day before, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), when replying to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), mentioned that he would not like to see another crisis such as that which resulted in the Eighth Division being cut off in Malaya. That brought to my mind events which happened in 1942. The much maligned Aus tralian Labour Party is accused of not running its affairs properly. Like yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was in the forces on the other side of the world at that time. I did not know what was going on here. It is as well to have a look at what happened then. When the divisions were coming back from the Middle East, Sir Winston Churchill took it upon himself to divert some of our forces towards Burma without first asking the permission of Mr. Curtin, who was the Prime Minister of this country. Mr. Curtin had been in touch with his advisers in Australia and was convinced that those troops should return to Australia. It took 26 pages of foolscap cables to convince the British War Cabinet that the troops should be returned to Australia. They came back to Australia and earned much credit for themselves. If Mr. Curtin had given in and had agreed to send them to Burma they would have been cut off and their fate would have been similar to that of the troops in Singapore. I point out those things, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because we on this side of the House are as much concerned with foreign affairs and with loyalty to our country as any other persons in Australia. I have said before that there are as many honorable members on this side of the House as there are on the other side who are prepared to do their bit for their country. That comment applies equally to the many people who follow our party.
I deplore people getting up and casting unwarranted aspersions at us. We want to do all in our power to see that our neighbours live properly. If we can fill their bellies we will not have much trouble. Communism grew after the Second World War. There was no such thing as Communism in China as we know it today. Communism will spread because of want. We have to understand that, if we arc not to perish, too.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the purpose of this debate is to look at the incidents that happened recently in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of North Vietnam, and to consider whether the actions of the United States Government deserve our support and whether the actions of our Government were correct in view of the circumstances. First of all, the fact has been established that these attacks on the United States destroyers took place in international waters and not in waters that were part of the territory of North Vietnam. Let me briefly recount the incidents. The first attack was made on a destroyer in daylight. The attackers were driven off without an attempt by the United States vessel to destroy them. President Johnson of the United States of America gave a warning to the North Vietnamese that if acts of this kind happened again their vessels would be destroyed.
Notwithstanding this warning, another attack was launched under the cover of darkness a couple of days later, and United States vessels took action which was calculated to destroy, and in fact, did destroy, a number of North Vietnamese craft. Then followed President Johnson’s solemn and extremely temperate speech, in which he said he felt that the United States would be forced to take limited action. It did so and, in my view, acted with judgment and in such a way as to remind not only the North Vietnamese people but also other people that unwarranted attacks on powers such as the United States could not be left unchallenged. The President referred the matter to the United Nations Security Council and the Congress of me United States. Both Houses of the United States Parliament voted almost unanimously - in fact, there was only one dissentient - to support the action of the President. Finally the Australian Government, from the sidelines as h were, acted promptly and in my opinion correctly.
The Minister said in his statement that our support for the United States was not automatic. This certainly is true, but some involvement in these particular circumstances was automatic. I favour the attitude that the Government adopted in supporting the United States. In this instance America acted within the recognised limits of a non-aggressor so our support should be automatic. We must be consistent. We cannot expect the United States to come to our assistance whenever it suits us, while we reserve the right to desert the United States at a time when she perhaps could be open to criticism by various countries.
As the Minister has said, these incidents should not be taken as isolated events. They are only part of an international pattern showing the aim of Communist ideologies and governments to rule the world. Vietnam is only another paddock in the Communsit objective of making the whole world a collective farm. As President Kennedy said in 1962, the Communist’s determination to expand their power is the real danger and is the inspiration for the conflict between the free world and the Communist bloc. I am sure that the incidents we are now discussing form only a very small part of the overall plan of the Communists to expand their power.
It is well that we should understand that the situation in Vietnam is extremely complex and involves more than actual physical fighting. The United States, which is bearing the burden of keeping the Communists from overrunning South Vietnam, desires and deserves support, not necessarily in the form of materials or money but in the psychological sense. We know that the Communists have infiltrated every part of South Vietnam and are wreaking great havoc in many parts of that country. We know that the United States and Australia are labouring under many major difficulties in trying to deal with that Communist infiltration. To mention a few, there is, first, the lack of determination and will to win among the local people, about 75 per cent, of whom are peasants. Secondly, the morale of the South Vietnamese soldiers is low. Further, the Communists are employing ruthless methods in terrorising villages - methods that are just not within our comprehension and methods that forces of the free world would not use. The South Vietnamese are subject to constant propaganda in which the Communists repeat the one cry: “Let us keep Asia for the Asians, and let us get rid of the Americans “.
The strategic hamlet concept which was so successful in Malaysia has not been successful in South Vietnam. There are many good reasons for this which I shall not detail, but the present plan is to review the concept with a view to implementing it by a different method. However, it will take a long time to implement that plan. The whole position adds up to a complicated, extremely dangerous and almost frightening state of affairs.
Australia is deeply involved in the struggle in South Vietnam. Although we took no physical part in the incidents that are now under discussion, we have advisers and aircraft in South Vietnam. This adds up to a very definite commitment in the area. It seems to me that we are becoming increasingly involved in this sphere because of the Communist tactics and activities of the North Vietnamese which are being supported by the Chinese Communists in North Vietnam. We might as well face the fact that the Communists are not losing ground. In fact, they are gaining ground. This calls for more effort, not only on the part of the United States but also on our part. We cannot expect America to carry the whole burden on her shoulders.
The Australian people are becoming increasingly aware of the danger to Australia which is inherent in the struggle in Vietnam. Previous Communist military activities in Tibet, Hungary and India seemed to be a long way from Australia, but with the constant gains being made in Vietnam and the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin which have been inspired by the Communists, together with the fact that the Communist Party in Indonesia is one of the largest in the world, the Australian people are becoming more alive to the dangers confronting them.
People are wondering what would happen if Sukarno, for one of many reasons, were replaced as head of the Government of Indonesia. The question is being asked: “ What is to prevent the Communists taking over in Indonesia? “ If we do not support the United States as strongly as we possibly can in the struggle in South Vietnam, should the necessity arise to seek assistance from America in the Indonesian sphere, which is very likely, we should not feel very justified about asking for that assistance. I am not suggesting that is the only reason why we should play our part in South Vietnam, but it is certainly a thought which is exercising the mind of many Australians who, I am sure, feel that we definitely should stick with the United States.
I have not heard very many Opposition speeches but I have seen some statements - not necessarily by Opposition members but by people in other countries - reviling America for its attack on certain North Vietnamese forces. Let us look at this whole situation in Asia from the American point of view. America is a country which is comparatively young, which has a turbulent history, which is immensely wealthy and which has very powerful armaments - the word “ awesome “ has been used to describe America’s striking power. For this reason alone America bears a tremendous responsibility in the whole cameo of the nations of the free world. Everyone looks to America for help in time of trouble, but many people and many nations are sniping away at that great country. I think jealousy is the main reason for this.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr Benson) referred to France. We all know how General de Gaulle disregards the views of his allies except when his actions get him into trouble. An example is his recognition of Communist China and his withdrawal of recognition of Nationalist China. America often finds that her allies have deserted her. I hope that Australia never lets the United States down. The American personnel in South Vietnam are devoted to their job of advising the South Vietnamese in their struggle for freedom. Often their advice is frustratingly unheeded by the South Vietnamese. But the Americans, as well as the Australians in the area, persevere. The Americans in South Vietnam are the constant target of attacks and threats of attack. They constantly hear lying propaganda about America - that great nation that has done so much for the world. I am sure that all these things must build up inside the individual American servicemen who are away from home trying to do their part to maintain the freedom of the world and the type of government that we enjoy. They must ask themselves: “How long will this continue? When will our Service chiefs give us the satisfaction of taking the offensive?” Well, the chance came - and it was only by chance that the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin occurred. I am sure that American and Australian servicemen in South Vietnam must have been assisted psychologically by recent happenings there.
As I have already said, I thoroughly approve the Australian Government’s action in relation to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Australia’s re-action was prompt and strong - m keeping with the highest traditions of our relations with the United States. In view of the existing situation concerning Malaysia and Indonesia and the situation that may arise in the future I urge the Government to keep the people of Australia realistically informed on all relevant matters so that they may know exactly how Australia is committed and what dangers Australia faces. Some honorable members have referred to the Communists. Several honorable members on this side of the House have given stern warnings about the threat presented to Australia by the Communists. I know that sometimes those warnings are disregarded. I do not agree with everything that my colleagues have said, but I am beginning to think that too many warnings to the people of Australia are, like those given before the last war, unheeded. The entire situation in Asia calls for alertness, courage and intelligence coupled with the facility for flexible thought and flexible action. The incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin demanded those qualities. The President of the United States and both Houses of the Congress exhibited those qualities. In my opinion they handled the matter with sound judgment, and their actions have my full support.
.- In the few minutes that I have to discuss international problems I desire to comment on the historical background of the people’s struggle for freedom in Vietnam. Because time docs not permit I -will not in all cases give the authority for my comments. I have drawn a good deal on “The Cold War and its Origins, 1917-1960” written by Professor D. F. Fleming, Research Professor of International Relations at Vanderbilt University in the United States.
Indo China was an artificial creation of French imperialism. Geographically it is divided into east and west by a great mountain divide. On the western side live the peoples of Laos and Cambodia. On the eastern side of the long peninsula, along the China Sea, dwell the Annamites or Vietnamese.
French imperialism in Indo China was founded on Catholic missionary activity. Two Jesuit priests founded a mission in 1615. The first company for Indo China trade was organised in 1665. The military conquest of the Indo China peninsula by the French occurred in 1858 - and I do not know of any Communists living at that time. In a war between France and China in 1885 - it is interesting to note that it was over opium and Tonkin - the French made an historical mistake. They divided Annam into three parts. This historically was a mistake because Annamite nationalism had been strongly forged in a two thousand years struggle against Chinese domination. The French tried by different administrative methods to sunder what history had knit together throughout 20 centuries of common traditions. It is worthwhile honorable members giving thought to this. The Annamites or the Vietnamese stood against Chinese oppression for 20 centuries. Will they now succumb to the domination of China, as many honorable members say they will? Widespread revolt by starving peasants afflicted by a series of natural calamities was suppressed by the French during 1931, with great damage and brutality. French retribution was swift and cruel. Suspects were condemned en masse, often without real trial or evidence. The French Foreign Legion was turned loose, the prisons were filled and thousands of people were killed.
When World War II broke out the French did not attempt even to gain the help of the Indo Chinese people. Instead they let the Japanese walk into the colony and gradually yielded actual control in return for the preservation of the visible forms of their government. Far from organising an underground movement against the Japanese, for fear of stirring up nationalism, they continued to put down native uprisings and gaoled thousands of nationalists. This situation continued until the Japanese seized full control of the country on 9th March 1945 and asked Emperor Bao Dai to cut the country off from France by rallying nationalist sentiment. As one means of doing so he revived the name Vietnam and, with the aid of the Japanese, was able to join Cochin China and Tonkin to Annam, thus re-establishing the ancient unity of the Vietnamese people.
In France the Gaullist Cabinet announced on 24th March 1945 a new semi autonomous status for Indo China, partly in an effort to ward off an international trusteeship which President Roosevelt had proposed at Teheran but which Prime Minister Churchill had blocked. Roosevelt had advanced the same idea to Secretary of State Hull in January 1944, saying -
France has milked the country for 100 years and the people of Indo China are entitled to something better than that.
There were no Communists then. Over 100 years Indo China had been bled by French imperialism. By May 1945 the Vietminh organisation bad become a broad national movement, uniting large numbers of Vietnamese regardless of their politics, and reaching down into the masses. In November 1946 fighting broke out. The French agreement to respect Vietnamese sovereignty ended. Admiral d’Argenlieu then in Paris, proposed to Premier Bidault that the opportunity be seized to teach the Vietnamese a lesson. He received permission to do so - using artillery if he desired.
The French in Haiphong demurred, pointing out that the grave situation required the settlement of incidents, not their exploitation. Then an order from Saigon to the military commander directed him to give a severe lesson by using all means at his disposal to make himself complete master of Haiphong and so bring the Vietnamese army around to a better understanding of the situation. This was done on 23rd November 1946 by bombarding and bombing the Vietnamese quarter after a two hour ultimatum, completely destroying it and killing 6,000 people. We know the brutality that the Vietnamese people had to put up with under the French regime and of their struggles during eight years of bloody war.
Hastened by the fall of Dien Bien Phu, where over 40,000 Frenchmen surrendered, the futile struggle was ended by the Geneva Agreement, worked out by an international conference under the chairmanship of Britain and the Soviet Union and signed on 21st July 1954 by representatives of France, Laos, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The United States of America, while declining to sign the Agreement, specifically promised to refrain from the use of force to disturb it and promised to continue to seek unification of the divided countries through free elections supervised by the United Nations. My authority for this information is Keesing’s Contemporary Archives for the period 24th to 31st July 1954. At that time Mr. Bedell Smith spoke on behalf of the United States Government.
As a result of the Agreement, Vietnam was divided along the 17th parallel. Elections were to be held within two years to determine the composition of the Government. We know that in 1955 the Diem Government came into power, supported by American forces at that time. Of course, in 1956 no elections were held for the whole of Vietnam and we must keep in mind that between 1954 and 1957 there was no guerilla warfare in South Vietnam and no Vietcong forces. In 1957 the Vietcong forces became active and started a civil revolution L. South Vietnam. There is no argument about that. This struggle continued. Bertrand Russell has described the situation in South Vietnam in this way -
The National Liberation Front in Vietnam is represented throughout the West as a Communist organization, whereas in fact the majority of its adherents are neutralists.
About eighteen months or two years ago a reputable newspaper reporter, John Shaw, wrote much the same thing for the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I have referred previously to the actions of the Americans, the Diem Government and General Minh’s Government, which assassinated President Diem. Now we have General Khanh’s Government and one of the great problems in the United States is the fear that a new coup will bring about the overthrow of General Khanh. Bertrand Russell also said -
The Northern Communists ask for unification of North and South Vietnam with neutrality and with independence from China, Russia and the West. This, however, does not suit the American Government, which insists that South Vietnam must have a wholly pro-American government. The methods pursued by the U.S. to secure this end are causing the hostility of the great majority of the inhabitants of that country. Sixty-five per cent, of the population, or nearly 8 million people, have been uprooted from their homes and confined in concentration camps which are called strategic hamlets.
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) said that this policy is to be reviewed. We know that it has worked against the interests of the people of South Vietnam. Bertrand Russell then said -
Any resistance to this process is dealt with by chemical warfare and napalm. This is done because a popular movement wishes to replace an oligarchy.
There is concern in the U.S. amongst people who are interested in the activities in Vietnam. I shall quote from a report to President Kennedy by a visiting bi-partisan group of United States Senators in 1962 headed by Senator Mansfield. The report referred to “ chaos, intrigue and widespread corruption “ in South Vietnam. Senator Mansfield said -
It would be a disservice to my country not to voice a deep concern over the trend of events in Vietnam in the seven years which have elapsed since my last visit in 1955. What is most disturbing is that Vietnam now appears to be, as it was then, only at the beginning of a beginning to coping with grave internal problems.
Senator Mansfield noted that in the course of seven years and despite the expenditure of 2,000 million dollars of United States aid the Republic of Vietnam was faced with substantially the same difficulties as it faced in 1955.
United States Senator Wayne Morse, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a speech in the Senate on 4th March 1964 said -
The South Vietnam Government . . . ls little more than our own creation. We constructed a government there in 1954 which we then propped up with huge amounts of aid, and which we say invited American troops. Control of the South Vietnamese Government has been passed around within the American financed governing clique until its association with United States support is closer than its association with the people of South Vietnam.
Has not this proved to be a fact? You cannot have guerrilla war or revolution unless you have the people supporting you. The guerrilla forces have the support of the great mass of the Vietnamese people or they would not have survived for these long years. It is the propaganda of the Australian Press that the forces of North Vietnam are fighting in South Vietnam. The Pime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has also said this. But if we look at the evidence we will see that there has been a great deal of restraint on the North Vietnamese. I shall quote from a very reputable American newspaper, of 27th July which reported this statement by the United States Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara - 1 know of no North Vietnamese military units in South Vietnam.
Some people call the conflict “ McNamara’s War “ but he said that there are no North Vietnamese in South Vietnam.
The former head of the United States military forces in South Vietnam, General Paul D. Harkins, said at a Press conference in Saigon -
The guerrillas obviously are not being reinforced or supplied systematically from North Vietnam, China, or any place else. They apparently depend for weapons primarily on whatever they can capture. Many of their weapons are homemade.
I have aken the quotation from the “Washington Post” of 6th March 1963 which reported that statement by the former commander in chief of the forces in South Vietnam until a few months ago. On the other side of the picture, we say that there is aggression from the south to the north of
Vietnam but I shall now quote what Newsweek “ has to say on this subject. It states in its edition of 3rd August 1964 -
General Khanh at a “Day of Shame” rally in Saigon marking the anniversary of the 1954 Geneva Agreement Which partitioned Vietnam into north and south told the throng that “carrying of the war into North Vietnam is not just the wish of thousands of families but also the legitimate demand of Nationalist parties, religious communities, and students “.
General Khanh is an astute politician. He knows that there is a difference of opinion in the United States. He knows that the extreme rightist presidential candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater, already has said: “ We have to drive from the south into the north “. Although I may have certain criticisms of American policy, I make no bones about the fact that I support President Johnson’s stand against Senator Barry Goldwater. I hope that President Johnson is returned as President of the United States. The article in “ Newsweek “ went on to say -
Two days later Vietnamese Air Force Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky officially revealed for the first time that - Vietnamese planes had been dropping “combat teams” into North Vietnam and that Vietnamese pilots were being trained for air strikes against the North.
This American newspaper, “ Newsweek “, is not a Communist journal. It is a liberal journal and is an enlightened journal from time to time. The factor about which I am concerned is that Chinese nationalism is just to the north of North Vietnam. We have to be concerned about that. On 27th July - long before the crisis in the Gulf of Tonkin - “ Newsweek “ pointed out that there are huge masses of Chinese forces in the provinces of Kwangsi and Yunnan. Those forces have been building up over a number of years, not just after the battle in the Gulf of Tonkin. Any incident could spark off trouble and then we could have a nuclear war. If war does spread it will be a nuclear war.
I make the point that first of all we have to stand by the United Nations and try to bring about some balance in this situation. We do not want to see this dispute spread. We know that we cannot solve the problem completely through the United Nations because both North Vietnam and mainland China are not members of the Organisation. That is why we members of the Opposition have said that if there is to be any disarmament and if there is to be world peace the People’s Republic of China has to be admitted to the United Nations. But if we are to solve this problem we cannot wait for that to happen. I do not always agree with General dc Gaulle, but I want to quote something that he has said. It is this -
It does not appear that there can be a military solution in South Vietnam . . . and since war can bring no solution, one must make peace.
That statement was reported in an article in “ Newsweek “ which went on to say -
The General called for a new Geneva-like conference to work out neutralisation of all of what used to be Indo China . . . As a “ condition “ of the conference, he suggested the United States, Russia, Communist China and France should all agree to withdraw from Indo China.
I believe that they are basic words. I also believe that eventually the American people will demand that that policy be pursued.
The Vietnamese people have had a great struggle. Not only did they suffer great hardship for 100 years before the end of the Second World War but also they have suffered 18 years of civil war in their country. The best thing we can do is bring peace to Vietnam. The only way that we can do that is first, by getting the United Nations to talk about the matter, and then supporting a Geneva conference to try to solve the problem as the conference in 1954 tried to solve it, namely by making Indo China a neutralised state and hoping that it will be a buffer between the Communist world and the capitalist world. I believe that history will prove that the North Vietnamese will be no more the puppets of the Chinese in the future than they have been in the last 2,000 years.
.- The statements made by members of the Opposition in the course of this debate, considered in conjunction with certain things that have been said by prominent members of the Opposition outside the House in the last few days, serve to demonstrate what can only be described as a very melancholy fact. That fact - and I do find it melancholy - is that at this time - a time of great danger to Australia - the Opposition party is still wandering at large like a lost tribe in a field of inconsistency and incoherence on the important questions that affect this country’s foreign policy. Let me offer a few examples. The Opposition may not like these, but I will give them. First, wc heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) today some recognition, albeit perhaps grudging recognition, of the fact that the Americans in South Vietnam at the present time are fighting for the cause of freedom and that we, in our own small way, are endeavouring to help them. So far as it went, that was a very welcome statement.
On the other hand, outside this House on Sunday, the honorable gentleman who at the moment appears to occupy the somewhat perilous position of heir semiapparent to the leadership of the Labour Party made some very different statements. Those statements would not sound well to the ears of any Australian with the true interests of his country at heart. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) went so far as to brand, by clear implication, the American actions in the Gulf of Tonkin as aggressive. He went so far as to state, expressly and by implication, that the American effort in South Vietnam is designed not to promote the cause of freedom but to undermine it. All I say is: What a strange and sad difference we notice in the ranks of the Labour Party, in that single example, on what I regard - and I venture to say that no one would disagree with me - as the fundamental problem in South East Asia.
But the matter goes further than that. I want to give another example before I pass on to another subject. Honorable members will remember that on 21st April this year the Leader of the Opposition castigated the then Minister for External Affairs for having stated, on the then Minister’s return from the South East Asia Treaty Organisation conference in Manila, that an attack on Australian troops who were sent to Malaysia to protect that country and its integrity would involve the application of the Anzus Treaty. Most honorable members who are in the House at the present time were present on that somewhat tension-packed night when the Leader of the Opposition levelled a strong attack at Sir Garfield Barwick for having made that statement. The statement was characterised by the Leader of the Opposition as being a statement made in a desperate attempt to mislead the Australian people. The charge was answered at the time, but I have not heard from the Leader of the Opposition, either in the House or outside it, any retraction of the charge that he made against the then Minister of deliberately attempting to mislead the Australian people. But, lo and behold, what did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) say yesterday when he stepped off an aircraft at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport on his return from his world tour?
– Where did you get this?
– Which one would you like, the “Sydney Morning Herald” or the “ Daily Telegraph “? You can have your choice.
– Are they different?
– You can have your choice.
– We want the true version; we do not want either of those.
– I think we will have them, even though my friend, the honorable member for Lang, does not like it. I will read what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had to say yesterday and I ask the House to note the contrast between what he had to say and what the Leader of the Opposition said. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ reports -
Mr. Whitlam said that the former Minister for External Affairs, Sir Garfield Barwick, was correct when he stated earlier this year that A.N.Z.U.S. would operate if Australian troops in Malaysia were attacked.
Perhaps the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will come into the House later in the debate and explain the inconsistency, or perhaps the Leader of the Opposition will do so on another occasion. These examples serve to demonstrate the fundamental division and the disunity in the ranks of the Opposition on the important questions that face us today.
I want, if I may, to turn to another aspect of this important theme of South East Asia. In his speech today the Leader of the Opposition sought to take the Government to task on this score; he said that the statement of the Minister for External Affairs represents a turning away by the Government from any solution of the crisis in South Vietnam other- than a military solution.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who I see wears a very dark pink flower in his buttonhole today, says: “ Hear, hear! “. I want for a moment, if I may, to ask the House to go ba;k to the portion of the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) which was the subject of this criticism by the Leader of the Opposition. The Minister said this -
In the face of events, the Australian Government is convinced that, whatever possibilities the future may hold for a genuine settlement in the region, there is no current alternative to the effort of assisting in South Vietnam to preserve its independence and there is no current alternative to using force as necessary to check the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism.
I venture to suggest that, even on the Opposition side of the House, probably the only people who would fundamentally disagree with those views would be the honorable members for Yarra and Reid (Mr. Uren).
– You can put me in.
– I hear the honorable member. The course of this debate may produce a different story, but we will wait and see. The point I am concerned to make is that that extract, and it is the relevant extract from the Minister’s speech, neither states nor implies that the Government is turning its back on forms of aid for this beleaguered country, South Vietnam, other than military forms of aid.
– Of course it does.
– I am glad my honorable friend from Hindmarsh said that, because I wish to point out to the House, and perhaps to the honorable member if he will listen to me, that the Minister in this statement carefully mentioned both military and other forms of aid. If we look at the record - there is no harm most of the time in looking at the records - we will see that this country, I am proud to say. has contributed greatly in terms of economic and sociological assistance to South Vietnam.
– The honorable member for Reid is showing an unwonted thirst for information. I shall try to satisfy it.
– Hew much?
– I will tell the honorable member if he will give me a go. I gave him a go, but he does not seem to have the same attitude. If the honorable member cares to consult the statistics that are available in the Library, he will find that, according to the Colombo Plan report for the period of the plan’s operations to 31st December 1963, this country provided to South Vietnam alone up to that date technical assistance and capital aid worth £2,330,000. I emphasise that that contribution was made under the Colombo Plan to South Vietnam alone. In addition, it should be stated that over the same period of time we have made matching contributions, sometimes much larger, in economic aid and capital grants to the other underprivileged and under-developed countries of this area.
We have provided assistance towards the establishment of a modern dairying industry in South Vietnam. We have provided teachers. We have provided equipment for breeding livestock and poultry. We have provided radios and receiving equipment worth £83,000 so that the people in the beleaguered villages will be able to be forewarned of the advance of terrorists, who would be labelled by the honorable members for Yarra and Reid, as I understand their sentiments, as a National Liberation Movement. It is a strange perversion of language to describe terrorists, who do not shrink or stop or scruple when it comes to mutilation of men, women and children, in glowing terms of praise as a National Liberation Movement.
– It is humbug.
– It is more than humbug; it is sinister. We have done even more than I have outlined. We have provided road rollers and tractors for municipal works in South Vietnam worth £103,000. We have provided railway carriages, 10 in number, worth £443,000. We have provided 10 diesel buses worth £79,000 and, under this aid scheme, we have supplied sulphate of ammonia worth £253,000. This is the effort made by Australia and, despite this effort, the Leader of the Opposition would seek to characterise the Government’s attitude as an attitude that turns its back on any form of aid other than military aid. The truth of the matter may be thought to be that the Leader of the Opposition either does not know the facts or, if he does know them, will not face up to them.
The Leader of the Opposition would appear to advocate an immediate political solution for South Vietnam rather than any further attempt to hold the line and hope and try with economic aid and military aid to create a better climate for a future political solution. To talk of an immediate political solution in this country as being possible is just simply to ignore the facts. The only political solution that is conceivably available is a solution which was tried in Laos and which was found to be a complete failure. The solution that is apparently proposed by the Opposition is the neutralisation of South Vietnam. The basic condition in attempting to achieve such a solution is plainly and clearly lacking, because any attempt to neutralise South Vietnam by re-convening the Geneva Conference is doomed to failure so long as the Vietcong - dominated, led, supplied and reinforced as it is from outside South Vietnam - continues on its present course.
I remember hearing the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. Johnson) when speaking in a foreign affairs debate in this House on 19th March or thereabouts, say. “ Peace has broken out in Laos “. He said this in the course of a completely sincere attempt, I have no doubt, to advocate the neutralist solution as being feasible in Laos. I am sorry to say - and no doubt the honorable member for Hughes is sorry to hear - that his statement was not borne out by events. The Pathet Lao, the dread Communist forces in Laos, now control more of the country than they did at the time of the cease fire. That country, despite the attempt that was made to neutralise it, is still ravaged by war. Is there any ground for thinking that the situation would be any different if we went to the conference table now and sought neutralisation for Vietnam? The attempt would fail because the North Vietnamese supported by Mainland China are determined to keep the pot of war boiling in South Vietnam, and will treat any attempt to confer to obtain a ceasefire as nothing short of laughable and a further opportunity for them to extend their warlike activities.
This is a great problem. We must not rule out a possibility that a climate may later be created for attempting a political solution, but I would prefer to see the present programme of military, coupled with economic, aid pursued in South Vietnam rather than an attempt made to procure what is at present unprocurable in a climate which will only enable the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong to pursue their own expansionary and subversive policies.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the temporary member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) started off following the same line as other speakers by trying to divert this debate into some argument on what the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said. Now, the honorable member for Parkes has brought into the debate a newspaper report of what it is alleged the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has stated. I do not know what these gentlemen have said. I do know that they are both capable of replying for themselves, as they will. So far as the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is concerned, I read into it that he was saying: “Barwick blundered badly, and that was the reason he got kicked upstairs smartly “. The former minister was like the talking cocky; he could not stop talking. Immediately he arrived back in Australia he had a Press conference at which he repeated statements parrot-like until they became an embarrassment to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and to the United States of America. The action that would have taken place probably six months later had to be speeded up, and the Minister for External Affairs was quickly kicked upstairs because of his diplomatic blunders. That is why the change was made.
As to statements that have been made by the honorable member for Yarra, does anyone believe that the Prime Minister is responsible for the irrational and illogical statements that are so often made by the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and Moreton (Mr. Kiilen)? Is the Prime Minister responsible for the statements on foreign affairs and defence which are made repeatedly by the honorable member for
Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who, not long ago, said that the Australian Government’s friends in Asia believed that the Australian Government was not fair dinkum? Does any honorable member think that the Prime Minister is responsible for all the statements of these gentlemen any more than the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is responsible for all the statements that are made by honorable members on this side of the House?
In the realm of foreign affairs, it is most difficult to say who is right and who is wrong. I doubt if there is anybody who can be sure of his facts. Nobody can be sure that what he says is the correct policy today will not be proved to be incorrect tomorrow, because this is a world in which events and conditions are changing rapidly. I believe the nation will be extremely grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for putting, pressure on this Government to extend the subject of this debate and not confine it to the subject matter of the debate launched by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. The people will also be extremely grateful that the Leader of the Opposition has been responsible for the Prime Minister standing up in Parliament and giving the nation a report on these events, instead of having to rely on what the right honorable gentleman said at some luncheon or some other place as to why our forces are in South Vietnam or any other country.
The Prime Minister went very fully into the reasons why our forces are in Vietnam. He quoted Article IV of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. I intend to quote that Article again. It reads -
Each Party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. Measures taken under this paragraph shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.
That is the Article the Prime Minister quoted. I ask the Government, or the Prime Minister, or the Minister for External Affairs whether Australia has ever reported to the Security Council of the United Nations as required under this Article the fact that Austraiian troops are stationed iri South Vietnam under the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty? This Article requires Australia to do so. Later in this debate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) will be speaking. They may put on record whether or not we have fulfilled our obligations and have in fact reported our action to the Security Council of the United Nations. The people of this country are disturbed by the fact that this Government has not taken them and the Parliament fully into its confidence on what is happening in these areas. They, with this Parliament, are entitled to know and should be informed whether action has been taken in accordance with that requirement of the Treaty.
Let me immediately place on record Labour’s stand so far as the United States is concerned. Our attitude is clear. This morning the Leader of the Opposition plainly stated the action of the Curtin Government in appealing direct to America to come to our aid in our hour of need. At that time the Australian Government regarded the United States as the keystone of Australia’s defence. There has never been any argument about that. Over the years Labour has made it clear that its policy is to co-operate with America and that it will honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances. In relation to the A.N.Z.U.S. treaty Labour believes that the defence alliance with the United States of America and New Zealand is essential and must continue. When in office the Labour Government demonstrated its policy of co-operation with the United States.
The Labour Party is concerned with the future of Australia. The foreign policy of any country, of course, must be designed in its own national interests and in accordance with its international obligations as well. Where Australia, like virtually every other country, is falling down is that we are not fulfilling our obligations as a member nation of the United Nations. That is where the whole trouble lies. If members of the United Nations would only try to fulfil their obligations and make the organisation work by establishing peace forces - although they might not be as effective as we would like them to be - to go into trouble areas, at least they would be attempting to make the United Nations work.
As I said earlier, it is difficult to know whether you are right or wrong on this subject, but one thing is clear; we must have alliances for our defence. In our national interest, we must act on a collective basis. But those alliances are only as strong as our defences will allow them to be. There is no doubt that defence is, as it were, the other side of the coin of foreign affairs. Our national external policy can go only as far as its armed forces will allow it to go. Pacts and treaties without the force to back them up are only scraps of paper.
What do we think of our defences? Admittedly, we are not debating the defence of Australia today, but the subject is so closely allied to foreign policy that we must quickly look at it. Are our defences capable of fulfilling our obligations under our alliances? More importantly, are they strong enough to safeguard Australia? I doubt if they are. We are still waiting for bombers to replace the obsolete Canberras. There is no doubt that we will not get the TFX bombers before 1970 at the earliest. What is going to happen in the meantime? It is true that our Canberras stationed at Butterworth in Malaya may fulfil our obligations under S.E.A.T.O., but they are not worth a bumper in the defence of Australia. The Government has fallen down on its job completely in not having obtained a replacement for the Canberra - not to be stationed outside our shores but here on Australian territory.
The United Nations Organisation, set up after the last war with the object of preventing disputes and further world conflicts, has gone through some pretty critical periods since it was established, but time has proved that its establishment was well worth while. Those who have doubts about its success in preserving world peace should ask themselves how much worse off we would have been without the United Nations. The Charter of the United Nations has been described as a code of conduct which member nations are expected to follow in their relations with one another. Under the Charter member countries are required to settle their disputes peacefully, and certain procedures are laid down for that purpose. They arc required to use force only in self defence or collective defence.
Article 51 of the Charter states -
Nations may use force only in self defence or collective defence against aggression which is armed attack. These are the only circumstances in which a country may for itself decide to resort to arms.
There can be no doubt that if these rules of conduct were carried out by member nations, peace would be fairly well assured. However, although the United Nations code sets out how nations should behave, it fails to provide how an individual nation will be protected against an aggressor nation. In short, there is no provision for collective security. Even if a dispute comes before the Security Council any one of the great powers can apply the veto and no decision is reached.
In recent times, of course, the General Assembly has been used more for advising on disputes. I am not suggesting that the United Nations is powerless. It does provide a world forum where rival blocs can meet and talk together. At various times, and in various places, peace forces from the United Nations have been established. The most recent example was in the Congo where, for four years a force of 20,000 troops representing 21 nations were stationed. There has not been the stability which, perhaps, was expected when the troops left, but at least there was stability for a period and the Congo, like all other countries, has to learn to stand on its own feet.
A regrettable feature of this great experiment was that it almost sent the United Nations Organisation bankrupt. Many nations could not, or would not, pay dues to maintain the United Nations force in the Congo. Amongst them were the great powers of France and Russia. They refused to pay, claiming that the intervention bad not been properly authorised. The obligations of the organisation could not have been carried out but for the willingness of the United States, firstly, and the United Kingdom secondly, to provide the money to keep the peace force in the field. Recently in Moscow, U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations, went on record as saying that a crisis had developed in this matter of finance and that all countries would have to be prepared to review their efforts to finance the organisation’s obligations.
A future peace force could well have a job to do in Malaysia and Indonesia. Such a force could be also the answer to the problem in Vietnam. We know that peace has to be brought about in that area. I am not one of those who think of only nuclear war as being horrible. It is just as bad to have battalions fighting with so-called conventional weapons. A bayonet pushed into a soldier’s belly and twisted brings just as horrible a death as the dropping of a bomb, whether it is a hydrogen bomb or any other kind. War is horrible in any form and we should seek to bring about a peaceful settlement between countries, but to do so we need a force from the United Nations. In my opinion that body is the only organisation that can really do the job.
With all its faults and failures the organisation has assisted in Cyprus, although people are not recognising it’s authority as they should. The United Nations peace force has prevented war in Cyprus, if only for a short time. Every member nation should attempt to build up the influence of the United Nations. The present is a critical time for the organisation and may decide whether it will be a worthwhile force for peace. We believe that we should seek to obtain a political settlement in Vietnam, but of course we are not silly. We realise that you cannot just withdraw a military force and say, in effect, “ We will neutralise the area”, thus leaving a country open to any other force that may wish to break the neutrality.
It has been suggested, of course, that North Vietnam might say: “This is good; neutralise today, Communise tomorrow “. We do not say that one side is right and the other side is wrong. We say that we should try to establish political and economic stability and that we will need a force somewhere in the area to maintain peace and order. Only the United Nations can supply that force. You will never bring economic and political stability to a country while you have guerrilla forces going into that country and shooting people down. It is not a bit of good supplying peasants with machinery to till their soil, or teachers to improve education, if the teachers are to be shot down by guerrilla forces or the peasants aTe to be shot down when they are trying to till their soil. We must have a peace force to ensure that effective neutralisation takes place in all these areas.
I know that it is a difficult problem. You may say: “ We have been trying to do these things for a long time “; but I would reply: “We have to go back and try again.” As the Leader of the Opposition said this morning, when the right honorable Dr. Evatt in this Parliament kept calling for summit talks he was ridiculed by people who said he was foolish, but time has proved that he was correct. As to having the United Nations take action in this matter, let us not say that we cannot do anything about Vietnam because South Vietnam is not a member of the United Nations or because North Vietnam is not a member. We can initiate proceedings by asking the United Nations to participate. We should have taken action to ask the United Nations to intervene in the MalaysiaIndonesia dispute. Why do we lack the courage to do so? Why should Australia not take the initiative in these matters? What are we frightened of? We must show the people of Asia that we do not follow willynilly behind some other nation. We must take the initiative in trying to bring Communist’ China into the United Nations. Allowing Communist China to join the United Nations would not mean that we believed in the Communist form of government, nor would it mean that we believed Formosa should be thrown to the wolves. The people of Formosa should decide their own future. Their future should not be decided by mainland China, by Russia, by America or by Australia, but by the people of Formosa themselves.
I plead with this Parliament and this nation to take the initiative in these matters. We must try to build up the United Nations in order to make it a stronger instrument for peace than it is at the moment. I ask Ministers who are to follow me in this debate - including the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney), who has just entered the chamber - to take the trouble to inform me and the nation whether we have fulfilled our obligation under Article IV of the United Nations Charter, which the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) quoted today.
– I will tell you.
– I ask them to tell me whether we have reported to the Security Council of the United Nations that we have taken action through S.E.A.T.O.
– You would not understand if I did.
– You will dodge the issue just as you dodge all the issues of defence with which this Government is confronted. We will expect you to get up and tell us the facts about this country’s defences. We will expect you to tell us about the “Voyager” disaster. We will expect you to tell us whether we are capable of defending ourselves as well as fulfilling our obligations under our various treaties. You are the gentleman who likes to interject to divert argument, because you have not an argument yourself.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) has not said very much. In any case he has said nothing to which I take great exception and nothing which really requires an answer. He merely ambled on from platitude to platitude. I, therefore, will get on to the few things that I have to say, because, after all, 20 minutes is not a very long time, and that is all I am allowed. I would like to thank honorable members on this side of the House who made it possible for me to tour South East Asia during the recess as a member of the delegation that went to that area. It was one of the most interesting journeys I have ever undertaken. It was unfortunately very short but it was of great interest. Even in a journey of such short duration one can gain many impressions which will be of value in time to come. I saw the various countries, the peoples of those countries and many of their leaders. We had eight briefings. We had audiences, some of an hour’s duration and some longer, with- three heads of state, three prime ministers, three foreign affairs ministers and four senior ministers. We visited three parliaments with their officers and certain members who were there. The gentlemen we met were most frank with us.
We also came into close contact with our three Ambassadors in the area. The fourth had just been relieved and the Charge” d’Affaires was in charge after the Ambassador left. I would like to tell the House that all these gentlemen represent Australia in an excellent manner. They do their jobs very ably and it seemed to me that they were in very good favour with the people amongst whom they performed their tasks.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said this morning that the people of Australia had no knowledge of the nature of the people of South Vietnam or of the war that was being waged in that area. I would, therefore, like to give a few of my own impressions. Some honorable members might not realise just what these countries are like and what the people are like, because they have only newspaper reports on which to form their impressions, and those reports deal only with ambushes and such things. The South-East Asian area includes four countries. The area can be broken up in another way into two parts, one containing three countries and the other containing only one country. I say this, because Thailand is in a slightly different category from the other three countries. Whether it has been called Siam or Thailand, it has always been a kingdom on its own. The other three countries, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, are three kingdoms which were incorporated in French Indo-China for the 70 odd years during which the French were in control. It is my impression that French rule did not bring them forward at the same rate as other countries progressed, including neighbouring Thailand. Of those three countries I am afraid one would have to admit that Laos is probably the most backward.
All these countries have a great culture the history of which goes back for very many years. However, as one would expect, it can be said that the people are divided into two main classes, and there is a very wide gap between the two classes. But whether in one class or the other, they are a very proud people and are very loyal to their particular countries. As to the two classes, there is the ruling class and there are the people. The people are mostly agricultural people, as I shall explain a little later. Between these two classes there is a middle class, consisting of shopkeepers, traders, those who manage the exchange and others of a like nature. These are mostly Indians and Cingalese, with a few Chinese.
To be able to understand the war that is being fought there I think one must visualise a little of the terrain of these countries. They are exceptionally rich agriculturally. Generally speaking, they are flat. The mighty Mekong River, which starts in the Himalayas, runs through three of them - Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam - and is the boundary between Laos and Thailand. As I said, the land is as flat as a pancake, and the paddy fields are watered by either the Mekong or its tributaries. The actual flooding is achieved through a mass of canals, both large and small. However, one feature has proved to be a great disadvantage to this part of the world. I refer to a ridge of mountains which runs down through all these countries from the north to the south on the east coast. I shall say more later about these mountains which have provided this part of the world with the biggest military weakness it experiences. As I indicated, this part of Asia is a land of waterways. There are not very many roads although roads are being put in now. We in Australia are inclined to have rib-: bon development along our roadways, but in these countries of South East Asia the ribbon development is along the canals. Therefore, the tempo of life is slightly leisurely and somewhat slower than here. The waterways, as well as the mountains, provide very good means of infiltration. People just drift down the streams in little covered boats.
I do not think the people of Australia are entirely ignorant of what is going on in this part of the world, but I believe that they are not taking events in South East Asia as seriously as they should. We are apt to forget that we are part of South East Asia. When we, as a delegation, went up there we flew direct from Brisbane to Singapore in a full aircraft, the reason being that the aircraft did not go to Saigon itself. If, instead of cutting across the middle of the Indonesian islands, we had gone further to the east, Saigon would not have been much more than 350 or 400 miles further on. That, of course, would have meant only an hour’s travel in the aeroplanes of today.
The people up there to whom 1 talked seemed to realise that we were part of South East Asia. I do not think they were flattering us but they definitely gave me the impression that they looked upon us with respect and as friends. Therefore, it is rather a pity that perhaps some of the utterances of the Opposition, which probably will get to this part of the world through the Press and by other means, will lead them to the opinion that we are disinterested and aloof. 1 should like to say something about the politicians or rulers, or whatever we may like to call them, whom we met. They were extremely able, they were patriots, and they showed foresight; but, in my opinion, they had various limitations which did not exist within themselves but which were imposed from outside sources. A Prime Minister in that part of the world is always likely to be subjected to a coup or dismissal. All Prime Ministers in that area have deputies. One has three Deputy Prime Ministers. That sort of arrangement does not help to get things done with great speed. Some of these people feel the need to have some outside means of support, which of course is not very desirable. The people of South Vietnam are contented and, as I have said, they are leisurely in their ways. Their standards of living are rising. They have plenty of food and even have a surplus to sell. It is that which is making the standard of living of the South Vietnamese different from that of the North Vietnamese who have no incentive, who have just enough to eat and who in addition, are not free. In fact, in exactly the same way as the East Germans try to get across the Berlin wall, the North Vietnamese are trying to escape in their tens of thousands. To realise, as I have indicated, that these people have only just enough to eat and have no incentive should surely help us to gain a clearer picture of the situation in this part of Asia.
The war in South Vietnam is a very real one and is not, as people have been suggesting, just a civil war or a fight against guerrillas. This is a war against the Communists, who are aiding the Vietcong. The Leader of the Opposition said that it was just a civil war or fighting against guerrillas. He said, too, that the weapons the guerrillas were using had been captured from the
South Vietnamese. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said that the guerrillas had made their own weapons. Probably he would not like to admit that the guerrillas were being helped by the Chinese. In a lot of the places to which we went we saw museums of captured arms which all had Chinese or Russian factory markings on them. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition is mistaken when he refers to this conflict as being just a civil war or a fight against guerrillas. People who say this are just taking the Communist side and are almost selling Communist propaganda.
Earlier, I mentioned the range of mountains which runs down the east coast. They are razorback mountains. A constant stream of men and arms comes down from those mountains. There are ambushes and counter ambushes but it is almost impossible to prevent infiltrators coming down along this high mountain range, which has ridges linking it to wherever the infiltrators want to go. Infiltrators are coming in along the waterways and around by sea, too. That was probably one of the reasons for the recent naval action. The South Vietnamese are patrolling the sea and they stop junks if they suspect them of carrying arms and ammunition. Probably ship recognition is not very good and that was why the North Vietnamese attacked an American boat instead of a South Vietnamese vessel.
These troops might be called guerrillas, but they belong to very definite forces which are coming from North Vietnam. Their method of attack is to infiltrate and then to billet themselves in villages. If their presence or where they have hidden their arms is made known they retaliate against the villagers. They have even kidnapped the heads of villages when they have felt that their whereabouts would be made known. When these infiltrators run out of food they form into battalions or lesser groups and attack the villages to plunder for food and to murder. When they are attacked by the loyalist forces we see the number of casualties among the loyalists reported in the Press, but very seldom do we see the casualties of the other side reported. These infiltrating troops take with them the villagers on whom they billet themselves and carry back all their own dead and wounded. This is not happening only in the northern areas of South Vietnam; they are also coming round to the south, into the delta area, where, because there are so many waterways, it is very difficult to rout them out. We are frequently told by honorable members opposite that these people are fighting to liberate themselves, but what they are doing is to try to take over the country and they are being led and helped by Communist China. It is said that that is in accordance with the laws of warfare today, but apparently any retaliation in the areas from which these infiltrators are coming is absolutely taboo. The people of South Vietnam are fighting a real war and they need the maximum of help and encouragement from us. They do not want any of the defeatist talk in which the Press sometimes indulges. The people of South Vietnam are a part of South East Asia, just as we are, and they deserve and need our help.
Laos is fighting a different kind of war. It is more of a conventional war, where one might say the opposing forces are in positions opposite each other. Cambodia is sticking to strict neutrality, and I do not think she realises that if the countries around her fell she would be swallowed up. But it is interesting to note that, although Cambodia is strictly neutral, whenever there is a public holiday in that country the boys and girls are given compulsory training in the squares in the main towns. They are taught how to fire rifles and machine guns, how to take them to pieces and put them together again, and so on.
The war in South East Asia is a very real war, a horrible war. One of the local people explained to me that a war is very difficult when you do not know your enemies. He said: “Our enemies have the same coloured eyes and the same coloured skins; they speak the same language and it is only when they pull out a tommy gun that you realise they are your enemies”. There is a lesson to be learned here. I do not think it is a fluke that today a paper from one of the women’s peace movements was sent to all honorable members. Some honorable members opposite agree with these peace movements, but their propaganda is entirely anti-American propaganda. I feel that many of the people publishing this kind of propaganda do not realise that they are being used as dupes. They have the same coloured eyes and the same coloured skin as we have; they speak the same language as we do, but they are nothing but traitors to this country.
.- 1 am very happy to be given the opportunity to take part in this foreign affairs debate on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, because I believe that this is one of the most important of all the debates that have taken place in this Parliament in the four years that I have been a member. I believe that the Australian people are vitally interested in the future of Australian troops on overseas battlefields and that only a fully informed and alerted public can save this country from dangerous involvement in another world catastrophe.
Recent events in South Vietnam and South East Asia generally have caused great concern to the peace loving people of this land of ours ‘ and throughout the world. To my mind, the world’s common people, because of their increasing knowledge of the effects of a full scale thermonuclear war, are more interested today in achieving world peace than ever before in history. But, despite man’s efforts to achieve a world without wars, the dove of peace has eluded his grasp, and time and time again he has been plunged into the depths of war. A writer for the “ New York Times” recently noted that in the 3,361 years of recorded history there have been 3,134 years of war and only 227 years of peace. How sad it is that man has spent nearly 15 years of war for every year he has lived in peace.
The dangerous paths being followed by our friend and ally, the United States of America, and by this Government in South East Asia, particularly in South Vietnam, in recent times indicate to me that they are not conscious of the fact that peace is an absolute necessity today. In his speech on Vietnam on Tuesday last, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) attributed all the blame for the recent crisis in South East Asia to the North Vietnamese and People’s China. He made no reference at all to the Geneva Agreement of 21st July 1954. It has been most noticeable to me in this debate that not one speaker on the Government side, not even the Prime Minister (Sir Robert
Menzies), has made any reference to the principles of the Geneva Agreement or what that Agreement stood for.
The international conference in 1954, co-chaired by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom, at which representatives of France, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America were present, by its sound commonsense decision brought peace to Indo-China, as it was then known. Cambodia and Laos became independent, neutral, united countries. The same was agreed also for Vietnam. The 17th parallel became the dividing line, but this was to be for two years only. The Geneva conference decided at that important meeting that after two years a nationwide election would be held in Vietnam, under the supervision of an international commission. I ask why members on the Government side have refrained from mentioning this important fact with relation to the present crisis in Vietnam. The elections that the Geneva conference intended should be held were never held. The South Vietnam Government would not allow them to take place, Article.; 16 and 17 of the Geneva Agreement forbid the bringing into South Vietnam of any troop reinforcements, any additional personnel and all types of arms, munitions and other war materials.
The Australian Labour Party asks for a reconstitution of the Geneva Agreement and for the policies and principles of the Agreement to be put into effect. That is all that the Australian Labour Party asked for - a cease fire, and that the policies and principles of this important agreement be put into effect. We on this side of the chamber are vitally interested in this matter because Australian blood is being spilt in that area. The U.S.A. is on record as having promised to refrain from the further use of force which would disturb this agreement, but I am obliged to say, reluctantly, that our friend and ally, the U.S., has not honoured the promise not to infringe or disturb the principles of the Geneva agreement. Admittedly America is not a signatory to that agreement, but she had given an undertaking.
We learn that in 1956 the Diem Government in South Vietnam, which had U.S. support, refused to permit the elections as had been agreed upon in the con ference at Geneva. It is alleged that America began introducing arms and military personnel into South Vietnam eight years ago, and today is said to have 25,000 military personnel in South Vietnam. Certain officials in the U.S., according to an article in the Sydney “Daily Mirror” of 15 th April last, were said to be urging aggresion against North Vietnam. President Ayub Khan of Pakistan is on record recently as having warned that the widening of the war in South Vietnam would cause a much larger war than has been anticipated.
Australia’s involvement in the civil war in South Vietnam began when the Government declared to the people of Australia that it was sending two or three- Army instructors to South Vietnam. However, the two or three Army instructors turned out to be 30 of the cream of Australian youth. The number of Army instructors sent to South Vietnam was soon increased to 60.
– Would you bring them back?
– Yes, I would bring them back. The last report by a responsible official of this Government was that 83 Army instructors are now in South Vietnam. Warrant Officer Conway has already been shot dead in South Vietnam. Already one Australian has been killed and I am not sure whether our Australian soldiers are carrying out the duties of instructors or front line troops. Australian participation in the civil war in South Vietnam backing the U.S. has led to a situation described by journalist Keith Dunstan on a visit to Saigon in these terms -
The Americans are most unpopular and Australia comes second.
That report appeared in the “Daily Telegraph” on 11th December 1963. We find also a statement in the “Sydney Morning Herald “ of 30th June attributed to a worldwiderespected journalist, Walter Lippmann, who reported on the Vietnam question. The article states -
There is not and cannot be such a thing as a military victory in the civil war … To attack North Vietnam would be a quite incalculable risk . . . The only tolerable outcome, therefore, is a settlement by negotiations . . .
Comments on this matter have been made also by Brian Fitzpatrick, a highly respected
Australian journalist and writer. Honorable members opposite are laughing, but I remind them that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) attended a function held in Mr. Fitzpatrick’s honour and would have been hurt had he not received an invitation. I am reminded that the late Sir John Latham also attended the function. Brian Fitzpatrick stated in one of our newspapers on 30th June -
No one seriously believes the war can be won, and by Australia consenting to play stooge for the U.S.A. we lose more “ face “ with observant Asia where our future lies.
The Sydney “Daily Mirror” reported on 8th July-
A neutralist solution, probably along the lines suggested by President de Gaulle, is the only way out of Saigon for the Americans. The North Vietnam Government has indicated that it would accept neutralism for the south if the people of South Vietnam agree.
In times of war neither side tells the truth. Both sides lie. However, at this point I should like to refer to a letter sent by an American airman to his wife some time before he was killed in South Vietnam. He was Air Force Captain Edwin Gerald Shank, Junior, who was killed while flying an air strike mission on 24th March 1964. According to the U.S. News and World Report of 4th May 1964, this distinguished American airman had written to his wife on 7th January 1964 and had said -
I don’t know what the U.S. is doing. They tell you people we’re just in a training situation and they try to run us as a training base. But we’re at war. We are doing the flying and fighting.
We asked if we couldn’t By an American flag over here. The answer was “ No “. They say the Vietcong will get pictures of h and stake bad propaganda.
How our Government can lie to its people - it’s something you wouldn’t think a democratic government could do.
– Who said this?
– It was part of a letter written by the late Captain Edwin Gerald Shank, Junior, who lost his life while flying an American plane in the Vietnam war.
– Was it a Communist journal that published that report?
– It was not a Communist journal. We know that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) is the authority on Communist journals. We know the em barrassment that he suffered in this Parliament when he quoted from a Communist journal during the last sessional period.
I should like now to pay tribute to a great Australian, the Reverend Dickie. Again honorable members opposite are laughing. Listen to the aetheists on the other side of the House. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as a Christian preacher, should reprimand Government supporters for laughing when reference is made to this honorable, forthright and true Australian. The Reverend Dickie, in a letter.* to the President of the U.S. in connection with the Vietnam war, said -
With the signing of the partial test ban treaty, followed by other measures, such as the “ Hot Line “, and agreement between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. to cut back production of fissionable material, hopes were raised that the world was moving to a more rational period of history, a period in which the stated policy of nations for peaceful co-existence and the settling of international disputes by negotiation was to be translated into concrete acts of statesmanship.
Your address to the United Nations General Assembly last December, when you declared your Government’s intention to “end the cold war once and for all” and its goal to be a world without war, was greeted with hopeful satisfaction.
The contrast between these aims and your Government’s recent decision to increase American military activity in South Vietnam and more recently, the deepening military involvement in Laos, is causing grave concern and disappointment. This concern is not lessened by the fact that a U.S. Presidential candidate, Senator Goldwater, is calling for the use of atomic weapons in SouthEast Asia.
It has been stated that an object of U.S. policy in Vietnam is to “stop the Vietcong.” We respectfully suggest that, after nine long years of continuous war, causing endless human suffering and misery, the first requirement is to stop the war. A ceasefire, the re-convening of the parties to the Geneva Agreement of 19S4, and the withdrawal of all foreign troops, followed by international guarantees of the neutrality of the area, is surely the only alternative to the continuation and escalation of the war.
All peoples, not least the American, would welcome an initiative by you to end the war in South Vietnam through peaceful negotiation, thus enabling the people of South East Asia to look forward to a happier and more secure future.”
Many Government supporters laughed hilariously at this beautiful, sincere letter written by a prominent Christian Australian to the President of the United States. Here I am being heckled, but the day will come when the Australian people will be alerted to the warmongering that this Government is practising.
In conclusion, let me say that I sincerely hope that the policies of the Australian Labour Party will be implemented in the trouble spots of South East Asia, particularly in South Vietnam. If they are, it must assuredly follow that the dark clouds of human hate and distrust that hang over those people will diminish and the fog of misunderstanding will be removed from our fear-drenched communities. In the not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation and the other nations of the world.
.- After the histrionics of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), I do not think it is necessary to go into the details of his pseudo case for neutralism in South Vietnam along the lines of the policy that has been suggested by General de Gaulle. Here in this House we have a notable illustration of the sad confusion in the minds of those who unfortunately are the alternative government of this great country. What a sad day it is, when we look through statements by the men who claim to represent half or nearly half of the people of Australia, to find that every one of them seems to have an entirely different outlook. If we compare these statements with the consistent statements that have been made over the years on this side of the House, what a contrast there is. There is no doubt about the wisdom of the Australian people as indicated at the election towards the end of last year.
With such confusion and diversion in the ranks of the Opposition, there is no doubt that the people of Australia are extremely fortunate that they do not have honorable members opposite as the Government of this country. For example, if we compare statements that were made in the last debate in this House on international affairs with statements that have been made today and in recent days, we see something of this conflict of opinion. I should like to refer to portion of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on 19th March 1964. He said -
Treaties alone do not guarantee our rights to allies, although some members of the Government parties think they do. It is only by demonstrating our willingness and capacity to fight in our own defence and to contribute to the common defence that the promise of help is converted into a right.
When we compare this statement with some of the utterances that we have heard here today we notice how sadly they fail to conform. If in circumstances such as those which unfortunately have occurred to our near north in recent weeks, the Leader of the Opposition had been capable of some degree of constancy, presumably he would have been prepared not only to support the United States stand but also to make, publicly, a statement supporting that made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on behalf of this Government.
Yet an aspiring successor of the Leader of the Opposition a few days ago made a statement in New South Wales which conflicts completely even with his leader’s latest expression of opinion. In this House this afternoon the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) has made some similar references. I gather that each of these gentlemen feels that in this instance the United States has actually adopted a belligerent attitude. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) mentioned this afternoon, the Government of the United States has been most restrained. He referred to the sinking of the United States aircraft carrier “ Card “ approximately three months ago, presumably by Vietminh frogmen. Immediately following that incident there was no belligerence by the United States. The incident occurred in territorial waters. Accordingly, there was no reprisal. No action was taken by the United States against North Vietnam. On the recent occasion, however, the facts were entirely different.
The incident which we are discussing principally this afternoon occurred on the high seas, more than 30 miles from shore. Immediately after the first attack on the U.S.S. “ Maddox “, the United States President expressed his Government’s regret at the action against a ship of the United States Navy and said that if a similar attack occurred again the United States would be forced to take adequate reprisals. When such a subsequent attack did occur, not against one vessel but against two, at night and once again in international waters, the United States made what has been widely acclaimed throughout the world - not merely in the Western world - as an adequate, not excessive reprisal for this piracy on the high seas. It is rather notable that in the debate this afternoon there has been little mention of the Soviet Union and its very mild retort to the action taken by the United States.
Indeed, Sir, it is interesting to note that the Soviet Government seems to have been rather glad that this has occurred, lt seems to be becoming strangely silent on issues which involve Chinese Communist forces or forces which are supported by the Chinese Communists. No-one in this House would deny that the North Vietnamese are strongly supported by the Communist Chinese. It is most interesting that the Soviet Union, instead of stating publicly that its forces would willingly go to the support of North Vietnam, as it stated on other occasions they would support Cuba and Egypt, has issued a very mild diplomatic retort. This is probably one of the most notable developments from this incident. It shows hows the forces of the world are gradually changing. It shows that not only those of us who live in the Western world fear Communist Chinese expansion. The Soviet Union is wondering whether the assistance it has given in the past was, perhaps, wise.
We should remember one other fact that, I think, has not been mentioned in this debate. It is that at this stage, very fortunately, Communist China is not a nuclear power. It is essential that we in Australia remember that while Communist China has not nuclear arms we still have some chance of halting the advance of Communism with conventional forces. It is terrifying to think of the possible consequences should the day come when Communist Chinese forces have nuclear arms at their disposal. This is something that I believe the House should bear in mind when considering this incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. The United Stales response has been an adequate and limited reprisal with conventional weapons in an effort to prevent the spread of Communism southwards. This response represents an effort to restrain Communism, and is in line with the policy adopted over the past 10 years of trying at least to contain Communism in China and to restrain the expansion of that country before she gains nuclear power.
I should like to refer to a number of statements that have been made this afternoon. I believe that these are most interesting to anyone who tries to work out just what the alternative government would do if honorable members opposite were to take office. Let us consider some statements made by the heir not so presently apparent, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). These statements come from a reported press interview. One can only take it that the report is accurate, for I have not as yet seen any denial. The honorable gentleman, on his return to Australia recently, stated that the military action in South Vietnam is necessary. I find this pronouncement remarkably difficult to reconcile with the views that I have just heard expressed by the honorable member for Hunter and the views that were stated earlier in the afternoon by the honorable member for Reid. We seem to have three shades of opinion emanating from the Opposition benches, so far as I can gather. One comes from the extreme right, where I think we may put the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We have the left wing, which seems to think that neutralism is the only answer - that in this instance the United States of America has been the aggressor and that the belligerence that has been established on the part of the North Vietnamese forces, the Vietcong, the Vietminh and the supporting forces coming from Communist China to help them does not in fact exist. Then we have the Leader of the Opposition apparently trying to walk the tightrope between the two extremes. I believe that this is a lamentable situation. We in Australia are extremely fortunate in having a government that is prepared not to be conservative only but to be rational and consistent. Fortunately, this is appreciated by the majority of Australian people, particularly in the present instance.
This afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition mentioned his feeling that perhaps Australia’s defence forces are not sufficient. He has expressed this opinion on a number of occasions. I find it extremely difficult to reconcile this view with his apparent lack of a desire to fulfil some of the treaty obligations that Australia has assumed. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that Australia should have its own independent foreign policy and should not always underwrite the foreign policies of the United Kingdom and the United States. I suspect that this attitude is related to the desire of the Opposition to establish as a sufficient deterrent a national defence force that will enable us to rely entirely on our armed strength. How foolish this is. If the Opposition does not intend this conclusion, bow far is it prepared to support our present treaty obligations?
These obligations have been honoured over the years. Pursuant to them, Sir Garfield Barwick, the former Minister for External Affairs, mentioned the support that United States forces would be prepared to give to the Australian forces in Malaysia - support which, very happily, at this stage has not been necessary, but which we, as Australian people, rather naturally regard as a backstop on which we can rely. 1 believe that we, as a small country, can hope to build up our forces only to a certain degree and that we must continue to rely on the greater and more powerful nations to come to our assistance if our interests and theirs coincide. This assistance, after all, is one of the main purposes of the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty.
The policies of the present Government have been attacked on the ground that it considers that the expansion of Communism in South East Asia can be contained only by force. The Opposition has taken the statement made on Tuesday by the Minister for External Affairs to be an exposition of this viewpoint. However, if we look again at the debate on international affairs that was initiated in this House on 11th March 1964 we find that Sir Garfield Barwick then said -
The constant goal of Australian policy in Asia is to see the development of strong well organised countries standing on their own feet and confident of their national independence. We do not underestimate the difficulties in attaining a stable region steadily rising in political and economical strength. Some countries are bedevilled by population pressure; some lack homogeneity and sense of national community; in some the Government writ does not run in the outer provinces; in some there are deep rooted ethnic and cultural group differences. Many have tremendous problems of food and health.
Pursuant to this policy which was then enunciated by Sir Garfield Barwick as Minister for External Affairs and which has been followed by the present Government ever since it took office, considerable sums have been made available to the countries to our near north to help in their economic, social and political development. Indeed, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) earlier today pointed out that, over the last twelve months, this country has contributed to these countries 100 million United States dollars, if we take into account all the sums provided under the Colombo Plan, under various technical and economic assistance programmes and otherwise for the assistance of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which is very near to us and very dear to us. This is something of which I think we should be proud. Opposition members would do well to bear it in mind when they assert that this Government seeks only to restrain Communism by force. They should remember that we seek to restrain Communism also by assistance in technical, economic and social spheres. This is the complete answer to the doctrine of neutralism advocated by some Opposition members.
We must have a rounded policy. I do not think that we can necessarily restrain Communism by any one of these means. I believe it is essential that we continue and that we expand the economic assistance that we give to the peoples of the regions to our north. But what chance is there of gaining any worthwhile help from this assistance if in South Vietnam, for example, Vietcong guerrillas continue to ravage village communities, disrupt village life and make it completely impossible for villagers to live in anything like normal conditions and pursue their own way of life? This is the environment into which it is essential that we take military assistance. For this reason, Sir, I strongly support the Australian Government’s policy of providing technical military advisers, 83 of whom are presently in South Vietnam, together with Caribou aircraft and Royal Australian Air Force operating personnel.
In conclusion, may I give the House an illustration. Some months ago, I was at a girl guide ceremony in my electorate. I remember that, at the time, girl guides were celebrating an international week that required them to have regard for girl guides in other countries. These girls, standing in a circle facing inwards, were asked to look outwards. They about-turned and looked outwards. This is what we in Australia want to do today - look outwards. It is what we in the Government want to do and are doing consistently. How fortunate it is that the way in which we are doing it is not the way in which the Opposition would like us to do it.
– Not one honorable member on the Government side of the House, so far, has accurately quoted the statements of Opposition members whom they have chosen to criticise during this debate. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was misquoted, as were also the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and many other honorable members on this side of the Parliament. When honorable members opposite are not misquoting Labour members of Parliament it seems that they spend their time contradicting each other as to the facts about Vietnam. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) said that the North Vietnamese were coming into South Vietnam in order to escape the hunger and oppression of North Vietnam, while other honorable members suggest that they enter South Vietnam as guerrillas who are seeking to spread the North Vietnamese system of government into South Vietnam.
In fact, what we have heard today from Senator Goldwater fans on the other side of the Parliament would make even the most reactionary Republicans of the United States of America vomit. Their sycophantic, lick-spittle, Uriah Heep attitude towards everything American will be viewed with disgust by every self-respecting Australian because, like me, he would rather be dead than become a craven, cringing “ Yes-man “ to any foreign power. Criticism of American policy is no more anti-American than it is anti-Australian to criticise the policy of the Australian Government.
Government members are too prone to smear their opponents as being Communist sympathisers, whenever they make statements with which they disagree. They are always too ready to simplify the problems of international conflict as being caused solely by the forces of international Communism. They are too easily and too readily prepared to condemn people, with whom they disagree, as Communists. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) a little while ago even went so far as to suggest that I was a Communist because I had a red carnation in my lapel. This is how silly honorable members opposite are becoming. In point of fact, many of the world’s conflicts today have nothing to do with Communism. In many cases they are caused by such issues as nationalism and social, political and economic discontent and even local power politics.
Mr. Denis Healey, M.P., a Labour member of the House of Commons, on 17th July last said that those who justify our military presence in foreign countries on the ground that it is necessary in order to combat the advance of international Communism are dishonest if they do not admit that many of the conflicts in Asia and Africa have nothing to do with international Communism. He said that the conflicts arise from the political instability which is the inevitable consequence of the changes now sweeping the continents of Asia, Africa and even Latin America. Many of these have nothing to do with Communism. They arise in some cases out of the legacy of imperialism and in other cases out of local power politics.
This is certainly true of the conflict between Algeria and Morocco and the conflict in Rhuanda, between the Hutu and the Watutsi. It is true also of the conflict between the two communities on Cyprus, and of the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Communism is not a major factor in any of these conflicts. It is true that Communist parties and Communist powers take every opportunity to exploit the instability that is created but they are not themselves the prime cause of the instability. If any Australian troops are to operate in foreign countries we should only allow them to do so with the consent of the local people. We should not consent to the death of Australian soldiers for the defence of military dictatorships which have practically no support from the local people.
Democratic governments which have the support of the local people should have the right to call for assistance from other countries when threatened with outside aggression or when threatened with a military coup from within. We have seen too many popular governments throughout the world overthrown by dictatorial and corrupt military juntas from within. We have too often given direct or tacit assistance to military dictatorships which have come into being in this way. Indeed, on more than one occasion, the Western powers have actually encouraged and even financed military coups against popular civilian governments. This has happened in the central American States and it has happened in Asia and Africa.
I agree with the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Butler, who said that only Asians can find solutions to Asian problems. Western intervention, especially when it takes the form of military aid on behalf of an Asian military dictatorship against dissident forces that enjoy the widespread support of the local people can do nothing but strengthen the dissident and weaken the government concerned. This was pointed out by a young senator from Massachusetts at the time of the 1954 Geneva Agreement. That young senator later became the President of the United States of America. Senator Kennedy, as he then was, attacked President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles on that occasion for, as he put it, concealing the truth about the Indo China war from the American people. He pointed to the danger and futility of American intervention on behalf of the Saigon dictatorship. Speaking in the United States Senate on 6th April 1954, Senator Kennedy said -
To pour money, material and men into the jungles of Indo-China without at least a remote prospect of victory would be dangerously futile and destructive. I am frankly of the opinion that no amount of American assistance in Indo-China can conquer an “enemy of the people” which has the sympathy and support of the people.
Senator Wayne Morse, when speaking in the Senate recently, also made the position clear. In a speech on 4th March 1964, he said -
The South Vietnamese Government … is little more than our own creation. We constructed a government there in 19S4, which we then propped up with huge amounts of aid and which we say invited American troops. Control of the South Vietnamese Government has been passed around within the American-financed governing clique until its association with United States support is closer than its association with the people of South Vietnam.
A few months after Senator Kennedy spoke, John Foster Dulles, in July 1954, was forced to concede the validity of the late President’s remarks. He said -
One lesson the free nations should have learnt from the past events in South East Asia is that resistance to Communism needs popular support, and this in turn means that the people should feel that they are defending their own national institutions.
The truth of the situation in South East Asia was very well summed up in this week’s leading article in the “Bulletin” where the following appeared -
The main task of the United States obviously lies in taking a strong hand in restoring the con fidence and morale of the South Vietnamese people. This may mean getting tough with the South Vietnam Government, with firm insistence on internal reforms. Unless this is done along with genuine economic and political reform, the United States faces the proposition that it may win the battles while losing the whole country.
That was published in the “Bulletin” which is owned by Sir Frank Packer, one of the faceless men behind the Liberal Party. In fact, on this occasion, Sir Frank Packer agrees with what the Leader of the Opposition says. Those are the facts. For once Packer is right and, as usual, the Leader of the Opposition is also right.
For more than three years, General Maxwell Taylor, commander of the U.S. forces in South East Asia, has been asking for land reform in South Vietnam and for greater social welfare and medical services, for an end to bribery and corruption, and a blueprint to meet the rising levels of economic expectation and better educational facilities. Instead all that they have done in South Vietnam by way of reform is to license the brothels. In addition they have had the people herded into what are called strategic hamlets. These strategic hamlets have been fairly described in a special article in the “Bulletin” of 15th August 1964 as being little better than prisons in which peasants were resettled, often at bayonet point and usually without compensation. The article goes on -
Peasants were robbed of their livestock and rice supplies and forced to pay taxes for the upkeep of the hamlets into which they were forcibly herded against their will.
The concept of strategic hamlets as a means of proventing local support for the Vietcong was the brainchild of Dr. Eugene Staley, the leader of one of the many United States military missions that have visited South Vietnam. His scheme was to save Vietnam from Communism by driving the native peoples into strategic hamlets and away from their own villages, rice fields, livestock and fruit gardens so that they would not be able to give food and shelter to the Vietcong. Their rice fields and gardens were destroyed by aerial spraying, their homes burnt to the ground and their young men conscripted into the Government army to fight against the Vietcong. Whenever Government troops arrived at a village marked down for “ pacification “, as the strategic hamlet system is called, the young men immediately took to the jungle to avoid military conscription, and invariably finished up fighting for the Vietcong. It is this destruction of food crops, the burning of native villages, the conscription of native men into the Government army and the concentration camp atmosphere of the strategic hamlets, coupled with Government sponsored crime, corruption, torture, imprisonment without trial and even murder, that has brought the Government of South Vietnam into such hatred and contempt by the local people.
It is not sufficient to say nor is it true that the Vietcong successes are due only to infiltrated support from North Vietnam. The fact is that Vietcong successes are most marked in the Mekong Delta which has no sca, land or air link with North Vietnam, hundreds of miles away to the north. More than 5,000,000 people live in this area and yet practically the whole of the area is under Vietcong control and administration. Nowhere else in the whole of South Vietnam is the Vietcong so strong as it is in the Mekong Delta, which is in complete physical and geographical isolation from North Vietnam.
These are incontrovertible facts. They lead one to the inevitable conclusion that Senator John F. Kennedy, as he then was, spoke the truth at the time of the Geneva Agreement when he said that no amount of assistance could defeat the “ enemy of the people” who had the sympathy and support of the people.
This brings me back now to the Geneva Agreement of 1954. This agreement provided for the prohibition of foreign troops and personnel in Vietnam, as well as all kinds of arms and munitions. It prohibited foreign military bases in Vietnam and it also provided that the Vietnamese people should enjoy the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by democratic institutions established as a result of a free general election by secret ballot by the peoples of all Vietnam. The agreement went on to state that these general elections should take place by July 1956 under the supervision of an International commission. The North Vietnamese Government wanted the elections to be held and did everything it could to arrange talks with South Vietnam in order to straighten out the difficulties and to determine the method by which the elections would be held. The Labour Party believes that the Geneva Agreement represented a settlement that would have brought stability to this troubled area. We believe that the Agreement should be restated and honoured and that a cease fire should be brought to the whole area concerned.
President Eisenhower, on 21st July 1954, welcomed the Agreement, and on behalf of the United States Government Mr. Bedell Smith promised the world that the United States Government would refrain from the “ threat or use of force to disturb the Agreement “. He reiterated the statement by John Foster Dulles when he said: “Peoples are entitled to determine their own future and the United States will not join in any arrangement which will hinder this”. Mr. Eden described the Agreement as “ the best that our hands could devise “. He said: “ All that remains is for the Agreement to be observed and carried out “.
Mr. MendesFrance, the President of France at the time, said that the Agreement was merely a recognition of the cruel facts of life and that under the circumstances it was in the interests of France to honour the accord. Chou En-lai expressed satisfaction, as well he might, and so did Mr. Molotov. On behalf of the United States Government Mr. Bedell Smith paid tribute to the work and patience of Mr. Eden and Mr. Molotov, and on his return to the United States said: “ While the Agreement at Geneva contains features which the United States of America does not like, I am nevertheless convinced that the results are the best we could possibly obtain under the circumstances”. He went on to refute that there was any comparison between the Geneva conference and the Munich conference, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on one occasion said.
The Agreement was strongly supported by Mr. Nehru and by the Governments of Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam. The only government in the whole world that repudiated the agreement was the autocratic, United States backed, Government of South Vietnam which, through its Prime Minister, Ngo Dinh Diem, on July 22nd 1954 denounced the cease fire agreement as an iniquity against which his Government had raised a most solemn protest and ordered all flags in South Vietnam to be flown at half mast for three days. Ever since then the South Vietnam Government has denounced and sabotaged the agreement. It rejected the proposal for free elections because it knew that it did not have the support of the local people in South Vietnam, much less the support of those in North Vietnam. No elections were held, with the result that Vietnam remains partitioned.
Subsequent events were to prove that Diem’s assessment of local support was not far off the mark; because in a plebiscite taken in 1961 among the 90,000 Vietnamese living in Thailand it was discovered that 98 per cent, wanted to go back to North Vietnam while only 2 per cent, wanted to go to South Vietnam. By mid-1962 40,000 had, in fact, returned to North Vietnam but not one family had returned to South Vietnam. Of the 6,000 Vietnamese in New Caledonia, 93 per cent, voted to return to North Vietnam, 5 per cent, to return to South Vietnam and 2 per cent, voted to stay in New Caledonia. Had an election been held in 1956 the Diem Government would have been rejected and the whole country unified, as promised by the Geneva Agreement, and scores of thousands of lives that have since been lost would have been saved. It would probably have produced a Communist government for all Vietnam instead of for only about 80 per cent, of the area, at present under Communist and Vietcong control. Regrettable as that would have been, it would have been a recognition of the principle of self determination which we in this country defend and which the Goldwater supporters demand for themselves in the United States of America.
I believe that there are dark and devious forces at work in this country. We have people here who are prepared to support the National Civic Council and its arch leader, Mr. B. A. Santamaria, who has had the absolute audacity and wickedness to accuse the late President Kennedy of being responsible for the assassination of Diem of South Vietnam. He said this six months after the late President was slain. He has also gone on record as saying that Cabot Lodge and Averell Harriman were directly responsible for organising the murder of Diem. This is the man who is controlling the thinking of the people opposite, who are but pawns in his hands. They are prepared to dance to any tune that Santamaria is prepared to play.
– He keeps them in power.
– I thank the honorable member for the interjection. He has put them into power and kept them there. They know it, and it is for this reason that they are prepared to go along with the statements that he pours out through his newspaper and by means of radio and television.
I believe that Denis Warner spoke the truth and spoke for the hearts of every decent Australian, every decent American and every decent human being in the world when, in describing what is happening in South Vietnam, he said -
When an action is over, the guns have stopped firing and the weeping villagers are laying out their dead- and sorting through the smouldering ruins of their homes, it is difficult as an observer not to curse this war and all that perpetuates it.
I join with Denis Warner - although he was the Liberal Party candidate for Franklin on one occasion - and I say that I curse the war and I curse all those people who are responsible for perpetuating it
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I regret very much that I cannot recapture all the felicitous phrases used by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). He began with a lively bleat and finished by quoting a poem. 1 would agree with the sentiment that is in the poem but I find myself in singular disagreement with the substance of his bleat. What was it? It was this: “ Everybody over there”, he thundered in his inimitable style, “you misquote”. There is not one scintilla of evidence to support his charge. Then he went on to quote his own speech - elaborately prepared, mark you - and read it word for word, no doubt pricked by his own conscience and afraid that he might even misquote himself. He followed it up line by line to ensure that he did not fall into such erring ways.
The honorable gentleman painted a curious picture indeed of both North and South Vietnam but before I turn to the picture, may I refer to what I thought was a shabby attack that he made on my honorable and learned friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes). The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that the honorable member for Parkes had accused him of being a Communist. Not at all! I say that because some people both in this House and outside may gain the impression that the honorable member for Parkes did make that statement. I mention this matter merely as a revelation of the character of the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the profound disrespect that he has for the truth. What the honorable member for Parkes did was to refer to the colour of the carnation worn by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Then he went on to say in a lighthearted way that it was almost indicative of the honorable gentleman’s political sympathies. The honorable member for Hindmarsh interjects but he has taken up this afternoon what I am bound to describe as a sturdy Soviet position in regard to Vietnam arid I hope to show in a moment or two that that is substantially the case.
The honorable gentleman has invoked no less an authority than Denis Healey. He has armed himself with statements by all the spokesmen of the United States of America who have ever said anything on South Vietnam and he has said: “ Here is the evidence; ergo it is true”. The honorable member referred to Denis Healey’s remarks on Communism in Africa and Asia but anybody with a nodding acquaintance with Soviet methods and Communist theory would promptly describe them as rubbish and indeed they are rubbish.
The proof is to be found simply by reflecting on the fact that colonialism, the emerging countries and the under-developed countries were described in an entity by Marx as representing one of the fundamental conflicts between capitalist society and socialist society. All these circumstances have existed throughout Asia and Africa and have been terribly exacerbated by Communist influences over the years. For Mr. Denis Healey or the honorable member for Hindmarsh, or any other person to say there is no relevant Communist activity in Africa or Asia is simply rubbish with a capital *’ R “.
Then the honorable member for Hindmarsh waxed eloquent about the Geneva agreement of 1954 and cited the words of Lord Avon, formerly Sir Anthony Eden, who said at that time: “ If only the Agreement will be observed and carried out “. That is the heartfelt wish of all of us. If you look at the agreements made by the Soviet Union over the last generation, you will find that they made 52 and 50 of them have been broken. If only these agreements were observed and carried out, then a lot of distress that presently plagues mankind would not exist.
The picture painted of North Vietnam by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is almost a life of ease. Does he not know that the peasants living in Ho Chi Minh’s own province of Nghe-An revolted against collectivisation? The commander of the socalled National People’s Liberation Army, General Giap, moved in the troops and mercilessly crushed the expression of opinion by the people. The rice tax has soared to the skies, figuratively speaking. Hanoi’s military budget is twice that of the budget of Saigon. But the honorable, member for Hindmarsh says that the people of North Vietnam represent the spirit of the movement of progress and that the people of South Vietnam represent reaction. What a shocking caricature of the circumstances.
I turn now to what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said this morning. He made a curious speech and an interesting speech in more ways than one. There are three particular aspects he mentioned in his speech to which I want to refer, although on two of them I shall be brief. First, the honorable gentleman made an attack on the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). It was an attack that did not seem to me to have much relevance to the matter before the House. It was an attack that did not in any way dignify the Opposition because the honorable gentleman was attacking the Prime Minister and in the course of it he employed, invoked and used all the caprices of intellectual adolescence. The Leader of the Opposition said that the attitude of the Prime Minister to summit conferences had changed. He twisted piteously what the Prime Minister had said in Washington regarding summit conferences in relation to the Malaysian-Indonesian dispute.
Then the honorable gentleman moved on and, giving himself a little more rein, he said: “The Government’s policies are not supported by the Australian people “. I can well recall the almost terror-packed faces opposite last October when the date of the election was announced. “ Ah, we are going to win this time!”, they said. Indeed, the honorable member for Hindmarsh joined in the orchestration on that occasion. I venture to say that the decision of the Australian people as to whose policies are to be accepted by them was decisive enough. The people showed whether they accepted the policies of the Liberal and Country Parties or the policies of the various sections that make up the Australian Labour Party. Then the Leader of the Opposition said “ No explanation of the nature of this war has been given by the Government.” I wrote down two sentences: “ It is a civil war “.
– Hear, hear!
– You agree that it is a civil war?
– Of course it is a civil war.
– I am delighted to think you reaffirm it because 1 do not want you to accuse me of misquoting anybody. We agree then. We have an area of agreement at long last, after nine years.
The second sentence of the Leader of the Opposition that I wrote down was this: ‘There is not a Communist revolution in South East Asia “. After those two glamorous sentences, 1 want to deal now with a gentleman by the name of Ho Chi Minh who presides over North Vietnam. If you were to believe the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hindmarsh you would gather the impression that Ho Chi Minh was the leader of the fairies in North Vietnam. I hasten to try to correct the honorable gentleman and persuade him that Ho Chi Minh is probably one of the finest graduates of the Lenin Institute of Moscow. He was trained’ it Moscow in 1920 and was active in the Chinese Kuomintang in 1925. He was an associate of Mao Tse-tung in 1927 and was in Hong Kong in 1931. Indeed, he was arrested by the British in 1931 and, although the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) criticised lawyers and members of the legal profession this afternoon, I am bound to say that Ho Chi Minh was released from gaol mainly due to the efforts of Sir Stafford Cripps, the former British socialist.
– What is the point you are trying to make?
– I am trying to come to the point. I know it is a little difficult to penetrate into your mind. That is a problem that all of us on this side of the House have been facing for many years.
In 1949 there was an end of the Chinese Communist revolution when Mao Tse-tung took over control of the Chinese mainland. Ho Chi-minh, Moscow trained, who led the revolution in Vietnam, was at that time in the territory of Indo-China. This is a struggle to which I shall refer later. But what of the significance of the Chinese revolution of 1949? Possibly, if the honorable gentleman will not accept my assessment of it, he may be persuaded indubitably to accept the opinion of General Giap as stated in “People’s War - People’s Army”, published in Hanoi by the Foreign Languages Publishing House. The publication has all the splendid credentials that would endear themselves to the honorable member for Hindmarsh. This is how General Giap described the Chinese struggle - 1949 saw the brilliant triumph of the Chinese Revolution and the birth of the People’s Republic of China. This great historic event which altered events in Asia and the world, exerted a considerable influence on the war of liberation of the Vietnamese people. Vietnam was no longer in the grip of enemy encirclement, and was henceforth geographically linked to the socialist bloc.
So, Sir, the Chinese revolution was complete. Then the process of indoctrination and of training, and’ all the processes of supply, could get well under way.
At the end of the Korean war the “ volunteers “ - again the word is in quotation marks - were moved into IndoChinese territory. In 1954, at Dienbienphu the French were defeated. It is possible to look back at the Indo-Chinese struggle with a great deal of regret for what happened. The French never understood the forces that had been let loose in Asia. They never understood the need for strong charismatic leaders to hold and control the destinies of the country. But whatever the faults may have been, they are of the past, and it is with the present and the future that we are so desperately concerned.
At the Geneva Conference of 1954, to which the honorable gentleman opposite alluded, the north of Vietnam was ceded to Ho Chi Minh and the south to Ngo Dinh Diem. But the tragedy is that the war never ceased. The authority for that statement is again General Giap, whose authority, I submit, is accepted by many people. Referring to the struggle he says -
As for the military policy of the vanguard Party of the Vietnamese working class, it is an application of Marxism-Lenism to the concrete conditions of the war of liberation in a colonial country.
On listening to the honorable member for Hindmarsh this afternoon and to the Leader of the Opposition this morning you would gather the impression that the struggle in Vietnam was indeed merely an expression of the agrarian reformer in full flight. In fact, it is a continuation of the struggle that started in 1945 or 1946. Indeed, it is a continuation of Dante’s “ Inferno “-
The city that made some while ago the long struggle, and of the French a bloody heap, finds itself again beneath the green paws.
The green paws in South Vietnam today are the same as those of 1945 and 1946. The Vietcong in South Vietnam today are the vanguard of the Chinese Communist armies These are no agrarian reformers. The great tragedy is that the honorable member for Hindmarsh and other people of great goodwill no doubt have been persuaded to accept the view that the conflict in South Vietnam is merely a conflict against the government of the day.
I come to the final point in the argument of the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon. It is not merely that he has misunderstood the nature of the struggle. I submit he has given a very poor account of the difficulties of the people in South Vietnam today. He gave no portrayal of the grimness of the struggle. He made no reference to the terrible massacres that have gone on daily, nor did he refer to the murders and the torturing. No syllable of censure has been launched by honorable gentlemen opposite against the people responsible for these things.
Finally. Sir, I say that in South Vietnam, as elsewhere in the world where those who are attracted to the spirit of liberty strive to survive, it is a case of mobilising the will to win. No person in his senses wants war War is an utter, ugly futility. But I hope that all people of goodwill, if ever they are asked to choose between dying on their feet and living out their days on their knees, will be able to find the courage and the sense of perspective not to fail in their choice.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
.- The House is debating the ministerial statement on incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin. It is many, many years since it has been so eas’y to come to a conclusion on any incidents in South East Asia. An American destroyer was attacked by torpedo boats. Tt repelled and damaged them. A couple of days later two American destroyers were attacked by a greater number of torpedo boats which also were repelled. Later American aircraft attacked the torpedo boat bases. The American President announced the proposed action and reported it to the United Nations. The American Congress endorsed the President’s action and gave him free rein under the American Constitution to deal with such incidents in accordance with United Nations and South East Asia Treaty Organisation commitments. It is difficult to think that any United States President, or any other head of State, would have reacted differently.
The matter is much simpler than has been any other incident in South East Asia for many years. For that reason it has occupied very little time in today’s debate. Matters in this area are always debated in a spasmodic and alarmist fashion because they are debated in the context of military incidents. The House never makes a regular or comprehensive review of matters in South East Asia. Therefore, the House gives no consideration to the continuing economic, social and political factors which make for continuing trouble in the area.
It is important to know what are Australia’s obligations, liabilities and rights in this region. It takes some effort to ascertain them. In fact, it was many years before the House was able to ascertain, and then by answers to questions on the notice paper, the nature of our commitments in Malaya. Later our commitments in Malaysia were elicited in the same way. Finally, last October the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) detailed the arrangements in Malaysia, such as they are, indirect as they are, ancillary and subsidiary to British commitments in the area as they are. Today for the first time we were told - he himself told us - the arrangements, such as they are, for Australian forces in Vietnam. The right honorable gentleman quoted from Article III of the S.E.A.T.O. Pact. Article III does not deal with the protocol States. It does not deal with North or South Vietnam. The relevance, I am glad to say, is that it deals with economic and social factors.
This is the first time that any Minister has referred to such factors in dealing with Vietnam in particular or South East Asia in general. But the right honorable gentleman might have gone further and quoted the preamble to S.E.A.T.O. where the eight parties re-affirmed that - in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, they uphold the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and declaring that they will earnestly strive by every peaceful means to promote self-government and to secure the independence of all countries whose people desire it and are able to undertake its responsibilities; and they recorded their desire - to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, and to promote the economic well-being and development of nil peoples in the treaty area.
Honorable gentlemen on this side of the House will recall, and honorable gentlemen on the other side of the House will be glad to learn, that the last sentence I have quoted from the S.E.A.T.O. Pact is in fact incorporated in the preamble to the Labour Party’s statement of policy on foreign affairs. Those words guide our attitude in this area. I quote them because it is necessary in all these circumstances not only to know what our treaty commitments are but also to know what our treaty objectives are.
We enter into treaty obligations because we, as a nation, believe that in that way we can preserve our own right to choose those who govern us. We believe also that through treaty obligations we can help other nations in our area - other nations in whose fortunes we have an interest - to achieve governments of their choice. The difference in effectiveness between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the South East Asia Treaty Organisation lies in the fact that the political, social and economic infra-structure of all N.A.T.O. countries is secure. They all have governments of their choice. They have free elections. Many N.A.T.O. countries have changed their governments in recent years, and the second greatest of them - Britain - is about to change her government as well. In the South East Asia Treaty Organisation there has not been similar security or success because there has not been a political, social and economic infrastructure similar to that which exists in N.A.T.O.
There are still questions which the Prime Minister left unanswered, and which other Ministers have not yet answered, concerning the United Nations and the S.E.A.T.O. features of our commitments in Vietnam. The Prime Minister did not answer the questions which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) put to him immediately before he spoke. Other Ministers have not answered the questions in that connection which were reiterated by my colleague the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin).
This is not just poor academic nonsense, in the latest words the Prime Minister has used to dismiss references to the United Nations Charter or to treaty terms. The United States scrupulously observes all its United Nations obligations. It supports its operations. It is the mainstay of the United Nations. President Johnson mentioned the
United Nations in his proclamation and in iris message to Congress, and Congress mentioned the United Nations and S.E.A.T.O. in its resolution. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) did not mention the United Nations in his Press statement; he did not explain our S.E.A.T.O. commitments in his Press statement; he did not mention the United Nations in his statement to the House which we are debating except insofar as he quoted the President and Congress. We should at least follow the lead of our great allies in their explicit explanation of Why they do things and how they think about things.
Australia lives beside the only two wars proceeding in the world - the war in Vietnam and the war in Borneo. The larger and older war is in Vietnam. It has gone on for 20 years. The first distinguished stranger to be seated in the House after I became a member was M. Jean Letourneau the French Minister in Charge of IndoChina Affairs. He was seated here on 10th March 1953. Two days later Mr. Casey, the then Minister for External Affairs, assured the House that Australia would provide equipment to help the French to combat Communism in Indo-China. The present Minister’s statement in Saigon on 14th June last was also nostalgic - “We’re in a world power struggle,” he said. “ You’ve got to stand up and be counted - you’ve got to say which side you’re on . . .”.
Barely 10 years before - on 8th April 1954 - Mr. Casey, in dealing with the same subject in this House, told me that I must stand forward and be counted in the great struggle in South East Asia between democracy and international Communism. Ten years after the temporary expedient of dividing Vietnam was adopted on Mr. Casey’s suggestion, the House still hears the same proposals and exhortations.
The trouble with South Vietnam is that it is still no more a democracy than is North Vietnam. Further, it has made less economic progress than North Vietnam. Hanoi is now the largest industrial complex of Asia outside China. It has become a liable industrial complex without United Nations or Colombo Plan aid. In South Vietnam. Australia, through S.E.A.T.O., as a direct share of responsibility. It may be that Australia has only a marginal influence, but nevertheless it has a responsibility. Therefore it should be made clear at this stage that military action is essential in South Vietnam to secure the position until political and social advance can be made. If, however, political and social advance is not made, military action will have been fruitless. As the French say, when the scaffolding is removed the building will not have been restored but will have disappeared. I know that the French often speak from a position of glory without power. I do not have to accept all their proposals even if I must applaud the elegance of their analysis.
The entire Vietnam situation is, to a certain extent, academic for the next few months. There will be no political negotiations until after the United States Presidential elections, but finally there will have to be a political settlement in Vietnam. No settlement there will endure if it is against the interests of either China or the United States. I am not referring to the division of the country, because it will be no easier to re-unite Vietnam than it will be to reunite Germany or Korea; I refer to a settlement which will give the South Vietnamese the right to have a government of their choice. If steps are not soon taken towards political freedom and economic development, the attempt to hold the military position will fail.
I propose to pass now to the situation in Borneo. This is a situation that is closer to Australia. It is one in which we do not have such clear commitments. It is also one in which we have greater influence. All along, the Labour Party’s criticism concerning Australia’s relations, first with Malaya and now with Malaysia, has been that they have been so secret and so uncertain and so indirect. They continue to be secret and unclear and indirect. In June last in New York the Prime Minister described our commitments to Malaysia in these terms - should there be attempts made to overthrow her independence or her integrity we will ourselves come to the assistance of Great Britain in her defence.
That is, our commitments in the Prime Minister’s own words, as was quite clear from the correspondence which was extorted from him last October, are ancillary and subsidiary to those of Britain. If we want our motives in South East Asia - in Borneo and Malaya - to be misunderstood we could not go about it in a better way. By automatic and blank endorsement of
British policies and also by discouraging the Prime Minister of Malaysia from continuing talks or allowing his officials and Ministers to have talks, we have disqualified ourselves from the necessary Asian settlement of this problem. There are suspicions of Britain in this area. We may think there is no basis for those suspicions. We trust Britain. We were founded by Britain. We have fought alongside Britain in two world wars and in the Korean War. We value our association with Britain in this area. To state the suspicions of Britain is not to endorse them, but to help to remove them. In the case of Indonesia those suspicions stem, I think, from four facts. First, it was Britain which delivered the Indies back to the Dutch. Next, the British Conservative Government furtively and brutally attacked Egypt at the time of the Suez Canal nationalisation. Thirdly, there was subversion from Singapore, especially in Sumatra, during the revolt of the colonels a few years ago. Lastly, Mr. Sandys’ conduct in this area concerning the number of observers to attend the United Nations assessment mission and the date of the transfer looked peremptory in the extreme.
It is necessary to know what are the Indonesian objectives. Indonesians state that they do not desire the incorporation of Sarawak, Sabah or Brunei - that they have no expansionist objectives and no territoria claims. Their objective is to wear down Malaysia - to break it up and join within Maphilindo not merely Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, but Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei. I would have thought that consolidation in Maphilindo would be more successful among three states than among seven or eight states. Nevertheless, this is their objective. The objective of Maphilindo should commend itself to us because it is our best hope of having in this area a body that is viable and cohesive within itself and politically and economically independent of China and the West.
It is also necessary to assess Malaysia’s prospects. Malaya was a democracy and Malaysia was formed in a democratic fashion. We must acknowledge, however, that Malaysia is not yet functioning in a fully democratic fashion. Cabinet membership and army recruiting have not been extended proportionately to Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah. Rural development has not been equally extended from Malaya to Sarawak and Sabah. The Malaysians are entitled to have governments of their choice. Australians of all parties represented in this Parliament are resolved to give them the opportunity to make that choice. But we should urge the Malaysians to see that Malaysia is as democratic as Malaya was - to see that the new Malaysia is not merely governed and administered by old Malayans. This is a matter in which Australia can and should express its opinions to Britain and Malaysia.
Australia can and should express its opinions to America regarding the Vietnamese situation. If we were to express our views we would help America, just as by so doing we would help Britain. It is regretted in Britain and America that in some bodies where we have long membership and where we should have considerable prestige we do so little to help America and Britain in their objectives. At the recent Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference our Prime Minister showed that he now has the same mental blockage concerning Africa as he had concerning India during the 1950’s. “He will not cross the colour line “, is the way it is put. How can you expect Afro-Asian members of the Commonwealth to cross this colour line if countries like Australia will not do so? Canada crosses it. Canada accordingly has greater influence in Asia and Africa than we have. But our size and proximity to Asia enable us to do things which our allies cannot do. We should tell them therefore that although none of us desire to abandon the military actions in Vietnam and Borneo, we must supplement them by political and economic action.
The British Labour Party, when returned to power after the next election, will continue the action in Borneo. It will concentrate its forces east of Suez. It will strengthen conventional forces, such as the helicopters, which the British Army lacks at the moment. It will leave nuclear defence to the United States. America wants Britain to carry out this policy because Britain has legitimate and traditional links in the Indian Ocean which America does not have.
Indonesia cannot oust British forces from Borneo. Britain cannot occupy all of Borneo. Indonesia is not a Communist country and will not be one; in Indonesia the Communists occupy consultative but not administrative positions. Despite inflation, Indonesia, economically, is fully as viable as is Malaysia. In 10 years time we do not want to be saying the same things about Malaysia as, after 10 years, we are still saying about South Vietnam. We will have less excuse for doing so, because our influence on Malaysia and on Britain can be so much greater.
– I do not know what useful purpose the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) thought he was serving when he made his speech, but he made one contribution to the debate that I think should be emphasised. Later in what I have to say tonight I want to refer to the statement made by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) when he spoke about the attack made by the North Vietnamese on the United States naval force in the Gulf of Tonkin and said that the United States could not claim that it was being attacked in the present Vietnamese crisis. That is a statement made by one of the Executive of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. However, in his opening statement tonight, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - and I have no quarrel with his recital of events, as it was accurate - twice stated that an attack had been made by the North Vietnamese against U.S. naval forces - which were proceeding on their legitimate occasions. This is an illustration, to which I hope to return later, of the deep divisions in sentiment and ideology that exists in the ranks of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party.
The second point to which I want to direct attention is that when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the problems of Borneo he went out of his way to be insulting to our friends and to deride the actions taken by the United Kingdom Government to help the Malaysians to defend themselves. His was an attitude of ridicule. He was despising the British for what they had done. He then moved to an alarming proposition. He said that he thought that the Maphilindo concept should be favoured and should be adopted. What does the
Maphilindo concept involve? It would never be favoured by the Indonesians unless they thought that this was the method by which they could dominate the whole of Malaysia and the Philippines as well. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants that as the Labour Party policy it is high time that he said so, and said also that his Party does not want the people of Malaysia to determine their own future and to remain independent.
Tonight I want to take a different line in the debate from what I have heard taken. I want first to stress what is the policy of the Government and some of the strategic bases and implications of our policy as I see them, particularly as I see them in the light of what my colleague the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has already said. Our policy is clear, and I want to state it in two ways. Our policy is to help the people of South East Asia, in the whole of the region, so that they can grow and develop. We can hope that as they prosper they will achieve better lives for themselves. That is the fundamental policy of the Government, and we have adhered to it. Later in my speech I shall say more about this part of our policy.
The second part of our policy was, I believe, well stated by Sir Garfield Barwick, the former Minister for External Affairs. It is, that we cannot hope to achieve our aim of prosperity and growth in South East Asia unless we can be certain of security there and certain too that the people of the area will be free from outside interference and from disturbing elements, wherever they might come from. The double basis of Australia’s policy is prosperity and adequate defence to meet our treaty obligations - to meet the commitments we have made and which are publicly known to the people of the world.
It is against this background that we are compelled to ask ourselves: Who is the enemy, and who are the people who are disturbing the peace? We must ask, if I may turn now to what was said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: Who is preventing the people who live in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation area from achieving the same degree of development as has been achieved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries. The countries of South East Asia undoubtedly could have a high rate of progress if they were not beset by subversive activities within their own countries. Subversive activities have not only been prevalent there, but there have been attacks made also upon India. Malaya went through a period of desperate crisis, with internal insurrection and continued subversion. In North Korea attack after attack was made by the Communists, and thousands of lives were lost unnecessarily. A near crisis has now arisen in Vietnam, where the same forces are preventing the South Vietnamese Government from proceeding to accomplish its legitimate purposes. It is prevented from developing, growing and looking to the prosperity of its own people.
Sir, it is our purpose and our duty here to acknowledge, and to state in positive terms, who are the people and what are the types of people who are carrying out such activities. There is one great enemy of progress and independence throughout South East Asia; that is the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of North Vietnam. One of the most dramatic events and changes that have taken place in recent years is seen in Western Europe. If you travel in Western Europe today you find that the people there are prepared to say that they think the worst has passed, because the Russians have learnt that the nuclear deterrent is so great that they dare not embark upon an expedition of aggression. This is significant. The emphasis has dramatically changed, and we will be intimately concerned in the Far East position for many years. The subversive activities, in all their manifestations and forms, are led by the Communist Government in Peking and the Communist Government in Hanoi.
My next point is one that ought to be made over and over again, ‘because I doubt that unless it is understood we can ever truly understand the defence policies of the United States of America. Historically, Imperial Russia would, whenever it got the chance to take things the easy way, always commit territorial aggression against a small, inoffensive and ill-defended neighbour. It was so in the Stalin era and is so now in the time of Communist China. If the pickings are easy and if the Communist leaders think they can get away with it without great loss, they will annihilate those who oppose them, just as the Soviet Government carried out the most degrading and beastly attack upon the inoffensive and innocent people of Hungary, when it caused the greatest bloodbath in the history of civilisation. What the Communists did then, the Communists would do now.
It will be remembered that there is a history of resentment and reaction by the United States to the actions of the Communists. Members of this House will be aware of the reaction in Azerbaijan when President Truman said to the Communists: “ Get out or take the consequences “. They got out. We can remember what happened in Korea and in Cuba. Although the circumstances are vastly different in the case of South Vietnam, what was true in the case of Cuba is true in South Vietnam. When the U.S. Government made it clear that it would tolerate no further open aggression the North Vietnamese withdrew. They were not prepared to run the fearful risks involved had they continued aggression against the United States military forces.
The lesson in all of this is that we must be prepared to tell the Communists that they can go so far and no further. We must have adequate and credible deterrents and we must prove to the Communists that, if they transgress the limits, then we in the free world are prepared to react and will take the necessary measures to defend ourselves and our friends. I point out to the House - the House knows these facts, but they bear repetition - that, unless there is this deterrent and unless the Communists know that it will be used under certain circumstances, they will take the easy way and will do in South East Asia what Soviet Russia did in Hungary.
The last point I want to make before I come to the Labour Party and the arguments that it has put is that our strategic appreciation runs along these lines: South Vietnam is essential to the integrity and security of the whole of South East Asia. One has only to glance at the map once or twice to realise that if South Vietnam falls the neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, Loas, Cambodia, Burma and even India, will come under the political domination of Communist China. If they did not come under the political domination of Communist China, I think it is certain that they would come under military oppression. We want South East Asia to remain intact. We want it to remain free. We are prepared to play our part in the defence of this part of the free world.
We can take the argument a step further. If those countries did come under the political domination or control of Communist China, surely it would mean that Malaysia would be threatened and, in view of the problems that that country faces because of the composition of its population, surely it could not expect to remain a free and independent country for long. If Malaysia does not remain free and independent, surely it becomes almost inevitable that Indonesia, with its vast Communist Party - there are two or three million active Communists in that country - would come under threat and the Communist menace would be right at our back door. It is against that background of our objectives and our strategic appreciation that all our problems must be looked at.
Against that background, I now look at some of the arguments that have been made tonight by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in a somewhat guileful way an an attempt to conceal his true motive, and which were advanced on Tuesday and again this morning with considerable emphasis by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). This morning the Leader of the Opposition said that the most dangerous inadequacy in the thinking of the Minister for External Affairs was the opinion of the Minister that in the face of events there was no alternative to the use of force. I know that this issue has been dealt with adequately and effectively by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies).
– Well, why are you wasting our time?
– Oh, do shut up. I go back to what I said about the dual nature of Australian policy, first in terms of the help that we are prepared to give and the help that has been given and secondly in terms of defence. Certain sections of the Manila Pact have been read already by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but they permit of repetition. The whole of this pact -what we call the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty- is based upon what I have stated to be the policy of the Commonwealth Government. It is based primarily on the need to help the relevant countries grow and prosper and secondly on our desire to help them to defend themselves. I have in my hand a document entitled “ Manila Pact and Pacific Charter “. It must have been well known to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It has been quoted from often in this House and has been distributed sufficiently frequently for it to become almost a bible to any member of the Parliament. This document, in the preamble to the Treaty, says, in part -
Desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom and to uphold the principles of democracy … to promote the economic well-being and development of all peoples in the Treaty Area. . . .
There we state our policy. We want to help them. It is not a single policy; it is not an inadequate policy. If my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, had had the time, he would have made it clear that we want these people to prosper, and that it is the Communists and the people who will help the Communists, including one or two honorable members opposite, who are preventing this ideal from being achieved.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that Article III of the Treaty has been written into the platform of the Labour Party. But, extraordinarily enough, he said that we had never made this part of the Manila Pact public before. That is strange, because the Labour Party has pinched this article from the Treaty and written it into its own platform. So, either the Deputy Leader is forgetful or in this case he is not telling the truth.
Article III also refers to the economic progress and social well being of the peoples in the South East Asia Treaty area. Consequently, we are entitled to say that either the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not know what he was talking about or he deliberately preferred to tell a half truth when he stated that our parallel policy was a purely military policy and that we did not have a policy for the progress and security of the South East Asia Treaty area. There is no dangerous inadequacy in the thinking of the Minister.
I will mention some of the things that have been done in Vietnam in order to prove the point. Under the Colombo Plan we are helping in more than 20 major projects. Under the S.E.A.T.O. aid programme we have supplied roadbuilding equipment, galvanised iron, hand tools and blacksmiths’ sets. We have also sent a special survey team under Colonel Crosby to work out ways and means of giving economic aid to South East Asia. There, in positive terms, is the help that we, as a government, are giving on the social and economic level in order to permit these South East Asian people to continue their developmental programmes.
The last point to which I want to direct attention is this strange but understandable difference in fundamental ideologies that exists within the Labour Party. Immediately after the attack was made on the American forces in the Gulf of Tonkin, the Leader of the Opposition made a statement which everyone interpreted as an attack upon the United States of America. He was joined in that by a statement from the Federal Executive of the Labour Party. The members of ‘the Executive - these 36 faceless men - expressed their alarm at the involvement that might take place. The Leader of the Opposition expressed his belief that the incident would escalate into a nuclear war. Already he has turned out to be wrong because, as the United States forecast, the moment it was shown to the Communists - whether they be in China or in North Vietnam - that the Americans meant business, the Communists made sure that military involvement did not proceed any further.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) made two statements which ought to be challenged. First he asked this question: Were the United States naval forces, in fact, attacked? I know of no-one, other than the honorable member for Yarra and those people who are prepared to foster the Communist cause, who is prepared to make the positive and categorical statement that there was no attack by the North Vietnamese on the naval forces of the United States. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has contradicated the honorable member, who is a member of the executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
There is one other statement made by the honorable member for Yarra which I believe calls for an immediate answer from him. He said that the American attack was a policy that had no basis in morals or in justice. So, when there is an unprovoked attack on United States military forces and when there is continued subversion against the Vietnamese and there is retaliation, does it mean that there is no basis of morality for the retaliatory action that is taken and that there is no justice in it? On the contrary, I am prepared to argue, and every decent member of this House is prepared to argue, that if there is a lack of morality and absence of justice, the people who can be accused of the lack of morality and the absence of justice are the Communists controlled from Peking and the Communists who have their government headquarters in Hanoi. Now the honorable gentleman from Yarra owes it to the Parliament and to the people to tell us tonight where he stands. He has lied before and we will prove that he has lied again. Let him now, if he can, get out of the mess that he is in and the mess that he is obviously facing in his own party tonight.
.- Today we have had a demonstration from Government supporters that has never been matched in this Parliament since I have been here. I have heard more distorted statements during the course of today than I have heard in the nine years I have been here. The leading example of the distortion has just been given by the little gentleman sitting opposite me. He began his speech by saying that I had said that the United States of America could not claim to have been attacked in the present crisis. He ended his speech by returning to this point. He built the greater part of his speech on this basis and said that I was contradicted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
– Quite right.
– I will say this: I will give £100 to any charity in this country if the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who is walking around the table, can prove that I uttered one word that he quoted. I will give £100 to any charity in this country if the Minister for Labour and National Service-
– Why didn’t you get up and contradict it in the House today?
– I am contradicting it now with a considerable amount of force. If I had to get up in this House and contradict every distorted statement that was made, I would never be in my seat. But I am doing it now. I will offer £100 to any charity in this country if the honorable gentleman opposite can prove one word of what he said. I will not even ask him to withdraw the remark he made at the end of his speech. I will merely return it to him and say that if he has not told a lie he has knowingly distorted-
– I am quoting from the newspapers.
– Will you accept my challenge?
– I am quoting from the newspapers.
– I will also say that, if the honorable gentleman can prove by producing one newspaper that had those words in it, I will give another £100 to charity.
– I will produce it.
– They have never been published in any newspaper that I have seen in Australia, and in any case I never uttered the words. Recently I made a speech in Sydney-
– Can I give it to you now?
– It seems to have disturbed a few people.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order and to give the honorable member for Yarra a chance to make a speech in this debate.
– Recently I made a speech in Sydney which seems to have disturbed some of the honorable gentlemen opposite. I think one of the main features that disturbed them was that I had 2,000 people in that audience. This is hardly surprising because we are living in extraordinarily conventional times.
– Pay up.
– The newspaper that has just been handed to me by the Minister for Labour and National Service happens to be a report that I have not seen.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order and I suggest that the subject raised by the honorable member for Yarra in the first part of his speech be left until after this debate has concluded.
– I return to the point by saying that at no time did I make any statement that appears in the newspaper in front of me. At no time did I make any statement that was quoted by the Minister for Labour and National Service, and I will give £100 to charity if anybody can prove I made that statement. I never made it at any stage and everything that has been said today has been based upon this false report, which I have not seen at any time until now.
– It was in the “Age”, too.
– It is not in the “ Age “ at all. I begin with the proposition that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) used recently.
– Will you take that newspaper, too? It is the “ Age “.
– The whole point is whether I made the statement and I say deliberately that the statement was never made. I repeat what I said before about it.
The Leader of the Opposition said on Tuesday that there is no such thing as a bipartisan foreign policy in this country. This means that the Australian Government has to be criticised when it is wrong, and criticised by the Opposition. Because the Australian Government follows so completely the American Government, the American Government must be criticised too, and criticised when it is wrong. It may be possible for some people to accept criticism of the Australian Government, but they seem incapable of accepting criticism of the American Government. I find this very difficult to understand, because our future as a people and as a nation depends more on what the American Government does than on anything else.
I said in Sydney recently that the rising tide of war in Vietnam might be expected to shock the Australian people into the realisation that Australia’s relations with Asia are almost alone the relations of war, and war that can lead to nothing else, unless it is stopped, than to millions of people being locked in a struggle on the mainland of Asia or being destroyed here and elsewhere in a few nuclear explosions. I did not think that my statement would be so completely confirmed as quickly as it was. Only two days later in this House the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) confirmed it when he said -
Policy in South East Asia is now almost alone the use of force. There is tremendous pressure from the Goldwaters, the generals and the arms makers to escalate the war into North Vietnam and into China. I intend to resist this pressure and to say that force in its present form is no answer to the southward thrust of Communism in Asia. The facts prove that force has been relied upon in Vietnam for over 20 years. Today there is almost a general recognition that the war cannot be won, that force cannot succeed. This recognition is the main reason for the pressure to extend the war. It is the main evidence for the failure of the policy so far. It is quite impossible for the Minister to say that anything significant has been done on the economic side. Over 95 per cent, of the expenditure in South Vietnam has been on the military side.
I said recently that the war has no basis in morals and justice. The Mansfield investigating committee claimed that in South Vietnam it found chaos, intrigue and widespread corruption. Senator Mansfield said -
It would be a disservice to my country not to voice a deep concern over the trend of events in Vietnam in the seven years which have elapsed since my last visit.
That was in 1955 -
What is most disturbing is that Vietnam now appears to be, as it was then, only at the beginning of a beginning in coping with grave internal problems. lt is no good saying that the Colombo Plan has contributed anything to this. No-one can say that the war in Vietnam will bring democracy and justice to that country. South Vietnam will be ruled by dictatorships, whoever wins the war. American policy in South East Asia is not justified on the ground that America is acting in that war as a whole in self-defence or because there is a moral case for the Governments of Bao Dai, Diem, Minh and Khanh. At present, the justification lies in the strategic interests of the United States to be present in South East Asia. I will quote at length from Walter Lippmann with complete approval of what he had to say. He said -
It is not yet clear why the Hanoi Government decided to attack the Seventh Fleet. But the encounter is a reminder that the United States is present in the seas around and in the air over South East Asia.
The North Vietnamese and Chinese infantry can do nothing against this invincible and wellnigh invulnerable military presence What is more, nothing that happens on the ground on the Asian mainland can alter the fact that the United States cannot be driven out of South Ea->t Asia.
The lasting significance of the episode is the demonstration that the United States can remain in South East Asia without being on the ground.
And so, while it may well be true that the jungle war cannot be won, it is also true that the United States need not, and will not, cease to be a great Power in southern Asia.
Moreover, as long as we exercise our enormous power with measure, with humanity and with restraint, as President Johnson is intending to use it, the risks of a wider war are limited.
The more firmly the fact is established that our presence in South East Asia is primarily as a sea and air power, the safer it will be to enter the negotiations which are the only alternative to an endless and indecisive war in the jungle.
It is necessary to prove to the Chinese, who probably do not really understand sea power because they have none, that the elephant cannot drive the whale out of the ocean.
This is an essential preliminary to a good negotiation. The Chinese will have to accept our permanent presence as a great Power in the South Pacific.
Here, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it has been established that America cannot win on the ground in South Vietnam, because the people America is supporting there cannot and will not meet the need’s of the people generally. But America can win on the sea and in the air. Speaking for myself, I would fully support the maintenance by America of a sea and air curtain around South East Asia and Asia. It is now clear that nothing in the interests of justice and democracy, or America’s strategic effort, can be achieved by continuing or extending the war in South Vietnam. It should be Australian national policy therefore to negotiate for a ceasefire and for United Nations action to bring all the parties to the conference table. This does not mean a withdrawal immediately of any troops. That would be impossible. It means that the fighting should stop and the troops should be in position for negotiations to begin, as they were in 1954 when the Geneva conference was called. An exact parallel would be expected to occur again: The war must end and the conference must begin, but it must be a conference at which all the parties are present. Mainland China is a party concerned and must be at the conference so that she can be bound by any settlement that is reached. The procedure therefore should be to recall the Geneva conference.
Much of the strategic interests of Australia and America can be secured by air and sea power but not all. Something can be done on the ground. But to achieve an effective ground policy means that several misconceptions have to be cleared away. The war in South Vietnam is not a result of Chinese or North Vietnamese interference. Here we have a long record of evidence some of which has been quoted already in the debate but none of which has been dealt with at any stage by a speaker from the Government side. I shall begin by quoting Lieutenant-Colonel Geneste of the French Army, who said -
Our planes (they have none) have the absolute mastery of the skies; our navy (they have none) controls the sea; our tanks, our armament and technical skill are unchallenged. All this material, all this military strength appears to be useless.
That statement was made in 1953. Up to that point in time there had been no significant interference from anywhere else. The forces that were opposed to the French in Vietnam at that time were in that condition. I next refer to a quotation from the New York “Times” of 25th July 1962 by Homer Bigart. He said -
In 1963, the Republic of South Vietnam will put well equipped forces totalling more than 350,000 men against 25,000 guerrillas who have no artillery, no anti-aircraft guns, no air power, no trucks, no jeeps, no prime movers and only basic infantry weapons.
So, the evidence up to that stage, it appears, was showing no interference from outside.
The former head of the United States military forces in South Vietnam, General Paul D. Harkins, said at a press conference in Saigon -
The guerrillas obviously are not being reinforced or supplied systematically from North Vietnam, China, or any place else. They apparently depend for weapons primarily on whatever they can capture. Many of their weapons are homemade.
Those remarks appeared in the Washington “ Post “ of 6th March 1963. So, up to that point, there had been no significant breach of the Geneva agreement by North Vietnam or China, and the revolutionary forces - the fighting forces - in South Vietnam were predominantly internal.
On 27th July 1964, only a few days ago, we had this statement -
We had also a report at that time, for the first time, of 75 mm. recoilless rifles of Chinese manufacture being discovered in the possession of some of the forces in South Vietnam. I ask a speaker on the Government side to deal with these facts as I have presented them. These statements are from men who were on the scene including, in one case, General Harkins who was in charge of the American forces and, in the last case I quoted, from the Secretary of Defence.
They have made statements that there has been no significant interference from North Vietnam or from anywhere else, and they have left us with the evidence that this is substantially an internal movement. But no speaker on the Government side is prepared to deal with any of these statements. All honorable members opposite will do in answer to these matters is get up and make allegations about somebody on this side of the House being a traitor or being disloyal. I say that these men who are continuing to support methods that have failed and have brought the threat of Communism and insurrection closer to Australia are traitors to this country. I charge that this Government has that responsibility to face. You cannot win these things by talk or by shouting interjections across this chamber. You can win these things only by considering objectively and accurately the circumstances with which you are dealing.
The war in South Vietnam, the evidence shows, is the result of a national revolutionary movement. What kind of thing is that? Professor W. W. Rostrow, a well known American expert, said it was this and I agree with his description -
What is happening throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia is this: Old societies are changing their ways in order to create and maintain a national personality on the world scene and to bring their peoples the benefits modern technology can offer. This process is truly revolutionary. It touches every aspect of traditional life: economic, social and political.
This process is no military one. It cannot be dealt with by a military answer. This process is predominantly an economic, political and social one and it can only have an economic, political and social future. National revolutionary movements cannot be advanced nor can they be assisted by external interference. History has demonstrated this fact clearly enough in the last 25 years. National revolutionary movements depend upon the people who live in the country, and they will be fought out by them in the conditions that history has given them. Interference from the capitalist side has always been interference against the flow of the national revolutionary movement, whatever it is. Its only effect has been not to stop it but to give the leadership of it to the most ruthless and the most dogmatic of those in that situation. It has been to make the internal revolutionary movement more cruel, harsh and oppressive than it would otherwise be, and to make it a danger to world peace. The effect of interference from the Communist side has been to encourage not only interference from the capitalist side but to strengthen re-action everywhere. It was Communist interference and Communist aggressive advances in Korea in 1951 that gave McCarthyism to the world and Menzies-Santamariaism to Australia. But interference from the Communist side has also made the national revolutionary movements more cruel, harsh and oppressive than they would otherwise be and, equally, it has made them a danger to world peace.
There are prospects for American policy in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia to avoid either of these harmful consequences. But these consequences depend upon moving away from reliance upon force and war to which the Minister for External Affairs considers there is no real alternative. There is an alternative and the prevention of what he calls “ the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism” depends upon acceptance of that alternative. We cannot afford another 20 years of failure as there has been with this policy in South Vietnam in the last 20 years. Failure of the method of force and war, supported almost without criticism by the Australian Government, has accelerated and expanded the south west thrust of militant Asian Communism which the Minister for External Affairs appears to fear so much. Indeed, this method cannot be used much longer or failure will be complete, and nothing but the sea and air cordon in Asia will remain.
The significance of the Labour Party’s emphasis on political and economic methods is that we do say that there is hope that something can be done on the ground. We do not want to have to rely upon the sea and air cordon alone, because the result will inevitably be to push men like Goldwater into the seats of power if that is the situation. What happens on the ground is of importance. A great general of air forces, Lieutenant-General James M. Gavin quoted the significance of this. He wrote in 1962 -
In fact this is the most probable nature of future war, a slow almost imperceptible transition of bad economic and political situations into disorder.
What must be done on the ground is to determine to prevent the transition of a bad economic and political situation into disorder. That is the essence of the problem and success depends upon its solution.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I greatly regret the closing stages of the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) when he said that what occurs in the area we are discussing must be confined to the ground; it must not be in the air or on the sea.
– No; that is not what I said at all.
– That is what I understood you to say and to repeat. The truth of the matter is that those who support those whom our allies are resisting have massive resources of manpower. Those to whom we look for friendship and support, and to whom we offer our support, have great forces in the air and on the sea. This really has to be comprehended. To say that the incident must be confined to the land, and ought not to be extended to the air and to the sea, is as completely opposed to Australian interests as one could possibly imagine.
As to the rest of the honorable member’s speech, to which I listened, and the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), there were a great many references to matters of fact, and many quotations of opinions which I do not dispute. They related to issues which, for my part, were not critical to the main substance of this discussion. However, in the speech of the honorable member for Yarra I could perceive a doctrine, or thesis that could be written in a study by a person not himself involved, and not responsible for the survival of a nation. As far as I am concerned I take my position in the National Parliament, as I believe we all ought to do, on the ground that we have a multitude of responsibilities to our own country. We have responsibilities to other countries, to other less fortunate people and to friends upon whom in circumstances we depend; but above all no responsibility devolves upon a member of the National Parliament greater than the responsibility to ensure the survival of his own people. He ought always to give priority to that; it is a basic thing. It must over-ride every other single consideration.
We are not now conducting an abstract discussion here. We are discussing incidents in an area where fighting is going on and where people are dying by day and night. Some are winning and some are losing. Some are being killed, and some are losing their freedom. We cannot deal with this matter in the abstract. This situation is the outcome of aggressive Communism. If Australia is in danger, and if there is danger to the peace of the world, I do not really think that any reasonable person would dispute that the only source from which that danger to the peace of the world, and ultimately to the things that are dear to us, can arise is from aggressive Communism. If th ‘t statement is not true it ought to be directly denied. But if this is true - as I profoundly believe it to be true - we cannot do other than concern ourselves with incidents arising from the operations of aggressive Communism, either within our own geographical area, or within the area which affects our friends and allies. This is the policy of the Government, and I am sure that it is the policy of Australia.
If we agree that there is danger to peace - it is almost foolish to say that there is not wh’in fighting is going on - then a country such as ours - we are a wonderful, fortunate people and as Australia is a country to be envied - must have allies. We have allies. We know where to look for allies and we have chosen our allies. This being the case, I for my part adopt a simple attitude. When I have elected to identify a friend I am with that friend. I am not querulously questioning his conduct or doubting his motives. If the day should come when I need the help of my friend I hope that he will not be writing me letters or suggesting that I go to a meeting. I hope that if that day should ever dawn he will come to my aid. This is the basic attitude for the Australian nation and the Australian people, and I believe it is the correct basic attitude for the Australian Parliament itself to adopt.
Of course these are world tensions that rise from different ideologies. We know that the tremendous expenditure on armaments in various countries has arisen predominantly because of the forces that have developed, not merely from the differences in ideology but from the aggressive character of the ideology of Communism, To those who want a higher standard of living, peace and prosperity I say that if there could be an abatement of the aggressive character of the Communist ideology - I aim not saying a surrender or an abandonment of the ideology which we dislike - nothing in the world would contribute more to a higher standard of living and greater happiness for the whole human race. That is what we want. The very fact that the dangers that the world has felt during the years arising from the aggressive character of the stance of the Soviets have now visibly abated has stemmed from the truth that Communism was confronted with strength. It was confronted not with fighting but with strength and with will.
These are the same considerations that apply in any area of political tension and danger. Although there is political tension arising from the great ideologies, confronting one another, there is another more minor kind of political tension that has developed in the newly emerging countries. These are countries that have never in history had a civilisation, or countries that have had a civilisation have become subordinated to colonialism and have later regained their freedom. Of course it is inevitable that tension will arise in those places, and it so happens that it is in those places that you usually find poverty, hardship and suffering. These are the ingredients from which political tensions and instabilities develop. Where this occurs we give a helping hand, and all our friends give a helping hand. But if a country wants more than a helping hand, if a country wants the means to commit an act of aggression against a neighbour, then it can turn to Russia or to China, and today those two countries will compete with each other to give the most help.
This is the truth of the matter. This is the situation that exists in our geographic area. We can thank God that the United States, safe in her own security and remote from this crea, feels that it is the right thing for her to use her weight, her influence and her might to try to preserve the freedom of people in countries that have been established as free countries. This is what the United States is doing in South Vietnam. If we considered nothing other than the justice of the case, it would be right for us to align ourselves in the same direction with all our will and strength.
We have never confined our willingness to help to a willingness to extend military aid. Let us never forget that the great Colombo Plan arose from a proposal of the Australian Government - this Australian Government. That has been one of the greatest single plans for giving aid to underprivileged peoples ever devisd in human history. This Government proposed it and it has enjoyed the support of all sides of this Parliament and the whole of ‘this community. It has received the approbation of the world. We have, therefore, made our contribution, in conception and in act. towards the betterment of the circumstances of less fortunate people. But it is proper that when these people are imperilled, when their lives and their freedom are imperilled, we should be prepared to go a step further and speak and act for their defence. That is our policy and that is what we are doing today. We find ourselves, happily, in association with our’ great British colleagues, with our doughty New Zealand friends, and with our great American allies.
In short, what we have done in making our alliances has been to identify as our friends the peoples who have the same ideological principles as ours, who have the same moral standards as we have, who have the same general interests as we have, and the same geographic interests as we have.
So we have identified our friends and they have identified us as their friends. As a result we have our great alliances.
We can argue in abstract about details, but one should not be arguing in abstract about details while fighting is going on. I put it quite clearly that we want fighting to cease, but there is no record in history of fighting having ceased while one side was winning. Fighting ceases when victory has been achieved or when a stalemate has been reached. These are the only two circumstances in which fighting will cease. I think it can be said that in South Vietnam those who are opposed to the present regime are making progress all the time. It is idle to think that they will stop and talk while they are making progress. Indeed, when they were invited to go to the Security Council and state their views in general terms, and in particular in regard to the American patrol boat incident, they declined to do so. So what is this talk about settling the matter by political negotiation instead of by fighting? How can you negotiate with people who will not talk to you? To suggest that we should do so is nonsense; it is unreal.
So we help our friends, just as we would expect them to help us and are confident that they would help us. There are the issues before us today. I made notes to refer to many of the matters raised by speakers on the other side of the House, but on reflection I regard those issues as irrelevancies in the overall situation.
Opposition speakers have asked why we are giving aid to South Vietnam. It seems to me almost incredible that such a question should be posed. Some appear to think that this Government would like to reduce the issue to the simple question: Are you for the Americans or against them? This is completely unreal. Are we for someone or against someone? We are for Australia and we are doing what we think is the right thing for Australia. In this circumstance of danger, as we perceive it, we are very fortunate to have a great ally. Her fight is our fight, just as throughout history Britain’s fight has been our fight. We expect that if the day should ever come when we are in danger these great friends of ours will say: “ Australia’s fight is our fight.” Unless we take that stand we are not entitled to expect the help of great people.
.- Let me say at the outset that the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Australian Labour Party have always stood forthrightly for the use of the United Nations for the settlement of all international disputes. We have never deviated from that attitude. While it is true that the United Nations Organisation, like all other human institutions, has never achieved 100 per cent, success, it can be said in all truth and denied by none that on numerous occasions without the efforts of the United Nations the world could have embarked on a third world war. So we have again stressed that in respect of the Vietnam situation some earnest endeavours should be made by this country, and by other countries for that matter, to call in the United Nations. We have expressed our support for President Johnson’s appeal to the United Nations for a reference of the Vietnam dispute to the Security Council.
In this respect we are not vulnerable. But the fact remains that in a paper issued by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) that honorable gentlemen excused and wholeheartedly supported the activities of units of the United States Navy in what was, so it is said, a retaliatory action against the forces of the North Vietnam Government in old Indo China. I suppose I am as British in my origin as is any other member of the Parliament. I have an affection for the United Kingdom and the people of the United Kingdom, and for their cousins the people of the United States of America. But in no circumstances would I allow that family link, as it were, to prejudice my support for expressions of opinion which I believed to be morally right and in the best interests of humanity generally.
Tonight the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) said that he was for Australia always and, in effect, in all circumstances. I think that we can substantially support that statement. In effect he was implying that members of the Opposition were not always for Australia. How one can best be all for Australia is subject to a substantia] number of interpretations. I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry now: Is it not a fact that at one of the most critical stages of World War II he, as a member of the Advisory War Council, in opposition to the views of some of his Con servative friends, supported the action of the Curtin Government in recalling Australian troops to Australia because this country was in real peril? Is that right or wrong?
– 1 will get you under the Official Secrets Act.
– Never mind about the Official Secrets Act. If it has been good enough for a statesman like Sir Winston Churchill to breach the Official Secrets Act repeatedly since World War I, it is good enough for me to do likewise. The Minister for Trade and Industry remains silent. The Curtin Government, being for Australia first and not being unaware of the need to support others, said: “ We will bring the Australian troops home because of the menacing danger from Japan “. The honorable gentleman differed with his Liberal colleagues who were members of the Advisory War Council and supported that move. The interpretation of the way in which one can best be all for Australia is very important indeed. The Minister for Trade and Industry was a member of the Government at the time of the Suez crisis. I do not think he was very pleased about the attitude of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) when that right honorable gentleman forthrightly came out in support of the United Kingdom during that crisis.
– Well, some of his supporters were.
– I have not interrupted honorable members during this long debate. I have listened intently and have not interrupted one man. I expect to receive the same courtesy, not that I am always free from guilt in that respect. Still the Minister for Trade and Industry remains silent. The fact has been repeatedly emphasised in the Parliament that, whether we like if or not, our economic welfare and our very survival are, in many senses, wrapped up with South East Asia. Then, as a counterpoise to any dangers that may be inherent in our being wrapped up with South East Asia, China, Japan and other countries in that part of the world, we say: “ But we are friends of the Americans. “ Of course we are. I hope we will always be friends of the Americans. But that does not mean that when America is morally wrong, or follows a wrong international course, we should willy nilly adopt the same attitude.
Let me say to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), in regard to the integrity of the United States that as with most countries, participation in war provokes lies. War is founded and is conducted on lies. It is alleged that the first act of belligerency in the Gulf of Tonkin was committed by the North Vietnam Government, that the North Vietnamese attacked a mighty United States naval vessel. It is suggested that the United States retaliated. It is possible - I hope it proves not to be so - that history will show, perhaps before very long, that the circumstances of that attack and counterattack were entirely different from those that have been represented. I remind the House that on the occasion of the attack at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba a responsible American statesman denied that the United States had had any hand in the attack. Some weeks later there was a confession that the United Stales had had a very substantial hand in the attack and, in fact, had organised it. It was denied that the Gary Powers flight over Russia was an officially sponsored United States flight. Subsequently it was admitted that the United States had authorised the flight and that in effect the aeroplane had been on a spying expedition. I am not blaming the United States for sending a plane on a spying expedition. All nations do these things. But the plain fact is that lies are told ad lib. A lot of them have been uttered in this place this afternoon.
I suggest that the conflict in South Vietnam is a dirty, filthy civil war. Civil wars are probably more shameful and more dreadful than international wars. It has been pointed out that this conflict has Hasted for ten long years and the cause of it is attributed to the Communists - the North Vietnamese. Very little is said about the rebels within the borders of South Vietnam who are there in their thousands. Whilst North Vietnam has a population of 13 million, South Vietnam has a population of 1 1 million. There must be a mighty strong rebellious force - call them Communists or what you will - in South Vietnam if they can keep the fight going within the confines of their own country for 10 long years. It has been suggested that there has been subversion, that there has been an infiltration of personnel, from the north. The following statement appears in an article in the Melbourne “ Herald ** of 7th March 1964-
One possibility that has won many supporters is to carry the war to North Vietnam. It is true that the Vietcong -
That is, the Communists - was conceived in North Vietnam, breast fed, spoon fed, instructed, armed and equipped. But it is also true that it is as South Vietnamese as the Government of General Nguyen Khanh.
In other words, these people who are fighting the established government in South Vietnam are of the same blood, the same type and same origin as the South Vietnamese and are citizens of South Vietnam itself. If that is not civil war, I should like to know what is.
Let us consider another illustration of the situation. I have before me a reference in the press to the casualties that were sustained in a few scraps that took place in South Vietnam in one particular period. On the one hand the South Vietnamese forces lost about 2,000 men, and on the other hand the Vietcong forces lost 2,000 men. This fighting, this scrapping, that is going on in South Vietnam, is being conducted in the same dirty, filthy, horrible manner in which the civil war was conducted in the United States 100 years ago. Imposed upon this horrible situation has been the intrusion of the United States. I do not doubt for a moment that the motives of the United States of America in going in to South Vietnam originally were, in the main, to render economic aid and to try to set these people on their feet. Unfortunately, corrupt, wicked administration, militated against the carrying out of those good intentions on the part of the U.S.A., and chaos, corruption, bloodshed and misery have continued ever since. As a matter of fact, our great ally, the United States of America, has even gone so far as to arm the forces of South Vietnam with the napalm bomb. We can all imagine the horrible holocaust that would follow if it were used. Innocent and guilty people are being killed ad lib and the best we can suggest is that we send more men to Vietnam to train the people in Vietnam to carry on the effort more effectively and more efficiently until the war is won.
Anyone who cares to read back through the Australian Press for the last six months will find not one writer of any sort, not even one as conservative as Denis Warner whom I have just quoted, who has not said that this war cannot be won. Therefore, is it not time we bent our efforts towards a cessation of hostilities and the intervention of the United Nations forces?
As to the Americans, unfortunately they have taken up exactly the same attitude as has been taken up by almost every member of the Government who has spoken in this House on this issue so far. I listened intently to the first argument which was that you must contain Communism. Have we not fought wars to win the right of self determination? Did not millions of men die in the fight for self determination? Surely, if, after a civil war lasting 10 long years, it should unfortunately happen that, because of the efficiency and appeal of the Communist forces, South Vietnam or any other part of Asia should decide upon a Communist economy, it is entitled to implement what the Government might call a foolish decision. Honorable members on the Government side say: “ But think of the danger to Australia “. Yes, but think of the danger to Australia in any case. This afternoon, one honorable member pointed out that it was essential for the protection of this country that South Vietnam be saved from Communism. At the same time, he said that it was fortunate that Red China had not the bomb. He said: “I hesitate to think what would happen to Australian in 1 0 years time if she gets it “. So do I. I would hesitate to think what would happen to Australia if she ever gets it because, by the ill conceived attitude that is being taken in the present circumstances in connection with South Vietnam, we are incurring the everlasting hatred of the Asian people and, in my opinion, not doing one thing to give a decent measure of security to the Australian people themselves.
The fact is that this Government adopts the attitude that there is no danger because we have been on the brink of war twice in the last few years. It is undoubtedly true that the United States of America is the most powerful nation in the world and that it has the most resources. Twice we have been on the brink of war and we have got away with this display of strength. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) voiced the Government’s attitude when he said: “ The Allies have the massive resources of mankind”. But perhaps we are being too self-satisfied. Let me remind the Minister and the House that the Russians were the first to put a Sputnik into space and that they were the first to put a cosmonaut into space. Because they have been able to achieve these great technical advances, which the United States of America followed later, it is fair to surmise that the Russians are in a position, if they so desire, to design an intercontinental ballistics weapon that could Wot out Sydney, Newcastle or any other great centre of population in Australia.
– What about Melbourne?
– I do not exclude Melbourne. It is interesting to hear these gentlemen talking about fighting in South Vietnam to prevent it’ going Communist. Yes, they did go into South Vietnam to save it from going Communist, but strange to say, although they went into a small country like Vietnam, they did not talk about going into China to fight Communism. On the contrary, the Minister for Trade has his representatives going over there selling as much wheat, wool, steel and minerals as they can to China. For instance, the Government is sending over trade missions, bankers, representatives of the wool board, representatives of the wheat board and so on, to trade with China. The Government says we have to contain Communism, but it will undertake to do so only in small countries. It will not take on China.
– Would you cancel all the contracts we have with China?
– Have you left off beating your wife?
– Would you?
– 1 am not under crossexamination by you. After all, we are in a situation today that is entirely different from any other international situation in which we have ever been. It might have been possible in the past to say that Australia must be defended 25,000 miles away from her shores, but the Minister for Trade did not think that was so during World War II when he supported bringing Australian troops back to Australia. He realised then that if Australia’s defence was to be effective then the defence had to be established within the vicinity of Australian shores. With the development of the intercontinental ballistics weapon is it not true that while you are fooling about with wars in South East Asia trying to save those people from Communism one intercontinental ballistics weapon discharged from somewhere else could wreak havoc in this country while our troops were 10,000 miles away from their own homeland? Of course it is. 1 am a peace lover, and I hope everybody else is. I am just as great an Australia lover, just as great a lover of Britain and just as great a lover of the sensible Americans as any other person in this House is. But I believe that the Government’s lickspittle following of the Americans and the British when they are wrong is a menace and a danger to the future security of the people of Australia.
– I listened to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) as I usually do, with a great deal of interest. I believe he is one honorable member of this House who expresses his views in a forceful manner and with little regard for what anybody else thinks of those views because he is determined to stand by what he believes. But I think the honorable member missed the point which the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was making when he spoke about the tendency here to stir up an argument as to whether you are for America or whether you are against America. I think the Minister put it rather well when he said the question is not whether you are for America or against America, it is whether you are for Australia or against Australia. He said he was for Australia and Australians. Let me take his point a little further: In deciding whether you are for America or against America or whether you are for Australia or against Australia, you are also deciding whether you are for freedom or against freedom. I do not think any country can expect to enter into a treaty with another country under terms and conditions suitable only to itself. You cannot say- to any nation in the world: “ We will be on your side as long as the situation is to our liking and of our choosing but we won’t be on your side if the situation is one in which great difficulty can arise.”
Anybody who has studied the situation in South East Asia must realise that it is one of the gravest situations this country has faced for a very long time. The honorable member for Lalor also criticised the Minister for Trade for what he believed was his attitude in connection with the Suez crisis. I do not think that on this side of the House there is any great political penalty for disagreement within the ranks of the Ministry. I do not think there is any great penalty to be suffered by anyone who has a view that is opposite to that which somebody else on this side of the House might have. What has to be realised is that the Minister who is the Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of his party at least stood up tonight and declared the policy that has been declared by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and by my colleague the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). There is a unity on this side of the chamber on this question, a unity of which we are proud. There is a unity among the majority of people of Australia.
The honorable member for Lalor said that after what he had seen and read he was convinced that it was a civil war in Vietnam. There are plenty of villagers in Vietnam and the inhabitants of strategic hamlets who, in the morning, walk out into the central street and see the chief man of the village, the teacher or an adviser lying murdered in the middle of the street with “ Vietcong “ cut into his chest. They do not believe that it is a civil war.
– Did you see any of them?
– I can show you photographs. What I saw - and what some of your colleagues saw and will report to you, I am quite certain - was that in the town of Hue, which is just near the 17th parallel, there was a great setout of weapons captured from the Vietcong. As the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) said today, they had markings which showed where they were made.
– Probably some of them came from Australia. We shipped them in 1954.
– I can assure the honorable member that there were no Australian weapons. They were the most modern, automatic guns that I have seen. They were made in Czechoslovakia and China. Some had been copied from a French design and had been made in Communist China. To support the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite a quotation from the “Washington Post” of 6th March 1963 has been used.
– That is fair enough.
– That is right. It was used by an honorable member on your side of the chamber. The article states -
The guerrillas obviously are not being reinforced or supplied systematically from North Vietnam, China, or any place else. They apparently depend for weapons primarily on whatever they can capture. Many of their weapons are homemade.
– I used that piece.
– Any honorable member is entitled to use that quotation. The “ Washington Post “ is a fairly reputable paper.
– General Harkins said it too.
– Yes, I concede that, but I should like you to concede also what was said in the “ Washington Post “ in June 1964, an edition which is slightly more up to date with what is happening in South Vietnam. The “Washington Post” then said -
It has become increasingly clear in the last few months that the war now going on in South Vietnam and Laos is one in which great advantage lies with North Vietnam, lt is estimated that 300 to SOO cadres a month are being infiltrated into South Vietnam from North Vietnam. Every military commander who has had to deal with guerrilla war knows that it takes at least 20 regular troops to contain one infiltrating guerrilla. . . .
Further down it states -
Moreover, it is clear that the Vietcong in South Vietnam are being continuously supplied by North Vietnam with automatic weapons, 50-caIibre machine guns with sights that make them effective against helicopters, light artillery and ammunition.
– What about McNamara’s statement in “Newsweek” of 22nd July this year? Can you answer that?
– I saw that and 1 studied it with a great deal of interest. There is a complete answer to this argument. What I am trying to say is that we must accept the fact that there is a real war going on in Vietnam, a war that is real to the people who live there, a war which, if it is not stopped, will have in the future a great effect on Australia.
– What have you ever done about it?
– It is a strange thing, but when we were in South Vietnam with a combined party from both Houses all I heard, and all that members of the Opposition heard, was great praise for the efforts of Australians. We spoke to the Australian team. Not one of them expressed the views that have been expressed on the other side of the chamber, that they are training people to murder somebody. They all thought that they were doing a worthwhile job in trying to train these people so that they would be able to stop the Communism that is rife in that country and enable them to carry on with their policy of pacification and their attempts to get things back to normal.
There is, of course, every reason why we should be interested in these events happening 5,000 miles away. It is necessary for us to have Australian military advisers and Air Force personnel deployed in countries like this because defeat up there would be defeat for Australia. It is no good working on the theory that we can solve this problem by handouts and economic assistance, because we are not in a position to give effective economic assistance when a place is under the control of opposing forces.
– What about land reform?
– This is a very interesting subject. As I said earlier, the delegation that visited that area was not comprised merely of Government members. The honorable member can consult his colleagues, who will tell him that they assured me that they were told that there was a system of land reform in areas where land reform was capable of being carried out - areas not under the control of the Vietcong.
We in this country must do some brand new thinking on South East Asia. Prior to the war which started in 1939 we believed that we lived in a place that was one of maximum security. There were three reasons for this. To the north of us lay the colonial empires controlled by England, Holland and France, We knew that in any foreseeable situation or crisis these countries would be our allies. Secondly, we had a strong belief in the power of the British Navy to protect us if any aggressor attempted to move south. Thirdly, we lived in an isolated area, geographically, which gave us a feeling of security. All these factors disappeared during or after the Second World War. The Japanese destroyed some of these myths, and after the war the rise of nationalism in Asia caused countries there to be granted self-determination. Now we live in a part of the world where we can be completely isolated unless we are prepared to stick by our treaty commitments and unless we are prepared to help our friends, who are prepared to help us.
As I mentioned before, it is very easy to be for a few days in a country and come back with some impressions - impressions that may be proved right or wrong. However, I believe that most of the members of the delegation were convinced after their visit to that area, and after talking with people at various levels, that, whatever the solution of the problem, there is not one that can be arrived at without a great deal of difficulty and hardship. I believe that we should, in this debate, at all times keep in mind the fundamental reason for the debate. I must say that speakers on both sides have been allowed a certain amount of latitude by the Chair.
This debate was brought about by a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who set out Australia’s agreement with the action taken by the United States in respect of attacks on its vessels. It is very significant that the gravity of that situation, which I believe was stated earlier in the debate to be similar to the gravity of the situation in Cuba, enabled the President of the United States of America to get through both the Senate and the House of Representatives in that country a resolution approving of his action and granting him power to take any further action that he thought necessary to assist any protocol State of the South East Asian Collective Defence Treaty. It is true that we in Australia are already involved in a military sense in Vietnam, and perhaps it would not have been inappropriate if, instead of standing up here and engaging in a political argument, we had passed in both Houses of our Parliament a resolution supporting the action of the Australian Government up to this moment in respect of events in Vietnam, and authorising the Government to act further in the protection of freedom in this part of the world. There is little chance of us getting complete agreement from both sides of the House for such a resolution, but I do believe that it would have been in the best interests of our future security if we had done so.
I believe that the great majority of the Australian people realise the gravity of this situation and respect the actions of the Government in providing the assistance that has been sought in the grim struggle of the Vietnamese people to throw back the invader and to bring eventual freedom to their country. But the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday when replying to the statement by the Minister for External Affairs that there can be no bipartisan foreign policy in this country. It is regrettable that when an opportunity like this is taken by the Minister for External Affairs publicly to state where we stand, it should then be the occasion of political argument in this House of the Parliament.
We have no treaty with Vietnam, as everybody realises, but we have a moral obligation to that country and to our own people to support the United States in its efforts to stop aggression and to end the reign of terrorism inflicted on the people of Vietnam by the Vietcong. It takes little imagination to see the path of conquest if Vietnam falls and Laos itself comes under Communist control. How long would it be before Cambodia and Thailand fell under the heel of the conqueror? I think that this would be a matter of only a few years. If one visualises that situation, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said tonight, the next on the list would be Malaya or Malaysia. Then would come a move to Indonesia, and Australia would be the next to face this aggressor. In two of these countries, Cambodia and Thailand, there are no areas where active combat is taking place, and our contributions to economic development, which honorable members opposite have urged us to make, are meeting with great success. There is a tendency to underwrite the amount of assistance that has been given by Australia under the Colombo plan. Somebody mentioned to me tonight that in the ten year period till 1960, Australia stood third on the list of donors of aid to South East Asia behind the United States and Great Britain.
In Khon Kaen, Thailand, where the Australian Government has undertaken a road project to assist the people to develop their land and to get their products to market, Australians are meeting with the gratitude and thanks of the Thai people. In Cambodia at the motor vehicle servicing centre, which is keeping all of the municipal vehicles on the road, one hears nothing but praise of the efforts of this country. One has to return to his own Parliament to hear the efforts we are making criticised in the strongest possible terms. The Leader of the Opposition implied that we should offer no military assistance. He said that our attention should be concentrated on the eventual economic and social revolution - I use his words - that would occur, and that we should see that this should not be a Communist one. Our actions in these countries are designed to do this very thing. At the present time a considerable area of South Vietnam is under Communist control and it is impossible to negotiate any social or economic programmes designed to improve the standard of living of the people while the military threat remains.
– I appreciate the interjection of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but it would be an interesting situation if he were to walk over an area of South Vietnam with a little irrigation pump to help people work their land, only to be destroyed by the Vietcong who had been planted in that area. The honorable member should consult his own colleagues who were there and who witnessed that sort of thing.
– Why don’t you knock over the military dictatorships and give the people democracy?
– The honorable member is not prepared to listen to the plans that have been put into operation in an attempt to overcome these difficulties. As 1 have said, in areas where there is no combat, our aid on the economic level is highly appreciated. We see Australians working in areas where there is no military action whatever. But in areas under military control it is vital that the people should first be given freedom from attack and freedom from the fear of attack. The programme of pacification goes on very slowly. It may be likened to putting a drop of oil on water where it slowly spreads out. The movement has been slow bat there is every confidence that the programme will succeed. The first thing is to provide internal and external security in the villages and then to put in people who can advise on health and social welfare. This has been done, contrary to what has been said on the opposite side of the House.
There has been an attempt to condemn us for what has been called our emphasis on military assistance and action. This is just an attempt to mislead the people of Australia. These countries about which I speak occupy an area which is less than the area of New South Wales, and they have a population of some 50 million. Two of them at the present time are not only threatened by aggression but also have a very real war on their hands. They are not the aggressors. It must be kept in mind that the people who are trying to destroy the livelihood and lives of the inhabitants of these countries are backed by the might of Communist China.
– General Khanh is the aggressor against his own people.
– This is the same thing as has been uttered by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I believe that there is no foundation for it and I understood that the members of the Opposition who went on the delegation were almost convinced that this was right.
– I did not say that General Khanh was the aggressor. I said there was a civil war and people were shooting one another.
– I did not say that you made the statement. It is about time we started to appreciate the effort that is being made in South East Asia by the United States. A piece of fiction called the “ Ugly American “ seems to bc the basis for much of the thinking about American efforts in South East Asia. I assure honorable members that if it were not for the efforts of the Americans, not on the military level but on the civil level and the aid level, the outlook for South East Asia and for Australia would be far worse. If some honorable members opposite were to read the aims and objectives of the American programme instead of reading the stuff which they are dishing up in this debate they would get a great surprise.
If this debate is to hinge on whether or not we agree with the American action in the Gulf of Tonkin, I think we must remember what is the alternative to such retaliation by conventional means. If the spread of international Communism is to be stopped, it must be stopped by actions like this, in which we must be prepared to back our words by actions. Otherwise, the Communists will completely over-run the area. The Opposition has, accidentally or deliberately, lost sight of the facts of the case we are debating. I direct their attention to the final paragraph of the statement of the Minister for External Affairs -
Australia will make its own decisions from time to time in keeping with its responsibility to the Australian people and its commitments to its allies, and we will make our own judgments and offer our own comments on the changing world scene. Our support in this case was considered and not automatic. At the present juncture and dealing with the incidents now under notice, we do not qualify in any way our plain statement to the United States and to the world that we support the action of the United States and believe it te have been justified by the circumstances.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Last week the situation around South Vietnam deteriorated to such a degree that a great international holocaust appeared imminent. The world seemed to be poised precariously on the precipice of disaster and everyone in Australia, other than Government supporters opposite, seemed to be overwhelmed with the consternation and anxiety sweeping the world. Claiming provocation - and who can affirm or dispel the claim - the United States unleashed a barrage of death-dealing destruction on North Vietnam, its territory, its people and its military installations. While President Johnson was at pains to explain that this pulverisation of North Vietnam was but a limited action, none of us can be sure that this is in fact going to be the case.
No one knows the extent to which this action can take us. The reprisal can be delayed. It can take many forms, but it surely must come in the long run. No longer is the Asian scene to be conditioned by the rule of law. Rather it is to be conditioned by the rule of war. There is much to indicate that the Menzies Government and its reckless policies are not helping to resolve difficult situations to our north. I believe that this Government has to take a large amount of the blame for the unfortunate situation in which we find ourselves.
How alarming it was the other day to hear U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, declare that the organisation was inept in the present situation. What a hopeless prospect this represents for the world. With China and North Vietnam denied membership of the United Nations, this body cannot be invoked as an effective intermediary in the present very dangerous situation. This was the point that the Secretary-General made only a few days ago.
Australia must take its share of responsibility for the present situation. What a peculiar attitude our Government takes: We can sit in the forums of the world with the Soviet Union but not with China! I believe that we can value our ties with our great and powerful allies. Remember that Labour initiated the great alliance between Australia and the United States of America. But we on this side of the House do not necessarily concede that we have to be mere lackeys or mutes in any foreign policy situation. We do not have to be subservient all along the line. The Australian Government, which likes to recognise China for its own profit, has been party to the exclusion of that country from the United Nations and from the conference table. We should have been more loquacious in these matters. We should have used our voice more energetically in the cause of common sense. After all, 800 million Chinese represent a quarter of the world’s population. One in every four persons in the world today is a Chinese. Yet we exclude their nation from the conference table. It was de Gaulle who said a short time ago: “There is no political reality which is not of concern to China “. I say that there is in effect no worthwhile United Nations organisation without China. Why do we give lip service and pay tributes to the United Nations if we are not prepared to take the action necessary to ensure its effectiveness? Today, as a consequence of the contentions of this Government and its supporters who sit opposite, there is no forum in which powers that are at variance with one another can let off steam. There is no organisation capable of cushioning the blow in any international crisis.
Here, I believe, is the first basic difference in foreign policy between the Government on the one hand and the Opposition on the other. Labour would have prevented this situation by strong advocacy to the United States that China be admitted to the conference table and the United Nations. The voice of Australia has been listened to, regardless of the smirks of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Bai nes), who now sits across the table from me. Once, we had a proud name in international affairs. But now, as 1 have said, we have sunk to the level of mere lackeys in international councils. This failure to hear the voice of China in Asian affairs represents the first Liberal rock on which we could well founder in the long run, causing us all to perish.
The second point that I want to make concerns the Government’s failure adequately to represent the need for the cessation of nuclear tests and the need to prevent the widening acquisition of nuclear weapons around the world. This Government has failed to render reasonable cooperation in efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. On 2nd January 1962 the Secretary-General of the United Nations communicated with 104 member States asking them to enter into specific undertakings to refrain from manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons. Australia refused to co-operate in any way in this idealistic concept. Honorable members can check this statement for themselves by referring to page 1 803 of “ Hansard “ of this House of 1st May 1962, where there appears a reply by the then Minister for External Affairs to a question asked by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns.)
From that day on. we could expect only an increasing threat of nuclear war. After all, if a nation of 10 million people claims the right to have nuclear weapons, how can we deny the same right to 1 00 million people in Indonesia or 800 million people in
China, where the population rises every year by a figure more than double the present Australian population? That is to say, they increase their population by about 20 million a year. If the Government wanted to obtain real security for the Australian people it would have encouraged all Asia and, indeed, the whole of the southern hemisphere, to co-operate in restricting the spread of nuclear weapons. This is what Labour contended should be done, but the opposite point of view has been taken by honorable members opposite.
The Menzies Government al the present time has Australia involved in war in Vietnam. Do honorable members opposite not believe there might have been some other answer? Has this Government ever used its good offices to ease the tensions in that area? Has it called for a political solution to the social problems which beset the Vietnamese people? Has it advocated a cessation of hostilities and a return to the conference table and the reinvocation of (he Geneva Convention? These are the things which Labour would have clone, and I believe that, had there been a Labour government in Australia instead of a Liberal government, an entirely different situation could have been in evidence at the present time. We can be loyal - and indeed we are loyal - to the United States, but we do not have to be mute, as I have said. The destiny of Australia is not to be sacrificed on the altar of cheap electioneering techniques used by candidates for the American presidency. If Goldwater is mad we do not have to risk annihilation by acquiescing with his opponent, who suddenly sees the need to look trigger happy. This is the kind of thing which has been in evidence.
I believe that the Australian Government should have discouraged United States involvement in South Vietnam over the past seven years, and this it has failed to do. It is immoral and intellectually insolvent to categorise so readily al) the emergent enlightened forces in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as evil, rather than evolutionary. I deplore this Government’s tendency to put the masses of people in one of two pots - Communists in one pot and Capitalist supporters in the other. I believe there are many shades of nationalism represented by the people of Asia, whom this
Government - with its lazy concepts and Jazy thinking - always tends to put into the melting pot and designate as part of the Communist push southwards. I refuse to believe that the indigenous people of Vietnam, who in many cases cannot read at ail, have ever read the philosophy of Marx or Engels or know what it is about. The Government’s attitude is, to my way of thinking, the height of absurdity. Our Prime Minister has always wanted to be on the side of the Establishment. Whether it be undemocratic, oppressive, crook, cruel, callous or corrupt, the Establishment is bound to enjoy the support of this Government so long as it claims to be suppressing rebels, insurgents or guerrillas, whom the Government and its supporters invariably call Communists.
This is what the Government does, and as a result of this Australia is substantially at variance with the new world - 55 neutral and non-aligned nations, with one-third of the world’s population, who stand for neutralism or non-alignment and, in all cases, self respect. These are the people with whom Australia is at variance as a consequence of the Government’s attitude. The Prime Minister has denounced Labour’s policy, which calls for clear and public treaties to define our international obligations. He referred to it as “ this academic nonsense about having a treaty”. His analogy was Australia’s relationship with the United States of America in the last war. When the United States came to Australia’s aid we were allies. We had long historical ties with America. It is true that we had no treaty, but we could hardly expect this situation to repeat itself in regard to countries in the Asian area. The Prime Minister bleated belligerently about our obligation to the protocol states under the South East Asia Treaty Organization. What kind of obligation does Australia have, in fact, to South Vietnam under the Menzies plan? Were we obligated, for example, to uphold the regime of President Diem before his assassination in 1963? Even the United States failed to sustain him. It denied him in his hour of trial, but apparently Australia is to uphold him in every circumstance. Were we obligated to his successor General Minh, installed after an infamous and bloody military coup? Is this is part of the Menzies plan? Is this what has been organized for the people of Australia? Are our troops now to die for the General Khahn regime regardless of his attitudes to all the social problems affecting the 15 million indigines of South Vietnam? The Prime Minister says, in effect: “Yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do or die “, but we insist on asking why and we intend to go on doing so.
Most of us on this side of the House, if we were Vietnamese, would stand for land reform; we would stand for free and democratic elections; for the redistribution of wealth and the redeployment of resources to raise the living standards of the people in that community. We would stand against illiteracy, disease, poverty and high mortality rates. To call us Communists for doing so would be grossly unfair. I believe that until the United States and its allies, including Australia, stand for the alleviation of these basic causes, we will make no real headway in Vietnam.
In 1955 Diem proclaimed the Republic of South Vietnam. He was backed by the United States of America from the outset, and Senator Wayne Morse confirmed this point. As honorable members know, he is a member of the United States Foreign Relations Committee and on March 4th 1964, in summing up events, he said:
The South Vietnam Government is little more than our own creation. We constructed a government there in 1954 which we then propped up with huge amounts of aid and American troops. Control of the South Vietnamese Government has been passed around within the American financegoverning clique until its association with United States support is closer than its assocation with the people of South Vietnam.
This is not what I have contended; this is what Senator Morse said very clearly. When all is said and done, United States aid has reached tremendous proportions in South Vietnam. Some say that the figure is now as high as four billion dollars spent over a period of eight years. I heard the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney), who preceded me, talk about the aid that has been given under the Colombo Plan to South Vietnam. After all, there has been expended by the United States an amount of about 400,000 dollars a year under the Colombo Plan, but one million dollars a day has been expended in respect of war, particularly in the Asian area. We know what has happened there. We know how the United States encouraged the South Vietnamese to resort to the strategic hamlet concept whereby it wrapped around the people of South Vietnam Australian made barbed wire. Yet it is unable to make an impact on the people of that country who seem to have a spontaneous inclination to the forces opposed to the United States of America.
We must realise, of course, that there is great concern among the people of Asia about interference from the Western world. Until 20 years ago almost every country in Asia, except Thailand and Pakistan, was under colonial domination, and these prejudices remain to the present time. The situation is not improving. This is the point I make, and it is time honorable members opposite started to look for new alternatives. Once there used to be 300 incidents a month in South Vietnam and then this strategic hamlet concept was introduced. Now the number of incidents each month has increased to about 3,000. We are going backwards at a tremendous pace. The United States is spending £700,000 a day in that area. There are 25,000 personnel engaged. We are using tanks, planes, aircraft carriers, chemical warfare, flame throwers and napalm bombs. Yet Senator Mansfield reported to President Kennedy that all current difficulties existed in 1955. He said this not long before the President was assassinated.
The French tried to dominate that area 80 years ago and a fierce guerrilla war followed for 40 years in which a quarter of a million troops were used - not 25,000 but a quarter of a million. Ultimately, in 1954, Fiance capitulated. The Geneva Convention was signed and it provided that aid to either side was a contravention. So, it is a fair thing to contend that neither the Communist powers nor the United States of America should be aggravating the situation by supplying weapons and assistance to the war efforts in that area.
Will the war extend to North Vietnam? Will the U.S. A. cross the 1 7th parallel? If this happened it is inevitable that China would automatically become involved and dreadful carnage would result. Since 1954 160,000 Vietnamese have been killed, 680,000 have been wounded and tortured and 370,000 have been gaoled. Many of these victims were women and children and elderly folk. Yet we say we are fighting for freedom; that we are defending freedom and the non-Communist way of life. We poison, we maim, we torture and we render people homeless, all in the cause of freedom. We on the Opposition side of the House contend that there is an alternative to this dreadful carnage.
The points I have made tonight comprise only a few of the important points that it is terribly necessary to make in the face of this dreadful, inhuman situation. They are points which, if heeded by this Government, can bring about some change in the situation even at this belated time. So I say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Government can have no clear conscience as a consequence of the crisis which beset the world as late as last week. Members of the Government should feel like guilty men because they have aggravated the situation and brought the world close to one of the greatest crises it has experienced in many years.
.- On Tuesday when honorable members reassembled here, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) introduced the statement on the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. Honorable members on this side of the House wondered why the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made such an endeavour to have a motion moved that the statement be noted so that a full debate on it would be held. Now that we have heard the speeches of Opposition members we wonder even more. In the absence of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), I am sure the composition of the Opposition team picked to debate this most important statement is of considerable interest to the people of Australia.
It appears that In the past when we have had debates on foreign affairs the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have endeavoured to mix the speakers for their side of the House. As a member of this House and as an Australian, I can say that I have never felt sorrier for the honorable members for Batman (Mr. Benson), Kingston (Mr. Galvin) and other Opposition speakers than I did tonight. We know they have the interests of Australia at heart but they had to say what they did. But when I listened to the honorable members for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), Reid (Mr. Uren), Hunter (Mr. James), and Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) I was filled with nothing but disgust and fear, lt was the first time in this House that we have seen the full team come out from under their rocks. 1 agree with the statement made by a Minister today that a full debate was desirable so that the anti-American sentiments of some of these honorable gentlemen, which have been made so clear here today, could be given full voice. Indeed, the Australian public should read the report of the debate in this House today as it is most important to their future.
The incident in the Gulf of Tonkin has been discussed fully by Government supporters. In his speech today the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) gave the Parliament and the nation a complete explanation of the Government’s policy, the stand that has been taken by Australia in this crisis and what we and our allies are doing within the framework of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) who has just returned from South Vietnam gave an up to date statement of what he saw there, as did the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay). The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) who also returned recently from South Vietnam, gave a full report of what is happening there. I understand that some members of the Australian Labour Party also went there, but where are they? Have they come back? Have they been prevented from speaking because the left wing of the Labour Party is desirous of putting its view?
I come now to what I think are the broad issues concerning South Vietnam and their relation to the rest of South East Asia. At this time it is not necessary to go into all the details of what is happening internally in South Vietnam because what is happening there is happening also in many other nations of South East Asia. If I had any criticism of the Government it would bc that in my opinion it is not preparing the Australian public for the dangers which I think could well lie ahead. By that I mean it is not conditioning the Australian public to what could happen if things went wrong in South Vietnam and the United States pulled out. It is something that requires thought by every person in Australia who is concerned with the future protection and safety of this country as a free nation in the world.
Communist propagandists would like us to deal with South Vietnam in isolation. It was interesting to hear the honorable member for Reid suggest that the United States should pull out and that the Communists also should pull out. There is only one difference. If the United States pulls out its people they have to go back to America. The Communists are on the border and can move in and take over at any time. Perhaps the honorable member for Reid is not aware of that fact, but I doubt it. However, as I have said, you cannot take South Vietnam in isolation. Both strategically and politically that cannot be done. What happens in South Vietnam will affect Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. All of those nations except Australia and New Zealand have problems which are common to countries newly emerged in South East Asia. They are all under a shadow and are vulnerable to Communist China. They all are aware that the only restraining influence on Communist expansion in South East Asia is the United States of America and the S.E.A.T.O. forces.
We all realize that those countries need a period of peace to allow them to develop and to bring about a better way of life for their people. It is essential that there should be internal stability to allow internal development. This has not been easy because in many cases the achievement of national independence and the termination of colonial rule has not automatically led to prosperity. Many of these nations which have obtained their nationhood thought that what the Western and more civilised countries had was a matter of automatic policy and would come straight away, but they have found that this is not so. Also, the winning of national freedom has weakened many ties of unity which, during the struggle for independence, had bound the people together. This happened in Burma. During the Japanese occupation and when the British were there, all the forces gathered together, but immediately Burma attained nationhood the various forces started fighting for power internally.
In this area of South East Asia, rich in resources and potential but weak in self defence capability, militant Communism has found much fruitful ground. All except Thailand have suffered internal Communist attack and revolt. As I have stated, South Vietnam must not be looked at in isolation; it must be looked at strategically as a whole. If this is done, the great threat of Communist China can be seen. To advance, China must rid South East Asia of American military and economic aid. All the Communist propaganda is directed to this end, and much of what has been said by certain Opposition members appears to have the same objective. Within the last two days every member of Parliament has received, delivered by hand, the Communist propaganda which I have in my possession. I do not know who distributed it, whether it came merely through a messenger or whether it was brought here by some Communist supporters.
The countries of South East Asia traditionally have supplied the world with foodstuffs and raw materials. Ninety per cent, of the world’s natural rubber and 60 per cent, of the world’s tin, petroleum, bauxite, tungsten and iron ore have come from South East Asia. Control of these resources would greatly complement the industrialisation of China. China knows that whoever controls the rice bowl of Asia controls Asia and South East Asia. This is her prime objective. The Chinese remember that once they wielded great power throughout South East Asia. The small nations had once known the might of Imperial China and had rendered tribute. The Communist powers intend that state of affairs to return. Chinese policy now is to establish by all means available - by propaganda, subversion, economic action and threats - Communist regimes in the small countries of South East Asia amenable to control from Peking.
The immediate objective is not necessarily the expansion of China in terms of occupation. It is the creation of Communist States which will be servile to mainland China. In this way both ideological and strategic objectives would be met. Communism would extend its hold over millions of Asians while other countries in the area, formerly hostile or neutral, would become allies. What then is Australia’s position? Let us remember that peninsula and insular South East Asia link the Communist Chinese mainland with Australia.
In strict military terms, the United States constitutes almost the only barrier to Communist China’s advance. Much has been said of France’s attitude towards South Vietnam and South East Asia. France lives a long way from South East Asia; we in Australia live right on its border. We should remember always that our concern in South East Asia is our ultimate survival. If America were forced to withdraw from South East Asia the region would fall immediately under China’s control. The Chinese have the military capability to overrun the mainland and all the islands of South East .Asia unless local resistance is reinforced by American forces.
If America withdrew, who could resist? Could Thailand? Could Cambodia? Could Burma? Anyone who has been there knows that this is the fear of the people living in the area. They may flirt with the Chinese knowing that ultimately they will have the protection of the United States and S.E.A.T.O. forces. They may flirt with the Chinese but they know that to their north are the Red masses that they have to fear. The United States and Australia have no territorial ambitions. The Labour Party is accusing us of being in South East Asia in the role of a militant power. We are not. We are there to help the free nations of the world retain their freedom. I believe that the attack on United States ships by the North Vietnamese was a probe to ascertain America’s reaction to increased hostilities, perhaps open. If America’s reaction had been weak, this would have been pointed out to the neutral and other countries as an indication that America could not be counted upon in any emergency. Anyone who has been to South East Asia knows that this is the greatest fear of the uncommitted and even the committed nations. They wonder whether, when it comes to the hard pitch, members of S.E.A.T.O. will be there to help them, or whether promises of support are only talk. This is what you find when you speak to the forces of these countries. If China should come down they wonder whether the West will bt there to help them.
The Communists realise that countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Burma can retain their freedom only with the aid of the United States. The Communists are aware that if it can he proved that the United States and South East Asia Treaty
Organisation forces are only a paper tiger, as they have claimed, the will to resist or stay neutral will quickly disappear. Who could blame them if, finding themselves unsupported, they decide, rather than suffer occupation, to accept the Communist regime? If the Communists are convinced that the United States is not prepared militarily to defeat local aggression, attack, whether open or subversive, will occur at the time and place and in the circumstances that the Communists choose. We Australians should thank God that the United States acted as promptly as it did, in the words of the Congress resolution, “ to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and prevent further aggression “. Does the honorable member for Yarra or the honorable member for Reid object to that? We should be heartened, as should ali peace loving people who want to remain free, by the knowledge that the United States has clearly stated that she regards as vital to her national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in South East Asia. Does the honorable member for Hughes, who sneered so openly at what the United States has done, object to that? If the people in his electorate were concerned about this matter they would quickly ask him that question.
We should be grateful that the United States is prepared to accept great responsibility and to incur great expenditure of money on military, economic and other assistance, as well as considerable loss of life among her young men so that the small nations of the world may remain free. Some speeches by Labour Party supporters must make joyful reading to Americans who may have lost relations in fighting for our freedom and the freedom of other small nations! We in Australia are the jewel in the pendant of South East Asia. If we are not prepared to play our part in protecting the independence of other small nations in South East Asia we surely will be selling out our own.
If South Vietnam goes, as it would, to the Communist forces you can write off Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. The threat to Malaysia would be immediate and, after that, to Australia. We know that military activity alone in South East Asia is not the solution. That has been made clear by everybody. The record will prove that the Government has taken action. Whether it has taken enough action is open to debate. Economic and other assistance is urgently needed in South East Asia. But such aid cannot be effective if killing, subversion and general chaos is dominant. This was demonstrated in 1957 when the Vietminh began to step up the tempo of armed activity against South Vietnam. After two years of mounting raids and assassinations, the central committee of the Communist Party in North Vietnam called for the creation of a unified Vietnam by all appropriate means. In July of that year the Communists assumed responsibility for the liberation, as they termed it, of Vietnam south of the 17th parallel. These facts do not coincide with the remarks made by the honorable member for Reid, the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Hughes, but that is understandable. In July 1957 the Communists decided to move south of the 17th parallel.
The Communist Party of South Vietnam is an extension of the northern party. We know that the Communist Parties of South East Asia all arc now pro-Peking with the exception of the Australian Communist Party, which is split. So let us face the fact that there is little difference between the South Vietnamese Communists and the North Vietnamese Communists. I sometimes wonder whether there is any difference between Australian Communists and Communists in some other countries. Come to think of it, I do not wonder.
In 1960 the Vietcong assassinated about 1,400 local officials and civilians. This action has continued and increased. Sabotage against transportation and communications systems, efforts to close schools and to stop malaria eradication and assaults on townships all were a conspiracy to weaken confidence in the central government. The Communists know as well as we know that peace is their enemy. Therefore, it clearly is not in their interests that peace should be obtained, unless on their terms. They will continue to drain the country by war, to bring hardship to the resisting people, to force the maintenance of large armies and to drain the economy of the country so that money is not available for the improvement of the living conditions of the people by expenditure on schools, hospitals, roads and education. We know that such improvements are necessary. Only with the protection of military action can other necessary assistance be effective.
The honorable member for Yarra stated to his audience at the Hiroshima Peace Rally, which I believe was organised by the Communist peace front, that United States policy was one of war which had no basis in morals and justice. That is a disgraceful comment to be made by anybody. The honorable member denied that he said it. He denied that it had been printed by one newspaper, but when three newspapers were produced to him he said that he had not read them. However, when his speech continued I felt that he repeated the same words. I suggest to every Australian, to every mother and to everyone who cares for this country that they should heed this statement and should consider long what would happen not only to South East Asia but to Australia if the United States did not regard as vital to world peace the maintenance of internal peace and security in South East Asia.
The Australian Communist Party is divided. We do not know where the propaganda which pours into this House comes from, but we do know what it says and I feel that there is a reason for fear in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition stated here yesterday that he did not want another Eighth Division lost in Asia. If the policy of the Labour Party is followed it is not a division that will be lost, but the Australian nation. Those who fought in two wars are strongest in the demand that more assistance should be sent to our friends in need. I have no hesitation in saying that the result of the general election last year, when this Government was returned to power, will be repeated at an election held in the far distant future because the Australian people will not tolerate the views put forward by the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the other left wing gentlemen who seem to take great pride in being un-Australian to the boot stops.
.- The war on the battlefield at The Oval is going very well for Australia. At lunch England had lost two wickets for 81 runs. Barber was out for 24, Boycott was out for 30,
Dexter was not out 23 and Cowdrey not out 3. Sergeant Hawke claimed both victims.
The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) waxed very eloquent at the beginning of his speech in referring to how our team of speakers came to be in this debate. It has been an excellent debate and there has been complete unanimity on this side of the chamber in regard to the general situation in South East Asia. The honorable member for La Trobe was quite wrong when he said that the Labour team of speakers was selected. It was not selected. As Whip, I placed a notice on the notice board requesting those who wished to speak in this debate to record their names. Eleven of our members recorded their names. I did not, because I did not think there would be time for more than 11 of our speakers. One position was left and as Whip I am occupying it. There was no selection of left wing members or right wing members. I do not know what the honorable member means by those expressions.
I thoroughly agreed with some parts of the honorable member’s speech, strange to say, but I certainly did not agree with his vicious attacks on my colleagues whose politics and principles he does not support. I definitely support the section of his speech in which he referred to other than military assistance to the Vietnamese people. That is something about which I want to speak in greater detail later in my speech.
The seeds of the trouble in the Gulf of Tonkin nine days ago were sown back in 1954 by the Geneva Conference which drew a line on a map. That line, which was drawn along the 17th parallel, cut a nation in halves. It was decided to draw that line along the 17th parallel at a conference of which the co-chairmen were Great Britain and the Soviet Union. That decision was made on 21st July 1954. That was not the first time that map scribblers sowed the seeds of future conflicts. Let us look at a few illustrations. We have the illustration of the long drawn out war in Korea - a very expensive war in terms of loss of human lives on both sides. They were fighting north and south of the 38th parallel.
Apart from one instance which I will mention in a moment, it is only in recent times that we have started to split nations along parallels of latitude. It is quite a new feature in international affairs. Look at what was done to Korea by dividing it into two countries. Another illustration is the division between West Germany and East Germany. In that case the dividing line does not run along a parallel. But the vicious division of the great German nation could lead to future conflicts in Europe. There we have what is called a corridor. After World War 11 the map scribblers, through the agreement reached at Potsdam, divided Germany into two countries, with all the bitter consequences involved, including the tragedy of families being divided.
Earlier in history a similar thing was done in Ireland. That nation was divided into two nations. I do not know what the dividing line there is called; but a single nation became two nations, and there have been bitterness and heartache over that division down the years. A lot of blood has been shed as a result of that dividing line. After World War I the obsession for dividing central Europe into segments was shown by the creators of the Treaty of Versailles. By dividing countries by drawing lines across natural, ethnic, cultural, national, economic and racial areas, they sowed the seeds of the future tragedy which exploded into World War II in 1939. That is what has been done by map scribblers - men who thought they could divide a nation into segments and separate parts of a nation that belonged together. So, instead of Vietnam, since 1954 we have had North Vietnam and South Vietnam. They were never meant to be two nations at war with one another just because they were divided by a line on a map; but that is the situation today.
Why did the North Vietnamese patrol boats fire on the United States destroyer? Why did the ant attack the elephant?
– Another elephant story.
– You should have stuck to banking. There are many reasons why the ant should attack the elephant. The ant could be crazy. Or this action could have been taken to test the reaction of the United States on the eve of the American presidential election, to see whether President Johnson would go as far as Senator Goldwater, the man who hopes to be President, would go. It could have been taken to goad the United States into retalia tion and to bring China and Russia into a full-scale conflict. It could have been to test China’s sincerity about its so-called aid to North Vietnam. That is an interesting concept. It could have been to put the Soviet Union on the spot in the eyes of the Asian people and to determine whether the Soviet Union would back any action taken by China. These are some of the possible reasons, but they are not all of them. The “ Daily Mirror “ yesterday contained an article by Ian Moffitt from New York. Under the heading “ Why did North Vietnam blow up?” he gave some eight different possible reasons for this stupid, unequal attack - ants attacking an elephant. What did the elephant do? It tramped the ants into the ground with its front feet. The attack seems rather silly. Two or three patrol vessels attacked a cruiser, and then the cruiser did not fight back but called in an air force of modern aeroplanes to do the smashing along the North Vietnam coastline in retaliation for the attack. The elephant turned on the ant. It is quite a remarkable procedure and possibly one of the most remarkable procedures ever to occur in recent times.
What was achieved by this attack on the American cruisers? First, there was the American retaliation. President Johnson took a long shot and so far it has come off. In fact, the war is still contained in the same area; it did not explode into a larger conflict. President Johnson took the risk that it would. Secondly, China made some big statements. It has been most interesting to read of China’s reaction. The Chinese said in unmistakable terms: “An attack on North Vietnam is an attack on us.” That is still where it stands. China did not come into the dispute to support its socalled ally just over its border. Then there was the reaction of the Soviet Union. Krushchev was on a tour of Russian agricultural establishments. It was a long time - 1 think about five days - before he made a statement to the world. He did some sabre rattling, but that is all he did. He did not say that he would come to the aid of China if China became involved or if North Vietnam involved China in this so-called chain reaction. There has been no chain reaction in this sense, and that is the interesting situation at this time.
We should thank God that China has given no practical military help to North
Vietnam. If it had, there could have been an immense explosion. We do not know what Russia would have done in the long run if this incident had exploded into a war between America and China. Even the ideological conflict between Peking and Moscow may not have prevented Russia from eventually joining the conflict. So we were balanced on a razor’s edge for 48 desperate hours in world history. So far China and Russia have thrown out only words. Let us hope that that is all they will do. This reminds me of a round table conference. Differences can be settled much more easily with words and without bloodshed. Words can settle differences when they are spoken around a conference table by men who trust each other. There has not been enough of this in world affairs. In this instance, only words are still being thrown, and let us hope it stays that way.
We talk about military intervention in South Vietnam by the Americans. The agreement under which Vietnam was divided definitely stated that there should be no intervention on either side of the border. There has been intervention. Let us face the issue. America has interfered in South Vietnam. Whether the Vietnamese invited the Americans is not the point; they are there despite the agreement. It may be that there are Chinese elements in North Vietnam. They should not be there either. So, if you get down to bedrock and analyse this agreement in detail, you will see that both nations have sinned. They are there in Vietnam. What are they going to do there? How much longer are they going to stay there? How are they going to help solve the problem while they are there? The world is asking these vital questions at the moment.
The United States of America are in the kindergarten class when it comes to ideological warfare around the world. In that field, the Americans are bought and sold night and day by the Communists. They do not know the first thing about ideological warfare and it is by this method that Russia and China have been winning their battles since the Second World War.
Because it is such a mighty military nation, the United States of America can think only of military action and military actions are not always conclusive. They do not always solve anything. What did the Second World War solve after 30 million deaths? The two nations we fought - West Germany and Japan - are two of the wealthiest nations in the world today. What does war with its horror of death and bloodshed really solve in the long run? America has put all its eggs in one basket - military might - to solve the problems of South East Asia. I say that if military intervention is justified in South Vietnam so also is ideological intervention. Why does not the U.S.A. get to work on that. Why does not America get to work on political intervention?
If the United States is going to go the whole hog, let it go the whole hog. Let there be economic, political and ideological intervention. But America has not done this. Apart from some economic aid to which the previous speaker referred, the U.S.A. has done nothing ideologically. This war is being fought on the ideological battlefields in the jungles of North and South Vietnam.
Military methods have been tried in the past. The statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who is sitting at the table, was a horrifying statement for any Minister to make in a democratic country. I condemn him here and now in no uncertain terms for making that statement. The Minister said -
What utter humbug and what utter rot that is. He has said, in effect, that there is no other alternative. No other alternative has been tried. That is sheer warmongering. Such a remark has never before been uttered by a Minister for External Affairs, Labour or Liberal, in this country. The Minister cannot deny that. Such a statement has never been made before by a responsible Minister in this Parliament. I repeat what the Minister said: There is no other alternative to force. Hitler said that. Mussolini said that. Napoleon said that. Alexander the Great said that. The Minister at the table aligned himself with every one of those dictators when he made that stagement
Honorable members on the Government side should read the Press. The editorials in the newspapers are not all written by morons who know nothing about foreign affairs. There are more editorials supporting Labour’s viewpoint in South East Asia than there are supporting the Government’s viewpoint. Honorable members opposite should read the editorial in yesterday’s “Daily Mirror”. They should read what the “ Daily Mirror “ thinks of the Minister for External Affairs for making such a statement committing this country to unmitigated naked force.
Honorable members should read the meaning behind those words. It is all very well to make such a statement to the public, but what does it mean in reality? It means that there is no alternative but stark, naked, armed force. What does “armed force” mean except killing more people quicker than the enemy? I feel that the ideological answer to the problems in South East Asia should be explored more thoroughly, because the Communists are winning this battle in the villages throughout this strife ridden country. After all, jungle warfare is no pushover. It is probably the most exacting, desperate and terrible kind of war. We took 10 years to defeat the Communist guerrillas in Malaya, at the cost of millions of pounds and thousands of lives. How long could a war last in this jungle infested country if we had to fight on the ground with military forces? Armies of green troops would be lost forever in the jungles of Vietnam, both North and South. These jungle wars gobble up men by the thousand. The men are never found; they are lost there. The men who are fighting in these jungles now are experts. If green troops were sent into the jungles of this country, not many of them could come out, whether they were Americans, British or Australians. That is what jungle warfare does to men, but you can only win this war by that kind of warfare. You will not win it in the air. You will not win it by shelling installations from warships. If there is to be a military victory, it has to be won on the ground, and that means a jungle war. Honorable members ought to look at history to see what has happened in jungle warfare.
A very good article appeared in the “ Australian “ - our new newspaper - on Tuesday, 11th August. It was contributed by Peter Smark form Saigon. He has been there for a long time. He said that there are 21,000 American advisers in South Vietnam. He went on -
But conflict is not only in the Gulf of Tonkin: It is in every rice field, in every village.
How goes the wart The U.S. is losing. The Vietnam war is not to be won by international flexing of muscles, by first statements which ring right across to Moscow and Peking from a strong man in Washington. It is a shadowy conflict with no front, a thing of stealth and treachery, setting brother against brother, father against son.
That is what it is. We have to get to work in these villages and fight for the democratic way of life. We must convince both the South and North Vietnamese that we have a better way of life than the Communists have. That is the only answer. We must live amongst them, talk to them and work with them as the Communists are doing. The ideological battle has not yet been really started by the United States. Without fighting that battle, we will never win this struggle. We shall certainly not do so by military means.
.- The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has solved all the problems of Vietnam with idiot facility. If any listeners are left they will have assessed and measured his contributions to the debate - his inanities^- at their true worth. I do not propose to treat them seriously, beyond saying this: He said that if only people could sit down at a table they would solve their problems. He suggested that words can solve all problems. This is an honorable gentleman who sits on the benches opposite, where he and his colleagues have had problems and words enough. The words they have uttered in the course of this debate will not solve their problems. He should know better, as a result of his experience in his own party. I do not propose to say anything more about that.
At this late hour in the debate the only useful function I think I can perform is to try, with a very simple and uncomplex mind, to put the issues as they appear to me. I am emboldened to do this because I believe that most of my countrymen will approach this problem with the same directness and the same simplicity. Australians are serving in three quarters of the world. They are in Cyprus, in Vietnam and in Borneo, where they have been killed or may be killed. It is right and proper to ask why this should be so. Why should these sacrifices of blood be made? That is a fair question, and I propose to set out an answer in plain and simple terms. Let us start with the first of the three countries I have mentioned and the easiest to discuss - Cyprus. Cyprus is a long way from this country. What have we to do with Cyprus? The Opposition, of course, has shown that it supports the Greeks in Cyprus because there are a number of Greeks in this country and not many Turks. This is a miserable attitude. But let us pass from party politics to the realities of the situation.
Why have we police serving in Cyprus? This is because they are supporting the United Nations. This is because Australia believes that the United Nations has a role to play in preventing little wars from escalating. So we are playing a part in this distant place, because we have an interest in preventing little wars wherever they are, as all other countries have an interest. This is a world interest and it is our interest. That is why Australia has police serving in Cyprus and why we may pay a debt in blood for something which is important ultimately for the protection of this country. May I give a little information that perhaps is not known to all honorable members. The Canadians and the Scandinavians provide troops, specially trained, at the call of the General Secretary of the United Nations. This is for the same reason that we have people serving in that place.
But I pass on quickly to Vietnam, upon which most of the debate has focussed. Again I ask the question: Why do we have, or why should we have, people serving in Vietnam some of whom have been killed and some of whom may be killed? Why is this? Vietnam is a long way from Australia. What does that country matter to us? Why should we pay this debt? That is the simple question I ask and I shall set out to answer. There are three reasons. The first is that small nations have the right to self determination and to security against aggression by powerful neighbours. That is the first reason. South Vietnam is a small nation with a right to self determination and to be protected from aggression by powerful neighbours. When I say this I remind myself and all honorable members that we are a small nation of 12 million people. A little while ago I heard the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) say that we should recognise Red China.
– You will before long.
– Just a moment. The recognition of Red China depends upon our selling Formosa down the river. Red China refuses to be recognised except on the basis that it is recognised as the overlord of Formosa. So we would be selling down the river - what? Precisely 12 million people, the same number of people as there are in Australia now. Some day it may suit somebody, in the interest of world peace, to say: “ Why not Australia? There are only 12 million people there and if we sacrifice them it will preserve peace for us.” Let us be quite plain about this. The first reason, then, why we have an interest in preserving the independence of South Vietnam is the general reason that small nations have a right to their independence - and we are a small nation. If we do not accept and enforce that principle, we are next on the list.
The second reason is a military reason. I know my friends opposite think nothing of military reasons. According to them, military reasons do not matter. But in two world wars military power has mattered and the peace of the world has been preserved by military power. That is how much it matters. Military strategy is the second reason, and this requires that we should hold this front line in Asia. I do not want to enlarge upon this at length because my colleague, the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) has done so much more eloquently and forcefully than I can. Other speakers in this debate have also done so, so there is no need for me to enlarge upon it. But it is my contention that if South Vietnam goes, then Thailand goes, and then ultimately goes Malaysia and ultimately Indonesia. Then our enemy is on our doorstep. Again you may say that this is a selfish reason, but in the last resort it is our own security that matters most, and if we pay a price in blood it must be for our own security. Military strategy requires that this place should be held. I shall say more about that in a minute. For the moment I merely state the proposition.
The third reason is that in the last resort our military defence rests upon two things - our own resources and the strength of our allies. Our own military strength is small. The strength of our allies is all- important to us. It so happens that the Americans, rightly or wrongly, believe that the holding of South Vietnam is vital to the defence of South East Asia, and included in that is the defence of Australia. The Americans think so. It may be that they are wrong. But they are our allies, and obligations amongst allies operate both ways and not one way. I am sorry about this repetition, but because it tends to be forgotten let me remind honorable members that Article IV of the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact reads -
Each Party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the Parties 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.
Article V states -
For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on any of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack … on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.
What has just happened? There has been an armed attack on the vessels of our allies, the Americans, in the Pacific. So we are under an obligation just as much as are the Americans. If in the long run we expect their aid - nothing is more important to our defence than our continued effective alliance with the Americans - we have our part to play. This is a two way matter. Alliances are not one way affairs. They do not mean that our allies are to protect us and that we should do nothing in return.
Paragraph 1 of Article IV of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty reads -
Each Party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. Measures taken under this paragraph shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.
Paragraph 3 of the article reads -
It is understood that no action on the territory of any State designated by unanimous agreement under paragraph 1 of this Article or on any territory so designated shall be taken except at the invitation or with the consent of the government concerned.
South Vietnam is a protocol State - that is, it has been designated - and the Americans and ourselves have been invited to that area in accordance with paragraph 3 of Article IV. So we are there in support of our treaty obligations. If we expect to receive the support of our S.E.A.T.O. partners, then we must give them support. Let that be perfectly clear. If we do not want the support of our allies under either the A.N.Z.U.S. or S.E.A.T.0 treaties, let us denounce the treaties. Is that what members of the Australian Labour Party propose? They cannot have it both ways. They cannot expect not to play their part but still to enjoy the advantages of the treaties. They have not told us whether they propose to denounce both these treaties.
What policy has been put to us by members of the Labour Party in the course of their rambling remarks the object of which was to obfuscate the issue and to draw red herrings across the trail? There is a clue to what lies behind the meanderings of honorable members opposite. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 7th August 1964 set out a resolution of the Federal Excutive of the Australian Labour Party - the 36 faceless men - which provides a clue to everything that has been said by Opposition members during this debate. The resolution is as follows -
That is the Executive- specifically draws attention to the disastrous, cruel war in South Vietnam and the complete failure of military methods to resolve the Vietnamese conflict.
It refers to the principles inherent in Labour policy that clear and public treaties should cover the presence and operation of Australian troops overseas and deplores the lack of any formal agreement to cover the presence of the Austraiian contingent in South Vietnam.
This executive calls upon the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party to seek the intervention of the United Nations to secure a negotiated settlement in South Vietnam in order to end the useless and self-defeating military conflict there.
It also asks the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party to draw attention to the provisions of the Geneva Agreement which fixed the partition of South and North Vietnam and guaranteed the neutrality of Laos and Cambodia, and expresses the belief that the Geneva Conference should be asked to reconvene and the participating nations asked to resubscribe and honour the agreements made at this conference.
This is precisely the policy that has been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and by the members who have followed him. I suppose he is their leader and therefore they must follow him. So we have this policy that has been put out by the supposed leader, the titular leader of the Australian Labour Party, the tool of the Executive and that has not been subscribed to by honorable members opposite. It has been thrust upon them by 36 people who may know nothing about this matter. They may be very good trade union organisers, for all I know, and they may be Communists for all I know, and this is what the men who profess to be representatives of this people put to this Parliament.
Let us examine what they say. They say a military solution is not possible, that the only possible solution is by negotiation. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) pointed out that the Gulf of Tonkin matter has already been referred by the United States of America to the Security Council in accordance with the South East Asia Treaty. The Geneva Agreements have been breached by the Communists. It is said that they have been breached by the other side as well. But you cannot have negotiations unless you have the conditions for them. There is no suggestion of a ceasefire from the Communists. None whatever. And it is no use, as the Prime Minister has said, sitting at a table unless there is a will to do something about reaching an agreement. 1 think that the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) put it succinctly, truthfully and plainly when he said that the conditions for a conference exist only either where one side has achieved victory or where there is a stalemate. Neither of those conditions exists.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has said that the conditions do exist. He told us today that the Americans have complete power in the air and on the sea - perhaps one should say simply that they have complete power in the air, because the sea power is simply that which enables the air power to operate - and that the Chinese have the advantage on land. So, says the honorable member for Yarra, there is a stalemate. 1 ask honorable members how, when guerrillas have infiltrated along the jungle trails, aircraft alone, without ground troops, can stop them. Quite clearly there is no stalemate. Quite clearly the ground has to be held. It is one of the fundamental tenets of military tactics and strategy that somebody has to hold the ground. You cannot hold the ground from the air. Evidently the Americans believe in this tenet, and there seems to be no reason to suppose that they are wrong. The conditions for a conference simply do not exist.
Then honorable members opposite say: “ Oh, don’t worry about military measures; all that matters are economic and social measures “. It has been pointed out, of course, that a great deal has been done in the economic and social fields. I think it was pointed out that we have spent something like £50 million a year on economic measures in the Colombo Plan area, if you include New Guinea. As honorable members know, £2,330,000 has been spent by us in South Vietnam. The important point is the one that was made so adequately by my friend the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). How can you implement economic and social measures if you lack military security? How can the man who fears, when he leaves his village, that, while he is away, his child may be kidnapped, his wife may be murdered, or his village burnt down, give attention to instruction from an agricultural expert on how to tend his rice paddy? Quite plainly, the implementation of economic and social measures is an impossibility unless first you make that man militarily secure. It has been suggested by members of the Opposition that the strategic villages are simply prison camps or concentration camps. Tt was in Malava that the Communist menace was dealt with very successfully by these fortified villages, so it is an accepted technique - to some extent successful. We hope that it will be more successful. Nobody suggests that the Malayan villages were concentration camps. These are merely means of providing that security, that shield behind which the economic and social measures can be carried into effect.
I have not time to deal with all matters that have been raised, but before I sit down I should like to quote some remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra, who no doubt will deny them. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 10th August 1964 the honorable member is reported to have said -
Democracy and justice can come to Vietnam only as a result of the struggle of her own people to win democracy and justice from those who rule them.
It will be the same whether these rulers are born in Vietnam and are free of foreign influence, or whether they are the followers of either the U.S. or China.
I do not know whether the honorable member denies that he made those remarks.
– No, they are perfectly right.
– I should have liked £100 if he had liked to give it. I ask the honorable gentleman how the people of South Vietnam who fled from the Communist Government in the north - the whole million of them - are to gain their freedom from, say, Ho Chi Minh and his Government. Do not forget, as the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said, that Ho Chi Minh cannot be called a simple patriot. He is a practised and skilled Communist who has been to school in Russia and elsewhere. If he and his Government should seize control of the whole of Vietnam, when would the people gain their freedom? I ask the honorable member to cast his mind back to what happened in Hungary where there was a revolt for freedom by the people. When the Communists clamp down it may we’ll be 100 years before the people get their freedom. People alive today are thinking in terms of their own lifetime.
.- in reply- We have come to the conclusion of the debate on a motion to take note of a paper which I presented on behalf of the Government regarding certain incidents in the Bay of Tonkin. The moving of that motion to take note of the paper was the customary method of enabling the House to debate the question. It was not intended to seek, and certainly has not resulted in the seeking of, the endorsement by the House of the Government’s action. The Government, exercising its responsibility, presented to the House a recital of certain facts and declared, as plainly as it was possible in my mouth to declare, the view of the Government. We stand by that statement and anything that has been said in the course of this debate would not lead us to qualify it in any way.
The debate has been carried on with a great deal of vigour and a good deal of variety. I believe I can say with complete exactness that the Government has received from its own side of the House an unqualified and, indeed, an emphatic support for the view that it has expressed. I would suggest also that on the Opposition side of the House, although some honorable members have indicated that they take a view almost directly contrary to that of the Government, there have been other honorable members who have given a qualified support to our views or have not openly differed with every part of the Government’s statement. There have been some who, perhaps by silence, can be interpreted as having acquiesced in the Government’s view. I think that one is permitted to say that.
– Put it to a vote, if you want to.
– We do not want to put it to the vote. I do not think it would be appropriate. But what I am proposing to say is that the evidence of so many different points of view on the Opposition side indicates, I would suggest, that the Australian people are entitled to listen only to the voice of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) as being the one which expresses, on behalf of the Opposition, the views of the Australian Labour Party. I am sure that the Australian public would become greatly confused and might even be disturbed if it took as the voice of the Australian Labour Party some views other than those expressed by the Leader of the Opposition. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will stand up to the views that he has expressed on behalf of his party. I may say with frankness that I deplore the fact, and have some personal disappointment, that he should have started yesterday by so frankly saying that a bipartisan policy on foreign policy was impossible.
– So it is with your sort of government.
– I am sure that the honorable gentleman would not stand up to those words. I am sure that he would admit that there may be certain situations-
– You would not have any support from the people.
– Fortunately for the people of this country, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, although on the front bench, is not yet leader of the Labour Party. What I was going to say was this: I am sure that on reflection the Leader of the Opposition will recognise that although on a great number of issues of foreign policy the Labour Party may differ profoundly from the Government parties, there occasionally do arise great issues of national security and national survival on which a bi-partisan foreign policy might be possible. I would invite him to reconsider the blank statement that a bi-partisan foreign policy is impossible and to admit, perhaps in his own mind if not by any words said in this House, that there are some great issues that do rise above party and on which we might find ourselves united.
There are only two points to which I wish to make any particular reference. One of them is the result of a direct challenge to the Government to explain something, which has not been answered by any other speaker on this side of the House. It is the question of reference to the United Nations. I think that most of the other points that were raised have been dealt with, and dealt with very clearly and very vigorously, by a succession of speakers, both Ministers and private members, on this side of the House. Before I deal with that particular question on which we were challenged, I would like to say this: If any commentators of the present or students of the future are traversing the records of this debate, I would hope that they would take some care on their own part to check some of the references that were made. I think that there was a certain inexactness in quotation from time to time. Perhaps neither side of the House was wholly guiltless in this matter. As an example of what I mean, at certain stages in the debate I myself was criticised allegedly for having said that there was no alternative to the use of force. The words, of course, were “no current alternative”. Those words “ no current alternative “ were preceded by other words which made it clear that our eventual hope - it firmly is the hope of the Government - is for a peaceful settlement by other means. The emphasis was on “no current alternative “. I think that we need a little more care when we are examining each other’s arguments in rendering those arguments to the House. The meaning of the Government - I put it in plain Australian terms - is this: If there is a bushfire, you have to put the bushfire out’ before you can go on with your farming. This is much the situation in which we find ourselves. It does not mean that because you go and fight a bushfire you abandon all hope of cultivation or expectation of getting peaceful crops and getting a fair yield from the ground.
A more serious misquotation was a reference to what the United States Secretary of Defence is supposed to have said in an interview reported in “ Newsweek” of 27th July. I have an exact quotation from that journal in front of mc. What Mr. McNamara said was -
I know of no North Vietnamese military units in South Vietnam.
That statement was made in answer to questions by a Pressman, and related to stories that wholly North Vietnamese military units had gone across the border to engage in hostilities in South Vietnam. I repeat that Mr. McNamara said -
I know of no North Vietnamese military units in South Vietnam.
Not by any stretch of the imagination can what he said be interpreted to mean that there had been no intervention by North Vietnam in the activities in South Vietnam. Indeed, on the same page of the same periodical, there is a report in these terms -
U.S. intelligence officers freely conceded that more and more North Vietnamese cadres were infiltrating into South Vietnam.
As a matter of knowledge that is within the possession of this Government, I say categorically that there is not the least doubt of the indisputable fact that, in a variety of ways, North Vietnam is taking part in activities of a military kind in South Vietnam.
The other point that I wish to mention concerns reference of the dispute to the United Nations. The proposition was put, I think, most emphatically this afternoon by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). He said: “Take it to the United Nations”. The thought on which I should like to have challenged him immediately was: What, precisely, did he mean by “ it “? One cannot just say “ Here is the whole situation in South Vietnam. Go to the United Nations”. I think that if the Australian Labour Party persists in that line of thinking, it ought to think its way through the questions: What is the precise matter that is to be referred to the United Nations? Which of the organs of the United Nations would the Labour Party invoke? By whom is the reference to the United Nations to be made? Above all, for what purpose is the reference to be made? The mere putting of a matter to the United Nations has no merit in itself. The act acquires merit only if some useful and helpful result will follow reference of a situation to the United Nations. So, if the Opposition advocates: “Take it to the United Nations” - whatever is meant by “ it “ - honorable members opposite have to say more precisely than any speaker from that side of the House has yet said what is the precise question that they wish to refer, what organ the matter is to be referred to, and what result they expect to follow.
As we see it, there has been no hesitation in this part of the world about referring matters to the United Nations. Last year, the question of religious discrimination in South Vietnam was before the United Nations. Last week, the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin was before the United Nations. On neither of those matters did the United Nations find itself able to do anything that was useful. Earlier this year, a separate matter - the border dispute between Cambodia and South Vietnam - was referred to the United Nations, which, in that case, was able to establish a visiting border commission in an attempt to resolve the difficulty.
As regards the main situation in South Vietnam, I quote the words of the Secretary-General of the United Nations - himself a very distinguished Asian - who said that he “did not believe the Security Council could usefully be involved in a settlement of South East Asian problems at the present time”. He made that remark with particular reference to the situation in Vietnam.
Another point that I think the Opposition ought to keep in mind when it advocates taking matters to the United Nations is the fact that China and North Vietnam are not members of that organisation and have shown no disposition to respond to any invitation to be represented before the United Nations on particular matters.
That is all I have to say except to express, in conclusion, a view which seems important to me but which, of course, may not seem so important to other people. It seems to me that the one thing which was undervalued in this debate was the fact that we are living in a world of power. I want to be precise about what I mean by “ a world of power”. By those words I mean that we are living in a world organised into national States, and some of those national States are bigger and stronger and have greater resources than others. But whether it is a large powerful State or a weaker State, so many of the things which are fateful to all mankind are decided not by reason, but by the fact of the possession of power. That is one of the realities of the world today. Another reality of this world of power is that, for better or for worse the world has fallen into three great groupings of power, one centred on the Soviet Union, one centred on mainland China and another centred on the North Atlantic powers, the United States of America and those associated with them.
Those are the realities of the world and, so long as we live in a world of power it is quite futile, to my mind, to ignore the fact that force will be used and that force will be either a deterrent or a determinant of matters in dispute. I submit to the House that the situation in South Vietnam cannot be wholly explained as a civil war, as a domestic issue, as a movement of national liberation, or some sort of agrarian reform movement. It is, not wholly but to a considerable extent, influenced by the fact that we live in a world of power and it is subject to this great power contest taking place in the world. We would mistake the whole situation and I think would fall into wrong policies if ever we under-valued that startling and dismal fact that it is a world of power where power is being held in balance by the deterrent effect of other power. Every one of us, on both sides and in all corners of the House, is concerned with the survival of Australia and wants to preserve the capacity of Australia to decide what sort of life we shall live and what sort of society we shall build within our own borders. When we think of that we will be quite unrealistic unless we realise that we have to face the possibility of threats from a world of power where other people will try to decide our fate by force and will only be held in balance, will only be deterred or, if it comes to the worst, will only be defeated because we have greater power on our side. Saying that is not to abandon to the slightest degree the great idealistic intention which this Government holds, of trying to assist in the social and economic reforms of other countries and to give them aid so that they can build themselves into the sort of societies which we think are humanly the best. We do not abandon a single bit of that intention, but we would be foolish and unrealistic and would make our dreams completely idle if we ignored or under- valued the fact of power.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to refer to an incident which happened this evening in which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) made a very careful quotation of a statement I was alleged to have made in a speech earlier in the week. He asserted that I had said that the United States could not claim that it was being attacked in the present Vietnam crisis. I made a speech in Sydney last Sunday. I prepared notes very Carefully and read from those notes throughout the speech. I provided two copies of the notes for the Press at the table. Some reports of that speech were made by the Press. In the course of this speech I was referring to the war in Vietnam as a whole and at no time was concerned to make any explanation of what happened in the Bay of Tonkin in the exchange of shots between North Vietnamese torpedo boats and an American destroyer. I was concerned with the war as a whole and made that quite clear by reading from the notes that were provided to the Press table. I made no such statement as the one quoted by the Minister. I find that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ published a statement in the exact words quoted by the Minister as follows -
The United States could not claim that it was being attacked in the present Vietnamese crisis.
At the same time I was given, from the other side of the House, a report from the Melbourne “Age”. The Melbourne “Age” reports exactly what I said, which was as follows -
No-one can properly claim that America is being attacked.
The significant words inserted by the ** Sydney Morning Herald “ - “ In the pre sent Vietnamese crisis “ - were left out of the “ Age “ report for the simple reason that they were not used.
– Is the next paragraph of the “ Age “ report correct?
– It is correct. The only other report I can find that refers to this matter is a report in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of the same date. The “ Daily Telegraph “ produced a report exactly the same as the Melbourne “ Age “ report - that is to say, exactly the same as the statement I made. The “ Daily Telegraph “ reported it as follows -
No-one can properly claim that America is being attacked.
There is no reference whatever to “ in the present Vietnamese crisis “. The reason for my objection to this statement was that emphasis was given to the words, “ in the present Vietnamese crisis “, this morning by the Prime Minister. Again this evening the Minister at the table (Mr. McMahon) chose to make an ‘ attack based upon the statement referring to “ in the present Vietnamese crisis “. I made no such statement. The only reference I made at any stage to the torpedo boats was in relation to the war as a whole, saying that if the torpedo boats had been on the other side of the Pacific the position would be vastly different, but I made no reference whatever to the exchange of shots by the vessels concerned. I made no suggestion about who had instigated the shooting or who, in fact, was the aggressor and who, in fact, was acting in self defence.
– What did you mean when you said: “ But they were within a few miles of their own shores “?
– I meant exactly that had the incident happened on the other side of the Pacific this would have been a completely different war, and I should think it would be obvious to anybody that it would be a completely different war. There was no question of my discussing the incident in the Bay of Tonkin. The whole assertion that has been made today by the Prime Minister, by the Minister at the table and by other speakers opposite was on the interpretation that I was speaking about the present crisis. Members opposite have been misled by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ report, which is quite contrary to the reports in the “Age” and in the “Daily
Telegraph “. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ report is obviously different from what I said. The evidence is that the statement was as I said it was. 1 suggested that if the Minister at the table or anyone else could prove that I made the statement claimed by the Minister-
– Or that it was published.
– By the publication of a newspaper report or in any other way. If the Minister wants to take some technical advantage of a word, I have not recalled exactly what 1 said, but the truth of the matter is that I was talking about the war as a whole and not this crisis. The entire criticism made by the Government today has been based upon the assertion that my remarks were concerned with the exchange of shots in the crisis. No such statement was made.
I repeat again that the statement 1 made, and a fair reading of the reports of it in the Melbourne “ Age “ and “ Daily Telegraph “ shows conclusively that 1 was speaking of the war as a whole and made no reference whatever to the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. Indeed, the Prime Minister, (Sir Robert Menzies), the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and the Government were satisfied to say that the statement referred only to the exchange of shots between the vessels concerned. Any honorable member who tries to interpret objectively the reference that the situation would be different if the North Vietnamese torpedo boats were on the other side of the Pacific will realise that this has no reference to the actual exchange of shots between the vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. This is an assertion that had the boats been on the other side of the Pacific, you would have had a war in which the U.S.A. was being attacked and in which the ground of self-defence could be invoked.
On hundreds of occasions during the course of this war in Vietnam, Americans and other servicemen, have been attacked, but that has nol changed the whole composition of the war. I am concerned about the war as a whole, and not about particular incidents such as an exchange of shots that might occur within it. That was clear in (he statement I made. On a fair reading of what I said in the newspapers - the reports of which, on the whole, were very accurate - this incident would never have occurred.
I refer to what the Minister for External Affairs said a short time ago - that it would be far better in this House if a little more care were taken with the evidence as to what is said and if a little less concern were shown to gain political advantage by statements based upon an inadequate investigation of what had occurred.
Finally, I understand that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) wants to appear wilh me on a television programme at some stage or other. 1 have already appeared half a dozen times with him and I have discovered an opinion - a fairly widespread one - that any one who appears too much in public with him will get a reputation of being as erratic and irresponsible as he is.
I think there is a great deal in this opinion. Therefore, I want to say now that I have no intention of making any personal, private appearances wilh the honorable member on any television programme or in any other way. The honorable member for Mackellar is free to make whatever statements he likes, wherever and whenever he likes. But I have no intention of running the risk of the type of guilt by association that I find a great many people, particularly in Sydney, have assumed in their minds in respect to the honorable member. So I am not going to accept his invitation and thereby undergo this risk. In fact I desire to make no more public appearances with him. I am afraid 1 have made too many already, lt has been a most unpleasant experience to find one’s self in public debate wilh a person who is so irresponsible and irrational on a number of subjects as is the honorable member for Mackellar.
– 1 am afraid you cannot place any confidence in the words, promises or statements of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). He said of mc. in this House, on 20th May as reported in “Hansard” at page 2199-
He has stated that »’e appeared in some television programme this afternoon - and we did. If honorable members will go to the trouble of viewing that television programme I think they will come to the conclusion that the honorable member for Mackellar should never appear in another.
If the honorable member is prepared to have another shot on any subject that he likes to name, at any place that he likes to name and in any circumstances that he wishes to choose, then I will be happy to accommodate him. I do not think I need to underline the words “Crayfish Cairns” that go around his electorate. I hoped to mention in this House a matter which cast some doubt on the veracity of the honorable member for Yarra. I did not like to do it in his absence, and I therefore asked one of the messengers of the House to acquaint him that I was raising on the adjournment a matter concerning him and hoped that he would be here. The message was sent to him in the party room. He did not choose to come into the House. He skulked in the party room outside. When I rose in this House and said that I proposed to postpone the matter until he was here to answer it I think that he had, perhaps, second thoughts. Tonight he concocted another scheme. He spoke first so he could raise the technical point that he would have no opportunity to answer me. So I caused a message to be sent to him by a messenger saying that if he would like me to speak first so that he would have a chance of answering me I would be happy, in his words, to accommodate him; but he chickened out of that.
I do not propose to bring forward this matter which impugns the veracity of the honorable member for Yarra until he has a chance to answer me. I therefore propose to sweat on him on the adjournment until he puts himself in a position where he does have a chance to answer me. I give him notice that I propose to take the first opportunity of speaking on the adjournment and bringing forward this matter which does impugn his veracity, and he will have a chance to answer me. 1 am not going to say very much about his conduct during the adjournment debate tonight. Honorable members were present with me in this House and heard his regrettable offer of a hundred quid, knowing that he intended to crayfish again. I hope that he will be held to his promise and that some worthy charity will benefit by the £100 that he undoubtedly owes to it.
I am not at all satisfied with the explanation he has tried to give tonight. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will no doubt deal with this, but I remind the Minister - he may have forgotten it - that some years ago, on that terrible incident of the Hungarian revolt, there was a meeting in Melbourne. The honorable member for Yarra got up and endeavoured to brush this matter aside. He said: “Hungarians are always doing this, one to another “, and things of that character. Senator Gorton and other members of the Parliament were present and heard him. Once again he crayfished and tried to deny it. So what he is doing tonight and what he tried to do earlier today is fully in keeping, fully in character. There are precedents for his behaviour in this House tonight.
– The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), in one of his periodical appearances on the adjournment, has seen fit to impugn the honesty of a member of this House. He has said that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in effect is lying. That is a serious matter. It is a matter that might even go to the Privileges Committee. If the honorable member for Mackellar has any charges to lay 1 hope he will lay them very specifically. It is no use saying what Senator Gorton is alleged to have said about something that the honorable member for Yarra is alleged to have said. If the House is to be influenced by what the honorable member for Mackellar has said, then the honorable gentleman should not abuse the generosity of this House in having members listening to him at this late hour unless he is prepared some time soon to be as specific on this particular matter as he is on some other matters.
– I can assure you that I will be entirely specific at the first opportunity.
– I am glad of that. The honorable gentleman has been specific in some senses in the IS years that he has been in this Parliament, and he is still as far from the front ministerial bench tonight as he was on the day he entered the Parliament. So is the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the ebullient honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), who is Barry Goldwater’s representative in this place.
The House should not be compelled to listen to charges made by one honorable member against another unless the Government is advised and unless some responsible Minister is prepared to take action immediately after the charges are made. This is not a place where you just level insults, although that is what has been done all this afternoon by Government members. This is a place where charges that are made should be sustained or withdrawn. It is nearly time certain honorable members opposite rose in their places and admitted that they were wrong and apologised for the inaccurate things that they have said.
For the benefit of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) I want to direct attention to the following statement which appeared in parenthesis in the 27th July 1964 issue of “Newsweek” -
The infiltrators sent down by the North Vietnamese army have consisted almost entirely of men who were born in the South but chose to go north after Vietnam was divided in two by the Geneva Agreement of 1 954.
– What is the date of that?
– lt is 27th July 1964. Thai is the basis of our claim that the war in South Vietnam is a civil war and largely a guerrilla war.
.- I, too, would like to impugn the veracity of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for some of his exploits and statements over the years. Before doing so, J should like to read what a newspaper sal: about the honorable gentleman. The Sydney “ Sunday Telegraph “, which honorable members will agree is a supporter of the Government, has this to say in its edition of 13 th October 1963-
-meaning but unbalanced, is a persistent thorn who can embarrass the Government as much with his uncontrolled vehemence against the Labour Party as with his criticism of his own.
During the war years he made the following statement about his now revered leader, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) -
Mr. Menzies can neither call nor command as a leader. Under his leadership the party broke up and yet he refuses to co-operate under the leadership of anybody else.
In these circumstances the greatest national service he can render the party and Australia would be to quit politics.
– Who said this?
– The honorable member for Mackellar. He went on -
Those of us who stand for a more vigorous policy are anxious that Mr. Menzies’ inevitable failures should not block the path of future progress.
Let us now examine some of the exploits of this gentleman who dares to Criticise an honorable member on this side of the House. He appeared on the television programme “ Meet the Press “. A journalist in the House at the present time was one of the panel of interrogators. During the programme the honorable member said that two Communists were employed by the Department of External Affairs. But, as usual, he did not name them. This gentleman cast a cloud of suspicion over every person employed in the Department of External Affairs. I know for a positive fact that the Department was so concerned about the allegations that it obtained a video tape recording of the session from the channel concerned in order to investigate the allegation. That is the attitude adopted by this gentleman. Without one iota of evidence he casts suspicion on people by the use of malicious innuendo.
In 1960 the honorable gentleman went to the United Nations as an alternate delegate. The leader of the Australian delegation refused to grant him permission to appear on television in the United States lest he embarrass the Government. Reporting on the honorable gentleman’s visit to the Uni’.ed Nations the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ at the time stated that he made as much impression on the United Nations as a prisoner trying to escape from Alcatraz with a nail file.
At one time the honorable gentleman was engaged as a consultant to Sir Bertram Stevens, the former Premier of New South Wales, better known as the budget faker. Stevens was responsible for almost sending New South Wales bankrupt. In consequence he was sacked as Premier by his own party and Mr. Mair took over.
The honorable member for Mackellar once wrote a libellous letter to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ in which he referred to Katharine Susannah Prichard, a wellknown authoress, as “ alias Mrs. Throssell”. The facts were that Mrs. Throssell had married Captain Throssell,
V.C., in 1915. They had a son who served in World War II. This lady took out a writ against the honorable member and the newspaper, who were forced to pay damages, withdraw and apologise.
Now I come to the daddy of them ail as far as this Communist hater is concerned. Some years ago, before his election to this Parliament, the honorable member for Mackellar published a newspaper in the Wollongong-Port Kembla area. It was called the “Illawarra Star” During the famous pig iron dispute the honorable member was very critical of the trade unions. As a result, the unions placed a black ban on his newspaper. As honorable members will be aware, a black ban enforced for any length of time in an industrial area such as Wollongong-Port Kembla could force a company to close its doors. So the honorable member approached none other than Mr. Roach, the Communist secretary of the Port Kembla Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. He wanted the black ban removed. What did he do? He called at Mr. Roach’s home and made a donation of 10 guineas to the union’s strike fund. In addition, he bought a beautiful cup which he called the “ Illawarra Cup “ and which was to be presented to the best marching team in the May Day procession. The cup was won by none other than the waterside workers’ team and was presented by the honorable member, who looks under the bed every night to see whether there is a Communist there. By a strange coincidence, that is where Mr. Roach keeps the Illawarra Cup.
When I first entered this Parliament nine years ago I remember the Labour Party constantly advocating that we should trade with Red China for the sake of our primary producers and the national economy. At that time we on this side of the chamber were accused by gentlemen such as the honorable member for Mackellar of being Communist sympathisers because we dared to suggest trading with Red China. But now every member of this House, including you, Mr. Acting Speaker, and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), could be accused of being a Communist sympathiser if we used as a measuring stick the remarks that were passed nine years ago. That is the kind of thing that we had to contend with from this gentleman, who the other day advocated that we should not sell wheat to China so that China could feed her armies. I saw him later and he said that he would not mind selling wheat to China if we sold weevilly wheat. This is the gentleman we have put up with for years in this House when he has cast aspersions against honorable members on this side of the chamber although he has a history that nobody in this Parliament would be proud of.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I claim that I have been misrepresented. A few moments ago the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that when charges are made in this House they should be true. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said a number of things about me which are untrue. For example, I did not pay damages or apologise to Mrs. Throssell or Katharine Susannah Prichard, whichever name you like to choose. That lady is a foundation member of the Communist Party and remains a member of the Communist Party. For a long time she was a member of the Central Committee. I do not think that this is an estimable lady who should be defended by honorable members opposite, at least in the political sense, whatever her literary opinions might be. There was no apology made, and there were no damages.
The cup referred to by the honorable member for Watson was given by the newspaper to the Labour-organised procession. This action was something which, 25 or 30 years ago, I think was an error of judgment. It was given to the local Laboursponsored procession and, as it happened - I can tell you these things at this time - the Communists were very close to the Labour Party even then. The Communists marching in the Labour sponsored procession -
– The honorable member is now debating the matter.
– I wish to say that this is a complete misrepresentation. As to the so-called Roach episode, I have never been to Mr. Roach’s house. It is true that at that time I did oppose the sending of pig iron to Japan but the history given by the honorable member is completely erroneous and absolutely false. As a matter of fact, if the honorable member looks at what I wrote at that time, and he will find it published in a book called “Demand for Defence “, he will see that I was obsessed at that time, and rightly so, with the danger that Australia was facing at that time from possible Japanese aggression.
– In good conscience I did support -
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat.
– in reply - In the course of the adjournment debate tonight the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) accused the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and myself either of deliberate misrepresentation or of misunderstanding what he had said during the last few days. Sir, I quoted what the honorable member for Yarra admits I have quoted correctly from three newspapers. I took the trouble to check through each of them and 1 made the statement that he had said that no-one can properly claim that America is being attacked or that what has been done has been done in self defence.
I drew attention to the fact that he had been contradicted by his own Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam), who said that an attack had been made upon the American forces. That was a plain and simple statement. The honorable member now tries to explain himself away. He admits that that is an accurate piece of reporting but what he attempts to do now is to create the impression that he wanted those statements to relate not so much to the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin, not to the present crisis that has arisen over the attack upon the American naval forces, but to the whole of the incidents in South East Asia and to South Vietnam. Again I ask him to explain away his own words. The honorable member disappeared from the chamber the moment the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) rose to speak.
I shall again quote the words of the honorable member for Yarra and 1 ask the House to be the judge. I shall pass no com ment, none at all, but I want the House to make up its mind whether what he said did refer to the present crisis, did refer to what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin. I will read the passage immediately after the passage that I have quoted. I can take it from either the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 10th August or the “Age” of the same date. There is a somewhat similar paragraph in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of the same date. I have to repeat the paragraph that I have quoted already in order to put the statement in its context. The honorable member is reported as saying -
No one can properly claim that America is being attacked . . .
The he went on to say - and this is the relevant paragraph and the paragraph that he ought to be explaining away if he wants to be regarded as a truthful witness -
This would be different if the North Vietnamese torpedo boats were on the other side of the Pacific. But they were within a few miles of their own shores.
So they were within the Gulf of Tonkin. In fact, they were taking part in an attack in the present crisis. I say no more. There are the facts. Let the House itself judge who is telling the truth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.6 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated -
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. No formal appeal has been made. 3 and 4. No. 5, 6, 7 and 8. It is not the practice to give answers to questions which call for a legal opinion.
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What changes in (a) the beneficial ownership of the shares in television companies and (b) the memoranda or articles of association of television companies has the Postmaster-General (i) been asked to approve and (ii) approved since his predecessor’s reply to me on 27th September 1961 (“ Hansard “, page 1438)?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The attached statement contains details of the applications made since 27th September 1961, to either my predecessor or myself, for approval of (a) changes in the beneficial ownership of shares in companies holding licences for commercial television stations and (b) changes in the memorandum and articles of association of licensee companies. All of these applications have been approved except one case which is still under consideration. There have been a number of other changes in the beneficial ownership of shares in licensee companies which have not required my approval.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640813_reps_25_hor43/>.