25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. He will recall that, during the debate on the loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “, he said that the Government would establish a ministerial committee which would be presided over by the Minister for the Navy and which would be assisted by the Chief of the Naval Staff. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Has this committee been established? Who are its members? Has it met, and when does it expect to submit recommendations to this Parliament?
– The question should really be directed to the convening Minister, the Minister for the Navy. I do not know when we may expect to get a report. Nor am I quite clear, without thinking about the matter, whether the committee’s duty will be to report to the Cabinet or to report to the Parliament.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I may say, Mr. Speaker, that, since composing it, I have realised that I have inadvertently composed what I think is the longest sentence in history. I should like you, Sir, to admire it as it files past. In view of the recent decision by the Department of Customs and Excise to refuse bylaw entry to many imported harvesting machines and the considerable natural advantages enjoyed by Australian manufacturers in the form of cheap steel and high freights, and because there has not been a public Tariff Board report dealing with harvesting machinery since 1934 and the position has since changed a lot, will the Minister consider referring to the Board the question of whether the manufacturers of harvesting machinery need the 20 per cent, most favoured nation duty that they now enjoy?
– The honorable member was good enough to give me some warning of this long sentence question. I regret to say that I have failed to refresh my mind concerning the last occasion on which the Tariff Board conducted an inquiry embracing harvesting machinery. However, I think there was an inquiry which dealt with it as late as 1959. If I am wrong in saying that, I shall correct my statement later.
– That was the one which led to the most favoured nation duty and which was not made public.
– If the honorable member would keep on, I would perhaps learn more about my Department. In short, the substantive answer to the question is that if there is a necessity for a Tariff Board inquiry into the level of protection on harvesting machinery it should be asked for either by the industry which manufactures harvesters or the industry in Australia which uses harvesting machinery. I think the House will recognise that it is undesirable that Tariff Board inquiries should be initiated merely on political grounds. I say that with respect. If the industry, on one side of the fence or the other, makes a case for an inquiry I shall give serious consideration to it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. I direct his attention to the rather extensive representations that have been made to him regarding the continuance of a subsidy on .303 ammunition and other matters associated with the rifle shooting movement. As it must now have been made abundantly clear to the Minister that unless the Government’s stated policy is amended the movement will become defunct, resulting in a loss to this country of 40,000 keen marksmen who consider themselves to be held in reserve for the defence of Australia, I ask: Has he now given consideration to continuing to make .303 ammunition available to the clubs at a reasonable price and to the restoration of some of the privileges now being withdrawn? If this is not possible, will he give the clubs some direction or suggest any modification to the rifle clubs’ structure or conditions of membership which would give the movement a worthwhile role in the national defence structure?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is still under consideration by the Government. I hope that in the very near future I will be able to reply to the numerous representations that have been made on this matter by the rifle clubs and by the many honorable members.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 migrants who are separated from their immediate families and who are now residing in Australia contribute to the welfare of their families . by forwarding money to their respective countries overseas. It is also estimated that £25 million goes out to Australia yearly to support these families. Will the Minister give consideration to any method that will help to induce these families to migrate to Australia?
– I have no means of confirming at the moment the amount of capital that is going out of Australia from migrants to relatives overseas. However, this is not a situation confined to Australia alone. Today there is a tremendous movement of people from one country to another. For example, France has about 2 million foreign contract workers who have come from Spain and Germany. In addition, about 300,000 Greeks have gone into northern Europe. As those workers do not make their homes in such countries, nor build houses and spend money in those countries as migrants do in Australia, proportionately the reverse flow of capital from such countries must be much greater than it is from Australia.
In Australia we make every endeavour to have family migration, and the fact that there is a constant flow now of Italians and Greeks to Australia to rejoin their breadwinners is an indication of the success of that endeavour. Our treatment of migrants in Australia must play a tremendous part in this respect, and the success of the scheme shows how the Good Neighbour movement, church organisations and the service clubs are playing their part to assist in the integration of migrants in Australia.
In turn, because of the treatment that the migrants have received in Australia, personal nominations then go back to these countries. The assisted passages, the treatment of migrants in Australia, their general wellbeing and the prosperity that they enjoy are, I believe, the best recommendations for family reunion in Australia thus cutting back of the amount of money that goes out of Australia for the maintenance of families in other countries.
– I ask the Minister for Health why no anti-depression drugs are available on the free list. In view of the fact that some aged and infirm people have to combat constant attacks of depression and at the present time, when a doctor prescribes such drugs, these people have to pay considerable prices for them, I ask the Minister whether he will take immediate action to have this matter rectified.
– A special advisory Committee has been set up to advise the Minister for Health and the Department of Health on matters such as this. That Committee is the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. It is a committee of experts from both Hie medical profession and the profession of pharmacy. The Committee advises on all matters relating to whether or not drugs of any type should be added to or deleted from the pharmaceutical benefits list. If there are particular drugs which the honorable member feels should be added to the list and he is prepared to submit the names or types of drugs to me, I will see that they are referred to the Committee.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Because of the large takeovers of existing stores and the establishment of new stores in north Queensland by southern chain store interests, particularly the David Jones, Woolworths and Coles companies which pay no sales tax on freight as they are classified as retailers and pay tax on their buying prices at the point of manufacture or delivery in the south, notwithstanding that their buying prices would be at least as good as, and probably better than, those of north Queensland wholesale merchants who must pay tax on freight, I ask the Treasurer whether he will examine this obvious anomaly with the idea of placing northern trading interests on an equal basis with southern interests, as far as sales tax is concerned, to enable healthy private enterprise competition, which no doubt will be of great help to the Government’s policy for the development of the north.
– I shall study the text of the rather involved question that the honorable gentleman has put to me, and I will see that he receives a considered answer.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. Has a private investigation of the fishing potential of the Gulf of Papua been made recently? Following such investigation, has an approach been made to the Department of Territories for permission for Japanese manned, trawlers to operate from Port Moresby and fish in the Gulf of Papua? Has permission been granted for such trawlers to operate? What encouragement has been given to native Papuans to establish a similar industry at Port Moresby?
– Investigations of the fishing potential around the coast of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea have been made from time to time. I am not aware of any Japanese interests operating in the Gulf of Papua; but 1 do know of a local industry that is operating there, particularly for barramundi. I have no knowledge at all of any Japanese interests operating there.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that since the advent of the Boeing 727 jet aircraft to Australia many complaints have been made by people living adjacent to major airports about the increased noise and turbulence factors associated with such aircraft? Many of my constituents are suffering distress, and damage is being caused to property, due to the method of approach of this type of aircraft prior to landing, particularly when the approach is from the south over fully built up areas. As approaches from this direction are made only when there is a strong cross wind component, will the Minister ask his colleague whether he will consider diverting jet aircraft to Avalon, as is normal when other adverse weather conditions apply, and thus relieve the very real distress of these citizens?
– I shall take this matter up with my colleague. I am not aware of representations which have been made to him, though naturally I realise that the advent of the jet aircraft has caused considerable problems in built up areas throughout the world. I know that every possible care is taken by the pilots and the Department of Civil Aviation to try to reduce this menace, and arrangements are made for aircraft to be at a certain height at a certain time after take-off so as to reduce the noise factor and, if possible, so as not to have to use full power. I can see a distinct disadvantage in the use of Avalon in that it would require very much longer to get passengers into the city from there than it does from Essendon.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware of reports that the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia addressed a meeting of Sydney university students yesterday and was subjected to abuse and assault by missiles? Will the Minister consult with the appropriate education authorities in an effort to see that the education of these students includes instruction in how to behave themselves in such circumstances, as their parents apparently have been neglectful of their education in this respect?
– I have no information about any incidents of this kind, but now that the honorable member has drawn attention to them I shall certainly make inquiries and obtain a report. I should not like it to be thought that either ministerially or in any other way I can accept responsibility for the manners of university students.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service concerning the dispute at Mount Isa mine. Has the Minister any information whether the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Association of Australasia decided at yesterday’s meeting on a return to work? If the Minister is aware of the decision, what is its significance in relation to the settlement of the whole dispute at the mine?
– I informed the House earlier this week that there were some signs of a return to sanity at Mount Isa. and I am glad to be able to inform the House that yesterday the Management Committee of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Association decided to direct the men at Mount Isa to return to work - that is, its own union men. Early this morning the local Management Committee will be meeting at Mount Isa and it is hoped that it will ensure that the men do in fact return to work shortly. As to the consequences of this decision, if the F.E.D.F.A. men do go back to work the mine hoist at the No. 2 lead shaft will commence operations fairly quickly, and within the course of the next three or four days it is hoped that the No. 1 concentrator will be brought into operation. Shortly after that it is hoped that the No. 3 concentrator, which processes copper ore from the open cuts, also will be brought into production. This is, I think, a development about which every member of the House, with one or two exceptions, will be pleased and I think it indicates a return to sanity.
– Why do you say: “With one or two exceptions “ ?
– That is your business, not mine. If I may continue, the other favorable matter that I should refer to is that Mr. Commissioner Harvey decided to call a meeting in Mount Isa of all unions involved in order to discuss the general problems associated with a return to work. I have been informed this morning that it has been decided that the conference will be held in Brisbane. It is hoped that it will be held on Monday next. At that meeting I believe that proposals will be put to the conference by Mr. Jack Egerton, of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs yet received from the American Administration detailed information as to the type of gas used by South Vietnamese troops in the Vietnam conflict? If the gas used is a type of tear gas generally used to quell riots and stored by police departments, does its use contravene in any way the 1925 protocol on gas warfare?
– I have not received a great deal of information additional to that which I gave to the House yesterday. I would again stress that, so far as we are informed, the gas that has been used is of the type which normally would be used by police against rioting crowds. It is a disabling gas, certainly not a lethal gas. I would not attempt to give an opinion, nor do I think I am required to do so, on the legal question of whether the use of such a gas contravenes any international convention, but the opinion of those more skilled than 1 in such matters could be obtained for the House.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question about education. What financial assistance is being granted to the New South Wales Government by way of subsidy for the University of New England in its £7 million expansion programme? Does the Government know that the University probably will have to close its doors within a month or so if heavy rain does not fall in that period, as the Armidale town water supply has sufficient water stored for 100 days at the most, even under very strict rationing? Is it considered wise to subsidize a university building programme if insufficient essential services, such as a water supply, are not guaranteed and provided by the State government concerned in conjunction with the local government authority?
– As is implicit in the honorable member’s question, the problem of water supply is a State problem. We have directed our attention to the support of the University of New England in the ordinary way on the advice of the Universities Commission. Over the current triennium I think our total contribution will be about £3 million.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Did the Queensland Government nine months ago submit to the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, as has been stated by the Queensland Premier, four or five schemes for the development of Queensland? Has the Division investigated those schemes and placed a recommendation before the Government? If so, will the Minister say when a decision will be made on the matter? Will it be this year, next year or within the next five years? This information is vital to the Queensland Government so that it may prepare for the carrying out of the scheme.
– The Prime Minister yesterday or the day before informed the House that these matters are under very active consideration by the Government. When a decision has been reached the House will be informed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. What arrangements, if any, have been made to ensure that cheques in payment of social services reach rural areas in time to permit the recipients to present them for payment before the banks close for the Easter holiday period?
– As the normal pay day for social service benefits is on the Thursday before Good Friday, arrangements have been made, as they have in the past, for payment to be made on Wednesday, 14th April. In the instances where payment is made by cheque, arrangements are being made to despatch the cheques so that they should be received in rural areas before the Thursday. Wherever possible, recipients of social service benefits in rural areas will be in the same position as those in the city, and they will receive their benefits prior to the closing of the banks for the Easter holiday period.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question. When the Minister cannot himself attend to hand over the Commonwealth cheque at the opening of an aged persons home, will he continue his predecessor’s habit of asking the local member of Parliament to do so on his behalf if the member belongs to one of the Government parties and asking a Government Senator to do so if the local member belongs to the Opposition? Or will he follow the practice of successive PostmastersGeneral, who, when unable themselves to open a post office or other installation, have asked the local member to do so, irrespective of his party?
– I am one of those people who believe that a bicameral system of government in Australia has contributed much to the advancement of democracy. Accordingly, I believe that members of the other place as well as members of this House represent the people of the State from which they come. For that reason I think that the practice of asking both members of this House and members of the other place to present cheques on behalf of my Department in payment of the subsidy under the Aged Persons Homes Act is one that should continue in the future as it has in the past.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he can give an assurance that, where houses for Army personnel are to be built on Government land in a metropolitan area, such as at George’s Heights in the electorate of Warringah, such building development, both as to architecture and landscaping, will accord with local municipal planning in order to preserve the civic and residential status of the area concerned?
– It is true that Army houses are about to be built on very desirable sites, particularly on the harbour foreshore in Sydney. In relation to landscaping, I can give the honorable gentleman an assurance that the Army will consult the local authorities and endeavour in every way in its power to co-operate with them so that the Army housing areas will harmonise with the adjacent civilian residential areas. In relation to housing, the honorable gentleman will be aware, of course, that scales and standards are laid down for Service houses and they cannot be departed from. However, with that qualification, again we would be only too glad to consult with the local authorities. I would like to say to the honorable gentleman that, although these houses when they are finished will not perhaps be as opulent and as large as some of those enjoyed by at least a proportion of his constituents, I have high hopes that they will be attractive, well designed and a credit to the general area in which they are placed.
– Has it been brought to the notice of the Postmaster-General that a national television congress held in Sydney last week was attended by 430 delegates representing 160 organisations and about 400,000 people, and that the congress unanimously adopted a resolution calling for implementation of the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television? Is the Postmaster-General aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission joined most of the newspapers in failing to report the proceedings of this congress? If so, can he say why? Also, I ask the Minister to recall that last year he said in this House that the Government would consider some ways of assisting the development of Australian television programmes. Will he now take into account the resolution of this congress and say whether the Government will consider implementing the Select Committee’s recommendation?
– I know that a conference was held last weekend. I am not responsible for the lack of reporting by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, or by newspapers, of the proceedings of that conference. As to the Senate Committee’s report, I do not think I have ever indicated that the Government would implement the recommendations made in it. All I said to the House was that I was giving consideration to questions associated with encouraging Australian productions on television. That matter is still receiving my consideration. I have gathered a good deal of information, and I am still gathering information. When I am in a position to do so I will ask the Government to consider recommendations.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House about the latest progress with the introduction of a scheme which will mean greater Federal Government assistance to agricultural extension services in Australia?
– Considerable study has been given to the subject of extension services. In the first instance Cabinet has considered the matter, but much more work has to be done to finalise it. In addition, there will need to be consultations with State Ministers. That is the next step in the programme.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government any plans to assist primary producers and people generally who are suffering from the effects of the almost nationwide disastrous drought which is affecting particularly the eastern States and the south of this continent? Will he consider in what way the Commonwealth will be able to co-operate with the States in giving relief and assistance - financial and otherwise?
– I assure the honorable member that this problem is constantly in my mind as the year develops, because I think we are all exercised about the outlook. Of course, it does not necessarily follow that this will not be changed. But if the honorable member wants to know whether this is constantly under consideration, it certainly is.
– My question to the Attorney-General relates to drilling for oil which has commenced near the Australian coastline, but outside Australian territorial waters. Has agreement yet been reached between the Commonwealth and the States on the supervision of activity on the continental shelf and the distribution of royalties from any oil found there?
– As yet no agreement haj been reached between the Commonwealth and States. A meeting is to be held in Brisbane on Thursday and Friday next week, 1st and 2nd April, the regular meeting of the standing committee of AttorneysGeneral. At that meeting my colleague, the Minister for National Development, and the respective Ministers for Mines of the States will be meeting to see whether a scheme for co-operative legislation can be agreed upon.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. In his speech on Tuesday night, the honorable gentleman said that the Indonesian Government had declared that it would still uphold the principles of international cooperation as enshrined in the United Nations Charter and that the Australian Government expects that all countries which have been members of the United Nations will still remain bound to observe the principles on which the Charter is based. Has the Indonesian Government declared, and does the Australian Government expect, that the act of self-determination in West Irian will still take place before the end of 1969 and that the United Nations will participate in arranging it? If the position in this matter is not yet clear, what steps has the Government taken to ensure that Indonesia’s undertakings to the United Nations in this matter are fulfilled?
– The decision of the Indonesian Government with respect to its obligations towards the United Nations and the people of West Irian is not at the moment as clear to us as we would like it to be. The Australian Government has plainly indicated to the Secretary General its own view that withdrawal from the United Nations by Indonesia does not alter the obligations which Indonesia has in West Irian. If I may take up one small point: The obligation for an act of selfdetermination in West Irian might perhaps be paraphrased as an obligation to carry out an act of ascertainment. I think “ selfdetermination “ does not mean the holding of some sort of plebiscite or direct consultation with the people in that manner. I am doubtful whether the documents would justify that view. There certainly has to be an act of ascertainment - some sort of attempt to consult the people - but the documents are not, perhaps, as strong on the means of selfdetermination as originally we would have liked them to be.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether his attention has been drawn to the thought provoking article by C. E. Gaudry on “ Our Shrinking Share of PapuaNew Guinea Trade”. Is it true that Australia’s share - some £16.5 million worth of the imports of the Territory - represents a decline in percentage of the total goods acquired? What steps are being taken to encourage Australian exporters and shipping companies to devote more attention and service to this increasing trade potential so close to Australia? Will he discuss with his colleague, the Minister for Territories, a statement of policy concerning purchases made by the Administration to establish a preference for Australian goods?
– My attention has been drawn to the article. It was drawn to it by the honorable member for Swan for which I thank him. The facts of the matter are not stated with precision. Actually, taking a couple of recent years, the indications are that both the quantity and percentage of Australian goods bought by Papua and New Guinea have been on the increase. In 1962-63, the value of Australian goods bought by Papua and New Guinea was £16.5 million. In the next year, £21 million worth were bought. Again, in the first year, 58 per cent, of the needs of the Territory were bought from Australia and the next year the Territory bought from Australia 59 per cent, of its procurements. That is not a very large percentage increase, but the trend is in that direction.
A trade ship organised by a group called Australian Export Promotions Pty. Ltd., a body which the Government recognises and assists, and which is comprised basically of the Australian Chamber of Manufactures and the Australian Chamber of Commerce, will be visiting Papua and New Guinea in May of this year to display Australian goods and to excite the interest and increase the awareness of Papuans and New Guineans of the things that we have for sale. I accept the honorable member’s suggestion and will have some discussions with the Minister for Territories. I have, on earlier occasions, had discussions with his predecessor in that office in respect of our business but we considered that, as the Territory has a real job facing it of building up its economy, there is a case for permitting it to buy where it can buy cheapest. Therefore we have not sought to establish a tariff preference system which would oblige the Territory to buy on other than the cheapest market although, in reverse, we give the products of the Territory preference in this country and we had to get the permission of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade Organisation to do so.
– I would like to ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service. Why has the Government failed to introduce its promised measures to protect the future employment of men who are called up for national service? Can the Minister give an assurance that appropriate regulations will be introduced without delay to protect the future employment and careers of all persons called up for national service?
- Mr. Speaker, I did give an assurance to the House late last year that I would be introducing a measure as soon as it was practicable to protect the reinstatement rights of national servicemen called up for service with the Army. I spoke to the Leader of the Opposition yesterday and the day before about this and with his approval I intend to make a ministerial statement as soon as question time is over. If the honorable member will be a little patient I will even give him a copy of the statement.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Will he draw the attention of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the fact that confusion is caused in Victoria when, after the national and State news, the news reader often says: “That is the end of the news from the A.B.C.”, when, in fact, important A.B.C. regional news is to follow almost immediately? Because of this statement the regional news is sometimes missed by those whom it is intended to serve.
– I can appreciate that this would cause irritation in certain areas of Victoria, particularly, perhaps, those represented by the honorable member. 1 think that regional news is of great value and I will direct the attention of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to his remarks.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Immigration. By way of explanation I refer to the recent Australian Citizenship Convention which had as its theme, “ Every settler a citizen “, and which made certain suggestions regarding the naturalisation of immigrants. I ask the Minister: What consideration has the Government given to the suggestions from the Convention for the encouragement of the naturalisation of migrants? Furthermore, will the Minister say whether the decision of the Government to exempt unnaturalised persons from conscription for military service, but to pay them the £250 home savings grant is a help or a hindrance to the success of the naturalisation drive?
– The question of the liability of immigrants for national service has been considered by the Government. The trend of the discussions at the Citizenship Convention also has been brought to the attention of the Government. Military service is a policy matter and I cannot make a statement on it at this stage. As for the £250 grant, that is a question for my colleague, the Minister for Housing, and at this stage it is impossible for me to give the honorable member a reply.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry, follows from a previous question that I asked the Minister for. Primary Industry. Can the right honorable gentleman inform me what active steps are being taken by officers of the Department of Trade and Industry - in particular, trade commissioners and trade promotion officers - to promote the sale of berry fruits in South East Asia and other countries overseas? What approaches have been made by individual Australian exporting firms? What results have been achieved in overseas markets? What is currently being done in this field and what endeavours are to be made in the future? What active steps are being taken to promote sales within Australia?
– I can assure the honorable member that the Department of Trade and Industry endeavours continuously to support the Tasmanian berry fruits industry, as it did when the honorable member was working with me in earlier years. Trade commissioners and other departmental officers are at all times working closely with representatives of the industry with the object of expanding the existing markets for berry fruits, particularly Tasmanian berry fruits, finding new markets and generally promoting sales. We have had some success in finding a market in Malaysia, which is now the biggest market for our berry fruit juices. We have encouraging prospects in Canada also. The processors, with the aid of the Department, are participating in store promotions in Malaysia and Japan. Also in conjunction with the Department, they have arranged displays at trade fairs in East Africa, Japan and Scandinavia. We believe that the Australian market has not been developed as fully as possible and that there are real opportunities in the great centres of Sydney and Melbourne. We shall work with the berry fruits industry and advise it on what may be done to improve sales in the home market. I believe that there is hope in this field and I assure the honorable member that we shall continue at all times to help the industry.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins-
Treasurer). - by leave - I am now able to give some information regarding the disposal of the surplus revealed at the last quinquennial investigation of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. I know that honorable members are keenly interested in the wellbeing of the Fund and have shown a great deal of interest in the disposition of the surplus. At my request, the Secretary to the Treasury conferred with organisations of the Public Service employees immediately after the report on the eighth quinquennial investigation of the Fund was tabled in the House during the last sessional period and he did so again as recently as last week. This is the first occasion upon which such a large surplus has been disclosed in the Fund. As can be seen from the report, the surplus has largely arisen from the increased earnings of the Fund in comparison with the rate of earnings of 3¾ per cent, assumed when the rates of contribution were calculated.
Put shortly, rates of contribution to the Fund have been higher than they would need to be if they had been based on an expectation of earnings at the levels which were actually reached during recent years and the levels which can be reasonably expected for quite a few years ahead.
The Superannuation Board was not unanimous in its view about the best and most acceptable method of utilising the surplus and this was an important reason for consulting with the Public Service organisations. I am informed that they have expressed agreement with the decisions which the Government has now reached and which I shall outline to the House. These decisions not only will result in distribution of the surplus already accrued, but also will accept the position that the higher earning rate recently achieved is likely to continue. The Government clearly could not wish that contributions should continue to be paid at rates higher than those judged to be necessary to ensure that the Fund is able at all times to provide the benefits prescribed. Accordingly -
Legislation to give effect to the Government’s decision will be brought down as quickly as possible, but, as I have indicated, the actuarial calculations are complex and the other administrative arrangements will necessarily take some time to complete. It will not, therefore, be possible to incorporate the new rates of contribution in the legislation but, to avoid any subsequent delay, authority will be sought for the making of regulations to prescribe appropriate rates of contribution and rebates or refunds as soon as the final actuarial calculations are available. Any amounts that would have been payable to pensioners or contributors who are now deceased will be paid to their legal personal representatives.
– My understanding is that, in the measure proposed in relation to the earlier action, we shall seek that power. However, I shall confirm the point for the honorable gentleman. I understand that he wishes me to submit a motion that the paper be noted.
– I present the following paper -
Commonwealth Superannuation Fund - Disposal of Surplus - Ministerial Statement, 25th March 1965- and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
– by leave - In my second reading speech on the National Service Bill 1964 on 11th November last, I informed the House that the Government would bring down a bill in the present session to extend to national servicemen, with necessary modifications, the provisions incorporated last year in the Defence Act for the protection of the civil employment rights of volunteer members of the reserve and citizen forces. These provisions were modelled on those in the National Service Act 1951-1957. Under these arrangements a national serviceman employed with an employer for thirty days or more before his call-up for full time service will be entitled to reinstatement if he applies for it within one month of completion of service, or such further period as the Minister allows.
Reinstatement will be in the preservice occupation under conditions no less favourable than would have applied if the man had not been absent on service, including any increase in pay he would have received if he had not been absent. On reinstatement continuity of employment will be deemed not broken by the period of national service. If the man stays in his reinstated employment for as long as he was away on service the period of his absence will count for long service leave, superannuation and pension purposes as though he had not been absent. Employers will be excused from reinstating in certain defined circumstances, not including the employment of someone else to replace the person called up.
I also informed the House that national servicemen who serve in special areas would qualify, under the same conditions as those applying to regular soldiers, for repatriation cover and war service homes entitlement. They will also receive the same rates of pay as regular soldiers. I went on to explain that the Government did not intend to stop there and that the whole question of re-establishment benefits for national servicemen was being examined.
In considering the question of reestablishment benefits for national servicemen, the Government has kept two considerations in mind. First, the length of the national serviceman’s absence from civilian employment - two years’ continuous service - and the character of that service, are very different from the obligations involved in the earlier national service scheme and must for some young men present problems of re-establishment. Secondly, it was important to avoid as far as practicable and certainly to minimise the possibility that those in any age group called upon to serve their country in this way should be disadvantaged by comparison with those not called up.
The Government has decided that the re-establishment charter for national servicemen should provide in addition to the provisions I have already mentioned: -
I also want to mention that following the decisions to which I have referred, the Government has directed that an examination should be made of the benefits at present applying under the Resettlement Scheme for Members of the Permanent Forces to ensure that there would be no anomalies between these benefits and those now approved for national servicemen.
The Government is confident that the public will commend this re-establishment charter for national servicemen. It is completely right and proper that special arrangements should be made to ensure that national servicemen are satisfactorily reestablished after they have done their service. The men themselves will be glad to know at this stage that their interests are being cared for. The principal benefits I have outlined will be provided for in special legislation to be introduced this session. However, some of the arrangements will obviously not become operative for some time and a certain amount of detailed work has yet to be done on them. If need be they will be incorporated in legislation at a later stage.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) dealing with his recent overseas visit. Since this record was prepared by my colleague, I propose to present it as written because it is a record of personal observations and experiences. Wherever I use the personal pronoun it will be understood as referring to the Minister for Defence. The statement is as follows:
I wish to make a statement to the Senate on my recent visit overseas to South East Asia and to the United States. My purpose in visiting South East Asia was to gain first hand information of the situation which, as stated by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his review of the expanded defence programme in Parliament last year, had deteriorated and was causing the Government considerable concern. This deterioration arises from increased Communist pressures in the area as a whole and particularly in South Vietnam and Laos and from Indonesia’s policy of confrontation against our Commonwealth neighbour, Malaysia. While in the area I also took the opportunity to visit Australian servicemen deployed in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, and to acquaint myself with their role in each particular situation.
During five days in Kuala Lumpur I. had close and detailed discussions with the Malaysian Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and other ministers. There was and still remains concern at the considerable build up of Indonesian forces in Kalimantan and Sumatra and the threat which this poses to the territorial integrity of Malaysia. Along with this build up of forces there has also been over the past months a steady increase in infiltration across the Malacca and Singapore Straits into Malaya and Singapore. These developments require the deployment of additional British forces to the area and this reinforcement which was essential in order that the United Kingdom should fulfil its commitment to the defence of the area was proceeding whilst I was there.
I informed Malaysian Ministers that the Australian Government fully shared their concern over the build up of Indonesian forces and I gave them a full and frank exposition of our own position on the continuance by Indonesia of its policy of confrontation. The Malaysian Minister for Defence explained comprehensively and forcefully the need for reinforcements to meet the increased threat to Sarawak and Sabah and to ensure the defence of the Malayan peninsula against infiltrators. Honorable senators will recall that in response to a Malaysian request the Acting Prime Minister announced on 3rd February that in view of all the circumstances and in accordance with the pledge previously given the Australian Government had concluded that the deployment of additional Australian field units into Borneo was necessary. These additional units comprise the Australian battalion serving with the Commonwealth Brigade which is available to serve in Borneo in rotation with Malaysian and British units and also an Army Special Air Service Squadron from Australia which has since been moved into the area. These units are already preparing for service in the Borneo territories where I am sure the abilities of our fighting men will be in good evidence and contribute materially to the defence of Malaysia.
While in Kuala Lumpur I also discussed the provision by Australia of defence aid in the form of equipment and training to Malaysia and I received unqualified assurances from Malaysian Ministers that Australian assistance to date had contributed substantially to the common effort. The requirements of this young and developing Commonwealth country remain considerable and I was given the opportunity to learn something of Malaya’s impressive development programme and plans which unfortunately are being retarded by the need to devote resources to defence against confrontation. I assured Malaysian Ministers of Australia’s continued sympathetic consideration for their needs in the present situation.
After leaving Kuala Lumpur I visited Singapore where I had discussions with the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, and the British Commander-in-chief, Far East, and later I was able to visit operational areas in the Borneo territories and inspect at first hand some positions which have been taken up by Allied forces along the 1,000 mile frontier with Indonesian Borneo. In particular I saw something of the work being carried out by the Australian engineer squadron and was impressed with both the quality of their construction programme and their morale.
From Borneo I flew to South Vietnam, and, despite the fact that a few hours prior to my arrival there had been a further change in the leading personalities responsible for government of the country, I had very useful discussions with senior South Vietnamese Ministers, the United States Ambassador, General Westmoreland, who is leading the American forces in the area, and other authorities. I left the country with a much more intimate understanding of the difficulties of the peoples’ struggle and of their defence needs. Above all I was convinced of the vital importance of maintaining the independence of South Vietnam and of the validity of the Australian Government’s policy supporting this country in its struggle for independence against Communist subversion. In particular I consider that we must continue to support United States efforts in this field by full political and diplomatic endeavours and by the provision of military advisory assistance and logistic support as necessary to meet military requirements.
While in Saigon I was pleased to announce the decisions of the Australian Government, made just prior to my departure, to make available additional non-military aid to Vietnam to assist in the pacification programme and to supplement the military aid which we have been providing since 1962. Following the visit of a special aid investigation team to Vietnam last year to investigate ways in which Australia might help in the fields of agriculture, engineering, medical services and social welfare, some recommendations had already been put into effect. Additional aid to be given by Australia as announced by me in Saigon was as follows -
While in South Vietnam, I had the opportunity of visiting some of the strategic hamlet areas which demonstrated to me the value of the non-military aid which Australia had already given towards the construction of these safe havens.
I also announced that the Australian Government is providing additional military aid to Vietnam of a further 17 Army training instructors, which will bring the total in South Vietnam to 100. A replacement of the Caribou aircraft damaged some months ago is also to be provided, which will bring the Royal Australian Air Force Caribou detachment back to the original strength of six aircraft. The addition of this aid to the assistance already being given Vietnam by over 20 other countries is a further encouragement to the Vietnamese people to contine their struggle against aggression with determination. In Vietnam, as elsewhere, a stable government is an indispensable prerequisite to the successful outcome of the struggle against Communist subversion and terrorism.
While in Vietnam I also visited Australian soldiers working as jungle warfare instructors at the Duv My ranger training camp near Nha Trang and the Royal Australian Air Force Caribou transport flight which is based at Vung Tau. I found the Australian personnel in very good heart, fully dedicated to their task, and very much aware of the importance of the struggle to which they are contributing.
From VietnamI journeyed to Thailand whereI had a valuable series of talks with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Development, and the Deputy Minister of Defence. I also called on South East Asia Treaty Organisation headquarters where a number of Australian officers are serving, and I paid visits to the Royal Australian Air Force Sabre fighter detachment at Ubon and the vehicle repair workshop at Rangsit, which is one of the projects being sponsored under our S.E.A.T.O. aid programme to assist in the logistical backing of the Thai services.
My talks with Ministers covered a wide range of topics of mutual interest and I found my discussions particularly valuable. I was impressed with the good and cooperative relations which have been developed between Thailand and Australia particularly as a result of our S.E.A.T.O. partnership. Thai Ministers were most willing to exchange ideas frankly and openly.
During my visits to Thailand and Vietnam I was deeply impressed with the size, efficiency and depth of United States military effort in these very important strategic areas of South East Asia. The deployment of our own Australian forces in South East Asia is to be seen as part of the allied effort to defend these people against Communist aggression and subversion and allow them to live as independent countries pursuing their own ideals and aims free from the shadow of Communist aggression.
I want to record my unqualified satisfaction with the manner in which Australian troops are conducting themselves in all of the areas I visited. Not only are they upholding the high reputation established by their predecessors in the field but they are winning high praise by their readiness to adapt themselves to the local scene and to affiliate themselves with civic and communal affairs. They are proving to be good ambassadors for Australia and worthy opponents to the challenges they are meeting in their day to day role.
My visit to the United States was the more beneficial because of the background which I had gained of the difficulties in South East Asia and a confirmation of the need to view the South East Asian problem as a whole. I had the opportunity of discussions with the United States authorities in both the State Department and the Pentagon. In addition, through the courtesy of the United States Government, I was able to visit many of their defence installations and their defence factories and thereby gained an appreciation of the might of the United States defence effort.
In particular I had a long conversation with the United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. Robert McNamara, and was able to explain to him the Australian Government’s new defence programme. I outlined to him the strategic background against which it had been prepared and the main measures which would be undertaken in the three years up to 30th June 1968. We then talked about the growing extent of Australian purchases of military equipment from the United States, particularly the arrangements for the construction of three guided missile destroyers and the procurement of 24 FI IIA aircraft. During my stay in the United States I had the opportunity of seeing for myself the actual progress being made on these projects. I was present when the keel for the third ship was laid. I saw the FI IIA aircraft.
The main purpose of my talks with Mr. McNamara was to negotiate arrangements for the purchase of further equipment from the United States. Our new defence programme contemplates the purchase of substantial quantities of material and services from the United States at a total estimated cost of 350 million dollars over the three years. My objective was to obtain an overall package deal with the United States Government to cover this total, rather than to negotiate each separate purchase as it arose, and so obtain possibly more advantageous financial terms, together with assurances of better delivery dates to meet our requirements. Mr. McNamara accepted the commitment to assist us with this major procurement programme and the various items will be ordered in accordance with the timings laid down in our programme, so that they will become available as they are required. The main items are: For the Navy, 14 tracker anti-submarine aircraft, torpedoes, missiles and ammunition; for the Army, amphibians and tracked carriers, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, radio and radar equipment; for the Air Force, 12 Hercules medium transport aircraft, 10 Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft, equipment, weapons and missiles for FI IIA, radar and communications equipment.
The terms of payment which I was able to negotiate with the help of officers of my Department and the Treasury are most favorable. Instead of having to pay for the equipment roughly in line with deliveries, we can spread payments over an extended period, and this will considerably lessen the foreign exchange burden over several critical years. The effect of the agreement is that in the current financial year and in 1965-66 we will pay as we go in the normal way. Payments due in subsequent years will be covered by a series of annual credit arrangements, each of which will last for seven years, so that at any one time we will have a number of such arrangements running concurrently, and each of these will be repaid by 14 half-yearly instalments covering capital and interest. The interest charged on the outstanding balances against Australia will be at the rate of 4i per cent, per annum.
I also concluded an arrangement with the United States Secreatry of Defence which provides for co-operative logistics supply support of our armed forces. This is complementary to the arrangement covering the payment for military equipment purchased from the United States which I have already described. The co-operative logistics arrangement will enable our armed forces to use the organisation and facilities of the United States defence logistics system for the maintenance support of Australian military equipment as specified by Australia and common to the armed forces of the two Governments. Our Navy, Army and Air Force will thereby obtain logistic material and services equivalent in timeliness and effectiveness to that provided to United States armed forces. This will mean that Australian military units will be treated identically with those United States units having the same state of readiness for combat tasks.
The arrangement does not cover the initial capital purchase of equipment nor the initial purchase of associated spare parts required to be held in Australia. It will, however, ensure the confirmed supply support of equipment purchased without the need, as at present, to place additional sales orders each time quantities of spare parts have to be purchased. The co-operative logistics arrangement will apply to the support of American aircraft including the FI IIA and also to the guided missile destroyers. It is a selective system which permits us to use to the maximum extent our own production capability of self-support of our military equipment.
Finally, may I refer to my visit to the General Dynamics Factory at Fort Worth, Texas, where the FI IIA aircraft are being produced. My visit there confirmed the information which Mr. McNamara had given me concerning the progress in the production of this aircraft. A number of test flights have taken place, including one at supersonic speeds, and a second aircraft has also flown. Some technical problems have been encountered, as is usual with military developments of such a very advanced and complex weapon system, but the United States authorities are confident that these problems will be successfully overcome. Mr. McNamara has stressed to me that the production schedule was being met and I am confident that we can anticipate receiving the aircraft which we have ordered on the planned delivery dates commencing from mid-1968.
Our defence effort is viewed favourably in the countries which I visited. I am more than ever convinced that we must continue with our expanded defence effort so long as the present threat exists in South East Asia and be prepared to take our place with our allies in the common effort against aggression.
I present the following paper -
Overseas Visit by the Minister for Defence - Ministerial Statement, 25th March 1965 - and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Whitlam) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) on the ground on ill health.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill presented by Mr. Bury, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr. Speaker, our brief experience in administering the home savings grant scheme has extended our knowledge of the many ways in which young people save for and acquire a home. This experience has satisfied us that some amendments should be introduced into the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964. The Homes Savings Grant Bill 1965 will do this. The main purposes of this Bill are to make a number of young persons, excluded by the existing legislation from the benefits of the scheme, eligible to receive a grant, and to allow money saved and used in a number of ways to acquire a home to be treated as acceptable savings. The amendments will not only increase the number of young people eligible to receive a grant but will also permit others to receive a larger grant than is payable to them under the existing legislation.
The payment of home savings grants is, of course, a novel operation. In devising the initial administrative arrangements we recognised that the sensible approach was to determine the basic principles, to provide an operational framework that would take into account the factors then known to us and to stand ready to propose amendments to overcome fringe problems brought to light by experience in administering the scheme. I told the House in May last year that it would be unlikely that we had foreseen all the circumstances in which young people save and acquire their homes.
Applications for the grant were first received in July last year. Since then, 25,000 applications have been lodged, of which 17,700 have been determined. Almost the whole of the applications not yet determined are either awaiting further advice or evidence from the applicant, held pending passage of this amending Bill or in process of being examined in our offices. Some 16,200 grants have already been paid. Of the 1,500 applicants who have failed to qualify, some will become eligible for a grant if and when the amendments now proposed are accepted. A total of £3.5 million has been paid out in grants, and the average grant has been close to £230. I think these figures leave no doubt that the scheme has got off to a successful start. Letters we have received indicate that the grants have been of material assistance to very many young couples acquiring and furnishing their own homes.
The principles on which the scheme has been based have been proved to be fundamentally sound but, as expected experience has revealed the desirability for some amendment of the administrative provisions. The amendments have been drafted to ensure that the scheme will benefit the people it is designed to help and will achieve the broad objectives it has been framed to assist.
Some of the amendments will vary the legislative requirements in respect of the house and land for purposes of the scheme. Others will widen the definition of acceptable savings including the manner in which the savings may be held at a person’s prescribed date, savings used in the acquisition of the home, and savings held in trust. The opportunity is also being taken to make a number of minor amendments of a technical or tidying up nature. I do not propose to comment on all the proposed amendments. An explanatory memorandum setting out the meaning of each proposed amendment is being circulated to all honorable members. All the significant amendments are summarised in the first five pages of this memorandum.
I now wish to comment briefly on the more important proposals.
It is proposed that a person who does not have a satisfactory tenure of the land on which the home is being built at the time he enters into a building contract will become eligible to receive a grant if he satisfies the Secretary that he will secure adequate tenure of the land. It is also proposed that the Act be amended to permit persons, who have not entered into a contract in writing to buy or build their homes, to become eligible if they satisfy my Department that they are taking steps to and will acquire a home. However, production of a contract in writing will expedite the payment of a grant.
In many cases, the contract to buy or build the home is entered into, or the land is held, by a parent or another person as trustee for an applicant for the grant. This is frequently the case where the applicant is a minor. Under the present Act, persons are ineligible for a grant if they do not settle their affairs in their own names. Where the contract for the purchase or construction of the home is entered into, or where the land on which the home is to be built is held, by a trustee for the sole benefit of the applicant and the applicant satisfies the Secretary that he will acquire an approved interest in the land, he will be eligible to receive a grant.
A number of young people will also benefit from the proposal that money held in trust in acceptable forms for the sole benefit of the applicant, and money expended out of such a trust on or before the beneficiary’s prescribed date on a home for the beneficiary, may be treated as acceptable savings. Under the existing Act, expenditure on the home prior to the entry into a contract to buy or build the home may be treated as acceptable savings only if it is made to pay for the land, or to pay a deposit in respect of the purchase of the home. We propose to remove these limits. All savings spent by a person prior to his prescribed date in connection with the acquisition of the home may be admissible as acceptable savings.
There are a number of cases where a person has bought land on which he intended to build his home, but subsequently purchased an existing home or built elsewhere, and later sold the first block. As the Act stands at present, the savings invested in the land first acquired do not count as savings for the purposes of the scheme, unless the land was sold and the proceeds paid into one of the acceptable forms of saving before the person’s prescribed date. In some instances, a person has been unable to do these things before his prescribed date. An amendment will provide that the amount paid by the person for this land will be treated as acceptable savings, provided he has sold the land not later than six months after his prescribed date. However, money invested in land for speculative purposes will not be accepted savings.
The Government’s decision to introduce these and other proposed amendments so soon after the commencement of the scheme demonstrates the sincerity of our promise to administer the scheme sympathetically. The Bill provides that the amendments will apply from 2nd December 1963, the effective date of commencement of the scheme. There is, of course, no limit on the duration of the scheme. Nor is the grant, as some people have come to believe, a loan that must be repaid. It is a tax free gift. We offer the benefits of the scheme to our young people, and I feel sure that all honorable members will support me in advising those who have not already done so to open at once a home savings account with a bank or an account with a building society. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Female Unemployment - Trade with Communist China- Glebe Post Office - Water Conservation - Anti-depression Drugs - Repatriation.
Question proposed -
That grievances be noted.
.- I rise to direct the attention of the House to the problem of acute unemployment of females that is besetting the City of Greater Wollongong. I preface my remarks by referring to the fact that the City of Greater Wollongong is an area which, because of its export potential, particularly in iron and steel, is of outstanding importance to this nation. It has a remarkable record in terms of industrial production. The average annual value of industrial production per worker in secondary industry in the Sydney metropolitan area is about ?5,000. In the City of Newcastle it is ?7,000. But in the City of Greater Wollongong it is ?9,000. With a total annual output worth ?286 million, a veritable torrent of wealth is being poured out of the City of Greater Wollongong for the benefit of the Australian nation. But in contradistinction to that we have there an acute social problem of unemployment caused by economic distortion arising out of over-emphasis on the development of the iron and steel industry, without a balanced development in other secondary industries. I can do no better than quote from the text of a report entitled “ Employment and Unemployment in Illawarra “. The Illawarra region, of course, is mainly the City of Greater Wollongong. The report was prepared by Mr. John Steinke, lecturer in economics at the Wollongong University College, and was submitted to the Illawarra Regional Development Committee. I commend Mr. Steinke for his industry and accuracy. In his report he said - tn mid August, 28.S per cent, of the female work force was unemployed in Greater Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama. . . . The magnitude of Illawarra’s female unemployment rate is illuminated by comparison to the 2.1 per cent, rate prevailing in Australia’s capital cities during the month of May.
Approximately 5,660 women, desiring work, are without jobs in the three municipalities of Northern Illawarra. …
A number of generalizations can be made about these unemployed women. In Northern Illawarra they are most heavily concentrated … all around the shores of Lake Illawarra. …
In the triangular area between Berkeley, Port Kembla and Windang, almost 40 per cent, of the female work force is unemployed. In Shellharbour, over 36 per cent, are unemployed.
Almost 80 per cent, of Illawarra’s unemployed females are married. . . . Contrary to popular belief, they are not primarily new Australians - three-quarters of them were born in Australia or the United Kingdom. . . .
The unemployed females are a reasonably well educated group - almost 2 per cent, of them have some tertiary education, better than 70 per cent, have secondary educations. Among the unemployed are women with high skill levels - Nurses, teachers, machinists, dressmakers, bookkeepers and many other professions.
Mr. Steinke also said
The 2,900 women who would have sought work if it were available are not marginal workers, actually indifferent to employment. They are individuals who desire work, who would bc working if they resided in one of the other metropolitan areas of Australia.
I have referred to the problems arising from the over-emphasis on heavy industrial production, and I can do no better in this regard than quote from an article that appeared on the financial page of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 14th November last. The article was written by the Financial Editor. In it he said this -
Many country towns, of course, have higher female unemployment ratios than the cities.
But none of them has a problem comparable wilh that of the South Coast.
As the report says, the Illawarra’s dependence on metalworking and mining as basic industries and the extremely rapid growth of the area have led to unusually high employment in construction and the provision of utility services and to unusually low employment in the provision of financial, commercial and other community services.
For this day and age, the job pattern is out of balance . . .
Moreover., there seems to be something impermanent about the present abnormal preponderance of males over females in the population of the Wollongong-Port Kembla district.
The actual figures at the 1961 census were 69,000 males and 61,000 females for the City of Greater Wollongong. The Financial Editor continued -
More and more contemporary family budgets depend on the wife earning wages at various stages of the married life. Areas in which this is markedly below the average occurrence are under-privileged areas, unless or until employers like B.H.P. come to pay special loadings to married men or all men.
By all historical standards, the idea of B.H.P. doing this is unreal.
One of the unnoticed consequences of B.H.P.’s monopolistic position has been its ability to keep the trend of its wage costs remarkably close to the trend of statutory award rates . . .
B.H.P. has not indulged in paying fancy scarcity premiums to attract additional marginal employees . . .
Had there been competitive employers seeking to attract steelworkers, and expanding output to exploit our natural advantages for steelmaking, it is more likely that the average steelworker’s wage would be higher.
In other words, we have a situation in which a vast group of under-privileged people are producing fantastic wealth but are not being given the opportunity to provide themselves with the ordinary requirements of life. That is reflected in the present position where we have a two-job economy in the City of Greater Wollongong. It is quite good for women, especially married women, to have the opportunity to go out and work, but 78 per cent, of the women who are unemployed today are married women. If their husbands were receiving an adequate wage, in most instances there would be no necessity for these women to seek employment to supplement the family income. In the City of Greater Wollongong, we have had a fantastic growth and a fantastic distortion of the economy. If adequate wages are not paid in an area which has grown in population from 63,000 in 1946 to 150,000 in 1965, it is impossible for the people to provide themselves with housing, and the need for housing and the battle to secure the minimum deposit is the key to the whole situation in this area. In this year, the State Housing Commission is devoting 13 per cent, of its total housing funds to an area that contains only 4 per cent, of the total population of New South Wales. It is doing its utmost, and it is time that the Commonwealth Government came to the party.
I have not much time remaining to me, but I would point out that several very definite recommendations are made in the report of Mr. Steinke. The first is that a survey should be made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) of the industries that could be established in the area. Great stress is laid on the fact that there is no easy solution to the problem and no easy or quick palliative that could be provided. In his report, Mr. Steinke also said -
Subsidisation of industries will not, in itself, be sufficient to bring Illawarra’s female unemployment rate down to an acceptable level. This is because of the magnitude of the problem … it would take more than 8,000 new jobs to bring female unemployment down to the Commonwealth level. The amount of investment required is staggering, awesome.
I suggest to the Government that a conference should be held between the State and Federal Governments, between the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and the Minister for Trade and Industry and the State Ministers who are responsible for industrial development. The whole problem should be examined. This is a matter that transcends any political advantage. A proper solution must be found to the acute economic problem of my constituents. I commend this matter most strongly to the House for its consideration. It is one on which a non-party attitude should be taken.
– In recent years, several honorable members have on many occasions directed attention to the problems, difficulties and dangers involved in trade, through various firms and organisations, with Communist China. Only last week I asked a question about the dumping of calico by Communist China. For the past 20 years, India has supplied 36-inch calico to Australia, but is now being completely eliminated from the market by the activities of Communist China, which is dumping calico in Australia at 10 per cent, under any price that India may quote. One other factor that has been raised on occasions is also worth mentioning. Now that 40 per cent, at least of our wheat trade is in the hands of Peking, we have at all times to remind ourselves that the Communist rulers of Red China do not differentiate between politics and economics. Sooner or later, as they have done with other countries, they will put pressure on Australia on some political point that they want decided in their favour, and unless Australia complies our wheat growers will be in great danger of losing the market. I have always said, and I hope that the Government has taken some notice, that a plan should be prepared so that if such a thing occurs the wheat growers will not have to take the whole of the consequences, but, in view of the fact that this wheat trade with Red China has been more or less national policy, the effect will be cushioned, with the whole of the community bearing the consequences. They should not be borne by individual growers.
Today I want to direct attention to something that has happened along the same lines, namely the pressure put by the Peking authorities on all those who are trading with them, in relation to the arrest of nine Chinese spies in Brazil last year. If I remember rightly, sue of the persons concerned were supposed to be members of a trade delegation and three were members of the New China News Agency. I think I am right in saying that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), in November last year, directed the attention of the House to a cable covering two foolscap pages which was sent to every organisation and firm which had been trading with Peking. The cable asked them to raise their voices in protest to the new Brazilian Government about the arrest of the Chinese spies - who were later tried and, on the evidence produced, were sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years.
At the end of Decmber 1964 the New China News Agency put out a world news release in English from Peking headed “ World Solidarity with Chinese Victims of Brazilian Legal Outrage “. The first paragraph reads -
Popular organisations, trading companies and public celebrities in many countries have cabled the Chinese organisations concerned expressing their deep indignation at the Brazilian military authorities’ illegal sentences on the guiltless Chinese and voicing support for their fight for justice.
The release then goes on to give an account of various individuals and countries who they assert, whether rightly or not, answered the cable and protested about the arrest of these Chinese. The fourth last paragraph reads -
The Beijer Import and Export Company of Sweden in its cable said that it supported China’s demand that the nine Chinese be released at once. The Milliss Company of Australia said that it was deeply shocked to learn the sentence of ten years’ imprisonment on the Chinese. It added it believed that it was U.S. imperialism that had instigated the Brazilian authorities to victimise the Chinese.
I shall now read the really important paragraph -
Similar messages were sent from Australia by the Michell and Sons Company, the Australian Wool Import Company, the Dreyfus and Company, the Vanlaine Company, the Australian Wool Board and the Bunge Company.
I thought that the statement about the Australian Wool Board was incorrect so I telephoned the Board’s office and asked whether it was correct, saying that I could not believe it. I was told at once that the statement was untrue. I then asked whether I could be given the denial in writing as I should like to send it to certain people with whom I am in contact who have a great deal of authority in countries of South East Asia. I said that I should like to do what I could to refute the charge and nail this lie put out by the New China News Agency. The answer I received was: “Yes, of course we will “. Forty-eight hours later I received a telephone call and was told that the matter had been discussed with the Chairman of the Wool Board who had said that if such a letter was to be sent it would bring the Australian Wool Board into the political sphere. As it is common knowledge that the Chairman of the Board is a nominee for pre-selection for the next Federal elections in Queensland I was amazed at that reply.
I wrote then to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), directing his attention to the matter. I quoted extracts from the Press release by the New China News Agency and I asked the Minister either to deny the statement himself or at least to see that the Chairman of the Board denied it. I pointed out that unless people in high places of authority denied the statement the denial would not receive anything like the Press coverage which the New China News Agency release had gained all over the world, linking the Australian Wool Board with the alleged protest.
I myself cannot believe that the New China News Agency’s statement is true. I should like to know, first, whether the Board did reply to the cable. I believe that probably it did not. If it did not, that drives the nail directly into the lie that has been put out by the New China News Agency. On the other hand, if the Board did reply it is possible that it just acknowledged receipt of the cable. If so, the only way to clear the name of the Australian Wool Board is to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry to obtain a copy of the reply sent to Peking and lay it on the table of this House so that we can see what the situation is. I do not think anyone in this House believes that the Australian Wool Board would have been so foolish as to support Peking in the protest to the Brazilian Government. But the fact is that the allegation has not been denied. I have received no reply from the Minister although I wrote to him on 2nd and 4th March. The Chairman of the Australian Wool Board has taken no action. I understand that a very insignificant paragraph was inserted by the Deputy Chairman of the Board in, I think, the “Stock and Land “, stating that the Board had not replied to the cable. But it is not merely a question of denying the falsehood in Australia; it is a question of getting world Press coverage for the fact that the New China News Agency’s statement has been denied by someone in authority, so that the name of the Australian Wool Board will be cleared in the eyes of the world.
– I regret that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) is not in the House at present, because I have a very genuine grievance to air about his Department’s failure to extend the Glebe Post Office. This argument is six years old. Three years ago I thought we were getting somewhere because the Post Office bought the six houses next to the Glebe Post Office in order, as it was said, to build an exchange and extend the Post Office itself. Three years have passed. The Department put 37 people out of those houses at the time and demolished the houses. The ground lies waiting for the Post Office to be built. No fewer than 37 people had occupied the houses that were demolished.
The Glebe Post Office is situated in the centre of an area which has 17,000 electors, and whichever way they go, whether east, south, north or west, these people have to travel a mile to get to another post office. Honorable members can just imagine the call there is for extensions to the Glebe Post Office. Many new Australians live in the Glebe area and they make great use of the facilities offered at the Post Office, which is packed almost every Friday and
Saturday. During the Christmas and Easter periods last year it was almost impossible for the officials to carry out their work because they were so overcrowded that as many as seven employees were required to work in the one room. I have approached the Postmaster-General time and time again in an endeavour to have some facilities made available for pensioners who draw pensions and mothers who draw child endowment payments at the Post Office. At the present time, young women drawing child endowment at Glebe are obliged to wheel prams across the road and up the next street to what is in reality a disused barn in order to receive payment. On arrival at this building, they are required to walk up six or seven stone steps and then sit around waiting for payment. The postal officials are fearful about carrying large sums of money. They make about six trips from the Post Office to this building with money because of the fear of being robbed. This means longer waiting periods but nothing whatsoever is done to provide adequate office space or comfortable waiting rooms for the public. I hope that the Government will wake up very shortly and do something for these people for at present they are not being treated fairly. The present state of affairs is not fair to the pensioner; nor is it fair to the young woman seeking to collect child endowment or do other business at the Post Office.
I have stated on previous occasions that certain shops should be licensed to sell postage stamps. At the present time, pensioners are required to pay a bus fare of 9d. to travel from the lower end of Glebe Road to the Post Office to buy a postage stamp. Surely the Act could be amended to provide that shops at which these people buy their writing materials may be licensed to sell postage stamps. I did ask one newsagent why he did not keep postage stamps and his reply was: “You people do not give anything for nothing. Why should I give my time for nothing? I do not sell stamps because I get nothing out of it.” I suppose that is one way of looking at it.
I come now to the lot of the pensioners. Although I agree with what is done in this House to help the people of China and other places who are hungry, I emphasise that in Sydney alone there are thousands of pensioners and others who are hungry and this Government gives them a paltry pension of only £5 10s. a week. The cost of housing in Sydney today, especially room rentals, is exorbitant. As I have said, many pensioners live in the Glebe area. Recently the representative of one company which had bought a terrace of 17 houses, each of three storeys, in which 430 people were housed, approached the principal tenants saying: “I have bought this terrace of houses”. When asked his name, he said: “I will not give you my name. That does not concern you; but if you are the head tenant, I will give you £1,000 to get out.” Because they feared financial loss, the head tenants of 13 of these houses signed agreements to accept £1,000 to vacate the premises. When the representative of the company was asked what would happen to the other tenants he replied: “You have no need to worry about them. They are the least of my worries. As soon as we require the premises, we will put the bulldozers in.” And these pensioners are expected by this Government to pay room rent and live on £5 10s. a week! Honorable members on the Government side know only too well that even if one has one’s own room or house, one cannot live on £5 10s. a week. Why, so far as these pensioners are concerned, the beef, apples and pears produced in this country and displayed in the shop windows are there merely to be looked at.
The Sydney City Council has done much to help these people by establishing at least 11 centres at which meals are provided with the help of those good people who come from North Sydney, Vaucluse, and other parts of Sydney to do what they can. But nothing is done by this Government. The State Government does give the pensioners cheaper tram fares and grant them many other concessions, but the Commonwealth Government does nothing. Admittedly the Commonwealth does pay £10 towards the funeral expenses of pensioners. But what can be done for £10? Last Sunday a new St. Vincent de Paul’s home was opened at Burraphore Street, Woolloomooloo, and I make a plea now to those who are in a position to do so to donate what they can to help this worthy cause which provides food and sleeping accommodation for many people for three, four and sometimes five nights a week. The original home could provide only 60 beds a night. Today it has sleeping accommodation for 450. Last Sunday, the Governor of New South Wales, when opening the home, made a plea to all who could to help this worthy cause. I could say more, but I understand that other honorable members have something to say.
.- This morning I wish to refer to a question which I asked on 23rd March in connection with water supply. The provision of more water is one thing that can do much to help Australia towards greater prosperity and progress. This country is becoming more and more dependent upon water even in normal seasons. Of course, during dry seasons, the provision of water for domestic use, for the use of stock and for irrigation to grow food for stock where no food now exists during drought periods is an urgent necessity.
The question I asked the Minister was fairly plain, but in the short time available to one for asking questions, it is hard to explain any particular position fully. My advocacy was that the Department of National Development should make investigations into the practicability of conveying water by pipeline. During that advocacy I pointed out that an eminent expert on water conservation stated very clearly that in certain parts of Victoria 95 per cent, of the water was lost between the point of storage and the point of consumption. This and other governments since Federation have spent vast sums of money on water storage. If these huge quantities of water are being lost, it is largely due to seepage, although I did mention evaporation on the previous occasion. It is being lost through seepage when being conveyed through arid country - perhaps country that is not first class primary producing land - to areas where first class land is available for primary production. There are many parts of Australia in which almost anything can be grown if sufficient water is available. We have heard it said time and time again in this House that we must increase our exports of those primary products which we can sell overseas. Many products which we do not grow now but which could be sold overseas can be produced only by the application of irrigation to the land. It is becoming increasingly important, therefore, that every drop of water that we conserve should be put to the best use.
This pipelining is a question that has come up on many occasions. Most times the argument against it has been that it is too expensive. If pipelines were used in the area I know best, say in Victoria, their value would be equal to that of one or two extra major storage reservoirs. Consider the vast amount of money that has been spent on the Snowy Mountains scheme and the water that is being stored. We must preserve this water. Of course, there are ways in which flood water from the great Murray River can be conserved. The water must be trapped as near as possible to the localities in which it is to be used whether for domestic purposes, for stock, or for irrigation. This is an important matter and one of the very great things to be considered for the future. I quote from “ Hansard “ the end of a question which I asked last Tuesday summing it up -
This, surely, is top priority national development.
I cannot think of anything else which is of greater importance in the field of national development than the storage and preservation of water. I know that in this country defence is of major importance. Everything else must be subservient to that because no matter how much water we have or what crops we produce, if we fall under the heel of an invader all will be lost. I know that social services are necessary because after all we are dealing with people and they must all have attention. But when it comes to practical means by which we can lift our standard of living and create greater prosperity, I know of no better way than the conservation of the water that we have already stored. I think the question of expense must be put to one side; the assets which will be produced are the products that will flow from increased water supplies. The greater volume of water created by the pipelining would substantially increase our primary production on a permanent basis. The cost of pipelining would be only an immediate one, and over the years, the proposition would be very profitable.
I wish to say only a few more words because I appreciate that the very courteous honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) wants to say something and time for this debate is running short. It has been said in the past that if there were a pipeline many people would be put out of work because they would not be required to do channel and other work in connection therewith. But those days ‘have passed. We have very full employment in this country, despite what has been said in this debate by the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) about the unfortunate position in his electorate. Generally speaking, we have plenty of work in this country. I ask the Government to give this matter serious consideration.
.- I thank my colleagues, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and the honorable member for Malley (Mr. Turnbull), for curtailing their remarks in order to permit me to speak in the next four or five minutes. There are two matters I would like to bring urgently before the House. Firstly, I asked a question in the House today concerning the lack of antidepression drugs on the free list. In answer to this question the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) gave the reply which I thought I would get. My reason for bringing the matter before the House is that medical practitioners have informed me that they have been astounded at the lack of these drugs on the free list.
People who are aged and infirm are constantly beset by depression. If their medical practitioner is of the opinion that they should have drugs to assist them in overcoming depression, they have to pay as much as 28s. for them. In view of the frequency of depression attacks on people such as I have described, I cannot for the life of me understand why suitable drugs have not been freely available since the inception of the scheme. My astonishment is equalled by that of many members of the medical profession. I understand that many attempts have been made to have these drugs included in the free list but for reasons that we have not been told, all attempts to have that accomplished have failed. In view of the necessity for something to be done along these lines I hope that the Government will regard the matter as urgent because depression, as I have said before, is a very acute problem.
The second matter that I want to bring to the attention of the House is one which my colleague, the honorable member for West Sydney, and I have been concerned with in recent months. I refer to the treatment of a Commonwealth public servant. Some time ago he appeared before the health authorities in New South Wales and was found to have a positive reaction to a tuberculosis test. Being an ex-serviceman he was sent to the Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney and later transferred to a hospital on the North Shore. The authorities at the Repatriation Hospital were unable to discover any evidence of tuberculosis. At the hospital on the North Shore he had no less than 17 tests for tuberculosis and each was negative. After spending a time in hospitals he was discharged and the public health authorities in New South Wales said that he was not a public risk. Accordingly, they considered he was fit and able enough to go back to his position. However, on applying for re-instatement in his job in the Commonwealth Public Service he was astonished to find that there was a Public Service regulation which, in cases such as this, required that he must wait an additional six months before being re-employed.
This is an extraordinary state of . affairs. The public health authorities of New South Wales said that he was not a public risk as far as tuberculosis is concerned. Normally, this man would be able to get a job anywhere else, but the Commonwealth health authorities, for reasons best known to themselves, insist that he must stay out of the Commonwealth’s employment for another six months.
The position simply is that this person either is a public risk or he is not. I cannot for the life of me imagine that the health authorities in New South Wales would say that he was not a public risk if in fact he was. After all, I believe that work in this field for the Commonwealth Government is performed principally by the authorities in New South Wales. Their T.B. units are availed of by the Commonwealth and all the surveys that are conducted in the Northern Territory are done by them at the request of the Commonwealth which, of course, bears the cost. Here is the extraordinary situation of one health authority saying that the man is not a public risk and, on the other hand, the Commonwealth saying that it will not re-engage this man until the lapse of a further period of six months. When this man was admitted to both the Repatriation Hospital and the other hospital on the North Shore in Sydney, neither could find any evidence of him ever having had T.B. Every test he was subjected to by those two institutions revealed that he did not have T.B. Notwithstanding all this evidence the man is still not able to get his job back with the Commonwealth.
I do not know the reasons for the attitude that the Commonwealth adopts in this extraordinary situation or why it should go to such lengths and insist that this man cannot return to work for another six months notwithstanding the fact that he has already been cleared. This is an anomaly and it is a serious one as far as this man is concerned. He wants to get back to work. He is a married man and according to State authorities he is in a position to return to work, but the Commonwealth refuses. I hope this matter will be attended to.
– It is now 15 minutes to one o’clock and now in accordance with Standing Order No. 106 the debate is interrupted and I put the question -
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 23rd March (vide page 256), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the House take note of the following paper -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 23rd March 1965
– I was very glad to hear the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) open his statement on foreign affairs with references to the nuclear question. This is the main question confronting us and, indeed, all men. Although Australia, as a small nation, may not be one of the deciding factors, Australians, as members of the human race, must realise that this is the most important question before us. Either we must achieve effective nuclear disarmament on a controlled and world wide scale before very long or we all shall perish. This is by far the most important international question that has ever faced humanity as a whole.
It is a regrettable fact that, since the first atomic weapon was exploded in 1945, nothing has been solved. There has been only the strategy of delay. Delay is a good thing if it will, in the meantime, allow the necessary adjustment to be made. But the delays that we have been experiencing in the years since 1945 are not like that. These delays have made things worse.
At the beginning, nuclear power was held by one nation. It is now held by several and it is being acquired progressively by more and more nations. If nothing is done to control this process, sooner or later an accident will occur and the world will be destroyed. But matters are even worse than this, because those who advocate the taking of action in time are censured by the apostles of procrastination. It is as if we were in a boat drifting towards Niagara Falls and all that could be thought about was the way in which the boat should be properly trimmed.
There is triviality, not only here, but all over the world, in the approach to this question of nuclear disarmament. How, I ask, do you deal with any emerging international crisis now? How do you deal with it if one nation that holds nuclear power presses forward and proposes to involve the world in destruction if you do not give way? Do you give way to that pressure? Do you take the chance that there will always be bluff and blackmail or do you destroy the world? This is the kind of impasse into which we are being driven by this continuous procrastination, this continuous delay. The balance of terror must tip one way or the other if an attempt is made to maintain it too long. It cannot be maintained indefinitely.
The policy of containment is an idiotic policy unless there is some means of damping down the fires that raise the pressure in the boiler. The policy of containment is like trying to screw down the safety valve because one does not like the noise of escaping steam. This policy is as futile and as silly as that unless one first draws the fires. Perhaps not immediately, but ultimately, whatever may be the defects and the dangers - and they are great - we must either accept world government or perish.
These are the stark facts of international politics which we must face and which we are trying to avoid facing. We are trying to avoid facing them particularly with respect to Communist China, which is an agrressive Marxist power. I believe that, when we are thinking of the Communist Chinese, we have first to consider what their one time allies, the Russians, say about them. Every honorable member in this House should recall what was said by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) earlier in this debate. He very rightly directed the attention of the House to what the Russians had been saying about their former Chinese allies. The clearest statement that I can quote from an official text is taken from the report made by Mr. Suslov, the Communist theoretician, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow on 14th February 1964. In that report, Mr. Suslov laid it on the line. He said that Mao Tse-tung went to Moscow in 1957 and told the Russians that he proposed to get nuclear capability and that, when he had it, he would use it to advance the cause of Communism even if that meant a world war in which thousands of millions of people would perish. These are not my words. This is what we are told by Mr. Suslov about Russia’s former Chinese allies. He went on with a great deal of detail to substantiate what he had said.
It is not safe to take a Communists’s word at its face value, of course. If this were a single statement, one would perhaps disregard it. But we have to consider it in the context of history. And the context of history is that, in 1958, the year after the conference in Russia attended by Mao Tse-tung, the Soviet Union began to take a very unexpected action against its Chinese allies by withdrawing Russian technicians from China and deliberately tripping up the Chinese in their so called great leap forward. Since that time, a continuous and growing coolness at first and then a warmness of hostility between Russia and China have existed. These are the things that we observe. As we look at them, they make plausible the statement by Mr. Suslov about the aggressive intentions of Russia’s former ally.
Let me cite four lines of argument. First, we have the inherent plausibility of what Mr. Suslov has said about China, because the Chinese line was only the continuance of the Stalin plan which Russia was itself pursuing up to the death of Stalin and to which the Communists in China now adhere, boasting that they are the real Stalinists. Secondly, a plan of this character accords with the fundamental Marxist-Leninist ideology. When we look at the present contest between Russia and China and consider the epithets such as “ revisionist “ and “ reformist “ that are being hurled at the Russians by the Chinese, we realise a fundamental fact about the difference between these two countries. Both are Communist. The Russians do not want to pursue aggressive war to the point of destroying the whole world. At present, they believe that the price would be too high. But the Chinese say that no price would be too high, that they will go forward with aggressive war as soon as they have the nuclear capacity to enable them to do so and that it is their duty as Communists to do this.
If honorable members look at the texts of the classical Communists - MarxistLeninist texts - I think they will agree that the Chinese are probably more in conformity with theory than the Russians. They are better Communists and worse men in that regard.
Two points I have cited; the third I now cite, that the explanation that I have given is the only possible explanation of the observed fact, the split between Russia and China. To split up the monolithic Communist bloc needed a great force. Racialism, national antagonism and things like this are all contributing factors, but they are not sufficient to explain the observed facts, whereas the explanation given by Mr. Suslov is sufficient to explain the observed fact - this extraordinary fact that from 1958, suddenly, the Russians withdrew their technicians from China and made an attempt to trip up the great leap forward.
The fourth argument I cite is the one of the independent evidence of people like Nehru and Togliatti, the Italian Communist who has gone on record as supporting Mr. Suslov’s version of what Mao .Tsetung said in regard to his policy. I think we must accept that Communist China, which does not have significant nuclear capacity at the moment but is only a few years away from nuclear capacity on an effective scale, does intend to use this for pressure or blackmail when she has it. This is the situation that we face, and the world had better face it in time and before Communist China gets this power or the world is likely to perish.
What are the ways and means to deal with them? I heard my friend, the old gentleman who leads the Opposition, speak on this subject only a few days ago.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker.
– What is the point of order?
– I object to the word “ old “.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– The old gentleman apparently does not understand the kind of thing with which he is dealing. First, he suggested that we should do it with a conference. Here we have a contradiction in his mind, because he said also that we did not deal with France effectively when France was becoming a nuclear power. But France is one of our allies and we are in full conference with France. We are much closer around the conference table with France than we ever could be with Communist China - much closer. But did conference with France stop her from becoming a nuclear power? Not for a moment.
Then the old gentleman said that we must get Red China into the United Nations. Does he not realise that if Communist China is seated in the United Nations it goes in with a permanent seat on the Security Council and the power of veto, which means that the United Nations is paralysed? Yet that body is perhaps the one hope of the world as a means of disarming Communist China. The United Nations must not be thus paralysed by a Red Chinese veto. But the honorable member does not realise these things. He does not realise that if you say to an implacable aggressor like Communist China, “ We will do nothing but talk to you “, there can be no sensible outcome of the talk. They will disregard it If we tell them in advance that we have no weapons but our tongues, we will soon find them using bombs. So the policy put forward by the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is obviously and demonstrably ineffectual and, indeed, ridiculous.
I feel that the United Nations must take the initiative in this. The United Nations does have a duty to disarm an aggressor. This is its plain duty and it is a duty which it can perform. Under its charter the United Nations takes authority over all countries, whether they are members of the United Nations or not, and it takes as its solemn responsibility the duty of peace keeping in the world. It has powers for that purpose. The charter realises that there may be times when more than talk is necessary, and this is the plain and obvious duty of the United Nations at this moment. Since the Chinese Communists are aggressors - we know this by their actions - since they are planning nuclear aggression - we know this by the evidence of their Russian friends, backed up by the lessons of history and backed up by the fact that this is the only explanation for their break with Russia - we must act quickly and act in time. I do not advocate and have never advocated war against the Chinese people. I do advocate the enucleation of Red China. It is only necessary to destroy a few factories, if it is done in time. This weapon must be taken out of the hands of those who would destroy humanity if they can once get the nuclear capability. This must be done in time and, if it cannot be done by negotiation, force should be used - not a war, but in order to prevent war. It should be used to destroy the factories which are making nuclear material in China - not war with the Chinese people, not wholesale destruction in any way at all, but simply the removal from their hands of the weapons whereby humanity can be destroyed. This must be done in time.
Any genuine advocate of disarmament - any person who really believes in peace and knows that at some time it may be necessary to use more than words to maintain peace - will support this, because if this is not done the world faces a war terrible beyond imagination. To allow the present rulers of Red China - not the Chinese people because we have no quarrel with the Chinese people - to obtain this nuclear capacity unimpeded would be the worst betrayal of humanity possible. It would be appeasement on a scale which would make any appeasement of the Nazis or their predecessors look childish.
We have a moral responsibility in this matter. Let us go to the Chinese rulers and say: “ We will see that you have no nuclear arms. If you will not allow this enucleation to take place peacefully - we hope that you will - then, without destroying . . .
– Who are “ we “?
– “ We “ means the United Nations. If the Chinese rulers will not allow this enucleation to take place peacefully, then we must use force to destroy not the Chinese people but the few factories which can make the instruments by which the whole of humanity could perish.
– In discussing this important statement, which was presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on Tuesday night and which is his first major statement as Minister for External Affairs, I join with him in expressing concern about the nuclear holocaust which could spread over the world. I congratulated the previous Minister for External Affairs and the Government on signing the treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere. I believe that the present Minister and the Government should advocate and try to bring about a treaty banning nuclear tests underground as well as in the atmosphere. All honorable members should join with the Government in agitating for such a treaty.
There are two main outlaws in the world today, in regard to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The first is France, which has had nuclear weapons for some time and which soon will be conducting nuclear tests in the Pacific. We in Australia may suffer a great deal as a result of those tests. In the near future I will have the good fortune to represent this Parliament overseas, and I hope to visit Tahiti and study some of the problems there on my way back to Australia. I will not be one-sided on this question, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is. I condemn the testing of nuclear weapons by China as well as by France. I believe that all honorable members should join in condemning all nations which test nuclear weapons, not just one nation.
The honorable member for Mackellar said that he wants to see China denuclearised by force. He said that very clearly and very precisely. Let me remind the House that the honorable gentleman wanted to denuclearise Russia in 1945 and 1946.
– That is absolutely right,
– He says that that is absolutely right. He does not believe that there is any hope of negotiation in this world. I believe that the hope of mankind lies in negotiation. That is one of the reasons why we on this side of the House have said for many years that the only way of settling the problems of the world is to bring all nations into the family of nations, the United Nations.
That is why it is so important today that China should be brought into its rightful place in the United Nations. I know that that proposition disturbs some honorable members on the Government side of the House; but they know that some of Australia’s great allies, such as France and Great Britain - this applies both to the Conservative Government and the Labour Government of Great Britain - have supported the admission of China to the United Nations. Only by bringing nations around the table in the family of nations can we enter into discussion, solve our problems and begin to break down the barriers between nations. Negotiation is the only answer. We must have patience and tolerance if we are to bring peace to the world. Force by one nation against another will not solve our problems.
The honorable member for Mackellar read at length from a statement by Mr. Suslov, the Russian theoretician. I have read1 that statement, too. It is a particularly interesting statement. I suggest that it is a very good one to study in regard to the ideological differences between the Soviet Union and China. Contrary to what the honorable member for Mackellar said, I believe that the Russians have faith in the future, whereas it seems that the Chinese have some doubts about the future. I would put my money on the Russians, not the Chinese, in that regard.
In regard to the matter of the Americans knowing the strength of China, I suggest that all honorable members should read the 15th March 1965 issue of “Newsweek “, which is quite an informative
American newspaper. An article in that newspaper clearly defines the position and strength of China, what it can do and what it cannot do. Before I refer to that article, I point out that there was one passage in Suslov’S . statement to which the honorable member for Mackellar did not refer; namely, that the Chinese talk in one way but act in another. I think that is demonstrated by recent history in respect of North Vietnam. There have been parades and big talk in China, but so far there has been no action.
But how far can we push the Chinese? We know that some honorable members on the Government side of the House, including the honorable member for Mackellar, support General Maxwell Taylor who said only the other day that there is no limit to escalation of the war in Vietnam. Do honorable members think that escalation of the war in Vietnam will drive the Soviet Union and China apart? Of course it will not. It will drive them together. Only a madman would believe that if nuclear bombs were dropped on China the Soviet Union would stand idly by. If nuclear bombs were dropped on China in an effort to denuclearise that country, as President Johnson has said more than 100 million Americans and more than 100 million Russians would die in the first hour. Let honorable members give that a little thought.
The article in “ Newsweek “ to which I have referred states very clearly that as a result of the U2 flights everything is known about the military potential of China. It states that China has a regular army of 2i million men. When I was in China in 1960, it was estimated that China had a militia of about 12i million men. Since that time the population of the country has been increasing by about 15 million a year, so we can imagine how many would be in the militia today. The article also states - “ It’s a tough army in mountainous or jungle terrain,” appraises a U.S. expert, “but it’s no match against a modern conventional army in the open.”
Let me remind honorable members that when the Chinese fight in South East Asia they will not be fighting in the open; they will be fighting in the jungles and mountains. Therefore, the Chinese army will be something to reckon with. It will ride over anything that is in front of it. Nuclear weapons cannot be used in the jungle. That was discovered at Dienbienphu in 1954. As honorable members know, in 1954 Dulles wanted to use nuclear weapons, but the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, Anthony Eden, opposed that.
The article in “ Newsweek “ clearly states that the Chinese air force has only about 2,000 aircraft; 1,500 of them are fighter aircraft and the other 500 are bomber aircraft. It states that the Chinese navy is only a defensive navy geared to operate in shallow waters. The article clearly states that the Chinese army, navy and air force are defensive, not aggressive. Chinese aggression would be Ideological and by means of jungle warfare and subversion. This must be clearly understood: If we stand for the escalation of the war in Vietnam we will bring the ground forces of China down into South East Asia.
Now I want to discuss what is in everybody’s mind at present, namely, the problem of Vietnam. When we talk about Vietnam we should always look at the country’s historical background. Since 1858, when the French conquered the peninsula which became French Indo-China, the Indo-Chinese people, including the Vietnamese, have been oppressed, one way or another, by European races. Even during the last war when they wanted to take up arms against the Japanese the French puppet government of those days - the Vichy Government - would not arm them because it did not want to build a strong national army in Vietnam. One may recall in 1946 when the French admirals bombed and killed over 6,000 Vietnamese people at Haiphong. From then followed eight bloody years of war in French Indo-China which ended in Dienbienphu, when the might of the French Empire, represented by 40,000 troops, had to surrender to the primitive jungle men of Vietnam.
We are familiar with the Geneva Convention which -resulted in peace being brought to Vietnam. The 17 h Parallel divided the nation. Under the Geneva Agreement there was to be an elec.ion in 1956, two years after the signing of the Agreement, but President Diem refused to meet this commitment and would not hold the election. We know that Diem ruled as an autocrat in South Vietnam until 1963, when a coup overthrew him and he was assassinated. Since then we have had a game of musical chairs involving the generals of Vietnam changing sides in power politics.
That brings us to the present. Of course, the Government, and the Minister in his statement the other night, say that it is not a civil war in South Vietnam but a case of the people of North Vietnam, led by a Communist government, pushing down and trying to take over South Vietnam. I think that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) explained the position very clearly the other night when he referred to the statements of the Control Commission from 1955 to 1965. On one occasion he gave evidence, which was not given by the Minister, of the infiltration of forces from the North into the South. The position has been clearly stated by American generals, and I refer to what General Harkins said when he returned from the area in 1962. He said that in the struggle the Vietnamese people were using home-made weapons or weapons captured from the Americans. Need we refer to what Senator Wayne Morse said about people who had been investigated by the United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee? We know that there is infiltration from North Vietnam, but it is overmagnified. At least 90 per cent, of the forces and arms, equipment and everything else involved are in the South. Why has the Vietcong been able to survive for so long? Guerrilla warfare can continue only if most of the people support it. It will not survive if the people do not support it. What the Minister did not say, but which has been said by the Control Commission, is that there has been infiltration also from South Vietnam to North Vietnam. The trouble there, however, is that the people of North Vietnam do not want a bar of the infiltrators from South Vietnam, so the infiltrators do not survive for very long. It is a. civil war that is going on in South Vietnam.
The Labour Party has made its position very clear. Its Federal Executive, at its meeting held in Canberra from 4th to 6th August 1964 stated -
This Executive notes with alarm the deteriorating external and defence situation of Australia in relation to South East Asia, and the involvement of Australia by the Menzies Government in the conflict of the region.
It 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 Australian 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 re-convene and the participating nations asked to re-subscribe and honour the agreements made at this conference.
The Executive of the Labour Party has the support of world dignitaries and other governments in this attitude. It has been supported by the Government of Canada, for instance. A statement was made by Lester Pearson in this regard. General de Gaulle has expressed similar sentiments on behalf of France, and the Prime Minister of India has done likewise for his country. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, has made a similar statement and so has Pope Paul recently.
We say that there should be negotiation. We do not say, as do the North Vietnamese and the Chinese, that the American forces should withdraw before negotiations proceed. On the other hand, we do not say that the so-called infiltration from North Vietnam should cease before negotiations commence. We do not lay down any conditions. We want to see a ceasefire followed by attempts to negotiate. We believe that, as de Gaulle has said, when the negotiations start, the forces of all the great powers should withdraw. I know that many honorable members will say that the Governments of South and North Vietnam would then become puppets of the Chinese, but I ask those honorable members to read the history of the Vietnamese people. Read of thenstruggles. They have opposed the oppression of the Chinese for over 2,000 years. Do honorable members think that these people, who have opposed this oppression, will change the pattern now, succumb and become puppets of the Chinese? Surely honorable members have some faim in the Vietnamese people. Surely everything is not black and white: There are some shades in between. We know that Yugoslavia is in the Communist bloc. We know that the Poles are starting to liberalise their Communist doctrines. We know that the Rumanians have an independent policy. Why is it that the United States is giving economic aid to those three Communist powers? It admits that in Europe there is hope and that there are shades between black and white. Why should not this be the case in Vietnam?
The Minister has said that our troops are in Vietnam at the invitation of the South Vietnamese Government. I think that is laughable, because surely the Minister is not trying to tell me that there is a democratically elected government in South Vietnam which has the real support of the Vietnamese people. I ask the Minister and honorable members opposite: Which countries are participating with the Americans in Vietnam? Where are the Pakistani allies of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation? Where is Siam? Where is the Republic of the Philippines? For that matter, where are the forces of Britain and France in Vietnam? A report which appeared in the “ New York Times” on 11th September 1964 was very interesting. It stated -
Henry Cabot Lodge said today there was a possibly of bringing nine or ten more nations into Vietnam.
The report continued -
Mr. Lodge, former Ambassador to Vietnam, has been visiting European nations at President Johnson’s request to explain United States policies and intentions in Vietnam. Mr. Lodge particularly mentioned help assured by Belgium, the Netherlands, West Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Just imagine Spain giving help. The report continued - “ The outlook therefore “, he said, “ is for more flags in Vietnam and for more people in the field who will share some of the dangers and discomforts involved in helping the Vietnamese in their struggle for freedom.”
Where are those nations? Where are the Belgians? Where are the other European powers who said they would help in the struggle for freedom in Vietnam? They know the true situation in Vietnam. They know that their people do not want to be involved in an Asian war.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- May I begin my speech by congratulating warmly the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on the statement that he made to the House on Tuesday? If I may say so without impertinence, I welcomed his statement because it was refreshingly realistic. One of the qualities of intellect that today somehow bedevils our circumstance is the sheer reluctance of so many of our people to face up promptly to the realities of our existence. I regret very much that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) saw fit to reproach the Minister for his considered survey of the position of power politics in the world today. The House will recall that the Leader of the Opposition reproached the Minister for External Affairs. To say that he savaged him would be to use too extravagant a description. I wondered why it was that the Leader of the Opposition teased at the question of power for so long. The only possible explanation I could find was that he reflected upon his own circumstances - upon the fact that he has found his walk through the corridors of power in this country long, lonely and dangerous.
Turning to the speech just made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), I would disagree with a lot of it but may I bring to his bosom a sense of infinite comfort by saying that there is one matter to which he referred with which I find myself in wholehearted agreement? I am referring to the subject of recognition of Communist China. Honorable members will recall that the honorable gentleman has beseeched the House and the country to face up to the matter of recognising Communist China and bringing it into the United Nations. That is not overstating the honorable gentleman’s proposition. I think he gave us a simple and straightforward proposition. Well, may I invite those who support the honorable gentleman to face up to the sheer realities of how to get Communist China into the United Nations? First, it is now Jong established that the General Assembly of its own account cannot admit a nation to membership. There must be a recommendation from the Security Council. For a recommendation to come from the Security Council the affirmative vote of seven of the 1 1 members of the Security Council is required. Whether a matter is considered procedural or not is exposed to the veto and the question of admission of a new nation to the United Nations most certainly would not be regarded as procedural. It would be regarded as substantial. Implicit in the honorable gentleman’s proposition is the suggestion that the Nationalist Chinese, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, would vote to admit the Communist Chinese to the United Nations. This presupposes that we will recognise two Chinas - that we will recognise Communist China as an entirely new country. Now, in my humble submission this is a dilemma that remains perilously unexplored and with infinite respect I say to the honorable gentleman and to all those who contend that it is a simple matter to admit Communist China to the United Nations: It simply is not so. If you go to the other argument and say that we will withdraw the credentials of the Nationalist Chinese and accept the credentials of the Communist Chinese, you could do so in the General Assembly but certainly not in the Security Council. So you would have the absurd position of the Nationalist Chinese seated in the Security Council and the Communist Chinese seated in the General Assembly. This, I venture to say, is one of the dilemmas of our time.
I hope that nobody would interpret my remarks, discursive as they are on this matter, as arguing that the case for the admission of Communist China has been made out, because in my respectful submission it certainly has not been made out. There has been no sign whatever of the Communist Chinese wanting to respect the principles of the United Nations. So I would hope that all honorable gentlemen who may be disposed during the course of this debate to argue that the Communist Chinese should be admitted to the United Nations would, for the comfort and peace of mind of those who think as I do, explain just how you get over this problem. You have an advisory judgment of the International Court of Justice standing in your way. In 1950 the Court laid it down, simply and starkly: No admission unless there is a recommendation from the Security Council.
It is rather quaint to reflect that in 1793 when Earl Macartney, British Ambassador to China, was seeking an exchange of recognition between China and Great Britain at a time when that great tragedy of British history, George III, was on the throne, the ruler of China told Earl Macartney to take back to George III a message which concluded with the statement -
By perpetual submission to our throne you may secure peace and prosperity.
There is something of a quaint twist to history here. Certainly, today, if we were prepared to submit to the throne of Communist China we would find peace and prosperity according to the lights of the Communist Chinese but all of our liberties, as we understand them, in my opinion, would be extinguished.
I turn now to the subject of Vietnam, because the Leader of the Opposition has said a great deal about this matter. Also, 12 bishops have recently said a word or two about it. I know that to associate the Leader of the Opposition with bishops may be a rather discomforting experience for him because his association with bishops to date has not always been a happy and harmonious one. I simply say on this occasion, as one who has a filial affection for the same communion as my lord bishops, that I would hope the Leader of the Opposition would not find it too troubling an experience to be linked on this occasion with the views of the 12 bishops. Speaking in the debate on Tuesday night the Leader of the Opposition, referring to the Minister, said -
In his view, the story is a simple one of aggression from North Vietnam, which in its turn is controlled by Communist China. Surely this is not so much a wrong emphasis or an over simplification as an almost false assessment of the established facts.
That is the position of the Leader of the Opposition.
I turn now to the letter sent to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) by my 12 lord bishops. The first paragraph understandably expresses their concern about the need for a settlement of fighting in Vietnam. If I may say it to them with infinite respect, it was the following paragraph that stung me to the quick -
We are not concerned here to canvass the merits of the respective attitudes of the North and South Vietnamese Governments or of the Governments of the United States and China.
That is the position of the Bishops. I have illustrated the position of the Leader of the Opposition, who gave a touching display of belief in his own sense of infallibility. The great tragedy of Vietnam is that it simply cannot be considered in isolation. To look upon the problems that come out of South Vietnam today and to say, “ If we can only reach a settlement there, all will be well in the world “, is in my opinion a completely false and misleading assessment of the position. Sir, when the fighting ended in Indo China in 1954, the Prime Minister said -
In short, this armistice, welcome as it is, has the practical effect of substantially advancing the frontier on which the Communists stand.
The supreme danger in considering world politics today, I submit, is the temptation to fragment the world. But Marxism has a universality about it that has a far greater appeal than has the most spirited of ecumenical movements. This is the great tragedy which my Lord Bishops apparently misunderstand or do not wish to understand. More people have been won to Marx in this century than have been won to Christ in nearly 20 centuries. Is this lesson not heeded by my Lord Bishops? They say: “ In Vietnam, if we can simply cut a swathe across the 17th parallel and put searchlights and barbed wire on it, that would be an end to the problem “. I venture to say that that is a complete fallacy. We should reflect on this position: The essential philosophy of liberty in the world today has been very much eroded. We have been told that it is far better to be Red than to be dead. I regret to say that I have heard some Churchmen say this. For my part I confess that I cannot subscribe to it, because it seems to me to represent a complete abrogation of the central thesis of the Christian philosophy.
The technique of pleading in the world today in all these trouble spots is this: These are repressed people. These nations are emerging out of the colonial state and they are now passing through neo-colonialism, whatever that is. This is an agrarian revolution. This technique of pleading has almost been perfected. It is being used in South Vietnam. If we finish there today, it will probably be Thailand tomorrow, or Burma or India or Ceylon. When will it be Australia? The honorable member for Reid this afternoon, my Lord Bishops and the
Leader of the Opposition say, “ Please negotiate, please discuss “. I venture to say that it is impossible to gather much comfort and encouragement from the long record of discussion and negotiations with the Communists. The essential concept of Communism today is the dialectic. If people do not undertand the dialectic, the whole meaning of Communism’ walks past them. That is why I cannot join in the general exultation about the Sino-Soviet conflict. In my humble submission, it must be considered in the light of the dialectic and to the Communist the dialectic is his whole being. Moscow today may take a stand seemingly in opposition to Peking. But for what purpose? It may well be that the thesis of Moscow today - that there should be quieter, more gentle approaches to the problems of the world - is the antithesis of the more bellicose attitude of Peking. But the dialectic of the Marxist mind is that out of this will come a synthesis. To our advantage? I venture to say, looking back on the record: “No”.
But what of my Lord Bishops in this context? What do they have to say to the Communist manifesto which affirms the proposition that Communism abolishes all eternal truths, that it abolishes all religion and all morality? We should look at the sharp experience of the United States of America in the last 30 years. The United States has had more than 4,000 meetings with the Communists. Those meetings have been recorded in 120 million words and in 750 volumes. Fifty-two agreements have been made and 50 of them have been broken. I venture to say that there is a lesson to be drawn from the Book of Proverbs -
For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
But what of the practical effects of South Vietnam? If we ignore the theoretical approach to the universality of Marxism in the world, we should look at the views expressed in the Communist Party organ in North Vietnam, “Hoc Tap”, of January 1960. It reported the North Vietnam Defence Minister General Giap as saying -
The north has become a large rear echelon of our army … the north is the revolutionary base for the whole country.
It was left to Chou En-lai, speaking at a rally in Hanoi soon afterwards, to say this of the relationship between the two -
China and Vietnam are neighbours closely related like lips and teeth; our two peoples are brothers sharing the common weal and woe. We are both socialist countries; cur solidarity is cemented and developed under the great banner of Marxism-Leninism, and is therefore indestructible. The people of our two countries have sympathised with and supported each other, and formed a military friendship ever since our si niggle for national liberation against imperialism.
This is the view - the official view, I submit - of Communist China today and of the North Vietnamese authorities. To regard this as a separate struggle that can be isolated from the rest of our existence is, in my respectful submission, sheer nonsense.
I would, if I may, in the few moments left to me refer fleetingly to the speech made the other evening by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). He makes speeches the very nature of which would cause Mao Tse-tung, if he heard them, to vote Tory. The honorable gentleman came out with this piece of defeatism, this spineless leftist piece of rubbish - i suggest that the evidence now shows pretty conclusively that freedom and democracy cannot be won or held in this part of the world by military intervention.
What is the honorable gentleman’s stand on this? Am I to understand from his remarks that the massive armed might of Communist China can be ignored, that the standing army of Communist China of 3 million and the militia of 250 million - I venture to correct my friend from Reid on this point - have been gathered together for a peaceful purpose? Am I to understand that the ruthless crushing of the simple people of Tibet was an irrelevance both in time and fact? Am I to understand that the onslaught against the peace loving people of India was of no concern? If as the honorable gentleman says military intervention will not secure any form of salvation in this part of the world, what does the honorable gentleman suggest will? I submit that he cannot fall back and say, “ Negotiate, discuss Pandit Nehru gave the whole of his life on this earth to peace and understanding, but all his dreams were shattered by the ruthlessness of the Communist Chinese. Yet the honorable gentleman from Yarra takes this stand on military intervention. Let me say this to him and to my friend, the honorable member for Reid: I hate cruelty as much as any man does, but I also respect the tradition of free people. My hope is the same as that of the honorable member for Reid, and that is to see a world in which everybody can live out his time in peace and in happiness, to see the resources of the world directed towards securing peace and understanding, and to see a world in which there is enlightenment, hope, understanding and genuine love. These qualities do stand for something. By the same token, I despise cowardliness and irresolution with all my might and with all my being. The liberties and hopes of free people will never be attained simply by sitting down and waiting, in a mood of almost mischievous Micawberism, for something to turn up. We will defend what we have only if we are determined to do just that.
.- What a jolly fine essay. If only the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) had said something useful about the subject. Very few utterances in this place would have been made with more fluency and determination than the utterance of the honorable member. He makes six words do the work of one and five syllables do the work of two. The very fine sentiment so pleasantly expressed at the end of his speech contradicts wholeheartedly the thoroughgoing nonsense with which he filled his 20 minutes of speaking time. 1 rise today to challenge the very assumptions upon which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) made his speech on Tuesday night, and to challenge the assumptions upon which the honorable member for Moreton made his speech today, and upon which he has endeavoured to rouse the House on innumerable occasions. The Minister gave us a factual report after eight or nine months in the position of Minister for External Affairs. It was his first speech to the House since he took over the portfolio. It was the first time he chose to consult the House about international affairs, which are so important to us all. I believe that in the course of that speech he ignored a great deal of what is going on in the world. But the principal reason for which I wish to voice my opposition is the continual note of pessimism that flows from honorable members on the Government side when they are discussing foreign policy.
I do not believe that the world in general is a mischievous, hateful world. I think that in general it is a friendly world. I believe that Australia, in the last 15 years, has ignored its responsibilities as an independentminded, prosperous and useful member of the community of nations. We have tagged along in a kind of hitch-hiking diplomacy for 15 years, and done ourselves and the world a disservice. Only a few months ago I spoke to one of the very senior men of India. I said to him: “ What should we do? “ He said: “ Well, it is easy to tell other people their business. Australia ought to play a more effective, wholehearted and independent part in world affairs. It is losing its influence because it does not seem to speak for itself.” That, I think is the question before us today. It happens that Vietnam is the subject of this discussion, but I think that the question flows over the whole field of human relations.
I could take 10 points from the speech of the Minister. Let us first examine the assumptions behind it, and the morality behind it. On the general question we have to reject most of it. Let us take, first, the facts of power. The Minister said” -
Foremost in my mind as I look at the world is the fact that today force is being used -
Certainly there is a part-truth in all this - and, in such a world, in which the possession of power is the main determinant of what happens, anyone engaged in foreign affairs must recognise and study the facts of power and also recognise the reality of power politics.
This is as old as the hills. This is the ancient and incredible belief of governments that exercise power, but continually we are told that we are powerless ourselves. Every effort of this Government ought to be directed to trying to avoid the use of power and force and to bring persuasion and reason into the conduct of human affairs. Is this so impossible? He talks of power as the main determinant of human affairs. It may be the main determinant of negotiations at high government levels, but what is happening at every other level in the world today? How can the honorable member for Moreton, who says that we cannot negotiate China into the United Nations, sit so peacefully behind the Government which bases the whole of the prosperity for one of our great primary industries on negotiations for Communist Chinese money. If you can negotiate round money, you can negotiate round men. I discard the theory that there is no basis for negotiation in this matter.
There are international organisations in which force and power are not the determinants. What about the International Civil Aviation Organisation? What about the World Health Organisation? What about the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation? The whole field of human relations over the last 70 or 80 years has been based upon exercising cooperation for the benefit of people. People of countries which will not talk to one another officially, do negotiate, write letters, cross frontiers and mingle with one another without fear, let or hindrance. I have done it myself in countries which this Government does not recognise. What have I found in each instance? I have found friendly people to meet me. whether it was in Mongolia, East Berlin, West Germany or Yugoslavia - places where we are or are not represented and several we do not even recognise - it made no difference.
Let us take for a moment the statement that power is the main determinant. The Government tries to draw a line round one of the principal powers in the world and say to it, in effect, that it shall not be one of us. The Government is saying, “ We will not recognise you; you have leprosy. We have wished you out of existence “. What kind of nonsense is this? Along with the honorable member for Moreton I recognise the possible difficulties of bringing these people into the United Nations, but difficulties are there to be overcome. The fact that there were difficulties yesterday and the day before, or even 50 or 60 years ago, should not daunt us when we are trying to solve these problems. The world is coming together. Barriers are falling. Whereas 10 or 12 years ago it was difficult to visit the countries of eastern Europe, it is now possible to drive by car from London to Moscow and back. It is the continuous policy of this Government to attempt to build up tensions, unrealities and hates in the world which are more apparent than real.
– The honorable member who has interjected would not be here if his Government did not try to instil this into the minds of the people of Australia. I admit that within a jet flight of us are most of the problems in the world, but once you get beyond that area and into Europe you find that the barriers are falling, lt is not so long ago in this House that honorable members on the Government side were telling us about the threats and perils involved in the Berlin issue. We were told that we would be racing off to fight in Germany at any tick of the clock. That did not happen. Somehow the nations managed to negotiate themselves out of that peril. If we were able to turn our minds and diplomatic strength to the task I feel certain that we could negotiate ourselves out of the present perils to our north. Do not think that I do not realise how real they are. When we talk of war, let us not forget that there are plenty of people in Australia who know what it means to the customer at the other end
I challenge the morality of the Minister’s statement. It is all right for the people who sit in the seats of power in the world to say that this is a world of power, but for us - and we represent most of humanity - who are without much power, the essential thing is to try and find new fields of cooperation. I do not go along all the way with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on world government, but I see the seeds of hope and optimism sometimes when I hear him talk about it. He might not have meant to be optimistic, but at least there is some kind of hope in what he said. It is not power that will solve the world’s problems; it will be cooperation and negotiation that will enable nations to get along together.
Let us consider another issue - ths admission of China to the United Nations. Here again there has been inconsistency on the part of the Government. The Minister said that so long as the Peking regime continues to threaten the Chinese Nationalist Government and the people of Formosa and to promote the export of revolution, mainland China should not be admitted, or words similar to that. That is a very commendable and idealistic sentiment. China is being mischievous. It is threatening people over the Straits of Formosa. The principle enunciated by the Minister is very sound if we are going to stick to it. One of the smallest nations of the world, and one of the most democratic, is the nation of Israel. It is surrounded by Arab nations which are its sworn enemies. At every international conference - and I attended three last year - every Arab who. spoke said: “ We are going to crush Israel”. Most of the nations who adopted that attitude have been admitted to the United Nations, either as a result of our abstentions from voting or with the agreement of the Government of which the Minister is a member.
If it is good enough to exercise this principle in the Formosan Strait it is good enough to exercise it in the Mediterranean. Conversely, if it is good enough to be freeminded about it in the Mediterranean, that ought to apply equally in the Formosan Strait. It would be fair enough if the Government were to exercise its policy in a consistent way in other things. Only recently I heard that Qantas was negotiating to land in Israel. The Arabs said: “ You cannot do that. If you do that, you will lose our business,” What did this powerpunching Minister of ours do? What did the Government of this proud, independent spirited, democratic nation do about it? It said: “ All right, we will not go to Israel “. What kind of country have we become?
– You know that is quite false.
– Is it?
– Yes, because the answer was given to you at question time correcting your mistake about it.
– Qantas has not landed in Israel. What steps has the Government taken to get free passage for the Israelites up the Suez Canal?
– You are making statements which you know are false.
– I did not know they were false. If they are false, I am very pleased to hear it, and I congratulate the Minister. I do not know when the Minister was in Israel last, but I was there in October and I was told that Qantas would not land there and the reason given to me was that we had surrendered to the blackmail of the Arab people in this regard. If that has not happened, then I shall withdraw the statement. If I have been wrongly informed about it, then I suppose it is my error. But if the Government does not keep honorable members correctly informed, then it is part and parcel of its responsibility, too. The Government has not opposed the admission of the Arab nations to the United Nations and they are continually threatening the existence of Israel. Yet it does oppose the admission of China on the grounds that it threatens the existence of other nations. The Government is inconsistent in that regard. I regret it if I made a false statement about the airlines, but the Government still is inconsistent.
What is the question about Vietnam itself? The Minister said in his speech that what is happening in South Vietnam is not a local rebellion. I think the fact that we should face is that Vietnam is or ought to be a nation in its own right. The Minister says that the trouble is caused not by internal discontent but by the application of certain methods. When we look into the matter, we find there is an attempt to imply that this is not something associated with the Vietnamese people at all. I say that the question involved is the nationhood of the Vietnamese people. For 2,000 years the people of Vietnam, on and off, have been a nation of one sort and another. For 2,000 years, they have been contesting their existence with the Chinese. Even as recently as the surrender of the Japanese at the end of 1945, the Chinese who came down from the north spread terror and confusion throughout the countryside. There is not much reason to believe that the Chinese would exercise any long and continuing influence in Vietnam provided the country is free. So far as I know, there has been no evidence produced that the north Vietnamese Government is under Chinese control. Admittedly it is a Communist Government, not an independent, free Government in the sense in which we use those terms, but we have to examine these things from the point of view of how we can bring about peace.
Therefore, we come to the point suggested by the Minister that it is not valid to discuss negotiations. I believe that is one of the fallacies of our foreign policy. In my view, all peace will come either from negotiation or the total destruction of the contestants. You can only have total surrender, or you must negotiate. I see no reason why we should not be represented in North Vietnam. The British are represented there. The British Consul General at Hanoi, Mr. J. K. Myles Ponsonby, has arrived recently but the British have been represented since May 1962. I believe that one of the deficiencies of our foreign policy has been our failure to establish recognition with a number of countries and to establish representation over the widest possible area. I just do not see how you can possibly get down to cases until you are prepared to negotiate face to face. This, of course, is how the cease fire was achieved in 1954.
As I said earlier, Vietnam happens to be the theme of this debate, but the principles that are involved are world wide. These are some of the sentiments expressed by the Minister’s predecessor, the present Chief Justice of the High Court, at the School of Political Science last year -
I see no profit as a general rule in communicating with the Ministers and diplomats of other nations through the columns of the Press. I prefer direct communication, preferably face to face, which lacks the embarrassment of publicity and engenders confidence in the continuous quiet exchange of significant views, not merely through protestations in terms of crises and approaching crises.
I believe that our role is to have the widest possible representation, to get our Australian men and women representatives on the ground in the places where the crises are and to bring to bear the effective diplomatic forces of which this country is capable. That is our role. There is very little we can do in the field of power, but there is a lot we can do in the field of negotiation and personal influence. So I discard the idea that this is a nonnegotiable contest. If we do accept the fact that there is no negotiation, we have to accept the fact that we are going to completely destroy the power of the people of North Vietnam to resist because now there is an undeclared war in North Vietnam.
What does that involve? Have we no lessons to learn from history? What happened when we got close to the Chinese border in Korea? The whole weight of China was thrown into the fray, the conflict went on for a long time and thousands of lives were lost thereby. All through his tory, peace has come by negotiation. At all points of history it has been found possible to negotiate. As I said earlier, the barriers of the world are falling down. It is not long since we were contesting the idea of Britain entering the Common Market because the almost perpetual enemies - the French and the Germans - had chosen to join together. When the barrier between the French and the Germans falls down it is possible for the barriers to fall down over most of the world.
I feel hopeful about this. Why has not this Government exercised its influence to have the agreement that was entered into in 1954 carried out? One of the final statements in that agreement was -
In order to ensure that sufficient progress in the restoration of peace has been made, and that all the necessary conditions obtain for free expression of the national will, general elections shall be held in July 1956, under the supervision of an international commission composed of representatives of the member states of the International Supervisory Commission.
Why was not that plebiscite held? Why were the free elections not held? It may have been the fault of the North Vietnamese, or the South Vietnamese. I am not sure. I have not been able to place the blame exactly. In a letter from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the British representatives in Moscow, the following statement was made -
As the Government of India justly point out in their letter, the South Vietnam authorities “ benefit from the Geneva Agreements in the defence afforded by the Cease Fice Agreements and also by the work of the International Supervisory Commission” and at the same time refuse to implement the provisions of the agreement concerning the unification of the country by means of the holding of free elections.
During the debate one honorable member said that the division in 1954 was the final solution. It was not. lt was envisaged from the very beginning that it would be a question of the reunification of Vietnam through a free election, and this is where we have to exercise our influence.
This morning, a question was asked about self-determination in West New Guinea. We cannot allow matters of international moment such as this to go unchallenged. There are a number of other principles on which I think the Minister is in error. I think his statement that the exposure of North Vietnam to military risk was the only way in which you could produce a final result was a rather abstract and academic attitude to take to the question of humanity and the threat of war. I do not believe that this is a valid assumption for Australia to make. I think the whole of humanity is held to ransom when we use such phrases as: The struggle for peace is a global struggle. I do not believe this is so. Certainly across the globe there are matters that threaten world peace, but most of them are not matters between nations. For instance, the question in Cyprus has embroiled the Turks and Greeks but it is contained within Cyprus itself. Let me now quote from a statement on Russia by the Minister’s predecessor when speaking before the Institute of Political Science referring to the 50 million people whom it was presumed were lost and killed by famine and civil war over the last 40 years. He said -
Losses of this order well spread as they must be through the community, must lead to and produce an anxiety to avoid war and to have a society peacefully supported.
I realise that the threat to world peace is involved in South East Asia, but the great disappointment to me is the failure of Australia to exercise not a neutralist, not a pacifist - I do not even know if it can be described as independent - but a forceful, self-reliant attitude in these matters. We cannot rely on others. There have been conflicts between America and Britain over various points of view and we cannot rely on them independently. We have to bring to bear our own points of view for the sake of humanity and for our continual preservation. We hope we will be here for all time, no matter what the people of other countries do. They may go, but we will still be here. It is important that we establish the attitude that, so far as Australia is concerned, so long as there is no definite aggression against us, no question is nonnegotiable. The small nations of the world, such as Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Australia, have a great burden to bear in trying to bring into human relations at the international level a spirit of optimism, co-operation and negotiation.
.- -Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has just made a speech that was full of inaccuracies and idealistic, wishful, hopeful thinking. He made great play on the word “ hope “. I am afraid that if one kept on relying on hope one would not get many results.
– Don’t you believe in hope?
– If the honorable member for Wilmot will listen he will learn. The honorable member for Wills made many misleading statements. He devoted quite some minutes of his speech to the word “ negotiation “, but he did not say that it takes two sides to negotiate. He did not say anything about the continual offers of the United States of America to negotiate with the other side, the North Vietnamese and the Red Chinese. The continual offers made by the United States were not mentioned by the honorable member for Wills, yet he spent about 10 minutes speaking about negotiation. I think this just underlines his unrealistic approach.
I want to comment also on the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on Tuesday night. I think that people in Australia who think about foreign policy deeply would have been most disturbed to hear what he had to say. He, in common with other speakers on the Opposition side of the chamber, did not even criticise, let alone condemn, Communism or the Communists in Vietnam and other parts of the world. He insinuated that all the fault lay with the United States and its allies. In not one word of his speech did he even criticise the Communists, and I read his speech extremely carefully. This must be most disturbing to the people of Australia. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) pursued exactly the same line. In addition to not criticising Communism, the Leader of the Opposition dismissed the Communist Party in Australia as an impotent but very vocal minority. Surely the Leader of the Opposition cannot say that the Communist Party in Australia is impotent when it holds so many key positions in key unions in this country. It can turn the power off in Victoria in five minutes, it can close down the waterfront of Australia in ten minutes, and it can paralyse the transport of this country. This is the Communist minority that the Leader of the Opposition described as being impotent.
The honorable member for Yarra, in an extremely sinister manner, mentioned the use of gas in Vietnam. He insinuated that poisonous gas had been used by the Americans. The truth of the matter is that it was a gas that has been used quite commonly by various police forces to control riots in other countries from time to time. The honorable member for Yarra also referred to a report of the International Control Commission. He said that in one part of the report the Commission had held that there had been infiltration and help for the Vietcong from North Vietnam. Then he went on to say that in another part of the report the Americans were criticised for breaking Article 19 of the Geneva Agreement, by offering more assistance to South Vietnam than the Agreement allowed. The honorable member said -
In all fairness and justice to a situation which may involve the world in war, why are both sides not stated?
Fancy the honorable member saying that. He knew very well that he was not stating both sides by just baldly quoting from the report. He knew very well that, as was pointed out by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) when he was acting Minister for External Affairs in 1962. the only reason the Americans had contravened Article 19 of the Geneva Agreement was that the Republic of Vietnam had requested increased military aid from the United States because of the grave threat to the country’s stability and security posed by the long history of flagrant breaches of the Geneva Agreement by the Communists of North Vietnam. This was the reason why the Americans were forced to break certain provisions of the Agreement.
In relation to the situation in South Vietnam, and the conflict between Indonesia and Malaysia - the two matters to which the statement of the Minister for External Affairs particularly referred - I want to mention a point which I feel was overlooked by honorable members. It is important for us to think about the history of South East Asia in order to understand the present situation. We must learn as much as we can about the area. The ancient history of the entire South East Asian area is a major subject of study at the various military training colleges throughout Indonesia, in particular, and in other parts of South East Asia. This historical background plays an extremely important part in the decisions that are arrived at by the leaders of the various nations. We cannot hope to persuade them to solve their problems by using our way of logic, because they have many ancient and traditional methods that seem extremely strange to us. I refer to such things as astrology, folk lore and legends and the gods that they worship. European people must comprehend these things. We just have to realise that this is what happens in South East Asia, and that the people there, when making decisions, use factors that we are not used to in any way.
The great variety of races and religions that exist in South East Asia pose an inbuilt problem that has been there for centuries. It is a problem that will be very hard to solve although it is causing much of the present difficulty. However, I have no doubt that at least part of the trouble in South East Asian countries was caused by the imperialistic, colonial type of rule that existed in this area, mainly from about 1860 until the turn of the century. This was the time when Europeans thought that they were the chosen people and that the world would inevitably be under their rule and domination. So the English, the French and the Dutch proceeded to cut up South East Asia. They ruled over segments which were pretty evenly divided. The English had India and Burma, the French had Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and the Dutch had Indonesia and most of Borneo.
All these countries were ruled by various European nations which, although they developed the natural resources and helped to promote progress, probably made no attempt to make themselves really accepted by the local people. As a result, the local people were never particularly happy about being ruled by Europeans and were merely waiting for the chance to display the sort of nationalist spirit that is so evident at present. I believe, therefore, that we can attribute a lot of the trouble to colonial rule and the methods that were used by European nations in ruling their empires. I touch on those points of history briefly because it is extremely important that we consider them.
In South Vietnam we now have a new Prime Minister, Mr. Quat. The inevitable question is: How long will he last? I must admit that I was slightly encouraged when I read last week that Brigadier-General Nguyen Cao Ky, the commander of the South Vietnamese air force, had said in quite determined fashion that the military leaders were sick of coups and intended to support the new Prime Minister. Furthermore, the unified Buddhist movement announced in a communique that it intended to curtail its political activities, which had been a major source of government upheavals, and support the new Government. II. seems to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to be of immense importance that governmental stability be achieved. I am perfectly well aware that this is not an easy task, but it should be possible of achievement if Mr. Quat is a good man and if he has the support of enough of the military leaders and also of the Buddhist movement. This movement is extremely important in South Vietnamese affairs, because about 90 per cent, of the people belong to the Buddhist religion. Therefore, the views of the Buddhist leaders and their adherents should be given due weight.
If the new Prime Minister has the support of these two major forces, the Americans and the Australians also should support him ideologically, with trained advisers and if necessary with military assistance. It seems to me that if there is a good man at the head of the Government of South Vietnam and he is backed by a good team, he should be given whatever military protection is required to maintain a stable government. There is no doubt that governmental instability in South Vietnam has been one of the major causes of the troubles that exist there and especially of the weakness of the resistance to the Communists in that part of the world.
As we know, the war in South Vietnam has been extended by the United States of America attacking North Vietnamese supply areas. These tactics appeal to me. For too long, the North Vietnamese leaders and their Chinese masters have been able to sit peacefully and serenely in their glass houses in North Vietnam. I use the expression “ glass houses “ because we all know of the old saying that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The leaders of North Vietnam and their Chinese masters have believed themselves safe in the knowledge that they could send into South Viet nam ammunition, supplies and men trained in terrorist tactics and ruthless warfare, without any fear of reprisals by United States attacks. The Communists from the North believed that they could destroy United States and South Vietnamese property in South Vietnam without any destruction being wrought in their own territory. Obviously, one makes an opponent much more aware that the game is on and the struggle is joined if one drops a few bombs round his ears. This gives the opponent the idea that two can play the game of destroying the property of others.
I am sure that President Johnson, before ordering the escalation of the war in South Vietnam, thought in these terms: “If we keep going as we are, we shall lose. We shall have to surrender and get out of South Vietnam and the Communists will win. If we reciprocate and adopt aggressive tactics, at least there will be a chance that we shall not lose.” I believe the United States President bears a terrible and unenviable responsibility not only for his own country but also for the rest of the world. I consider that he has acted with wisdom, restraint and sound judgment. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Wilson, supported the American action and pointed out, as I mentioned earlier to the honorable member for Wills, that the United States had continually offered to negotiate with the opposing forces and to observe the Geneva Agreement. But, as I said earlier also, it takes two sides to negotiate.
I now turn to the scene in Indonesia and Malaysia, where there is another very serious trouble spot. There is no doubt that the Government and people of Australia are extremely perturbed about the fact that our forces have been ordered to the borders of Sabah, which was formerly British North Borneo, where, unfortunately, one of our soldiers was killed yesterday and two others seriously injured. For these casualties, we all express deep regret. In the broad scene, it is extremely disturbing that our troops are lined up against the Indonesian forces with every possibility of deadly combat ensuing in a short time. We know that the Indonesian forces are under the personal direction of President Sukarno, who has been elected President of Indonesia for the rest of his life and whose recent activities and attitude in world affairs have been characterised by consistent irresponsibility, showmanship and disregard of even the most elementary rules of international conduct. His withdrawal of Indonesia from the United Nations and his last minute renunciation of his intention to conduct negotiations with Tunku Abdul Rahman are typical of his irresponsible attitude.
Another cause for deep concern with respect to Indonesia, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the strength of the Indonesian Communist Party, which is waiting to take control, with the stage pretty well set for it to do so in spite of the protestation that the Indonesian Army can defeat the Communists if there is any attempt at a takeover. The tactics being used by the Indonesians conform to the familiar Communist revolutionary strategy of initiating guerrilla raids. The Communists do not care about losing a few volunteers if, in the process, they tie up 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 troops in certain areas, create much nervous tension and, generally speaking, by these tactics shake the morale of the people against whom they are moving.
The principal objective of the Indonesians is to ensure that the new nation of Malaysia is not on any account allowed to settle down and have a chance to grapple with the inevitable problems of the Malaysian people that must be dealt with. The Malaysians are well aware that a lot of Malay people are in Indonesia. The Indonesians are attempting to play on this fact by asserting that the great number of Malays in both Malaysia and Indonesia should really be aligned in fighting the Chinese. They are using the tactics that are causing the riots in Singapore and in Malaysia between the Chinese and the Malays. We all hope that this trouble will not multiply into extraracial tension.
Another factor mentioned by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was our reliance in the past on the possibility that the Indonesian economy would collapse. We have been saying this for some years now; but, although inflation has been rife, its balance of payments has been non-existent and it is in debt to many nations, Indonesia shows no outward sign of bankruptcy.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First, let me say how pleasing it is to see that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has remained in the House during this debate. His approach to the debate is different from that of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), who has just sat down. The honorable member for Indi seems to be of the opinion that unless a member attacks Communists or the Communist Party he fails to make a contribution to this important debate. If that is what he expects of me he will be as disappointed as he has been with the remarks of most honorable members on this side of the chamber. He chided the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) for some inaccuracies. Any honorable member who speaks on foreign affairs could really make many blunders and be pardoned for some inaccuracies because very few of us, including myself, are well informed on this subject. I acknowledge freely that I grope in the dark and try to obtain as much information as I can. I ask for pardon if I make a few inaccurate statements. I hope that we will not all be chided in the way that the honorable member for Indi chided the honorable member for Wills.
Let me say at the outset that war is hell, bloody and gruesome and has always been so. War will always result in unhappiness. Wars in the days of bows and arrows, the Boer War, the 1914-18 War, the Spanish Civil War, the last Great War and the little wars that have continued since have all brought unhappiness to the people of the world. War cannot be made better by the choice of weapons or by using nice descriptions for methods of killing people. The dead are dead, and to them it makes little difference whether death was caused by a bayonet thrust, a hand grenade, a mine explosion, a conventional bomb or even a nuclear bomb or poison gas. Death - cold death - is the result of war, and the only way in which we can stop this gruesome result is to outlaw all methods of war and to outlaw war itself.
It seems that it is only a cherished hope that we will ever achieve that aim. Even if we decided that wars would be resolved by physical fitness they could still result in death. People would be strangled or forces would be killed by some other method. Just as no murder is nice, no war can be made better by selecting a particular weapon with which to fight. Each country engaged in war claims that it is in the right. Each country alleges that the other has committed atrocities. Atrocities are part and parcel of war, and so long as war exists so long will atrocities occur. Each country claims that it wants peace and acts as though it is the only one concerned with peace and the cessation of hostilities. No one section, no one party and no one country has a monopoly on the claim to be peace loving or the right to claim that it alone is the real worker for world peace.
No one member or group of members in this Parliament can claim to be an authority on the subject of foreign affairs or even to have knowledge of happenings in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, South East Asia generally or other parts of the globe. Most of the ideas expressed depend upon the authority that has been accepted and on whatever views of news correspondents coincide with their own. Although honorable members consistently refer to the inaccuracies of journalists in Australia who are reporting on Australian politics at home, for some reason they willingly accept the reports from journalists abroad. They will accept views despatched from journalists overseas, but if the very same journalists were reporting the proceedings of this Parliament honorable members would be warning the people against inaccuracies in their reports. Indeed, we have had the situation in which a journalist in the Press gallery sent despatches from overseas when he was there and we thought that they were pretty good reports; but we found when he came back to Australia that his reports were the most coloured and most fantastic of all. So I warn people not to place too much reliance on journalists who despatch to this country what are purported to be accurate reports from Vietnam or anywhere else.
The world has been shocked by the announcement that gas has been used by South Vietnam forces and that the gas was supplied by the United States Government for use by them against the Vietcong guerrillas. The Press has put fear into the world with headlines such as that which appeared in the “Daily Mirror” of Tuesday, 23rd March. In the newspaper of that date the following headlines appeared -
Gas - Vietnam War Horror
Anger in UK Press.
Britain’s national Press joined in the uproar of criticism today against the US gas attack.
The report then quotes comments that appeared in the “Times”, the “Daily Mail “, the “ Daily Sketch “, the “ London Sun “, and then stated under a heading “ 1 Backer”-
Only the “Daily Express” defended the American gas attack. Its science writer, Chapman Pincher, said nerve gas incapacitated an enemy without causing permanent injury. It was far more humane than bullets or bombs.
Pincher suggested that were a world police force ever created, nerve gas would be the kind of weapon it should use.
The headlines in that newspaper, as one would expect, frightened the people of Australia, and similar reports throughout the world put fear into the hearts of people because they immediately conjured up the thought that the gas used was chlorine gas, mustard gas or a gas similar to either. But we learn that it was not such a gas. There is some justification for people being up in arms and in revolt at the suggestion that gas is to be used. Yet, as I have said many times, if you kill people it is murder, whichever way you do it.
It is pleasing to know that this Parliament has not debated the use of gas or resorted to the subject in some way to try to discredit America before knowing the full facts concerning its use. I freely admit that I know very little about it and that I am anxiously waiting for the Minister for External Affairs to tell us more about it when he has the information. I hope that the subject will be discussed coldly and logically in the light of all the information that we possess. All that we have now is a report such as that which appeared in the “Daily Mirror” or some other newspaper. For that reason I have gone to some trouble to try to find out what the Americans have said about the use of gas in reports that they have furnished to the Press. Although I do not speak with any authority, I believe that the people of Australia should be informed about some of the statements that have been issued by the United States authorities. A spokesman for those authorities stated -
In tactical situations in which Vietcong intermingle with or take refuge among non-combatants, rather than use artillery or aerial bombardment, Vietnamese troops have used a type of tear gas in the area.
It is a non-lethal type of gas which disables temporarily, making the enemy incapable of fighting. Its use in such situations is no different than the use of disabling gases in riot control. The gas is released from dispensers operated by Vietnamese personnel in helicopters.
It has been stated that this gas is commercial gas which is readily obtainable and which is stocked by police authorities throughout the world and used by them. The statement issued by the Americans also said -
The use by Vietnamese forces of tear gas instead of bullets is saving the lives of civilians seized by the Communist Vietcong, who in typical gangster style have been pushing innocent women and children between themselves and Republic of Vietnam troops clearing rural areas of the marauding guerrillas.
Government troops on selected occasions have used tear gas tactically in order to avoid civilian casualties which might result from the use of artillery or other weapons.
It may well be that the use of this gas is saving lives instead of destroying lives. I have put those statements on record only because I believe that they set out briefly some of the views and reasons which have been given by the United States authorities in respect of the use of the gas. The authorities have also stated that they believe that the use of the gas does not conflict with the protocol on gas warfare which was signed at Geneva on 17th June 1925. Today I asked the Minister for External Affairs a question about this matter. He was good enough to say that he would seek clarification of it and let me know about it. I believe that this is an important matter and one that the Parliament and the people should know about.
The winds of change have blown strongly in the realm of independence for formerly colonial peoples. It could well be that the winds of change are now blowing in the field of war and that some battles may be won without maiming, injuring or killing, but by the use of this gas. One news columnist has asked this question: Do we prefer hiccups to howitzers? I guess that if I were one of the people involved 1 certainly would prefer the hiccups to being shelled by artillery. But what I am afraid of is ‘the psychological effect that the use of this gas may have on our Asian neighbours. There is no doubt that it will have a great psychological effect on them if they believe that we are prepared to gas Asian people but that we would not use gas on any other people. If this gas is what the Americans claim it is, all the diplomatic skill of not only the United States and Australia but of all the Western powers will be needed to get our Asian neighbours to understand just what it is.
On 23rd March the United States spokesman stated that he was not aware that the United States had consulted with other countries before supplying the gas to the South Vietnamese forces, and up to that date he was not aware that any complaints about its use had been received from any other government. That statement indicates that closer consultation between the Western powers is necessary. Whenever a drastic change in battle tactics is to be made, that change should be made known to all the Allied forces. In fairness to the Americans, it must be stated that this gas was first supplied to the South Vietnamese forces in 1962 and it has been used only on rare occasions since that time.
Whilst we should be concerned about Vietnam and about the casualties on both sides - whether they are in the Vietcong ranks or in the South Vietnamese ranks - and we also should be concerned about casualties in Malaysia, Indonesia or any other part of the globe, I suggest that at times we should pause and spare a thought for our own Australian nationals who are in these theatres of war. I am referring not to members of our forces but to public servants such as officers of the Department of External Affairs. I am referring not to the ambassadors or the diplomats in the real sense of the word, but to the loyal Australian public servants - men and women - who serve this country abroad. For instance, in Singapore and Djakarta bombs may be planted, not to attack our diplomats but to blow up buildings and, in the process, Australian citizens are placed in danger. Those people deserve our commendation. They also deserve a thought or two. When we worry about the rest of the world, we should think of our own people who are serving overseas in our interests.
Today the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” carried two front page articles about Indonesia. The Government rightly has announced that it will continue aid to Indonesia. The Labour Party believes that such aid should be continued. But it makes me very sad when I pick up a newspaper and read a headline such as this: “Australian casualties. Sergeant killed, 2 wounded”; and on the same page I read this headline in big type: “Australia will continue aid to Indonesia “. If Indonesia continues with its confrontation of Malaysia, some time in the future this question must he asked: How long can such aid be continued? We all hope that Indonesia will reverse its decision to leave the United Nations. We can do little with Indonesia while it is outside the world forum. We should make every endeavour to bring Indonesia back into the United Nations, because in that body lies the only hope of mankind. We must also be very severe in our warnings that if Indonesia continues the way it is going the time may well come when we will not be able to ask the Australian taxpayers to pay for aid to it. I hope that we will get Indonesia back into the world forum.
I hope that the day is not far distant when we will be able to convince the governments and peoples of the world that total disarmament is the only answer to war, and when we will outlaw war. As I said at the beginning, whether people are killed with a knife, gas, a conventional bomb or a nuclear bomb, the result is the same - death, gruesome and cold. The United Nations is the hope of mankind. I hope that the day is not far distant when we will be able to say with the poet -
Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle flags were furl’d In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
.- We have just had another sincere contribution from the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) - the sort of contribution we have come to expect from him. When he outlined his views on the horrors of war I must confess, without intending offence, that I did not get much out of his speech about how he proposed they should be cured. However, I do not think this matters very much. I thank the Minister for Exter nal Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) for his presence in the House during the entire debate. I admire his staying powers, but I admire more the courtesy he pays to the Parliament in being here when the House discusses this vital subject. It gives one a good feeling to speak as a back bench member of the Parliament knowing that his views, and the views of other honorable members, are being registered with the Minister. I am sure the Minister would not have been disappointed with the standard of the debate so far from both sides of the House. I think it has been extraordinarily high.
I should like to single out what I believe was one of the best speeches I have heard in this place on any subject. It was delivered two nights ago by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I can pay no higher compliment than to tell him that after hearing his speech I virtually rewrote my entire speech, so impressed was I with his contribution. I should like to comment briefly on what he said. I disagree with nothing he said. I believe he could have gone further in some respects, but this is no criticism of him; he was limited by time. At the outset he said -
There is developing in some countries of the Western world almost a philosophy of demanding the “getting out of” such situations as that in Vietnam. . . . The only thing I would like to say about this “getting out of” philosophy is that it does not go far enough.
Later he said -
There is a perfect willingness on the part of China to negotiate on how the United States gets out of South Vietnam, not on whether it gets out.
He then made it perfectly clear that if the United States got out of South Vietnam that would be tantamount to handing it over to the Communist forces, motivated by China and Communist North Vietnam.
– He wanted both sides out.
– That is precisely what I am saying. I am not surprised that my eulogising the honorable member for Fremantle should upset the honorable member for Wilmot, but the honorable member for Fremantle is one member opposite whose objectivity and clear thinking are admired by all members on this side. In striking contrast to the honorable member for Fremantle, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) devoted 5 minutes of his 20 minutes to denigrating the United States again, and the remainder of his speech to trying to prove, with evidence of at least doubtful veracity, that Red China and Communist North Vietnam were as innocent as new born babes in motivating and encouraging war in South Vietnam. He then drew the childish inference that if the United States laid down all forms of resistance and negotiated - this mysterious undefined word again - the entire problem would be solved.
I do not want to impugn the honorable member’s motives, but I believe that the imp let ion of his policies would inevitably lead to global disaster. I believe, with both the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for Yarra, that it would be one of the greatest single acts in the history of the world if all the great powers - both sides, Communist and nonCommunist - ceased military intrusion into the affairs of smaller countries. That statement is so true it is almost trite. Think for a moment of the enormous benefits which would accrue even to a rich nation like the United States of America. It would make President Johnson’s dream of the Great Society come true so much quicker if all the material and human resources were expended for the benefit of mankind. Think of what would happen in countries like South Vietnam, Malaysia and India if all of their resources could be devoted to improving the lot of their citizens. But, Mr. Speaker, one of the great tragedies of our time is that wherever there is a small, newly emerging sovereign State there is an ever present predator ready to attack and devour.
If the honorable member for Yarra honestly believes that the United States withdrawal from South Vietnam would allow the South Vietnamese people to determine their own future without further bloodshed we must respect his view while at the same time vigorously opposing it. However, if he does not believe this, but believes that United States withdrawal from South East Asia would result in Communist takeovers in South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand - as I believe and as I think 90 per cent, of honorable members in this House believe - and still advocates withdrawal, then he is guilty of an act for the consequences of which I personally would not care to be answerable.
We are again receiving calls from surprising quarters for negotiation by Malaysia. What does this word “ negotiation “ mean? I have yet to find one of the proponents of negotiation who will define what he means by it. Malaysia is a sovereign State threatened with destruction by Indonesia because it, Malaysia, has committed the atrocious crime of coming into existence. To President Sukarno Malaysia has to justify its reasons for wanting to live. I do not know whether it is because of the inadequacy of our language, but our newspapers have quoted countless times President Sukarno’s use of the word “ crush “ - he will “ crush “ Malaysia. The Javanese word which President Sukarno uses on these occasions is “ mengganyang “, the literal translation of which is not “ to crush “, but “ to eat, digest or devour “. This is an entirely different meaning. Here we have his confessed aim to chew up, digest and absorb Malaysia. This; is his categorical statement. How, in these circumstances, could one reasonably expect a duly constituted sovereign State like Malaysia to negotiate? What would it negotiate? Its right to live? That is all that could be placed on the bargaining table. We should, of course, remember that every Communist or every dictator who comes to the negotiating table comes with the philosophy, “What is mine is mine and what is yours is negotiable “.
If the United States contains Communist aggression in South Vietnam and if the British and ourselves and others contain Indonesia’s aggression in Malaysia, this will not be any solution to the enormous long-term problems which face the world. The fanatical dedication of Red China to domination of the world still tragically remains, and Australia is undeniably in the sights for conquest by this nation at a relatively early date. If I can be critical of Western policy over the years, I find myself unable to be critical of what it has done but critical of what it has not done. I appreciate that it is always easy to be wise after the event, but certain events have happened. My point is that from the history of the last 10 years we, and our friends, should have learned some lessons. It would be criminal negligence if we allowed those lessons to go unheeded during the next few years. I believe that in the past too many situations have been allowed to reach crisis point before action has been taken. The South Vietnamese position began to deteriorate 10 years ago, immediately following partition, but effective palliative measures were introduced far too late.
It can hardly be said by anybody that Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Indonesia are now kindly disposed towards the West. Effective Communist subversion has been taking place in all of these places since the mid 1950’s. I confess to being a devout optimist about the long-term destiny of international Communism. I believe that the system itself, by its very nature, unleashes a centrifugal force which is set on a course of self-destruction. We have already seen this to some extent in Russia, where forces motivating from within have caused the rulers of Russia to abrogate principles which they once held and to take a more general and relaxed view of the situation. I believe that international Communism, by raising material and intellectual standards of certain areas of an elite among its population, will bring about its eventual downfall. I am not saying that Communism has been destroyed in Russia but it has been revised and changed since its earliest concept by these internal forces. Although this has happened relatively quickly in Russia I would not expect it to happen as quickly in China. But, still being a devout optimist, I would expect it to happen one day.
We must compare the two kinds of philosophy in Russia and China. In Russia the revolution was relatively quick and, compared with China, relatively bloodless. As far as China is concerned, there was a long, tortuous, bloody and vicious war moving from the country slowly towards the city. Now you have the Mao Tse Tungs of this world believing that because they themselves have been through this, the only way to world conquest is by the spilling of blood and1 the killing of human beings. But as China and the countries around it advance, I believe - I hope I am not being foolishly optimistic - that centrifugal forces will be released from within and may soften China’s policy in the future. I am not hopeful that this will happen in the next 10, 20 or 30 years; it may take up to 50 years. During this time the West must contain Communist aggression. If we fail before that distant time arrives the world will be subject to Communism. I say this with great respect: The only alternative as I see it to this self-destroying force is an overt act of destruction on the nation itself or on its nuclear capacity, as has been advocated by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I must in all conscience dissociate myself from such a theory. Our basic, distant and, I believe, real hope for lasting peace is to contain the adVance of Communism during this protracted period of time, but we shall not contain it if we content ourselves with fire brigade action when a fire breaks out here and there. We must remove the cause of the fire in those areas which still remain free.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to the nation of India. Here we have a nation with enormous potential significance as far as long term planning of the subject about which I have been speaking is concerned. Here we have a democratically run nation of more than 400 million people which could exercise an enormous influence in this power politics area between Communist nations and the West. I sometimes wonder whether we concern ourselves sufficiently with whether the democratic system is working in India. Are we, as ‘the Australian Parliament, assisting India’s development as much as we should? On other occasions 1 have criticised the lack of aid that we give to India. I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle that aid is not the complete answer- that there must be trade and sacrifices. We cannot be satisfied to make flowery speeches about trade and do nothing about it: We must be prepared to make sacrifices. We must provide the people of India with know-how so that (they may build up an industrial complex which will allow them to raise their standard of living.
I ask myself whether Bangkok will in the next 10 years become another Saigon. Are we doing enough in north eastern Thailand at present to combat the Communist subversion that is taking place? Lastly I ask myself: Will Malaysia become another Vietnam? Will it be torn by internal racial problems? Will it be subverted Ky Communists? Primarily it is upon the shoulders of Tunku Abdul Rahman and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew that the responsibility rests for combating in their courageous little country an evil which I place even above Communism - the evil of racial prejudice. As most of us know, Malaysia is composed of varying races, but predominantly Malays and Chinese. We know that for historic and other reasons there is some antipathy between some sections of these communities. We know nhat the Tunku is a Malay and that Prime Minister Lee is of Chinese parentage. On the shoulders of these two men there rests a terrifying responsibility because from their mouths can come words to unite the people of Malaysia, whether they be Malay or some other race, or words, expressed overtly or covertly, which will inflame passions and help to destroy this nation which, of all the nations that have emerged since the last war, most deserves a place in the sun in today’s society.
On us, too, there rests a great responsibility towards Malaysia. We should continue to be forthright in defence against aggression. Without being impertinent we should watch this tremendous problem of racial prejudice. If we can see the situation drift as it has drifted in Saigon we should never hold back in our advice or assistance to this nation in overcoming this problem which could destroy it. We know that there are many Governments of nations hostile to us which are engaged in full time planning to subvert and conquer us and our friends. Their plan is definite, fully documented, laced with patience and devastatingly efficient. I hope that our counter plan - our plan to maintain our survival - is given similar consideration and long term planning and is not relegated by our Governments as a part-time exercise of second priority.
.- This is an important debate and should be of deep concern to every member of this Parliament and to all the people of Australia because at this very moment Australian boys are committed to participation in undeclared wars in Malaysia and South Vietnam. Press reports in the last few days have informed us that they are dying in those countries. If things that occurred most recently are permitted to continue, many more Australian boys will die or will return home maimed for life. More monuments will have to be built throughout the country. There will be an expansion of repatriation services and of provisions for war service homes. Offices dealing with entitlement for war pensions will be expanded. Legacy will grow larger. Homes for war legatees who have been deprived of fatherly guidance will have to be built. Organisations which perform welfare work for returned servicemen will become more and more active. What I and the people of my electorate want to see - this applies to all the common people - is an immediate cease fire on the borders of Malayasia and in Vietnam and negotiations between the parties involved with a view to settlement.
I want to deal principally with Vietnam. The alarming newspaper reports of the last few days have shocked decent thinking Australians. In Vietnam now our friend and ally, the United States of America, is reported to be using phosphorous bombs and causing the deaths of hundreds of people. The Sydney “Daily Mirror” of Monday, 22nd March, published an article dealing with the use of these bombs. In a front page article, the newspaper reported -
The U.S. used deadly white phosphorous bombs for the first time in the Vietnamese war yesterday.
The target was a North Vietnam army camp and it is believed hundreds were burnt to death.
White phosphorous burns immediately on exposure to air.
The only way to extinguish it is to submerge it in oil.
The base was just north of the 17th parallel. Phosphorus, on making contact with human flesh, eats to the very bones. Is this type of war not against all the conventions of war? This is not a furphy; this has been substantiated in the “Daily Mirror” of Monday last. The newspaper is to be commended for its article. The phosphorous bomb is worse than lethal gas.
The United States escalation of the Vietnam war will in all probability bring China into the conflict, and walls of soldiers will be on the ground. This will involve Australia and the United States in heavier commitments, if we are to continue with the pattern that has been followed in the past. We also learned from the Sydney “Daily Mirror “ of Tuesday, 23rd March, that the United States is using a nerve gas against the Vietcong. But is this not against the people of Vietnam? The Minister for
External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has played down the significance of the matter in this National Parliament. He said that he believes the gas is a tear gas similar to that used by police forces throughout the world to break up riots. I seriously doubt whether the gas used in Vietnam ls as harmless as the Minister believes it is. The “ Daily Mirror “ said that the gas caused nausea and induced severe vomiting for up to two hours.
My mind goes back to the time when I was overseas. I recall that strong protests were made by Lord Bertrand Russell of Great Britain during the Korean war when the United States was accused of using germ warfare against North Korea and Northern China. My recollection is that a commission of international scientists went to North Korea and Northern China and carried out investigations on the spot and clinical tests. They reached a unanimous decision that germ warfare was used in North Korea and Northern China. This is why I am apprehensive about the assurance of the Minister that the gas used in Vietnam is of the tear gas type. Gas and germ warfare have been outlawed internationally since the Ottawa Agreement of 1925. If I am wrong in saying this, I am sure I will be corrected. Why should we allow the accusation to be made against us, and possibly recorded in history books for centuries to come, that we in this Parliament failed to raise our voices against wrong doing by our ally? I feel that there is a reluctance by honorable members, particularly those on the Government side, to express their anxieties because to do so could incur the anger of the White House in the United States. But whilst they remain silent, innocent women and children are suffering from the use by the United States of phosphorous bombs and gas warfare in Vietnam. People are being burnt alive day after day; it is probably happening at this very moment.
We know that the United States no longer carries out air strikes north of the 17th parallel because of Vietcong attacks on American installations; these air strikes are now routine. They are being intensified daily and Australia is involved. The Government wholeheartedly supports the policy of the United States in Vietnam. United States officials have said that the air strikes will continue in North Vietnam day and night.
Only a week ago, United States pilots were authorised to violate China’s air space. This must bring about Chinese involvement in the Vietnam war. It is only reasonable to expect this, but we hope it will not happen. Today’s “ Daily Mirror “, which arrived here only a short time ago, contains an article headed: “This War in Vietnam. I See the Napalm Victims.” The newspaper publishes a photograph of a father holding his son who is practically ashes. The article states -
Let’s get this gas business in perspective. In the vocabulary of war gas in a most emotional word.
Out I’m 8000 miles nearer the action than the British Labor M.P.’s who are protesting and 1 have to say they are sniffing up the wrong tree.
If tear gas were all that is being used here this war would be considerably less nasty than it is.
There are, however, other weapons in daily use which produce far more terrible results than tears and sickness.
Three of them - napalm, white phosphorous and the “ lazy dog “ - are as evil a trio of fire and steel as you are likely to encounter in a long day’s perusal of man’s inhumanity to man.
Today there are nearly 200,000 South Vietnamese refugees from the hills and jungles packed into the safety of the coastal cities.
They would not all be Vietcong, though we surmise that a small percentage could be. The article continues -
American authorities here sturdily maintain that this vast exodus is because the Vietcong are driving people from their villages.
Referring to napalm, the article states -
It burns up even the rice in the paddy fields.
I’ve also seen napalm victims. I’m not squeamish, but I doubt whether I could bring myself to look on any more.
The victims I saw caught the full ferocity of the naplam bomb’s liquid fire.
From scalps to feet they were peeling as if from an obscene suntan. Some of them survived.
That’s perhaps the most horrible thing about napalm and white phosphorous.
Though the body is virtually drowned in flame the victim tends to live. “ Lazy Dog “ - God knows what military wit dreamed up that ghastly title - has been used here for some weeks and this is now officially admitted by the Americans.
The article also reports -
Thus driven by one side or another the refugees stumble down the jungle trails at the rate probably of more than 1000 a day.
It seems the Americans are now starting what amounts to “ scorched earth “ war in the central highlands of South Vietnam.
Unable to defeat the Communists on the ground they are trying to burn them out from the air.
And now there’s talk of bringing in the Strategic Air Command with its radar-controlled missiles for round-the-clock attacks.
By this hideous onslaught some guerrillas are killed.
But, is this the way to bring peace and security to South Vietnam? Or merely a way of using the latest scientific methods to create a burnt-out, peopleless desert in a matter of weeks?
The M.P.’s should stop protesting about the gas and switch to other horrors.
When other weapons have reached such a pitch of ferocity there can be no time to worry about a few tears.
– Who wrote that?
– Anthony Carthew, the “ Daily Mirror “ and London “ Sun “ correspondent in Saigon. He is to be commended for his forthright article. It is a shining example to journalists in this country and in other Western countries, who should write in a similar forthright manner.
It is not very long ago that all of us in this Parliament were looking forward to the election of President Johnson in the United States because of the warmongering policies advocated by the aspirant for President, Senator Barry Goldwater. I believe that all politically minded and thinking people in this country rejoiced jubilantly when Goldwater was overwhelmingly defeated. As I see this war in South Vietnam being escalated under the administration of President Johnson, I think it would not have mattered much if Goldwater had been elected President of the United States. It is the Dulles policy being pursued by the President of the United States. It is a policy that cannot possibly be sustained, and I urge members of this Parliament especially members of the Government, to do all in their power to bring about immediately a ceasefire in Vietnam. If the United States is not prepared to agree, the Government and the Parliament should seriously consider withdrawing Australian troops immediately from the theatre of war in South Vietnam.
I want the people of Australia to know where I stand on this issue. I believe in peace, but a peace for which we will not sink our pride or our principles. I believe that this peace can be achieved, but not by the manner in which the United States is pursuing the war in South Vietnam today. I often wonder whether members of Parlia ment in the United Kingdom are not being subservient to the United States over its conduct of the war in Vietnam, because of the United States Treasury’s financial assistance to the United Kingdom in November of last year.
The statement of American Senator Wayne Morse is worthy of being placed on record. I do not know whether it has been raised in the Parliament as yet. It was reported in the “Daily Mirror” of 5th March last. The article in the “ Daily Mirror “, headed “ Senator Attacks L. B. Johnson. Much Discredited President”, reads as follows -
President Johnson will leave the White House the most discredited President in American history, if he continues his present foreign policies in Vietnam, Senator Wayne Morse (Oregon Democrat) said today.
He said: “ Now is the time to repudiate the Administration policy in South Vietnam. If we continue unauthorised acts of war we will run the risk of China moving in. When she moves in, she will move in on the ground. You cannot beat her by bombing; you will have to use ground troops. We will have to start with 300,000 American boys shipped to South Vietnam. Many of these will be killed, and believe me, when the coffins containing the bodies are shipped back to San Francisco the American people will wonder why we pursued this foreign policy”.
There has been talk of infiltration from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. We have infiltrated South Vietnam from the beginning when we set up the first puppet government. . . If the United States continues its present foreign policy we are in for a long hard pull of 25 to 50 years, and eventually we will be kicked out. . . . We are developing a new form of colonialism and Americanism in Asia.
Senator Morse suggested the U.S. stop unilateral action and make a mulitlateral action in South East Asia. He said we must change our status from war making to peace keeping.
Senator Morse’s advice, which has been unheeded by the present American Administration, should have been implemented for the sake of mankind, particularly in Vietnam but also throughout the world.
– First, may I say that I rise today to support the Government’s foreign affairs policy as portrayed in the excellently produced paper presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). Honorable members have had the chance to study the document. Secondly, might I say to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that although I admire his sincerity I will not play second fiddle to anyone in this House in the expression of humane feelings for the human race in general. If there is one thing that affronts me it is being lectured by someone who seems to hold himself up as being the only one who believes in freedom and proper treatment for people.
As representatives of the people of Australia in this House we must be capable, to some degree, of objective thinking. Although I admire the sincerity of the honorable member for Hunter, I would not suggest for one minute that the argument he advanced today was in the least objective. I do not know where the “ Daily Mirror “ obtained some of the extravagant statements the honorable member read, but in my view this is not the place to drag out agony stories about women and children, every word of which is exaggerated, that appear in the Press, probably for the purpose of increasing the sales of newspapers. It is probably not very effective at that either.
I should like to remark on several speeches from both sides of the House. Particularly I should like to mention the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) as one which displayed clarity of thought and sincerity of purpose. He showed an ability to make his points sternly and firmly. Let us turn to this much discussed matter of riot gas or germ warfare. Again we must divorce sentimentality from objective thinking. Which hurts most, a bullet that kills or wounds or a gas which has a temporary effect in order to enable an armed force to capture an area peacefully?
– It is not justified under any circumstances.
– There we have another classic example of completely non-objective thinking. There is not a shadow of doubt that the use of such gas is a far better method of trying to deal with the situation that exists. It is a temporary measure that will not harm the local population but will enable the forces to achieve their objective. What is the use of slaughtering people? Does the honorable member think it is better to drop an anti-personnel fragmentation bomb on an area, or to use riot gas? Who is the judge of this? If other Opposition members wish gas not to be used in this case I should say that they are indeed the blood-thirsty ones, the blood seekers, be cause this in .the circumstances was a humane method.
As official reports come through on this type of action it is of no use for people in this House to try to drag the agony out just because gas has been used. The word “ gas “ has become a work of horror to all of us. We dislike the mere mention of it. But let us not be blinded by a ghost. There was a cartoon published recently showing Hitler’s ghost labelled “ Gas.” Let us not be blinded sentimentality. From the evidence we have before us, the use of gas in this area was, as far as we can see, humane. Until we have reliable evidence to the contrary - and that evidence will certainly not come from the “ Daily Mirror “ or any other wrung-out bit of sentimentality of this nature - we must give the American Army and the American Government some credit for adopting a more humane type of attack than would otherwise have been the case.
I should like to deal briefly also with one or two remarks of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). Much to my amazement the honorable member succeeded in re-hashing - as indeed did the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) - the argument in favour of negotiating for peace. I do not blame any honorable member for arguing in favour of negotiation. That is right and proper thinking; but surely honorable members were tremendously impressed with the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle. If honorable members opposite did not like it I do not mind if they send him over to this side of the House. His was the best and clearest bit of thinking on the subject of international affairs that I have had the pleasure to listen to.
– That will not do him much good. That is the kiss of death.
– 1 do not care whether it will do him good or not. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) would not have much idea, anyway. The point at issue here is whether or not it is to the advantage of people to negotiate. It is of no earthly use negotiating just for the sake of negotiating. To negotiate successfully, there must be an aim in view, and both parties must be quite convinced, in their own minds that there must be some gain or that at least a state of equilibrium can be achieved if they negotiate. This has not happened in the case of Malaysia today.
I believe it will not be so in the case of South Vietnam unless certain conditions are complied with first.
I must admit that I did feel some surprise that, despite the example set by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) some honorable members still stuck to what in my mind is the slightly outmoded basis of thinking in terms of negotiation. 1 think probably the answer to this is that their thinking in terms of negotiation is slightly out of touch with reality. It is of no earthly use being motivated by blithe principles without having any touch of good basic commonsense behind the negotiations before moving into them.
The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) made a very sincere contribution to the debate. I agree with a great deal of what he said, particularly about Indonesia. I think we can be very thankful in many ways that President Sukarno took the particular course he did in terms of confrontation. For instance, I believe that if he had channelled his endeavours in confrontation towards North Borneo the answer would have been very different today. Fortunately for Malaysia, and fortunately for our particular foreign policy, President Sukarno did not do this. Instead, he turned his confrontation process on Singapore and Malaysia. When there recently, the impression I gained was that this action cemented the various racial groups of Malaysia into a more cohesive nation than it would have been without the; process of confrontation. In the meantime, it has also allowed a defensive position to be taken up in North Borneo.
Quite frankly, one wonders why Indonesia decided to confront Malaysia. Perhaps sheer proximity dictated that action. I think that we are apt to overlook that point from the distance of Australia. If you sit down at night in Singapore, not only do you see the lights of Malaysia in front of you but you see a semi-circle of light. The tremendously close proximity of Indonesia to Singapore was a revelation to me, but in any basic type of action that Indonesia is in the process of adopting it would be just as well to remember that we cannot look on this action as being part of the old land grab attitude of the Sukarno of the past. It was an entirely different matter when President Sukarno was looking to West Irian. Frankly, I do not think even the Dutch were very worried about it at that time because the land in question was of hilly terrain and not very productive, anyway. I do not think it was of very great importance for the future. Sukarno’s action in those days was merely a land grab inspired by a sense of greed or a sense of ownership which probably did not stand up to the thinking of the rest of the world.
At this particular stage, the situation in Indonesia is very different. It is very much harder to cope with President Sukarno’s present type of thinking when I believe he sees himself as a leader of the emerging forces in South East Asia. Instead of his action being based on mundane basic grounds, I believe that his action at this stage is much more difficult for us to negate because it has a touch of idealism behind it. When we have idealism to contend with, it is always a much more difficult matter to counter. If Sukarno’s ideology is such that he believes himself to be the leader of the emerging forces, then I think there is only one way in which that can be countered. I am referring now to Australia itself. I have very great faith indeed in Australia and I think that, wherever they go throughout the world, members of this Parliament on returning to this country must be struck immediately by our type of society, our type of democratic thinking, the ability to pooh-pooh authority and other Australian attributes. They must also be struck by the fact that Australia, which is a small pin dot so far as population is concerned, has a great part to play in the field of ideology, particularly in the southern hemisphere. I have great faith that when we mature a little more, that when we build up a proper belief and a proper pride in our country - we have an almost classless society compared with any other major nation in the democratic world today - from this could spring great things and we may offer, eventually, a different type of thought and a different concept of freedom to that enjoyed by other nations under one form or another of the various yokes by way of government in South East Asia. I have great faith that that is so. I think that as the years go by we shall prove our ability to get on with and talk over problems with neighbouring countries.
At this stage I would like to look briefly at the problem from the point of view of the United States of America. Many of us, from the distance of Australia, were very pleased at and, indeed, applauded the outcome of the Cuba crisis. I believe the people of Australia were as aware as any other nation of the terribly dangerous position that occurred for the free world over the trouble with Cuba. I believe most of us watched the emerging of a more mature President Kennedy. I believe that even from this distance most of us who looked at America thought that President Kennedy was going to be a world leader in the field of international affairs. His untimely death, I believe, certainly shook this nation more than the death of any other important person has in the past. This again, I think, is significant of the changing character of the Australian people and indicative of the fact that they were capable of taking a far more mature attitude towards world affairs.
As the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) mentioned a little while ago, many of us watched the following presidential election in America with some degree of uncertainty in our minds. The landslide victory of President Johnson was, I think, as much a vote against Senator Goldwater as it was a vote for President Johnson. On going through various parts of the world recently I was struck by the attitude of people in high places and of people in ordinary fields of employment. All agreed and admitted that President Johnson was a very adroit, very capable and very experienced politician who knew a great deal about home policies, and had a magnificent grip of interna] problems, but at the same time many were in doubt about his views on and his ability to handle problems involving foreign affairs. I do not expect the House to agree completely with my judgment, but I would say that by his actions over the past few weeks, President Johnson has proved that he lacks nothing in comparison with ‘President Kennedy as a leader in world affairs.
If we are going to judge the actions of the late President Kennedy in the case of Cuba, I suggest that the situations handled by President Johnson up till now have been handled with even less potential danger to the world. I think all of us in Australia, although in no way subservient in thought to the United States of America, are nevertheless wise enough and have enough vision and experience of realistic issues to realise that, although we will offer and have offered opinions and suggestions and have disagreed with the Americans - I hope we will continue to do so - American interest in South East Asia is vital to the future security of Australia. I have no doubt at all about this in my mind. I believe this Government has been right on two scores; first of all, in keeping open diplomatic channels to all countries whether or not we appear, at face value, to be in a state of conflict with them, and secondly, in lending moral help to America.
Any world leader today has an awful responsibility, and particularly the President of the United States, who is accepted as the most powerful figure in the free world. I hope that Providence will look after him and that the course of American foreign policy will be to the ultimate good of everyone who believes in personal freedom, in religious freedom and in all the freedoms which we know so well but which, unfortunately, certain countries of the world do not comprehend.
Time will not allow me to go on to any other topic at this stage, so I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs on his very complete and detailed statement and signify once again my support of the Government’s foreign policy.
.- At the commencement of his speech the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) referred to his party’s foreign affairs policy. At the commencement of my speech I want to refer to my party’s foreign affairs policy. During the election campaign of last November our leader said -
Our foreign policy will be based firmly on four pillars: Membership of the Commonwealth of Nations; firm adherence to the Australian-American alliance established by the Curtin Labour Government; unswerving loyalty to the United Nations; and insistence that the voice of Australia shall be fully heard in the councils of our allies, and that our national rights and sovereignty will always be maintained.
We shall do our utmost to promote peace and avert war. If war ever comes we will honour our treaty obligations. We make it clear that we shall always be found on the side of liberty and democracy.
I think that is a pretty fair statement and a pretty good policy. As my friend the honorable member for Angas goes along with his party’s policy, so I go along with my party’s policy.
In the time allowed to me I want to tell the House something of the way in which I see things and what appears to me to be happening in the area around us. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but how far should it be allowed to go? I suggest that any utterance that would do one’s country ill is a traitorous action. Therefore our remarks on foreign affairs and defence must be guarded. No honorable member should make himself guilty by uttering remarks that might harm Australia or countries that are kindly disposed towards us. Not only have honorable members a great responsibility in this regard but so, also, have the Press, radio and television. All people who have a means of communicating with the public should be especially careful about what they say.
We in this country enjoy great freedom. For instance, members of this House may, under parliamentary privilege, say practically what they like. What they say is carefully taken down by “ Hansard “ and is then circulated to practically every country in the world. How uneven is the equation? Do we in this Parliament receive similar treatment? Are we able to read similar reports of the foreign affairs debates, the defence debates and other debates held in the parliaments of Communist countries? As yet I have not found out where they may be read, and I think it is safe to say that they are not available. How odd we must appear to Indonesia, China, Russia, North Vietnam and other countries whose thoughts, ways and actions are contrary to ours.
I have said that the Press, radio, television and so on have a special responsibility in this regard. It is of the utmost importance that, on foreign affairs, only true facts are reported. Sensationalism and reports intended to create fear are mischievous and damaging. I am not suggesting that the Press of this country and its associates are guilty of such actions. However, this is not the position in some countries. The United States of America, for instance, is greatly concerned about these matters. If honorable members care to read a letter from Senator Thomas J. Dodd, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee of the Judiciary, dated 17th February 1964 and addressed to the Honorable James O. Eastland, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security, they will readily see what I mean. This letter is printed in a publication by the United States Senate Sub-committee appointed to investigate the administration of the Internal Security Act and other internal security laws. It is coupled with the report of a United Nations fact-finding mission to South Vietnam. Time will not permit me to quote the letter in full, but in part and in context it explains that 16 Governments filed a statement with the United Nations, charging the South Vietnamese Government with guilt and serious violation of human rights. In response, President Diem invited the United Nations to send over a fact-finding mission. He also pledged his Government to give this mission his full co-operation.
The United Nations accepted the invitation and the fact-finding mission, consisting of representatives from Afghanistan, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dahomey, Morocco, Ceylon and Nepal, was established. Senator Dodd pointed out that the mission was primarily of a fact-finding nature. It reported and brought back testimony and documents from witnesses, but it did not make a formal finding and did not present such a finding to the United Nations. Senator Dodd believed that any objective person reading the report would have to conclude that the accounts of massive persecution of those of the Buddhist religion were, at the best, vastly exaggerated, and at the worst, a sordid propaganda fraud.
Ambassador Fernando Volio Jimenez, who introduced the motion setting up the Mission, and who served on it as the Costa Rican representative, is reported as having said - “ it is my personal feeling that there was no policy of discrimination, oppression, or persecution against the Buddhist on the basis of religion. Testimony to this effect was usually hearsay and was expressed in vague or general terms . . . .” The Mission . . . could find no evidence to substantiate published reports in the press that Buddhist monks had been thrown from upper storeys of the Xa Loi pagoda.
Evidence was given that the leading Buddhist, Thich Tri Quang, who took refuge in the American Embassy, said - “We cannot get an arrangement with the north until we get rid of Diem and Nhu.”
Bad and inaccurate reporting by certain leading American newspapers was stressed in the letter.
The letter stated -
But there have, regrettably, been a number of situations involving vital foreign policy issues where the American people, Congress, and even the administration have been misled.
It pointed out how the papers had told the people that Castro was not a Communist but more of a Robin Hood, with the result that eventually a Communist regime was set up in Cuba.
Senator Dodd drew attention to the biggest hoax of all. He said that the destruction of the Government of Diem had created a chaotic situation that would make a Communist takeover of that country all the more difficult to resist. He added that Congress, as well as the American people, depended on the Press for information. Even the members of the Administration, although they possessed special sources of information, were greatly influenced by what they read in their newspapers. In a real sense, therefore, the Press has a policy making role. I believe it might be helpful if representatives of the Press would ask themselves some questions about how important American newspapers could so mislead the people in these situations.
We are closely allied to America and I hope we always will be. I hope and trust that the reporting of foreign affairs in this country will remain at the high level that it is at present. We get fairly factual reports about what is happening around us, as the member for Hunter (Mr. James) just pointed out, when he read extracts from the “ Daily Mirror “. The world was led to believe that with the departure of Diem and Nhu things would improve. But I ask the House: “Have they?” Of course they have not; the situation has deteriorated and is growing worse week by week.
I believe that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) was right when he said that there is a challenge to Australia’s survival. We must accept the challenge and act while there is yet time for survival. Only a fool can disregard the actions of China and Indonesia. These are two great powers and one of them happens to be our nearest neighbour. Does any honorable member or any thinking Australian believe that China was right in attacking India?
Does any thinking Australian believe that Indonesia is right in seeking to crush Malaysia? Are these very words not aggressive and offensive? Have we stopped to think and tried to understand how Malaysia feels about this and about how her big next door neighbour is constantly threatening a full scale war? Do we realise that what is happening to Malaysia could happen to us next? Malaysia, which is about to be set on fire - on the say-so of Indonesia - has said to us: “Will you give us a hand?” What sort of people would we be if we said: “ No “.
Let us get the position straight. Who started the argument - Indonesia or Malaysia? Indonesia objects to the formation of Malaysia. She says that it is an imperialist and neo-colonialist plot. How can Indonesia follow such a line when the decision to form Malaysia was taken democratically by the popular vote of the people - something that is unknown in Indonesia, I am sorry to say. There has been no democratic vote of any kind in Indonesia since its independence was proclaimed on 17th August 1945 by President Sukarno. Even in 1949, when sovereignty was transferred from the Netherlands to the people of Indonesia, nothing was done to give the people voting rights. So, in this unfortunate country, under President Sukarno’s so-called guided democracy, he calls the tune. The people have never been consulted on whether they want to crush Malaysia or not.
The 282 members of the Parliament of Indonesia were all personally selected by President Sukarno. The Communist members of that parliament, which in 1963 numbered 30 persons, were also approved by the President. At this moment there are probably more than 30 members of the Communist party in the Parliament of Indonesia because the only figures I have are for 1963. Whatever the Communists do in Indonesia is done with the blessing of President Sukarno. Their demonstrations and takeovers could be stopped immediately, but it suits President Sukarno to let things go along and say: “ Well, it is not my will; it is the Communists who are doing it “.
These days we hear a lot about imperialism and neo-colonialism. Britain is made out to be an offender in this regard. I always thought that imperialism and colonialism meant expansion and the taking over of countries in which the people were given very little say in their own affairs. This cannot be said about Britain for at the present time the reverse is the case. Britain’s influence is shrinking. She is getting out all over the world and is handing over her former colonies in good order and condition.
Indonesia wants all people of European descent out of South East Asia. This is unrealistic. She has not the right to make such a demand. The people of Malaysia want people of European descent to remain and to be close to them. I cannot understand Indonesia’s fear. It appears to be unwarranted. Does Indonesia want to take over the whole area? It certainly seems that way. The events taking place today in South East Asia are similar to those involving Japan before 1939. The only difference is that China is at the helm. I do not want to explain this in detail but everyone in this House and everyone in Australia must be able to see what is happening. China has laid her plans to secure South East Asia and if we want to survive we must be more realistic about what is happening around us. We are so blind. It is raining. We do not know it.
There are a few things that the Government could do to get a better understanding in this area. In November last I asked in this House how many of our diplomats spoke the languages of the countries in which they serve. The reply that I received was most disappointing. I asked the question in four parts: How many of our diplomats understood the language of Asian countries; how many could read the newspapers of Asian countries; how many were fluent in speaking the languages of Asian countries; and how many could speak the language on the same level as the people of the Asian countries. This is the reply that I received from the Minister. Of our diplomats in Japan, only one can speak Japanese fluently. We have only one diplomat who can speak Chinese fluently. We have no-one in the diplomatic service who can speak Vietnamese. So what we want to find out about Vietnam on a diplomatic level must be found from somebody else who can speak both English and Vietnamese. We have noone in the diplomatic service who can speak Thai fluently, although we have five people who have a working knowledge of the language and two who have a little more than a working knowledge. We have noone in the diplomatic service who can speak
Lao, but we have one person who has a working understanding of it and one who can read certain sentences from the newspapers. I hope that the Minister will perservere with the people in his Department and that he will encourage more of them to learn the languages of the countries where they live and work. It will be of great assistance to this country. By understanding the language, they will understand the people. To get back to what I said when I began my speech, we will receive better reports because they will understand exactly what is going on in the country. It will be to their benefit, it will be to our benefit, and it will be to the benefit of our country in general.
– After listening to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), I do not think that anybody in the House will disagree with what he said. The feature of this debate which has impressed me most is the feeling that all members of this House, although we disagree sometimes very violently, realise that Australia today stands in probably the most dangerous situation that we have been in since V.P. day in 1945. 1 am certain that every member of this House wants to see liberty, fraternity, friendship, peace, development, and a higher standard of living, not only for ourselves, but also for other people. Omar Khayyam said -
Ah Love! could thou and i with fate conspire To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire Would not we shatter it to bits - and then Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!
We do not live in that sort of world. Possibly if there were only two of us remoulding the scheme of things we would make a worse mess of it than it is in today.
All members of this House hate war, particularly those who have had first hand experience of it. But unfortunately we are faced with the realities of the world in which we live. There are still in the world today dictators who are out for world conquest. Although we may sympathise with the letters of the lord bishops, they seem to have forgotten about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Like many other people, they seem to have let their hearts run away with their heads. They seem to have forgotten that even though we strive to keep our idealism as high as we can and to acknowledge the difference between right and wrong in our international dealings, the fact remains that in this world today we must mix idealism with realism. Just as we have a police force in our country, until we can get a United Nations or international peace force there has to be some other force to stop the international burglars.
I agree with the honorable member for Batman that it is very difficult for the ordinary citizen, even though he has been shocked as we all have been shocked, to realise that we have suffered the first Australian casualties in what is a continuation of World War II. It is difficult for him to realise that fact even when he sees the whole front page of a newspaper given over to reports of tragedies as a result of bombings on the part of our own friends and allies.
Mr. Speaker, war is a very nasty business, as all of us know. Maybe some of the reports are correct. You cannot avoid casualties in war. Civilians also suffer when they get mixed up with the troops. Those of us who were in Singapore saw enough tragedy to tear the heartstrings apart. Civilians, who were not soldiers, were the victims of bombing. But let us remember that there is another side to the picture. The Press reporters have to earn their bread and butter by getting stories. Good luck to them. I have done journalism and I know how it is. But one-sided reporting which does not give the other side does a lot of damage. Let me quote something of the other side, to give a small idea of the tortures, the horrors, the inflictions and the casualties suffered by civilians as a result of the Vietcong action in South Vietnam -
Any official, worker, or establishment that represents a service to the people by the Government in Saigon is fair game for the Vietcong. Schools have been among their favourite targets. Through harassment, the murder of teachers, and sabotage of buildings, the Vietcong succeeded in closing hundreds of schools and interrupting the education of tens of thousands of youngsters. Hospitals and medical clinics have often been attacked as part of the anti-Government campaign and also because such attacks provide the Vietcong with needed medical supplies.
They have to live on the land as guerrillas.
The Communists have encouraged people in rural areas to oppose the Government’s antimalaria teams, and some of the workers have been killed. Village and town offices, police stations, and agricultural research stations are high on the list of preferred targets for the Vietcong.
Having been there three times in the not far distant past and having moved among some of the country districts, I can vouch for the accuracy of that statement -
In 1964, 436 South Vietnamese hamlet chiefs and other Government officials were killed outright by the Vietcong and 1,131 were kidnapped. More than 1,350 civilians were killed in bombings and other acts of sabotage. And at least 8,400 civilians were kidnapped by the Vietcong.
Those are official figures -
Today the war in Vietnam has reached new levels of intensity.
In the last two weeks the Vietcong have entered hamlets and kidnapped a total of 139 civilians, including 20 civilians kidnapped at Hua Thien on 21st February and 25 civilians kidnapped in Kontum on 22nd February. Also on 22nd February the Vietcong attacked a civilian bus in the Binh Dinh province with an anti-tank rocket and small arms fire, resulting in the death of all nine passengers on board. I think it is only fair to mention those facts so that we do not get a one sided view just because the pressmen cannot get behind the lines and get pictures of what is happening on the other side.
Nobody in this House can accuse me of having suddenly and only in recent days woken up to what is happening in South East Asia. As long ago as 28 th May 1949 J was asked to speak at an agricultural convention in Ballarat. Only the other day, I. came across the notes that I used on that occasion. It was just at the time when a British gunboat had shot its way out of the Yangtze River. I said then that the guns on the Yangtze were once again blowing out the lights of the world and that there was nothing to stop the Chinese Communists from coming down through Canton and Indo-China. I take no credit for having been right. I wish to goodness I had been wrong. However, if wishes were horses, not only would beggars ride but also we would be able to produce very easily peace and negotiations for a lasting peace throughout the world. Every one of us wishes that he could do this.
As I said earlier, in the world of today, it is of no use to let the heart run away with the mind. It is of no use to think that if we settle the war in Vietnam by negotiation we shall bring peace to South East Asia or the world. Vietnam is only one sector of the frontier of the free world today.
Because of a change of heart or a small turn of the revolutionary wheel in Russia, or whatever the cause may be, the strategic front of the free world has been changed. It has now moved from the west to South East Asia. It is of no use to think that, if we achieve peace in Laos, we settle the argument. It is of no use to think that, if we stop the “ Crush Malaysia “ campaign, we settle the argument. The whole of South East Asia is part of one strategic concept according to which the Chinese Communists have decided that they will squeeze out the whole of South East Asia between the upper millstone of pressure in Laos and Vietnam and the lower or nether millstone of the “Crush Malaysia” campaign.
I do not believe that the Indonesians themselves will really try to escalate this campaign into a wider war. It is bad enough as it is. The Indonesians are just the holding force beneath, whereas the greatest pressure is being applied by the Chinese Communists through the Vietminh, the Vietcong, and the Pathet Lao in Laos well to the north of Indonesia. The campaign against Malaysia is just the holding and diverting strategy in the south. To a certain extent, it has succeeded, because one of the objectives was to divert to other uses money that was being spent on development in Malaysia, which was gradually developing its economy and improving the standard of living of its people and, therefore, was a very objectionable exhibit in the shop window directly across the street, so to speak, from Indonesia. Large sums of money have had to be diverted from development to defence in Malaysia. The United Kingdom Government is being forced to spend much larger sums, almost daily and certainly weekly, on helping with the defence of Malaysia. And so it goes on.
I believe that we have no hope of winning if we try to fight a war of this nature with our hands tied behind our backs, as it were. The opposing forces are able to come across the border from their posts and, when they get into trouble, cross back again. We are unable to cross that border and clean up the forward posts and lines of communication immediately behind it. Therefore, the situation in the battle against Communism is fraught with many possibilities. But let us make no mistake about the fact that it cannot be resolved by action in one sector. The entire situation is part of the one strategic concept.
Let us now consider, for instance, what is happening with respect to Thailand. The war in South Vietnam and Laos has been escalating and the Americans have been bombing the lines of communication across the border. As a consequence, just recently, pressure in the areas on the northern and north eastern borders of Thailand has been stepped up. Up to about 50,000 Vietminh refugees crossed those borders at the time of the war of independence in Indo-China, and ever since there has always been a large Communist core there. Recent Chinese Communist moves against Buddhist Thailand have included the starting of a Thai independence movement by the Communist Reds, who, on 1st November last, issued a declaration urging that the people of Thailand overthrow their Government. This declaration was continuously broadcast by a radio service that was described as the Voice of the Thai People.
In January, the Chinese Communists purchased more than 1 million United States dollars worth of Thai currency in Hong Kong. For what reason? Obviously, this currency was to be used to subvert people in northern Thailand for use as Communist agents. It was to be used in the same way that large sums of money have been given to many of the so-called leaders in Africa, particularly in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, in an attempt to create chaos, out of which the Chinese Communists hope to get some benefit. The Thai language has been listed as one of the three important foreign languages taught in Chinese Communist schools. Why? This was not done before. The Foreign Minister of Communist China, Chen Yi, boasted - I think to a news correspondent - that guerrilla war would be waged in Thailand before the end of 1965. On 5th February, the Mao Tse-tung regime announced that a Thailand Patriotic Front had been established on the Chinese mainland to help overthrow the Thai Government and terminate United States influence. There was a six point plan for a patriotic front resembling the programme of the Vietcong in South Vietnam. In other words, the same old pattern is followed. The programme having been held up on one front, the Communists probe the next sector and see whether they can find where the weakness lies.
Finally, there is the tie up with the infiltration of Malaya by Indonesia and the hard core of guerrillas from the four lower provinces of Thailand on the Kra Isthmus. There has been plenty of evidence of this and of the way in which these forces have been working with certain people in Malaya itself. One of the main couriers or agents came from one of those four provinces and was handsomely paid by the Indonesians. If honorable members are interested in learning how, during the last election campaign in Malaya, support of 125,000 dollars was provided from sources outside the country for certain parties opposed to Tunku Abdul Rahman, including particulars of the couriers and the way in which underground arrangements were made to have agents ready to meet the Indonesian infiltrators when they arrived, either by sea or by parachute, the details can be found in the White Paper on the subject that was presented in the Malayan Parliament. This reviews all the evidence stage by stage. So we have to realise that we are up against forces that, unfortunately, cannot be dissolved overnight. We are up against the MarxistLeninist view that peace for a short time is merely a weapon of strategy to be used in the pursuit of aggression.
I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on having presented to the House one of the most direct and forthright statements on foreign affairs that we have heard for a long time. I congratulate the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) also on the statement that was made in this chamber on his behalf this morning by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). I am glad to know that we are to continue our assistance to Vietnam. It is not so long since a suggestion for certain Colombo Plan aid to that country was turned down by the Department of External Affairs because it might add to the prestige of the regime then in office there. It is not so long since we took a whole year to send a Royal Australian Air Force transport squadron to that part of South East Asia. It has taken us more than two years - not under the administration of the present Minister, I might add - to increase the number of our jungle experts in South Vietnam from 30 to 100. We have not yet supplied 12 junior officers of the Royal Australian Navy - French speaking, if possible - to work with the junk fleet. If we had done this, two years ago we might have very much earlier uncovered some of the smuggling of arms by sea.
However, although we are still, I believe, a little slow, we have definitely altered our outlook, realised the forces that are up against us and realised that freedom in this world is not divisible, that you cannot improve your own chances of freedom by selling out somebody else’s freedom in order to gain time to build up your own I think that this applies to West Irian. Over two years ago I said that as a result of what was happening there it would not be long before North Borneo, Timor and East Irian felt the effects of Sukarno’s ambition. I asked a question in the House, at a time when everybody thought that General Nasution was a safe anti-Communist bet, about what happened on 14th February 1963, when he had a meeting of his chiefs of staff, at which strategy was drawn up for the taking over of Timor and Australian Papua and New Guinea as opportunity offered. I got no reply, but the results outside were that the skies almost fell in and I found that my sources of intelligence, which I suspected, were 100 per cent, correct. In other words, the Indonesians are following, right through, the independence document drawn up in 1945 in Aidit’s handwriting; Aidit is now the leader of the P.K.I., the Indonesian Communist Party. Chaerul Saleh, the Minister who was responsible for the recent takeover of the oil companies, went with him to Sukarno who was waiting for word from the Japanese, and said: “ Sign this “.
Unfortunately, the signs and portents in the sky are gloomy. Therefore, we have to face reality. I hope that we shall do it without hatred in our hearts. I hope that we shall do it without fear of the consequences and that we shall stand up for that for which Australians always have stood - liberty, equality and helping other people not only with their security but also with economic aid, so that we will raise the standards of living in this region of the world.
– I rise to take part in this debate with a fair deal of gratification at the changed tone of the debating from the other side of the House. There is not, any more, the amount of sabre rattling that we have heard in previous debates. There seems to be a more sober approach to the great problems that we face in South East Asia than there has been on previous occasions, and thi- is all to the good. I think that a lot of it springs from one thing, which I hope will be encouraged by the Government as time goes on; that is, the fact that greater numbers of members of this Parliament have been afforded the opportunity, and have been able to take the opportunity, to travel overseas and see for themselves the problems that face the peoples of these parts of the world. I have not been overseas yet. That is my own fault, or at least I think it is my own fault, in the sense that I have not yet nominated for a trip overseas. I feel that I have lost something by not going overseas to see for myself the problems of Asia.
Looking around and noticing the improved capacity of those who go overseas and come back and take part in these debates, I feel that I am not as good a representative of the people of Australia in this Parliament as I would have been had I gone overseas. I hope that one day I shall have the opportunity to go overseas. I believe that by going overseas and seeing the problems at first hand we are not forced to rely so much upon the garbled newspaper reports that emanate from the South East Asian areas. This is important. Newspaper reporting in our own country, we know, is most inaccurate. The newspapers are unable even to report correctly the happenings at caucus meetings, so how can we expect their counterparts in other parts of the world to report accurately the meetings and events there, which are even more secret than caucus meetings?
What I like about the debate so far, Sir, is the obvious desire of all honorable members to seek peace in the world, to try to bring about a negotiated peace. It is true that there have been differences of emphasis as to whether peace should be brought about under certain conditions, whether you should have peace, what kind of honour you must have with peace, what is honour, how much of it you need, and all those other things, but generally there is in most people’s minds a genuine desire for peace. I was pleased to note that even the honor able member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) seems to want peace. He has hesitated. He shrinks from the cry for the dropping of an atom bomb on China. He almost said, “ Yes “ when somebody, by interjection, asked, “ Do you think we should drop the bomb? “ He stopped himself with a great deal of control and was able to resist answering. This is good. It is an improvement for him. When he can improve his attitude on these things, there is hope even for the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and others like him.
I believe that most of us agree that the peoples of South East Asia, particularly the poor devils living in South Vietnam and North Vietnam, have suffered too much already. Something has to be done to try to end this suffering, this senseless loss of life, the killing of people by the thousands - for what? For nothing at all that they can point to. We can see objectives which we say justify this killing, but the people who are being killed are unable to see them. This is the great tragedy of the war in South East Asia, and in Vietnam in particular.
I should like to see some formula for neutralising the situation in South Vietnam. In this respect I speak for myself only; my party has not dealt with this specifically, but I do not think it would object. President de Gaulle believes that this is the solution.
– What does the honorable member mean by that?
– Something which would neutralise the situation and end the fighting, which would require the outside people who are now engaged in the fighting to get out, and which would bring in a peacekeeping commission of the United Nations. I know that this is not easily done, when we are still haggling over who is to pay for what is supposed to be a peacekeeping commission in the Congo. It is not easy, but that does not mean that we ought not to explore any possible opportunity of seeing whether it cannot be brought about. I should like to see it come about. I hope that some day it will be possible to do this, and I hope that it is done quickly.
I said that I should like to see more visits by Australians to other countries. Conversely, I should like to see some association of South East Asian states that would enable people from those countries to visit not only us but also their neighbouring countries, because in some respects the peoples of some of those countries know no more about their neighbours, perhaps just across a river, than they know about us.
– I do not think the honorable member is right.
– I think I am. This would do a lot of good. However, I do not think that we ought just to discard these ideas because they sound impracticable. Money spent in this way, in trying to make people understand common problems, can possibly save war. If it saves one human life, it is worthwhile. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) said, amid great applause in the caucus room yesterday, that he believed that if only people with divergent viewpoints could agree on what were the facts we would have little difficulty in arriving at solutions or conclusions. The great difficulty today in foreign affairs is that we cannot all agree upon what are the facts. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) quoted the remarks of Senator Dodd. I have not much respect for Senator Dodd, but he may be telling the truth. I would prefer to quote Wayne Morse because it suits me to do so and because what he has said coincides with what I would like to be the facts. What Senator Dodd says suits the honorable member who quoted him because Senator Dodd said what the honorable member would like to think are the facts. Let us get away from the Dodds, the Morses and other people who are giving us hearsay information. Let us try to find out at first hand what the facts are so that we do not have to rely on the Dodds and Wayne Morses, who are diametrically opposed, or on people such as Walter Lipman.
I take considerable notice of a man who has been to these areas. I take much notice of what is said by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). I do not agree with much of what he says, but I do respect his sincerity. No one would doubt his sincerity and his integrity, and I should like to hear his summing up of situations as he finds them. I believe that I would even like to hear a summing up by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) of the situation as he found it. The honorable member is quite a responsible person on certain subjects and on those subjects I would always welcome the opportunity to discuss a viewpoint with him. These are the people who can do much good, if they will only forget about party politics. Let us forget about what effect this will have electorally on me or my party and try to think of what we can do or say that will best help our country and help other countries to understand our view. This is what we must do.
I could not help but be struck by the need for visits to other countries and of having representatives of other countries come to Australia when I heard that great leader of Asian thought, Lee Kwan Yew, the other day in the caucus room. However, I am not at liberty, as the Press seems to be, to publish all that he said. But I can say that he did make some remarks, which have been published by him as though they were not confidential, which I believe are well worth repeating. Mr. Lee gave a very informative address. He spoke for H hours without notes. He spoke with great sincerity, with great conviction and with compelling logic. He said -
We must not try to beat Communism with a theory of anti-Communism. That is of no use. You will never win against Communism by being merely anti-Communist. What you have to do is to adopt a policy of progressive non-Communism.
There is a vast difference in those two terms. I should like to see honorable members on the other side of the chamber devote their attention more to progressive non-Communism and a little less to this aggressive anti-Communism in which they seem to engage whenever they talk about foreign affairs.
Mr. Lee made the point that the Communists have no hope in the world of winning the fight in South East Asia if only the countries of South East Asia and the rulers of South East Asia will implement a little bit of progressive non-Communism. They must give the people of their countries some hope. They must satisfy their people that the Government that they already have will give them more houses, more hospitals, better education facilities and better opportunities to own their own land and to work their own land. If they can only be given some hope that by hanging on to the system of government that they now have these things will come, they will never abandon the governments that they now have.
– As in Formosa.
– I have never been to Formosa, but if what I am saying is true of Formosa then Formosa will never become a victim of Communism, if what you say is so.
– Ninetyeightper cent, of it is.
– I am glad to hear that because if that is true Communism will never capture Formosa, except by force of arms. But other countries are being defeated because the Communist are winning the ideological war, the war in which no shot is fired but in which a battle for the minds of men is bringing great victories to the Communists.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was saying that the conflict in Asia is being resolved on ideological grounds. It will not be resolved on the battle field. Bullets and poison gas - even nuclear bombs, except to the extent that they may obliterate completely the human race in the area - will play no part in resolving the conflict that is going on in Asia today. This is because ideas are far more potent than are the weapons of war. Whoever wins the battle for the minds of men will win the contest. The final victory will go to the force which wins that battle.
The people of Asia are receptive to ideas. They are looking for new ideas because they are sick and tired of the ideas that at present permeate the society in which they live. They want new ideas. They are receptive to ideas that guarantee the right of every person to be educated, the right of every person to live as a decent human being, the right of every Asian to enjoy those things that are set out and enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights ,of the United Nations - something that should be read more often in this Parliament. I regret that lack of time probably will prevent me reading the Declaration tonight, but if I have the time to do so I will certainly refer to some of the great principles set out in it. These people are entitled to the things that I have mentioned. The Declaration of Human Rights makes it clear that, irrespective of class, colour, creed, place of birth or political view, every human being in the world, every member of the human family, has an equal right to life, liberty, happiness, health, education and the opportunity to rear a family of healthy children.
Mr. Lee, the Prime Minister of Singapore, told us in caucus last week that the reason why North Vietnam is winning the contest against South Vietnam - coming from him, no one can say that this is a proCommunist viewpoint - is that in North Vietnam the peasants own their own little plots of land. Those who have only their labour to sell have jobs to go to and their children have the opportunity to be educated at least to a higher level-
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– Of course I believe it. I am sure that Mr. Lee would know far more about South Vietnam and what is happening in Asia than would anyone in this Parliament. I know that he did not come to Australia peddling the Communist line. He tried to make us see that we cannot have the best of both worlds, that we cannot have our cake and eat it too, that we cannot defeat the Communists unless we are prepared to defeat the things that breed Communism or the things that cause people’s minds to turn towards Communism. What causes people’s minds to turn towards Communism? It is inequality of social opportunity, inequality of economic opportunity and the injustices that are inherent in the system of monopoly capitalism. Those are the things that cause people’s minds to turn towards Communism.
Mr-. Lee made quite clear that in Singapore today the democratic forces are far more firmly entrenched than they are in the rest of Malaya because in Singapore, under the Lee Democratic Socialist Administration, many more houses, many more hospitals and many more schools per thousand of population are being built than in the rest of Malaya.
– Is the honorable member now trying to divide Malaysia?
– Am I trying to divide Malaysia? That is the cry we hear. It is because of a purblind refusal to face facts that we have led ourselves into the dismal abyss in which we now find ourselves.
– Is the honorable member trying to apply Mount Isa tactics to Malaysia?
– This gentleman talks about Mount Isa. I am talking about Malaya. I am trying to tell the House that neither 1 nor Mr. Lee is trying to divide Malaysia. The people who are dividing Malaysia today are those who are attacking Mr. Lee for the attempts that he is making to give his people some hope. I saw recently a television interview with a high authority of the Tunku’s Government in which that person described Mr. Lee as a madman and a crank. Why is Mr. Lee called a madman? Why is Mr. Lee called a crank? It is because he is trying to tell the Tunku and the people whom the Tunku represents - the aristocrats, the landlords and the other privileged sections of Malaya - that they just cannot continue clinging to their privileges and expecting the poorer sections of the community, which comprise the great bulk of the population, to continue rejecting Communism unless they are given some hope. They must be given hope. Mr. Lee wants to give the people of Malaysia some hope.
To use Mr. Lee’s words, the Tunku and those who support him would like the Chinese bus driver to belong to the same political party as that to which the Chinese millionaire trader belongs, and the Malaysian plantation worker to belong to the same political party as that to which the Malayan millionaire planter belongs. They are trying to divide the people of Malaysia on nationalistic levels instead of on political levels. Mr. Lee is trying to say that instead of making a vertical division of the people of Malaysia there should be a horizontal division. That is how it should be.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First of all, I should like to make some comments on the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron).
Before the suspension of the sitting he referred to the desirability of neutralising South Vietnam by inviting foreign countries to get out of it. That reminds me of the situation when the Soviet line was that foreign troops should be withdrawn from Western Europe - that the Americans should withdraw across the Atlantic Ocean and the Russians to within their own border, a few hundred miles away. This proposal to neutralise South Vietnam is the same thing all over again. The Americans are invited to withdraw across the Pacific Ocean while the Chinese remain on the border. Neutralisation under those conditions is another word for surrender. Let us face that plain fact.
The honorable gentleman went on to say that if you could only get agreement on the facts - he quoted the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) - there would be no difficulty in getting agreement on a solution of this problem. In the last century, when some civilisation prevailed in Europe, if you could show that some European country - Russia, if you like - had been guilty of atrocities against, say, the Armenians, and if at an international conference this fact was established, the Czarist Government would have felt impelled by public opinion to desist from committing the atrocities. But today, when a different ethic prevails in the Communist world, if we were to meet around the conference table and to establish that three million peasants had been starved in order to carry out the policy of collectivising farms, all that our Russian friends across the table would say would be “ So what? “ My point is that the mere establishment of facts does not mean, when you have different ethics, that a solution is easily found.
The honorable gentleman said something about the desirability of progressive nonCommunism. As a principle, I could not agree more with that. It is not enough to be anti. It is true that in respect of improving living conditions in Malaysia and India, if we can do that, and in South Vietnam, if that is possible under the present conditions, this positive policy is highly desirable. But how do you implement it in the circumstances existing in Vietnam? Suppose that the men of the village, having been out ia the paddy fields, have returned to the village and have found that all their children have been kidnapped - that is the kind of thing that has been happening in Vietnam - and suppose that you approach the head man of the village and you say: “We are anxious to improve your social and economic conditions here. Can we help you with an improved type of rice? Can we help you by showing you how to fertilise your paddy fields better?” The men who have just returned to the village and found that their children have been kidnapped are not likely to be very interested in an improved type of rice. So, you have to consider the circumstances in deciding whether you can do something to improve the economic and social conditions.
The honorable gentleman went on to say that in this kind of situation the victory would not be achieved by bullets, but that ideas would win in the end. He regretted that he could not quote from the Declaration of Human Rights. Those are splendid things. But, in the circumstances of war, of what value are these things? I can remember that in the years immediately preceding the Second World War the Labour Opposition was talking about the great importance of slum clearance and about it being more important than providing, for example, adequate air cover. There is a time and place for everything. There may well be a time and place for economic and social improvement, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) pointed out the night before last, for example, in India and Malaysia. There may well be a time when something can be done in South Vietnam; but it cannot be done under the present conditions.
Then the honorable member for Hindmarsh, as far as I could understand him - I hope I misunderstood him, because this was a deplorable and dastardly thing to do - sought to divide the Malays and the Chinese in Malaysia. I can only say that, if I understood him aright, that was a contemptible thing to do and deserves the contempt of every man in this House, no matter on which side he sits.
– Why don’t you tell the Tunku to stop?
– Why don’t you tell Pat Mackie to stop?
– The honorable gentleman thrives on dividing people. He thrives on devastation, whether it be in Malaysia or in the north of Australia. He quoted Mr. Lee Kwan Yew. Let me quote that very distinguished visitor to our shores. He is reported on page 3 of tonight’s Melbourne “ Herald “ as saying this -
If you want to help, some people must die; and if you flinch from sacrifice, then aggression will be there.
So I throw back at the honorable member for Hindmarsh the words of this very distinguished man who recently visited us and whom he quoted. After those few words about the honorable gentleman’s contribution to the debate, let me pass on.
On Tuesday night the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), as I saw it, gave a masterly survey of the whole world situation, putting the Australian position into the context of world affairs. And never did Australia come more into the centre of world affairs than it does today. Having done that, the Minister then, if I may put it this way, lifted his eyes to the hills and considered the conditions in which the United Nations could become the conscience of mankind. It could do so, but only if the nations - not only the great nations but also the small nations - were prepared to live by and to practise the principles of civilised international living. It was right that he should say this. It was right that he should lift his eyes to the hills, because mankind must always have a vision. To quote a very distinguished leader in this place, there must always be “ a light on the hill “. The Minister was right to do this, as he concluded his speech.
The Minister was followed today by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who, instead of lifting his eyes to the hills, cast them into the abyss, and by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who, if I understood him, gazed upon both heaven and hell. I have not time to do all of those things. As a mere ordinary member of the House, I must limit what I have to say. Therefore, I shall pursue a more pedestrian path and walk along the road that lies immediately ahead. I cannot roam over continents and oceans and I cannot go into outer space. But that is no handicap because, as I said, Australia, having been on the periphery of great, of world, events in the past, is in the main stream today. Therefore, in dealing with the matters which are close to us I am also dealing with the main stream of the historical world process at this time.
As the Minister said, the spotlight of world affairs has moved from Europe to Asia. I think we are glad that the Minister, in his talks with statesmen around the world - this is to our advantage - emphasised the fact that that movement had taken place and that for Europe to withdraw into itself and disinterest itself in the affairs of Asia would be disastrous for Europe as well as for us who live in this part of the world.
At the very focus or centre of the Asian situation which confronts us and the world is Red China - immense in numbers, powerful in the character and the quality of its people, united under a strong government for the first time for centuries, moved by the memory of a great imperial past, still smarting under the humiliation inflicted upon it by what it regarded as the barbarous Europeans in the last century who had only the advantage of being technically superior to the Chinese and inspired today by Communist doctrine, with a hope of world domination even if that should be gained at the cost of 90 million lives. So I say that China lies at the very heart of the problem that confronts us and the world.
In the last few years China has conquered Tibet, has sought to exert its influence in the border lands of Sikkim and Nepal, has lunged at India and is poised to strike again, has overawed border land such as Burma and Thailand, through her friends has penetrated into Vietnam, has moved halfway down the Korean Peninsula and - there may be some hope in this - has engaged in disputes with Russia along the Siberian frontier.
This is a classical balance of power situation. No sooner had some kind of balance of power been established in Europe between the Soviet Union and the Atlantic alliance than the situation threatened to be upset by the emergence to power of an expansionist China. I have not time to go into great detail but I want to say something about the immediate situation in South Vietnam which of course relates to China. We are faced immediately with an agonising decision. Due to our military weakness, we cannot play any great part in this but we must stand up to be counted - counted on one side or on the other.
The people in Vietnam are split between the Communist North and the nonCommunist South. The link between Hanoi and Peking is quite clear. Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnam leader, is a hard core Communist trained in Moscow and it would be ridiculous to suppose that he had nothing whatever to do with China. Of course, there are those like the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who present the South Vietnam situation as simply a civil war between agrarian reformists on the one hand and wicked, exploiting fuedalistic people on the other. I do not propose to waste time on this thesis because it runs contrary to all the evidence, or at least to all the evidence that I have.
There is no freedom for people under duress to choose their way of life any more than there was for the people of Poland or the countries of eastern Europe to choose when they lay under the shadow of the Red Army. We are a small nation as are South Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand and we have an enormous interest in preserving the right of small nations to live their own lives. That is what is involved in this situation. It is only the presence of the United States of America in South East Asia which can preserve the right of small nations to live in their own way.
The war in South Vietnam has gone through the first phase that has been laid down by the Chinese military tacticians or strategists - the guerrilla phase. It has reached the second phase where full military formations operate at battalion strength. It could move on, unless something is done, to the third phase with a regular army in operation and where you reach the situation that was reached by the French at Dienbienphu. In other words, we are almost at the last extremity where either we surrender or we do something more effective than has been done in the past. This is a matter of a stark choice between surrender and escalation.
As the Minister for External Affairs has pointed out very properly, to surrender in South Vietnam would mean that the war would simply move to another arena. It might move to Thailand or to Malaysia; but the war would not cease. This is a point, I think, that well meaning people who talk about peace now should bear in mind. If you end the war in South Vietnam you do not end it in South East Asia unless, indeed, you intend to abandon South East Asia completely and abandon also the small people who have a right to self determination.
We have heard much in the last few days about the use of gas by the Americans in South Vietnam. I want to say a word about this. Violent death is always a terrible thing - a horrible thing. As I came to the House tonight I passed by a place where there had been a motor accident. A motor car was upside down and the side of it was dripping with blood. Violent death is always a terrible thing and war is a terrible thing; but have we heard anything about the horrible nature of the kind of war that has been waged by the Vietcong in South Vietnam? I cao imagine nothing more horrifying than, for example, a simple peasant in his paddy field suddenly rising up with a tommy-gun and pumping a score of bullets into a South Vietnamese soldier in uniform. To me, this is a horrifying thing. So, too, is the action of a person planting a plastic bomb in a swimming pool where American women and children will be swimming and will be killed or maimed. This is the kind of war that has been going on in Vietnam.
But what a clamour is raised when gas of the type used in quelling riots is used by the Americans. The cry goes up, “Oh! They are using gas now “. The word “ gas “ of course is an emotive word and man tends to be governed by words; but surely some rationality can be introduced into human affairs. I would hope so. If it cannot be, the world is lost It is reported that phosphorus bombs - incendiary bombs - have been used in Vietnam. We had them in the Second World War. They were rained down on many towns in Germany. Of course, this is part of the horrible business of war So there it is- the Communist technique of injecting horror where they themselves have been guilty of even greater horrors; the Communist technique again of injecting fear into the hearts of men. Of course, this is a ease of brinkmanship, if you like, and this is an emotive word too. 1 am not unaware of the dangers that are run but I say that the choice is between taking risks - very great risks - for freedom or else surrender. This is the plain, stark fact that we have to face and for my part I would like to see risks run for liberty and ultimately for peace rather than surrender that must lead to more and more bloodshed and more and more slavery in the world. This is a moral choice that has to be made.
– Cheer up.
– It is not a cheerful situation and I freely confess it, but I say that between the two I have no doubt which is the right choice. Risks have been run throughout the ages for the liberty of men from Leonidas down to the Australian sergeant who was killed the other day in North Borneo. Men have thought that great things were more important than themselves and even their lives.
.- The choice is not merely between surrender and escalation. If that is the choice as seen by supporters of the Government then the future is bleak indeed. We have concentrated on military methods for too long and they have proved futile. I propose to express my attitudes on the same subjects and in the same order as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) did two nights ago when he referred to power politics, Vietnam, Malaysia and the United Nations.
There are several considerable powers in our part of the world. There are China, Japan, India and Indonesia and of these the greatest is China. It always was and it always will be. China is the leading and the principal power in this area. This does not mean that it has to be a power which rules other countries in the area. But we now must accept the fact that China has regained the position that it always had in the world until early last century. China has regained the position that it has always had in Asia. Putting it in terms of power, the United States of America is clearly the greatest counterweight to China in this part of the world just as she has been to Russia in Europe. Her influence must continue in both areas. But the United States realises mat she cannot conquer China. She found it difficult enough to rule Japan after conquering her 20 years ago. She found it difficult enough with her allies to rule Germany after conquering her 20 years ago. It would be still more difficult to rule China. America knows that she cannot conquer China. America is now seeking to demonstrate to China that China cannot defeat America; that America for the foreseeable future has resources on the sea, in the air and in space which China cannot defeat.
The position which has been reached in Europe now has to be reached in Asia. The Americans and the rest of us realise that in Eastern Europe the principal country - the leading country - is Russia. Some countries on the borders of Russia have regimes which are very acceptable to Russia - Poland, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. Some countries have regimes more acceptable to Russia than to their own populations - Hungary, for instance. At least one other country has a regime which probably is not very acceptable to Russia but which is highly acceptable to its own population - Finland. We have reached the situation where the status of Russia is accepted in Europe, and America and her allies, we among them, do not seek to upset that balance. There is now a situation of coexistence in Europe. This is the situation which has to be reached in Asia. We cannot reach it by military means alone.
America did not bring about the position in Europe through military means alone. Military means were necessary because Western Europe could not have learned to stand on its own feet without the security provided by the United States; but the United States also provided the social and economic wherewithal to get Western Europe on its feet. Now Western Europe can make its own very considerable contribution to its own security and wellbeing.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation did not prevail in isolation. It prevailed because it went hand in hand with the Marshall Plan. The position in South East Asia has deteriorated mainly because there has been no equivalent to the Marshall Plan. The Colombo Plan has never been as large or as well planned. There has been no security arrangement equivalent to N.A.T.O. The South East Asia Treaty Organisation is a very pale and incomplete reflection of
N.A.T.O. and, incidentally, contrary to what has often been said in this House, Australia’s very small and America’s very large and growing military commitment in Vietnam is not under S.E.A.T.O. at all. The Minister has made this quite plain in answers he has given to precise questions.
If co-existence is to be achieved in South East Asia it can be achieved as it was achieved in Europe by a solid contribution both in the security aspect and in the political, social and economic aspects. Western Europe is on its feet because both contributions were made by America and, in a very small way, by some other countries. South East Asia is not on its feet because America and her allies, like us - and our contributions could be much larger - have not made comparable contributions in that area. South East Asia will not achieve equilibrium until America and we accept that responsibility as it was accepted in Europe.
An accommodation must be reached in South East Asia. An accommodation must be reached by China and the United States and likeminded countries to the United States, such as Australia. Chinese power and influence must be accepted. The Minister maintained that the problems in Asia could not be separated from the major problems of power in the whole world. He was quite right, but the Minister will not recognise Chinese power in this area. He cannot avoid it by omitting to mention it or by wishing it were not a fact. It is a fact of life which we have to accept, and we have to learn to live with it in the same way in Asia as we have learned to live with Russia in Europe. Peace in the area will depend on an accommodation between China and the West.
Above all, the situation in Asia is made more difficult by the lack of communication between China and the United States. The United States does not recognise the regime in Peking but, worse, it does recognise the regime in Taipei as the legitimate Government of China. This is an unrealistic and hostile attitude. Naturally China resents it. There are links between America and China through the ambassadors in Warsaw and, more recently, through those in Stockholm. Australia must help to reconcile America and China as America and Russia are becoming reconciled, and surely she can make some contribution towards this end. It is of ten thought that we are being disloyal or unfriendly in suggesting that China must be recognised by the United States. Many arguments have been advanced by successive Ministers why in Australia we should not recognise China. They have always omitted the crucial point that we do not do it because America does not do it. Once America does it this Government will quickly follow. We take the attitude officially in Australia that opinion in America is monolithic. There is a difference of opinion in the State Department itself on many matters; there is a difference of opinion between State Department officials in New York, who have to sell America’s attitude to other nations, and those in Washington, who have to sell it to the Congressmen; and there is a difference of opinion on matters such as this between the Congress and the Administration in Washington itself.
– China says we cannot recognise her without agreeing to the liberation of Formosa.
– If China persists in that attitude then, of course, she will be exposed as unreasonable, but the offer has never been made. I am not suggesting that one makes an offer without getting some corresponding advantage; but in the settlement which must take place and for which we must strive in South East Asia this is one of the contributions which China is entitled to expect and which America will have to offer. China naturally regards America as hostile while America recognises and supports the former Chinese regime. In these circumstances China naturally tries to minimise and, in fact, oust American influence, and China naturally succeeds in minimising American influence in any country where the local regime is weak and does not have the support of its own population.
I ask honorable members who interject to read the statements which Mr. Casey, as he then was, made in this House in 1954 as Minister for External Affairs. They will find that the statements he was making then about the lack of support for the Vietnamese regime and the lack of resistance to Communist infiltration precisely describe the situation which is occurring now. Members of this Government are like the Bourbons after the expulsion of Napoleon; they have learned nothing and they have forgotten nothing. In the intervening ten years no progress has been made in dealing with this position. Admittedly there has been infiltration from the north and subvention from China - civil wars are never left to themselves - but even if there had been no aid from outside at all the regime in South Vietnam would have crumbled. One cannot blame external assistance alone for this. It would still have happened. The civil war which has gone on there for many years has resulted in at least one-third of the country being lost. The choice is not between America surrendering or the war being escalated. America has now undertaken hostilities in a wider field. She has undertaken them in order to bring home to the North Vietnamese and their Chinese allies that she will not be ousted, that she cannot be defeated. Surely we are not going to take the defeatist attitude that this process must go on and on until there is another Korea or a world war.
One cannot condone the brutality of the assassinations by the Vietcong, the incinerations by the Government forces in South Vietnam or the use of gas. Gas is more humane, if one uses terms of humanity in referring to war, than the assassinations or the incinerations. But let us tell America - it is helpful for us to do so, because there is no more loyal ally of America than Australia - that she did wrong in using gas there. Even if one takes a more cynical view, America made a mistake.
– Would the honorable member have used bombs instead?
– I am seeking an end to hostilities.
– At what price?
– I want to see that North Vietnam and South Vietnam get into negotiation. This is what America says she is aiming to achieve. Honorable members opposite who are interjecting ought to remember the use which was made against America and Australia, and America’s other allies of the allegation about germ warfare in Korea.I have never been able to get any evidence that germ warfare was used. There is evidence in this case that gas has been used. Its propaganda consequences will be out of all proportion to its military significance. Australia was not consulted regarding the use of gas. Do honorable members opposite say it was right to use it? Do they say it was wise to use it? I feel bound to say to honorable members that not only in Cambodia or Indonesia, but also in Malaysia, the attacks which America was early last month extending into North Vietnam were condemned in official and political circles. I found nobody in Malaysia, let alone in Cambodia and Indonesia, who appeared to understand the reasons for this action. We may think that America is justified, but we, as America’s loyal allies, living in this area, and having to judge the temperature and the effectiveness of America’s action in this area, should bring it home to America that every time she acts in this way she must be perfectly certain that the people in the region understand her objectives. Our objective surely, and America’s objective also, is that the countries in this area should have governments of their choice. They never have, either in South or North Vietnam.
– Who stopped them?
– We did not assist them to have the governments of their choice. We must always make plain what our objective is, what our purpose is, and why we are acting as we are.
Now, America has not conveyed this, and Australia is not conveying it either. The Minister for External Affairs makes statements on the Vietnamese situation only in order to support military objectives. Military objectives alone have not succeeded during the ten years of civil war that have succeeded Dienbienphu. Military methods alone will not succeed in the extension of the war into North Vietnam.
– Does the honorable member want Vietnam to be neutralised?
– I want Vietnam to be neutralised in the sense that it will be internationalised.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ internationalised “?
– There are difficulties in communication, as I have said, because China is not recognised by the United States. There are other difficulties of communication in this area because China is not in the United Nations, and maybe no longer wants to be in the United Nations, or cares about it. Indonesia is no longer in the United Nations. This makes the difficulties very much greater. But this does not mean that we should sit back and say that the alternative is surrender or escalation. The alternative is to get negotiations going or an international basis.
Personally, I regret, and I am certain that all our friends in South East Asia similarly regret, that the State Department so summarily and abruptly rejected U Thant’s proposals for a conference on Vietnam. Nobody suggests that America should leave or abandon interest in the area. As I have made quite plain, she is at this stage the only effective counterweight to Chinese influence there. It is the countries in this area which must be built up, and they have not been built up yet. China is the principal power there. It does not mean she should rule the other countries around. Russia is accepted by the West as the principal country in eastern Europe. That does not mean she rules all the other countries there.
– Oh, doesn’t it?
– Does Russia rule Finland?
– Does Russia rule Yugoslavia?
– The best position we can achieve in regard to Vietnam is the position which obtains in Finland or in Yugoslavia. International peace-keeping forces could be established there as they are in Berlin. Russia could not overrun Berlin without embroiling in conflict the countries whose troops are there. Accordingly, she does not.
Again, the United Nations could have peace-keeping forces in Vietnam as a world guarantee against attack. Many countries our size have contributed or signified their willingness to contribute peace-keeping forces to the United Nations. We have refused to do so; we have failed to do so. This is the way to stabilize and build up the area. As long as China and America compete for the area militarily, the whole of the area will be in turmoil. We have to bring about a state of co-existence in South East Asia similar to that which exists in Europe. It can be done, and Australia should be making contributions toward that end. We have to live here always. There are some considerable powers in this region - Indonesia, India and Japan. There are many small powers. The small powers, as well as the large ones, need help from many other countries as mediators and guarantors.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, when we listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) speaking after the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) last Tuesday evening, we listened in vain for a clear, definite statement of policy. Now in the last few minutes we have learnt what it is to be on the left of the Leader of the Opposition. When I joined this Parliament, it was often in my mind that one of the reasons was that I wanted to have as much influence or say as possible in determining whether my children would be free or not free to learn Chinese in the future. I believe that, in a picturesque way, that illustrates the paramount issue behind everything that we are discussing. This is behind the speeches which have been made. It was with something of the same reason, on a smaller scale, in my mind that I recently toured Indonesia and Malaysia. For me, it was a tremendous experience, for I little thought how readily information would be made available to me as a member of this Parliament. There were no restrictions placed on information from our side of the struggle, if I may use that word, although some of it was highly secret. The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Bosman) and myself were able to travel extensively through Java and assess the trend of events in Indonesia in preparation for our talks with Indonesian leaders. What I saw on this tour brought me back to Australia somewhat encouraged and, at the same time, firmly determined. I was encouraged because I believe that short of major escalation of the Vietnamese situation into war in South East Asia, we in Australia have longer than I imagined to prepare for a crisis which, when I left this country, seemed sure to come. I went away thinking in terms of three or four years. I criticised the timing of the Government’s defence preparations. As far as Indonesia is concerned, I now believe that that country could not launch an attack on Australia for at least a decade. There is even still a faint hope that sanity and peace might prevail. I came back determined also that no time should be lost in preparing for a challenge which Indonesian behaviour, certainly overtly, makes more and more inevitable, though we still have certain hopes and possibilities for peace which we must strive to foster with every energy that we can muster.
Let me enlarge on the situation to our immediate north. I found Indonesia weaker and Malaysia stronger that I had thought they would be. Indonesia, to me, was a pathetic country. Its people for the most part were vastly friendly. They are simple, peaceable, easy-going folk. They fought with courage for their freedom and in this Australia backed them. Who could have imagined that the figure built up in that period as their great liberator would have emerged as the Sukarno of today? Never have a people less deserved such a fate. Yet today the figure of this man dominates the entire scene. He is separate almost to » point of deification. His personal excesses are shrugged off as irrelevant. The king can do no wrong. All the time the poverty and degradation of the nation is increasing rapidly, like the nonsense buildings of sheer prestige growing in the heart of Djakarta. It would be hard to exaggerate the economic chaos of the country.
The one point of positive impression left with me as I traversed hundreds of kilometres of roads and passed through villages and kampongs in Central Java, was the number of schools and the fine looking youth aged from 10 to 14 years. I was greatly encouraged by the quality of the school buildings that I saw. For four days this scene unfolded itself before me before I returned to Djakarta. I thought that here was something for which the Government of Indonesia could be congratulated. Then I had an interview with the Minister for Basic Education and I discovered to my horror that the school building programme was not being undertaken by the Government. The Government is devoting only 2 per cent, of its national budget to education. I asked who was paying for the schools and the Minister told me that the villagers themselves were building them and came to her with a fait accompli, demanding teachers. I asked: “Have you teachers?” The Minister said: “ We lack 50,000 at the moment.” I asked: “What do you pay them?” I was told: “Between 500 and 850 rupiahs a month.” Back in Tjirebon they pay about that much for a plastic bag of biscuits. I asked how the teachers were kept. I was told that the villagers found for them clothes and sustenance. The villagers! Looking at those rural dwellers on subsistence, how could you imagine a nationwide programme such as this stemming from that initiative? The initiative, I believe, is to be seen in those buildings, also in each village, with the banner of the P.K.I. - the Indonesian Communist Party - above them. It is my conviction - until I am convinced differently at any rate - that these schools are part of a Communist process of taking over the minds of the youth of the country.
Whither are these young people bound? The broken down economy and sophisticated superstructure of Indonesia puts a lid on their ambitions. The pressure of steam under that lid is increasing. Today it is the trade unions which are the spearhead of Communist action towards the Government of Indonesia. Tomorrow it will be the students. Every speech of the President as well as the constant stream of slogans, posters and propaganda everywhere, point to this violent revolutionary future.
We met some of the top public servants of the country - men who are the direct instruments of present policy. We found that they are paid less than the driver of an embassy car and that they often live in one room or a garage. Like the teachers in the universities, they must engage in outside jobs in order to earn enough to live. The exposure to graft is enormous.
Last year Indonesia earned about 500 million United States dollars, mostly from the exploitation of crude oil deposits, yet she is planning to spend 120 million of these dollars stocking her first enormous prestige department store building with luxury goods that the Indonesians cannot afford. Indonesian industry is running at about 20 per cent, capacity, but some factories are almost entirely shut down. The great Chrysler factory has a strip mill and many presses that have never operated, lt is merely assembling about eight trucks a day. The Gaya factory - the General Motors factory - has almost completely stopped. As for the electric power situation, it is completely ludicrous. It stops, surges and dies away continually so that motors and apparatus of all kinds are ruined. In order to run more than one little air conditioner the Australian Embassy has to generate its own power.
It is in the political sphere that all attention centres and most particularly on the life expectancy of the President. A precarious operation is overdue and medical men have varying opinions regarding his behaviour symptoms of another and even more unfortunate disease. Meanwhile, the Communists, with Subandrio in his role of virtual Prime Minister of Indonesia, continue to make headway in ideal circumstances. The President takes on different characteristics at different times. One day he may be a Fascist. On 17th August last he made his famous speech declaring that the only true leaders to come out of Europe in this century had been Hitler and Mussolini. So the situation is that the political ideology of the country is being streamlined toward totalitarianism of some kind and Marxism is given full opportunity.
We talked at length with the Minister for Defence, General Nasution, and with the ideologist of the Communist Party, Mr. Njoto. For good measure we had more than half an hour with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Ganis Harsuno. The outcome for me was a conviction that the national slogan of NasaKom, meaning the alleged fusion of nationalism, religion and Communism, is only a convenient vehicle for each group to pursue its own planning and activities, fully realising that the time will come when the break must ensue.
I believe that the Communists recently overplayed their hand during the AfroAsian Islamic Congress. We drove through the streets for hundreds of miles and every village had its triumphal arch to greet the delegates. Flags and banners were everywhere. Beside them appeared crude political slogans - so crude that they must have nauseated genuine Muslims. This is something that Tun Razak has not been slow to expose during his current tour. The Soviet delegates to the Congress arrived late. On the last day they stood up, speaking faultless Arabic and wearing Eastern robes, but were given only 10 minutes by the chairman before he closed the conference.
The armed services are the key to the current situation in Indonesia. Perhaps they are the, real key to the future. They alone represent the kind of force which will be needed to get this potentially great nation back to sanity and discipline production. lt is a question of who will control the Army and it is feared that Subandrio will be the front man for Communist control. If this occurs one can predict only revolt by the religious groups which oppose Communism strongly or by those islands which prefer to remain apart. The ultimate outcome would seem to point, however, to a Communist victory. Today the army probably numbers about 300,000 men in uniform, apart from the women’s services and youth volunteers whom we saw everywhere training under military supervision. Armed men in uniform are everywhere, yet the top leadership of the army is regarded as still being anti-Communist, although opinions vary as to the reliability of certain important figures because of personal opportunism. The P.K.I, has almost certainly infiltrated the lower echelons of the army, as it has the navy, as witness the recent mutiny. Some of the crack divisions, with brave, courageous, dedicated and sound leaders, are currently being dispersed under the guise of the confrontation programme and their political importance is thus being re duced. The air force is not particularly significant. It has no supersonic bombers and its best fighters are 16 MIG2I aircraft, which are not quite the match of the Mirage. The Navy has only one Sverdlov class cruiser and five destroyers, but it has 12 submarines which could certainly be a nuisance. This is not the kind of support that would be needed for a major military adventure.
On the other side, we were privileged to see the Malaysian situation in great detail. The contrast between Indonesia and Malaysia certainly is astonishing. In Malaysia there is sanity, order and cleanliness. There is a solid growth of roads, housing and factories. The currency is one of the best supported currencies of the world. Red tape is certainly under fire in government circles and there is a sense of keenness and efficiency. It is of no wonder that Sukarno wants to crush this small nation. In the economic sphere, we were pleased to find that confrontation is not adversely affecting Malaysia’s trading figures. Australia’s share of Malaysia’s trading is at a record level. In the military sense there is much ground for confidence under present conditions. The most important current danger is not a military threat from without but internal subversion. We had a full security briefing upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur and later had a talk with Dato Ismail, the Minister for Home Affairs. I can understand his confidence in Malaysia’s ability to withstand these internal pressures.
In Borneo we were privileged to be briefed by Brigadier Cheyne, the commander of the operation, who took the curtains off the maps in his office and sat down to show us something of the force under his control and his planning. We then flew out to the forward positions on a supply dropping operation. On the next day we were taken by helicopter into the forward positions to talk with the troops. The situation on the border is perhaps of interest. The border consists of a mountain range which for the most part is precipitous and which one would think is almost impassable, with a few valleys and passes which are the hotspots for guarding troops. One of the hottest spots, which is opposite Kuching, is held by the Australians and the Scots Guards on the one flank and the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders on the other. In a military, sense, having heard Brigadier Cheyne’s explanation of his supply position and his attitude to a frontal attack, I share his confidence in his ability to deal with such an attack. The really serious danger lies in a fifth column of proCommunist Chinese who are centred around the town of Bau, where it is estimated that one-third of the Chinese population are active Communists. They are right behind our front lines.
All these facts, and many more, have led me to two major conclusions. The first is that we must build up our defences on lines that have already been announced. It seems to me that our timing in regard to the delivery dates for ships and planes is about right. But we must not rest upon building for the future in terms of both the number of trained men and the quality of our weapons. We must be prepared to negotiate the future, as far as we are able to gauge it, from the greatest strength that we can muster. At the same time, we must greatly extend our contacts and our diplomatic relationships and activity in South East Asia. We must be there often, getting to know and being known. We must share the great burdens of poverty, disease, ignorance and hunger. We must do all that we can to extend the tremendous contributions that are being made at the present time by Radio Australia and our embassies, as well as under the Colombo Plan and by volunteer graduates and many others of whom we can be proud. But we must always act within the boundaries of military prudence.
I should like to conclude these comments as I began - by referring to China. While China is led by men like those who now dominate the scene and is inspired by their ideas, we in Australia can look into the future only with apprehension. At the same time, we must not underestimate the strategic value of Australia and the tremendous problems of size and terrain that it offers to any would-be invader. Please God, we will never have to repel enemies from our shores. But if the worst happens, this land can be defended and held, especially with the support of powerful friends. However, we must not rely on our friends alone. As we have no hope of matching the enemy in terms of numbers, we must do so in the quality of our training, our weapons and our diplomacy.
I pray fervently that we will never have to use nuclear force in this part of the world. We should delay any decision to engage in the manufacture of nuclear arms until everything else fails. It is quite another matter to see that we are equipped with the latest nuclear information and the latest nuclear skills such as would follow from expanding our own peacetime uses of nuclear energy. This is what India is doing at the present time. But we are a long way behind India. Although nuclear power has a slight economic disadvantage when compared with thermally produced power, I urge the Government to establish a nuclear power station within Australia to enable us to train our scientists and engineers in a way that is not at present possible.
We have many friends yet to be won in Asia. Some day, even if we fight for 100 years, the ultimate survivors, if there are any, will have to sit down and work out a basis for neighbourliness and goodwill. I made this point with every Indonesian leader to whom I spoke. I made the plea that we set about building these bridges now, thus sparing our children and our children’s deformed children the unspeakable tragedy of modern war. Let us arm. We must do so. But let us also launch a peaceful invasion of Asia with goodwill and hope backed by a practical willingness to share the burdens of the Asians and their problems of ignorance, poverty and disease. I believe that this is the road which Australia must take.
.- I, like all other honorable members who are in the chamber, listened with interest to the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) give a resume of his overseas tour. He has attempted to give his impressions of Indonesia, Malaysia and Borneo. Although I give no guarantee that my own impression or the impression of any other honorable member would be the same, it is a great pity that only yesterday he was virtually disowned by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). It is important that honorable members should be able to see at first hand the situation in Asia. Like all other Australians, honorable members have been anxiously watching developments to our north. There is turmoil in South East Asia, and we cannot remain aloof from it. The wellbeing, or lack of it, of hundreds of millions of our neighbours must inevitably affect our position in the world, and our welfare. The spotlight on world affairs has moved to South East Asia. We live in this region and, whether we like it or not, we are involved. As a stable and comparatively well-to-do nation, we have a responsibility to aid in the solution of the problems that exist in our part of the world. We must endeavour to play a major role in ending the turmoil and unrest that exists and to bring to the people of Asia some hope of future improvement of their living standards and conditions.
I and the Australian Labour Party generally regard the aggressive policies of Asian Communism with concern, but the real and underlying reasons for the unrest and discontent lie in the poverty and, to our way of thinking, the shocking conditions in which hundreds of millions of Asian people exist. I express my dissatisfaction with and alarm at the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs which we are now debating. It failed to place the accent on the state of affairs I have mentioned and it displayed little recognition of the urgent and vital necessity for the welltodo Western world to come to grips with these problems in a much more realistic manner.
There is not sufficient time in which to discuss fully all the problems and all the matters that are of concern in the field of foreign affairs. I wish to refer to confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia. I express my disappointment at the fact that Indonesia, our near neighbour which received sympathetic assistance from the Australian Government and the Australian people at the time of obtaining her independence, has engaged in aggression - it cannot be called anything else - against the new Federation of Malaysia. For reasons which may seem to most Australians to be obscure, Indonesia has engaged openly in military action against Malaysia. Whatever may be the merits of Indonesia’s arguments - they are difficult to see - she must be condemned for resorting to force. The United Nations survey of the constituent States of Malaysia revealed that the people supported the formation of the Federation. Therefore, we are bound to support the establishment of the Federation as being the wish of the people.
I have said it is difficult to see merit in Indonesia’s argument; but we have a responsibility as a vitally interested party to examine, to look deeply, to attempt an understanding and to try to remove any of Indonesia’s fears that are without basis, as they might be, if it is within our power to do so. Peace is precious. Indonesia is a nation of 100 million people. Geographically she lies on our northern doorstep. She is not only our neighbour; she is also the neighbour of generations of Australians to come. It is vital that we should make every effort to restore peaceful relations to the area and to maintain amongst the Indonesian people themselves the friendly feelings that I know they have for Australians as a result of the sympathetic encouragement they received from Australia when they were struggling for independence.
I am not satisfied that the Menzies Government has made sufficient effort to end this confrontation. I believe that diplomatically it is dead. Regretfully, we have no longer a foreign policy of our own. The Government to my knowledge has not taken any action to initiate talks between the disputing parties. It has not taken concrete action to attempt to remove Indonesia’s fears, however wrongly they may be held. I am reminded of the story of the desert traveller who was approaching an oasis. He was astonished to see a frightening figure, like some monstrous apparition, looming at the edge of the oasis. He approached with some apprehension, but he was relieved to find when he arrived there that the figure was in fact a man. The searing heat of the desert sun had created an optical illusion. When he reached the oasis, he mentioned the trick of the light and of the eye to the man and found that he too had moments of fear as he experienced the same optical illusion. Each in looking closer dispelled the illusion. Is this the situation now in our part of the world? We surely must take a closer look to determine whether any unfounded fears are held by either side.
It is true to say that a great many Australian and Malaysian people regard Dr. Sukarno as a monster bent on the acquisition of neighbouring territories. This picture, rightly or wrongly, has been promoted by the Press and has no doubt been aided by the inflammatory speeches made by Dr. Sukarno himself. His frequent “ Crush Malaysia” pronouncements have not endeared him to our people and have in fact alienated support even from some of the Afro-Asian nations which have a strong dislike of colonialism. On the other hand, does he regard Malaysia, Great Britain and her allies as colonialist monsters threatening the existence of his young republic? To us, this may seem ridiculous, but in our own interests we should look at the situation from his point of view. His 16-year-old republic was for 34 centuries under the domination of a European nation. This is certainly a long history of colonialism. Inevitably, from this sprang a strong hatred of colonialism. The Indonesian people won their freedom, as the honorable member for Evans said, the hard way and without doubt, whether it brought efficient government or not - this in my view is under serious doubt - they jealously guard that freedom. Visitors to Djakarta may see the huge statue dominating the city, the figure of a man bursting his chains. Like the statue* this feeling of new nationalism dominates the thinking of Indonesians and rises even above the troubles born of an undeveloped economy - unfortunately given second place to preparations for armed conflict.
To link the peoples of similar race in the region, Dr. Sukarno had fond hopes of a confederation of states, termed the Maphilindo concept. This was a federation of Malaya, the Philippines and Indonesia. This is the background against which Malaysia was formed. It scuttled the Maphilindo concept. It brought fears of encirclement. It looked in Indonesian eyes - I am putting their views, not my own - to bc another attempt by Great Britain to keep control of her colonies and to guard her extensive financial interests in Malaysia. The continued presence of British troops, aircraft and warships deepened this SUSpision that the monster of colonialism, in their eyes, was again on the march. However false we may think it is, this is Indonesia’s viewpoint. Should we merely stand firm and disregard it? There can be no question about our condemnation of aggression. In my view, we must stand firm; but surely the way to a peaceful settlement of the dispute is to attempt to dispel Indonesia’s fears. We want and we need friendship with Indonesia. We cannot afford meekly to accept the inevitability of war.
The first line of defence for any nation is, of course, diplomacy. Let us have a change; let us have a little independent thinking and a little independent diplomatic action. Let us have our own diplomatic offensive, as it were. I believe that, without sacrificing honour or principle, we can dispel the fears held so unnecessarily by our northern neighbour. We have no territorial ambitions against Indonesia, nor has Malaysia or Great Britain. Why not then, as a first step, have a joint declaration to this effect? It could be backed by a guarantee of Indonesia’s security and independence, as the Australian Labour Party has proposed. We could enlist the support of the United States. Surely the United States would readily join as a fourth and powerful guarantor. Such action involves no lo/.s of face or of honour. Indeed, it woud be a normal neighbourly action. Is it not worthy of a try? There is no evidence that the Government has even considered the suggestion.
Perhaps, in the pursuit of a peaceful settlement of this dispute, even greater steps are needed. The presence of British and allied troops in Malaysia is seen by Indonesia as a threat. In the present circumstances, to protect Malaysia from aggression, they must stay. There is no alternative, other than the protection of Malaysia by a United Nations peacekeeping force. This is, of course, strongly desirable and preferable, but regretfully it is not likely at the moment because the United Nations is confronted by other difficulties. At present Malaysia cannot defend itself, but surely neither Britain nor Malaysia, I am sure, want our or British forces stationed there forever. Malaysia has the manpower to maintain its own defence force, but it lacks the money to acquire the costly and complex equipment so necesary in modern warfare. But given British,
Australian and New Zealand financial assistance, could she in, say, seven years or ten years create a defence force large enough to dissuade any potential aggressor and maintain security within her own borders? Perhaps she could. Certainly the possibility should be examined with Malaysia by all the supporting powers.
I am not proposing that Malaysia be left to stand alone. She too could be backed by a guarantee of security and independence by the four nations. This could pave the way for a progressive withdrawal of British and Commonwealth forces over whatever period is necessary to reach this situation. Indonesia could be given a guarantee of such a withdrawal. We have nothing to lose by the consideration of such an arrangement. No appeasement is involved. Malaysia will in years to come want to stand on her own feet subject to a guarantee such as most small nations desire to have from powerful allies. Indeed, the two separate proposals that I have outlined - the guarantee of territorial integrity and the one I have just mentioned - would remove major objections that Indonesia has to Malaysia. This would in effect put Mr. Sukarno to test - a test of good faith which would label him as either a potential friend or a foe. If these actions could dispel his fears, more peaceful relations could ensue. A pact of friendship, under which further economic aid and mutual trade could even more firmly cement the good relations between our peoples, could follow. If on the other hand such guarantees as I have mentioned brought no response, we could still stand firm, regretting that the first impression held by so many Australians, because of inflammatory and aggressive actions, was no illusion.
Quite apart from confrontation, Malaysia has a difficult path to tread. Many of her people are ill housed, uneducated and lacking medical attention and all the other amenities that are commonplace to us in a comparatively affluent society. Those people will expect and later demand a better deal. A challenge confronts the Malaysian Government apart from the challenge issued by Indonesia. It is a challenge to meet and face her domestic problems. Whether Malaysia stands on her own feet in the years to come depends upon the action taken by the Malaysian Government in respect of the matters I have mentioned.
I turn now to South Vietnam. Along with many others I express a doubt that the struggle in South Vietnam can be won. I believe that the best we can hope for is that the struggle is not entirely lost. The whole world is concerned at present that the war may develop into a great power struggle fraught in this nuclear age with great danger to all mankind. It seems that Great Britain, France and many other countries believe that negotiations now are imperative before such a tragedy occurs. I believe “hat by such negotiations something can still be gained for those who seek to live outside the cloak of Communism.
I believe that the Western world should learn a lesson it has failed to learn in the past. The spread of Communism cannot be stopped by force of arms alone. Asia, Africa and South America are restless. They are awakening from centuries of poverty and degradation and are seeking their place in the sun. Affluent Western society - and I mean West Germany, Italy and all the other countries of the West, as well as America, which has reached pretty deeply into its pockets - must play its part in uplifting the hungry and the homeless. There is a great need for developed nations to heed the call by U Thant, the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, for a contribution of 1 per cent, of their national income. The needy millions must be shown that democracy can provide the answer. They must be given something to hope for. If reforms and progress in living standards do not come, they will turn to other means and another ideology - Communism.
No longer can the Western world prop up backward regimes with anti-Communism as the sole prerequisite for endorsement. Such regimes will not face the challenge of education, housing and economic development; mounting discontent as in Vietnam and in so many other places gives Communism the chance to breed. Surely South Vietnam is a classic example. Corruption, instability and reluctance to institute reforms, to give land to farmers, to attack poverty, to provide education and to find answers to all the other pressing problems in the years after 1954 have brought on a situation where the majority of the people are indifferent. They are indifferent because they have nothing to hope for. There has been no light on the hill for them. They saw no promise of better things in the years of the Diem regime. I recall, too, that in Korea the situation was exactly the same. A corrupt, unrepresentative Syngman Rhee regime propelled many Koreans into the arms of the Communists. I grant that in some instances military aid is needed to gain time for a progressive attack on low living standards, but surely this aid must be conditional upon genuine action to face up to the needs of the people. Failure to do so is to face in the years to come situations similar to that which we face in Vietnam today. Failure by the West to aid poor and undeveloped countries can bring only the same result.
I refer as an example to India, the great bastion of democracy in Asia. This nation of 470 million people has a government whose income is less than that of the city of New York, but faces problems which compared to ours are fantastic. Between now and 1976 India must build 40 million homes - an enormous figure - to overcome ber accommodation shortage. The cost is estimated at £15,500 million. Of course, this is an impossible task for the Indian Government with the resources at its disposal. Approximately 80 per cent, of the population is illiterate. The farmers need modern agricultural machinery and training to supersede their age-old uneconomic methods.
I offer now the warning that I offered in September last when I pleaded for aid by way of wheat for India, which took so Jong in coming from this Government. The choice for the Western nations then and now is, and will be for years, massive economic aid now or military aid later when it is much too late.
.- From what has been said by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), it seems that he sees much merit in what the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said on Tuesday evening. However, I cross swords with him when he says that the Government has taken no action to initiate talks between the countries of South East Asia. For our part, in the months before the formation of Malaysia in 1963, we made considerable efforts to get those countries to reconcile their differences. We were unsuccessful. More recently Japan, Pakistan, Thailand and Cambodia have offered their good offices and have attempted to assist in negotiations. It appears that Indonesia does not really want them.
I wish to say how much the statement of the Minister for External Affairs appealed to me and how realistic I thought it. He opened his remarks by stating his fears of a nuclear holocaust, a matter which causes us all very serious concern. It is obvious from what the Minister said later that Australia’s primary interest outside our own territory is in South East Asia. When I say that Australia wants to be safe, free and independent - and there can be no independence under the shadow of a hostile power - I express a viewpoint to which all Australians will subscribe. Whilst no acts of hostility have been directed towards us since the war, it must be said that ever since the Korean war there have been many acts of aggression to our north. 1 want to be as realistic as the Minister was in his speech. Acts of aggression must be fought in order to be checked. The Government’s foreign policy has been spelt out often enough in this Parliament. In a few words it means, as far as South East Asia is concerned, the maintenance of security by alliances and regional co-operation and a willingness to assist our neighbours by raising their living standards. We have a lively interest in trade with Asia and also we have a humanitarian concern in better standards of living and in the economic progress of all countries in the world. To go further, we have a direct interest in the peace and stability of this part of the world. Peace or war in this region might well mean peace or war for Australia. In the world today we know that fighting comes without a declaration of war; infiltration and not attack is the modus operandi of the aggressor. Our military commitments overseas today make quite a catalogue compared with 10 years ago. We maintain forces and bases to assist the defence of Malaysia. We have armed services in Thailand and South Vietnam and we have military obligations in eastern New Guinea. We took an active part in stamping out Communism in Malaya. We participated in the planning and organisation of the South East Asia
Treaty Organisation, and we have assisted member countries of S.E.A.T.O. in a variety of ways. In other words, we have paid more than lip service to the idea that peace and stability cannot be achieved by neutralism. If we are to defeat aggression in South East Asia we must give a backing of strength and military support to our diplomatic effort for the removal of threats against territorial integrity and political independence.
On the other side of the coin, it can be pointed out that we have sought peaceful opportunities to come closer to the countries of Asia, not only through diplomatic and United Nations agencies, but by increasing the number of Asian students coming to Australia. At present there are 12,000 to 15,000 of these students in this country. One could refer also to specialists and technicians who are helping in Asian projects. The reason I refer to these acts of interest in Asian affairs - and I think it is important to repeat them again and again - is to remind all countries, and particularly those in this part of the world, that friendship with Asia is in the forefront of Australian policy.
Having said all this, let us look at the two major questions that confront us at the present time in South East Asia. Firstly, we have Indonesian attempts to crush Malaysia, and secondly we have the situation in South Vietnam. No matter is in dispute between Australia and Indonesia, nor is there likely to be any unless Indonesia were to make an aggressive move against Australian territory in New Guinea or Papua, or were to engage in infiltration attacks. We, for our part, certainly have no territorial ambitions. On the contrary, we would like to see a progressive and prosperous Indonesia. Further, we would like to see Indonesia joined in a chain of friendship with her neighbours in South East Asia because it is only in that way that we will be able to neutralise Communism. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the desire of Dr. Sukarno. The President seems hellbent in doing all those things which will encourage Peking to believe that is has a trusted ally.
We have a duty and determination to support Malaysia, and from this we will not flinch. Malaysia is independent by constitu tional means. This independence was constitutionally supported by its people, and by a clear vote of the United Nations at the time Indonesia was a member of that body. Malaysia, like Australia, is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. If that organisation means anything it means unity in times of aggression. As we believe in the stability of this region of Asia we have a double commitment. Important as the preservation of the stability of Malaysia may be to Australia, the preservation of the independence of South Vietnam still rates No. 1 in strategic importance to the security of Australia. I say this not because South Vietnam is the victim of aggression but because I believe that to defeat that aggression is to stop the southward move of Communist China. If aggression succeeds in South Vietnam, resistance throughout Asia would fail, and Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as other countries, must come under the domination of China.
We have stated that we stand alongside the United States in support of South Vietnam. It might be well to remind the House that if the Chinese were to succeed by adopting an attacking policy, there would be little hope of them accepting the idea of a long-term balance between the Communist and the non-Communist countries. Indeed, the Russians themselves might well draw the conclusion that aggression pays better than co-existence. In fact, Western resistance during the last decades would have been in vain. I have no need to remind honorable members of the Berlin blockade and, more recently, of the Cuban crisis. We all have vivid memories of those occasions.
The United States Government is right to regard the raid on Pleihu as a test of American will. Had the United States refrained from retaliation, the Chinese and their supporters in Asia would have regarded the United States as a paper tiger and the Soviet policy of peaceful existence as unnecessary and merely a wasted effort. There is a growing force of public opinion in Australia that the guerilla pressures in South Vietnam will begin to slacken when, and not before, the Communists in Hanoi are convinced that the United States is prepared to resist their advances below the 17th parallel. The Communists know that the United States can afford the expense of such an effort, but they are convinced also that the United States has neither the will nor the patience to have its forces subjected to attack against which they have no assured protection.
If the United States is anxious about the nerves of its friends, in view of the landing of American marines in South Vietnam some few weeks ago, I believe that our Government should put them at rest immediately. I understand that that has been done. Should the situation in South Vietnam become more serious, and the Vietcong achieve further successes, the barometer of confrontation in Malaysia can record only a higher reading of danger.
We in Australia have a strong interest in the freedom and independence of all countries of Asia. Our own future is intimately linked with their future. If we are to have a single, dominant power in Asia capable of dictating the way in which our neighbours to the north shall conduct their relations with us, it will not be long before that power will determine the conditions under which we ourselves will live. Australia’s future depends. I believe, on peaceful and political stability, the social and economic advancement of all countries in Asia and, in particular, in South East Asia. The war in South Vietnam is not just a civil war as the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) would have had us believe. The Leader of the Government of Great Britain does not believe that this is just a civil war. He has a very different outlook from that of the Labour Party in this country.
I am very glad to see that the United Kingdom Government is prepared to support the theory that Asian affairs cannot be kept in a compartment and separated from those of Europe. We in Australia have never ignored our responsibilities in Europe. World power contests are world wide whether they originate in Europe or in Asia. I am greatly encouraged to read a statement that Mr. Wilson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, made in the House of Commons on 9th March. He has explained his endorsement of the United States raid by saying that there has been a change, not merely in the degree of fighting, but in the nature of the war. This has resulted from the clear commitment on the part of the North Vietnam Government to perpetuate the war. The statement of Mr. Wilson contrasts sharply with one that he made previously as Leader of the Opposition some 1 2 months ago when he asked Sir Alec Douglas-Home whether he would make it quite clear that the United Kingdom would not support the war in North Vietnam. I am glad that Mr. Wilson, since he has become leader of Great Britain, has a new attitude towards Asian affairs in Vietnam and realises that we cannot keep Pacific affairs, North Atlantic affairs, or for that matter the affairs of any other part of the globe, in w tertight compartments. Perhaps the United Kingdom Government can best help by keeping the way open for negotiations. I think Australia should encourage this, because the United States of America does not exclude the thought of negotiation in its ultimate objective. After all, some countries are more fitted to do these things than others, and I believe that the United Kingdom is well fitted to do just this. It is important for us to keep in the forefront of our minds today the thought that if we give any impression that we have neither the means nor the will to contain subversion we are only opening the door to defeat, not only in Malaysia but also in Asia.
Finally, Sir, let me briefly look back a little. There was a period when the Russians appeared utterly intransigent, impervious to reason. Then came Berlin and Cuba, and Russia - Russia, not just Khrushchev - learned that a new approach had to be adopted. It was a triumph for the quiet but unmistakable determination of the West. Today we have an intransigent China. Vietnam and Malaysia look to be the new tests. It is no time for bluster and no time for muddle; it is a time for greatness, and I am sure we would all subscribe to that thought. I am glad to be associated with the very realistic statement that was made by the Minister for External Affairs.
.- The war in Vietnam is being lost, as all wars conducted by the West will be lost in these underdeveloped countries with impoverished populations while the West continues to provide exclusively military solutions for the social, economic and political problems there. Glaring examples in history of how completely we have lost are the loss of China, where we not only tolerated but contributed to the continuance of an oppressive, corrupt administration under Chiang Kai-Shek; and the loss of Cuba, which can be attributed to similar causes.
Vietnam had about 70 years of French colonial administration up to 1954 and the battle of Dienbienphu. During that 70 years of colonial administration, practically no material contribution was made by the French to the social and economic well being of the people there. Since the French have gone, and since the West has been represented there by the United States of America, there does not appear to have been any improvement of this situation. It is a serious problem. Unless we are prepared to face up to the social, economic and political problems involved, the military adventures of the West are doomed to failure. Unless we provide social, economic and political reforms we can hardly expect to attract the support and affection of the people of these depressed countries. As an illustration of the failure of the presence of the United States of America there to meet these social and economic problems, I should like to point out that between 1955 and 1960 no less than 1,300 million dollars worth of American aid was poured into South Vietnam. Less than 2 per cent, of this aid was made available for agricultural development, and only an infinitesimal part of it was made available for industrial growth. Over 98 per cent, of this large amount of money was freely available for the military budget. The situation has not altered since 1960.
To compound the problem, the very things that have been the blight of the indigenous people of this area still persist. I refer to the exploiting landlords who demand and obtain grossly and unfairly huge rentals from the unbelievably low incomes, the unbelievably low sustenance earnings, rather, of the people there. Cruel tax burdens are inflicted on the people to lower further their unbelievably low poverty-ridden living standards, so that a few people can be retained in opulence while the masses have to persevere on these grossly unfair and deplorable living standards. What the West has to realise, when we go to one of these under-developed countries and tell the people there that we are there to defend the freedom of the world, is that to different people in different places in different circumstances “ freedom “ has different meanings. When we of the advanced countries speak of freedom we think in terms of spiritual values, in terms of civil liberties, freedom of congregation, freedom of expression and that type of thing. Those things do not cut any ice with the people of the impoverished countries. Their main interest is in how to live till tomorrow, how to get sufficient nutritious food to enable them to keep alive even in their degrading circumstances, of low-caste beasts of burden in the fields of poverty where they live out their short life span. If we are going to make any progress with them we have to remember that it is material fulfilment in life that these people want. It is not good enough to tell them we are offering them freedom. These people want decent living standards.
The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kwan Yew, gave emphasis to this in a statement which he made last month, which is reported in the “Australian” of 19th February as follows -
The Singapore Premier said that “ as an Asian I’m not convinced the free world is worth dying for”.
He said the Vietnamese must have something more to fight for than to save the free world from Communism. “You must give them a stake,” Mr. Lee said.
For the United States to represent the Wes; and be present in South Vietnam defending freedom, as the Americans say they are, and to proclaim that they are there by invitation, is rather an unconvincing deception when we look at the way in which the invitation was extended. How could the people of South Vietnam possibly express themselves to another nation? There has been no popularly elected government in South Vietnam since partition in 1954. The Diem regime, that despotic, corrupt regime that came in at the invitation of Emperor Bao Dai - who was quickly ejected from the country by Diem - immediately set about denying the Geneva Agreements by refusing to hold a free election in 1956 to decide the future unification of North and South Vietnam. It refused any form of democratic arrangement in the country. In 1959, when an election was held, Diem harassed, intimidated and had beaten up and gaoled people who opposed his regime. One man who was successful in the election, Dr. Dan, who suffered all this harassment and intimidation, was popularly elected even though Diem moved 8,000 troops into his electorate, almost overnight, to vote against him. Despite his election he was not allowed to accept his seat in the Assembly and was moved to give a message which is applicable today, a message which was like a forlorn voice calling out a stark warning on a dark and lonely night. His words were reported as follows -
The only message the Americans bring is antiCommunism. They criticised the Communists bitterly for the very things they countenance here. The North Vietnamese regime at least has the advantage of being true to itself. It does attempt to work for the poor masses. Here it is just the reverse. The sad result of this is that many South Vietnamese believe that the United States is just a bigger South Vietnam with more corruption, more nepotism, and bigger concentration camps. The Americans intervene when they want to. Why don’t they intervene when moral issues are at stake? They accept military and economic responsibilities. They must also accept a mora! responsibility.
This gentleman is well known for his antiCommunist attitudes in that country. The only way in which the Diem regime distinguished itself was to engage in sectarian discrimination. It cruelly oppressed the Buddhist community, which represented over 80 per cent, of the population.
Since the Diem regime was unceremoniously ejected from office in 1963 there have been 8 governments in 16 months. Most of those governments have come to power by force. None of them has come to pow:i by popular election. Practically all of them have retained, or sought to retain, their position by the use of arms. In fact, so breathtaking was the speed with which these governments succeeded one another that James Reston of the “New York Times” was recently moved to suggest that the only way one could be sure which government was in and which government was out was for the government in power to wear foot ball jerseys bearing numbers. It has been suggested that the United States forces in South Vietnam are the only foreigners in this conflict. This view has been disputed by Government supporters. However, this view is being expressed in the United States of America today in such reputable places as the Congress. Senator Wayne Morse is a man who has regularly suggested these things and Senator McGovern and Senator Church. Let us get evidence which, perhaps, honorable members opposite may not be quite so prepared to attack. There was an article in the “New York Times” by Arthur Krock, in which he cited the action of President Kennedy on 11th October 1961. It says-
The President said he still believed in what he had told the Senate some years before - that the United States military should not become involved on the Asian mainland, especially in nations with difficult terrain and/or inhabited by people who did not much care how the East-West dispute as to freedom and self-determination was resolved. Moreover, said the President, the United States cannot interfere in civil disturbances created by guerrillas, and it was hard to prove that this wasn’t largely the situation in Vietnam.
If we are realistic and face the cold hard facts of the conflict in Vietnam, we realise that the success of the Vietcong is not the success that an outside, foreign force could anticipate. The success of the Vietcong in the type of war they are fighting, of guerrilla insurgency, has as an essential requirement and as a main element the necessity of a confident relationship with the peasants of the countryside, of being able to fraternise with them freely, and look to their support. How else can we explain that over twothirds of South Vietnam is now under Vietcong control? How else can we explain the success of this group which has been deplorably under armed and has had to rely for 80 per cent, of its arms on captures from the Government forces? In the early part of last month I read in the “ Australian “ an article suggesting very strongly that the behaviour of the Vietcong had been more commendable than that of the United States advised government troops. But perhaps one of the major reasons why the United States advised government forces are losing ground is because of the barbarous atrocities for which they have been responsible. I would like next to quote an extract from the “ Dallas Morning News “ of 1st January 1963 concerning action taken by government forces. It reads -
In the province of Kien-Tuong, seven villagers were led to the town square. Their stomachs were slashed, their livers extracted and put on display. These victims were women and children. In another village, a dozen mothers were decapitated before the eyes of compatriots. In still another village, expectant mothers were invited to the square by government forces to be honoured. Their stomachs were ripped and unborn babies removed.
Surely this is not the type of thing that we like to be aligned with or the type of policy that we are going to endorse.
– Is the honorable member happy with this?
– Surely the honorable member will not say that because North Vietnam is responsible for atrocities - and there seems to be some evidence of that, too - that is justification for us to carry out barbarous atrocities. This is the most peculiar form of justice I have ever heard of. Rodger Hillsman, adviser to President Kennedy on far eastern affairs, pointed out that one of the failures of the government is its repeated habit of strafing and machine gunning villages of 2,000 or 3,000 peasants where it is suspected that two or three or, perhaps, half a dozen Vietcong are in hiding. After the strafing or machine gunning has taken place there are more than two or three dozen Vietcong sympathisers. The razing of peasant villages to the ground to provide a base for military establishments is hardly the type of action which will endear the government forces to the dispossessed. One of the most disgraceful and inhuman activites which have been undertaken in this war is the resort to the use of napalm and phosphorus bombs. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) suggested to this House yesterday that these things had not been used against human beings. But there has been an article in the Press in the last 48 hours pointing out that over 1,000 people lost their lives in one of these raids when a phosphorus bomb was dropped. In tonight’s issue of the “ Daily Mirror “, there is quite a disturbing article telling how people had been seared and burnt to death and how the flesh had been lifted from their bodies and how they had been cooked alive by the dropping of napalm bombs. And they were not military personnel, but civilians - men, women and children. This is hardly the type of activity which will endear the cause of the government to the civilian population of the country. In today’s issue of the “ Canberra Times “ there is mention of the “ lazy dog bomb”, the effects of which are said to be close to those of an atom bomb. The article states -
It is called the “lazy dog”, and explodes 30 feet above ground level, spitting out tens of thousands of razor-sharp steel slivers which slice through walls, roofs and human beings. The newspaper said, “ it makes mincemeat of everything. Nothing lives after it goes off.”
While we continue with this type of thing and refuse to face up to the economic and social challenges of this country we are doomed to failure. We have already lost two-thirds of South Vietnam and if the insurgent activity of the Vietcong continues and if the conflict is to continue with the present distribution of military forces we are going to be pushed into the sea. If we build up, a serious problem is posed for the United States of America, first of all, in meeting the manpower requirements and also the financial requirements, having in mind the ever widening dollar gap.
It is said that a ratio of one to fifteen is required for the offensive against the Vietcong to be successful. That means that for every one of the Vietcong troops fifteen government troops are required. This means doubling the number of South Vietnamese under arms to 1 million people. This will involve a cost of 1 billion dollars per year for the United States of America or alternatively she has to put in two or three army corps each numbering 200,000 men, plus the ancillary services for each of those corps. If she does that the problem is that she will practically deplete the whole of her strategic reserve and have to step up her draft programme at a time when President Johnson is promising that he is going to eliminate the draft from the United States of America.
Again, if we are going to continue the escalation of the war into North Vietnam, it is obvious that we cannot expect to intimidate the Vietcong forces. I think Dienbienphu definitely established that these people are not going to be intimidated by a mere show of force or armed retaliation. Rather than create an atmosphere conducive to a negotiated settlement, what is going to happen is that we will find ourselves groping in the dark, hit a flash point and have an international conflict on our hands far more expensive, far more costly, and in terms of human sacrifice of greater extent than was the Korean campaign. lt is interesting to know that the escalation policy being pursued by the U.S. Government at present is the policy that the Republican presidential candidate Goldwater proposed during the United States election campaign and which was rejected by Lyndon Johnson and deplored by all thinking humanists in the world. I want to mention a very important side effect which arises from this policy of escalating the war into North Vietnam. I want first of all to deal with the past attitude of the United States of America on this point and refer to its implications in the future.
In 1958, when France was fighting the rebels in Algeria and a French plane was shot down by a rebel manned anti-aircraft unit over the border of Algeria in Tunisia, the French launched an air attack involving about 50 planes in all, I think, against this rebel unit. It resulted, not only in the unit being wiped out but also a large number of civilian men, women and children of Tunisia being killed. America, among other nations, raised her voice in protest and President Kennedy was so disturbed and critical that he said it must be discussed in the councils of Nato and must be debated on the floor of the United Nations. These things were done and, as a result, France had to desist from this policy. We are well aware of the American attitude when Egypt seized the Suez Canal and Britain moved in. It was because of America’s attitude that Britain ceased further military activity there. What are the implications for the immediate future? It is quite obvious that they will be embarrassing for the American Government. What is America going to do in a place like the Congo, where Egypt, Algeria and the Sudan are supplying arms? This type of doctrine has many implications that will be quite embarrassing to America’s future foreign policy. The only way in which we shall get anywhere is by seeking a negotiated settlement. If there is no negotiation, the Vietnamese war will con tinue in the shadowland between unattainable victory and unacceptable surrender. The long bloody battle will go on for another 20 years without any settlement, and this is not good enough. We need some form of negotiated settlement so that we can attack the social and economic problems of this country.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) mentioned the subject of co-existence. I feel that there is a very real possibility that if we could establish some form of negotiated settlement, we could attack the social and economic problems in South Vietnam. We must realise that North Vietnam is not as inflexible as it was two years ago, when it spoke, and spoke only and dogmatically, of one Vietnam. It is now speaking of two Vietnams. There is an abundance of evidence that, particularly after the last war, North Vietnam was not amicably disposed towards China. If we seek some form of self-determination in the Communist bloc for North Vietnam and can develop trade relations between North and South Vietnam under a negotiated settlement, we shall be making a valuable contribution to a peaceful settlement in this area and to the maintenance of peace in the community. We have to realise that we will not lose the rest of South East Asia because of a negotiated settlement in South Vietnam. We will only lose those other places if we refuse to face up to the social and economic challenges in the area.
.- It was very entertaining to listen to the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), because from his speech we were able to obtain two messages.
– What was entertaining about it?
– The reasoning. The two messages were, firstly, that he did not like the war in South Vietnam, and secondly, that he feels that a great number of atrocities have been committed by various people. Having made this judgment about certain people in South Vietnam, his solution of a practical problem is to do nothing. His solution with respect to South Vietnam is to opt out of the situation.
Because there is an unhappy situation there, because some people are being murdered and others are dying in the war, he wants to do nothing.
In every instance in this type of judgment, it is about the free people or the people of the West that the Opposition is hypercritical. It was about this kind of attitude that Dean Acheson quite recently warned people in the West. He indicated that the tendency to be hypercritical of our friends is too often used as an excuse to do nothing. If the professed humanitarians on the other side of the House are in fact humanitarians, let them ask themselves a question. They protest about the atrocities in South Vietnam. Did they protest about the atrocities committed during the rural reconstruction campaign in North Vietnam during the late 1950’s? When the honorable member for Oxley leads the peace marchers on their march from Ipswich to Brisbane yearly, does he talk about what happened to the Kulaks years ago? Does he talk about the facts of Estonia and Latvia? Does he deplore the poor living conditions in Communist China? We are greeted with a deafening silence on those matters. The honorable member is committing the mistake that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) warned people not to commit. He is not applying the same type of judgment to both sides in this type of conflict.
If Australia had been in the position of being subverted by thousands of foreign troops for 15 years, I would not guarantee that the writ of this Government would extend very widely in the outback or the provincial areas of Australia. But that type of thing has happened in South Vietnam. I think people must realise this, and that they should make the same type of judgment in regard to our enemies as in regard to our friends. We know clearly enough that the events in Asia are not to be understood as being separate or disparate events. The whole theme of our foreign policy is that the principal danger to Australia, the principal danger to us in this part of the world, lies in Communist China. This is the stated presumption and often the unstated presumption of all our policies, and it has to remain so. We recognise this and Australia’s foreign policy has recognised it. But the very fact that this aggression is coming from Communist China has also meant that there have been particular types of military activity to which we have had to respond.
One of the types of military activity which has grown up in the years since the Second World War has been the adaptation of the old type of guerrilla activity. Guerrilla activity is nothing new, but the politicomilitary guerrilla activity of these years is new. The Spaniards used guerrilla activities against the French armies on the Peninsula during the early 19th century. They wanted to assist Wellington, and they wanted to restore their own sovereignty. The Russians used guerrilla activity against the frozen and decimated French forces in the retreat from Smolensk. Again, the forces of Hitler were the subject of guerrilla activity. But these activities were only military actions, and they remained as only military actions.
The unique contribution of the last few decades of this century has been to convert military activities into politico-military activities. Lenin assisted in doing this, and Mao Tse-tung developed the organisational trend towards an active politico-military guerrilla organisation. This is one of the principal reasons why we have had trouble in Asia, and it is one of the principal reasons why we have had so much trouble in Vietnam. But people, such as the honorable member for Oxley, forget that there is a primacy of the military apparatus. The political apparatus was grafted on to the military apparatus and we have to recognise it as such. Some people say, with respect to Vietnam and other places, that we must forget military activities and engage in social and economic activities. We have to be humble enough to realise that the great mentors in this field were Lenin and Mao Tse-tung. We have to be humble enough to recognise that their activities have been successful and that we should not distort them. If we do distort them, it will be to the disadvantage of the free nations.
The other situation that has existed since the Second World War in the various conflicts that have occurred has been the presence of the active sanctuary. During the Korean conflict we well remember the advance of the United Nations troops under General MacArthur towards the Yalu River. We well recognise the active sanctuary that lay across that line. It was because the active sanctuary was there and was immune that our forces were thrown back to the 17th parallel. Again, in the French Indo-China war - I am making not political judgments but military judgments about it - from 1950 on, once General Chiang Kaishek had left China, the active sanctuary in the south of China enabled the French northern forts to be over-run. It was the immune territory again from which our enemies were able to regroup and overrun the opposing French forces.
Then we come to the terrorist campaign in Malaya. It was costly. There were relatively few terrorists - 14,000 or 15,000 - and opposed to them in the way of regular and irregular forces were hundreds of thousands of men. There again, not until the active sanctuary was sealed off at the Thai border did we really begin to win. So the problem of the active sanctuary has been a problem in all of these politico-guerrilla activities that have taken place since 1945. If we want to win some of these wars, we must take a decision to do something about this immune territory.
What are we faced with in South Vietnam? Once again, there has been an active sanctuary across the border. This is absolutely indisputable. Even Ho Chi Minh admits it. Even General Giap admits it. If we want to win this war, we have to decide to do something about the immune territory, about the active sanctuary across the border by the Annamite Mountains east of Laos. If we do nothing about this, our attitude will be tantamount to taking a decision to move out. Looking at the situation in South Vietnam in isolation, as there has been a tendency to do, is of the utmost folly. We have to appreciate the facts of the situation. We cannot substitute what we would like to be for what is. We have to recognise that the history of situations such as this holds a lesson for us. We have to heed the lesson of recent political and military history in all of these conflicts. To do otherwise would be to behave rather like the citizen who was worried about the traffic problem that arose in his city during the peak hour rushes on Thursday and Friday each week.
He had observed that there was no such traffic congestion at the weekends. So his solution was a proposal to substitute the weekends for Thursdays and Fridays. This may be all very well to contemplate, but it will not do much to solve a real problem. We have to be sufficiently humble to realise that a real problem exists and that we must face up to it resolutely and honestly. This, I believe, the Americans have done. And they have done it with resolution and an infinite measure of courage.
Then there are people who would say that this is only a South Vietnamese war and that it is an isolated event. 1 do not think that anybody can really believe that now. A number of speeches made during this debate today have very clearly disputed and confounded that kind of thesis. Yet the honorable member for Oxley apparently still believes in it. When he sends the peace marchers on their annual journey from Ipswich to Brisbane to protest about something or other, he will no doubt forget about this.
In July 1964, on the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Agreement, “ Hoc Tac “, the official organ of the North Vietnamese Communist Party stated that the liberation of South Vietnam can be settled only by force, and that, to that end, it is necessary to smash the reactionary administrative machinery and the imperialist mercenary army. Where is the humanitarianism of the Opposition and of the honorable member for Oxley? This journal added that this resolution can and should be decided by revolutionary action using the force of the masses to defeat the enemy forces; that it cannot be settled by treaties and agreements. Perhaps I ought to repeat that: It cannot be settled by treaties and agreements.
Then there are those who say that the military activities in South Vietnam have no significance in a wider field. In July of last year, General Giap, the commander of the North Vietnamese army and the director of operations against South Vietnam said that South Vietnam is a model of the national liberation movement in our time. That is a quaint description in view of what we have heard this evening. General Giap added that, if the special warfare that the United States imperialists are testing in South Vietnam is overcome, this means that it can be defeated everywhere in the world. This man has not been defeated in any significant battle, except for a few defeats by the French early in the 1946-54 campaign. It will be presumed - and it will be presumed by Peking - that if the Communists win in this war it will mean that the United States and the forces of liberation can be defeated everywhere in the world. Yet there are those people who would complain, who would be hypercritical about the efforts of our own people, and do nothing.
The lessons of Vietnam have been very sad in many respects. They have illustrated the facts of the warfare of recent years, but it certainly seems that the lack of resolute action in the years from 1957 to 1960 was a mistake. While there are those people who have criticised President Ngo Dinh Diem for various reasons - I do not; I think his assassination was a blunder - one of the greatest mistakes was that the resolute action which he clearly desired in those years for various reasons was not taken. In our relations with Indonesia I do not think we should be blind to the events of these years. While we keep certain lines of communication open to the Indonesians, we must have strong, resolute action in the initial years of confrontation, the type of thing that did not occur in South Vietnam in certain critical years.
There are those people who say that social reform is the answer. They always posit the question by saying that it is not by military means alone that peace can be restored. When we read further into their speeches or statements we see that they do not desire to use any military means at all. What would the people who say that social means are the answer do now? Would they leave the Vietcong in Phu Yen? In the years from 1959 to 1961 there was a carefully calculated campaign by Ho Chi Minh and the Vietcong, which had great social and humanitarian aims. They went out for three things in the south. They went out to remove the teachers. They kidnapped or murdered over 1,200 teachers, thereby leaving 80,000 or 90,000 children without any education or only with education of their own type. They kidnapped and murdered village leaders as widely as they could. The third fact of their campaign was to kidnap medical officers and so halt the anti-malaria campaign that was being undertaken. What would the people that propose social reform do? Would they go there as medical officers now? Perhaps they would volunteer as teachers. Perhaps some of these other people who see things hypercritically only from one side would decide to go there as teachers, be kidnapped and give some education to other people. How unrealistic can they be? I do not think that they could even solve a traffic problem.
Our attitude in this part of the world has been pretty clear. We have argued that the wars in this part of the world have been promoted principally from Communist China. It is for this reason that the Vietnamese conflict has assumed rather greater proportions than the conflict in Indonesia. We feel somehow that the events in Indonesia are a reflection of pressures from Peking. I do not think that this can be denied. It is for this reason that we in Australia, anxious to preserve freedom - even if only our own freedom - have looked at Peking with a deal of fear. Socialists in other parts of the world look at Peking with a deal of fear. I only wish that the Opposition would begin to look at Peking with a deal of fear. We may not like fear but it is part of the great reality of life. There was a great Socialist in Europe, Paul-Henri Spaak, who looked at Peking; he was frightened and he admitted it. When he was asked why he was frightened of Communist China and why he would not extend diplomatic recognition to that country, he replied: “I do not want to extend diplomatic recognition to Communist China because to do so would present her with a great diplomatic victory and it would further sow the seeds of revolution in Africa “. That is in line with the policy of this Government but not with that of the Socialists in Australia. If Paul-Henri Spaak, who is situated in Europe, can look at Communist China in Asia and be frightened of her activities in Africa, ought not we in Australia to look at Communist China in Asia and be frightened of her activities in Asia? We still ask: What do the Socialists in Australia intend to do about this?
– About what?
– About the difference between your policies and those of the great Socialist leaders such as PaulHenri Spaak.
– The Socialist Government of the United Kingdom wants to recognise Communist China.
– But the British are situated a great distance from Australia and, of course, they do not recognise East Berlin either. Could the difference be, as Richard Crossman stated when he came to Australia, that the Socialist party in Australia is the only remaining Socialist party in the world with a distinctly Marxist bent?
– The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) finished his speech in a manner somewhat similar to that in which he began - with an expression of hatred and fear of China. The whole of his speech was divorced completely from the subject matter before the House at the moment. The subject with which we are dealing is the speech delivered two nights ago by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), relating to international affairs. Let me say in respect of China that I do not think we can solve our problem in Asia by continuing to build up an atmosphere of hatred and fear. Hatred and fear engendered, developed and prosecuted have never found an answer to anything.
Having carefully read the Minister’s speech twice, I was astounded to hear expressed in this debate the opinion of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that the answer to China is to blow her factories to pieces immediately. I was astounded also to hear the honorable member for Lilley say that we can think of China only with fear in our hearts. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said that it would be so difficult that it would be a waste of time to try to get China into the United Nations. Finally, we heard by interjection from the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) that to try to negotiate anything was a problem that could not be approached.
It is true that the statement made by the Minister nowhere dealt with Red China’s admission to the United Nations. My criticism of the Minister is that he does not give us leadership. However, I am at least one member on this side of the House who appreciates the fact that the Minister has never given the kind of leadership that we get from the honorable member for Mackellar and the other honorable members I have just mentioned. But let us consider what we are doing. Here we are, a small spot in the Asiatic area, a white race that should at this stage be attempting to build up the maximum degree of good feeling between us and our Asiatic neighbours, instead of attempting something that could have the reverse effect. It seems from the type of speech that we have just heard that we are building a pinnacle of hate only. In a debate of this kind we should not forget that we are, after all, Australians in Australia and that we are in Canberra, only 400 miles further from Djakarta, which is the capital of a country with 100 million people, than we are from Perth.
We should not forget some of the words that were dropped in this chamber tonight by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) who has been to Djakarta and who talked about the educational problem. Then we should turn to that part of the Minister’s statement relating to Indonesia. We will see that he dismissed the problem of Indonesia quite easily by saying: “Well, under the Colombo Plan we are rendering aid which should bring Indonesia to us “. In short, that is what he said. But when we look at the aid that we are giving Indonesia we find that we have provided eight teachers this year. That is the measure of our assistance to Indonesia which has a population of 100 million people. It would have been much better, in my view, had the Minister and senior members of Cabinet used their good offices in an endeavour to lift the standards of the Indonesian people, and not to have subjected us to the statements that we have heard tonight from honorable members on the Government side.
I join with the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Malcolm Mackay) in saying that the people of Indonesia are friendly. We in this chamber tend to forget the situation which must exist in developing a nation of 3,000 islands and 100 million people, closer to our western shores than we in Canberra are. They must not be neglected. Java alone has less land space than has New Zealand yet it carries a population of about 60 million people. Those are the kind of problems that must be met by a nation which has been thrown into the cauldron of world economics that it does not understand. It is not good enough, as has been done, to criticise Indonesia for the manner in which she is expending her finances.
What are we doing? Properly helped and led in the direction of a democratic way of life Indonesia is so based fundamentally that it should be anti-Communist or, should I say, the reverse of Communistic? This can only come about if Indonesia receives economic aid and assistance from countries like our own. Because we have come too late with too little we find ourselves confronted with the kind of problem that now exists in Vietnam.
I was astounded when the honorable member for Lilley went back to 1954 to commence relating the history of Vietnam. Surely he must recall what Mr. Casey, as he then was, said in 1954 regarding Vietnam. For the record, let me repeat his statements which are in these terms -
In April, the French and Vietnam forces were waging an unequal conflict at Dien Bien Phu against the Vietminh? Talk of intervention, particularly in the air, in order to save the situation, was being widely canvassed at that time. Our Australian view was that such intervention would be wrong for the following reasons: It would not have the backing of the United Nations. It would put us in wrong with world opinion, particularly in Asia. It would probably embroil us with Communist China. It would wreck the Geneva conference, and it was most unlikely to stop the fall of Dien Bien Phu.
How right he was. He went on -
These were the views that I expressed on behalf of the Australian Government to Mr. Dulles, Mr. Eden and other leaders at Geneva.
He concluded on this note -
It has become quite clear that true independence is a prerequisite to any real resistance to Communism. People must have a stake in their country; then they will realise that if they are overrun their independence will be lost irrevocably.
That was the kind of thinking of the Government of the day. In Indonesia, even at this late hour - I use that term deliberately –we have an opportunity to set a pattern for the rest of the world to follow of what can be done in democratic leadership by a country like ours for a nation that needs our help in every possible direction.
In any future debate of this kind let us have from the Minister something strong in the way of Australian leadership in solving world problems. In his statement relating to Vietnam the Minister said -
What the United States has chosen to do in South Vietnam appears to the Australian Government as the recognition and acceptance by it of the great responsibilities which its own greatness has laid on it
What does the Minister mean by that statement? Does he mean that this greatness which is possessed by the United States imposes upon it a worldwide responsibility of dealing with Communism on a military level only? If he means that, he ought to say it more clearly. The United States is carrying a tremendous load at the present time. If we read the Press reports this week, we find that they say that there is no difference between the situation that exists now and the situation that existed 11 years ago.
Are we to accept the proposition that American forces are to be the only ones who will try to stem the onward rush of Communism? If the situation in Vietnam is to be dealt with on that basis, I wonder whether we can go along with one of the statements that has been made. Members of the Government parties, by stating that there is no basis for negotiation, are lending weight to the thought that there is only one way of dealing with the situation in Vietnam, and that is to continue the bombing of North Vietnam by the Americans until finally China is drawn into the conflict. Is that what we want? Is there no basis for negotiation at all which can be considered by the great powers? Australia is an outpost in Asiatic affairs. I agree with the honorable member for Lilley to that extent. As an outpost in Asiatic affairs, we should be lending our support, to the maximum extent, to the achievement of peace in Asia and the settlement of differences other than by military means. We are not doing that. The Minister also said -
It is also unrealistic to claim that if only the influence of the great powers were removed there would be a sudden and blissful peace in South Vietnam.
If that is his view - and let us accept it - is it not the responsibility of the Australian Government to provide some alternative? Has not Australia, as a nation in the Asiatic section of the world, a responsibility to make its voice heard and to do something other than what is being’ done at the present time? What is Australia doing to achieve peace in South East Asia? In the Minister’s statement there is not one word of hope, leadership or prophecy that something will be done. The “Minister also said -
In the circumstances that now exist, the United States could not withdraw from South Vietnam without abandoning the responsibilities that belong to power . . .
And then as an afterthought he added - or the principles they are trying to uphold.
Which does he mean? Does he mean that because of the power behind the United States it could not withdraw, or does he mean that because of the principles that it is trying to uphold it could not withdraw? If it is principles that the United States forces are trying to uphold, those principles should be accepted in every free part of the world and every free part of the world should be playing its part towards bringing about a settlement of the dispute instead of leaving it to military action by the United States. Referring to the United States, the Minister said -
We also believe that in their resistance to China they are preventing an alteration in the world balance of power which would be in favour of the Communists and which would also increase the risk of world war.
We have to face two things in this world as we did soon after the Second World War. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has rightly pointed out, the opposing ideologies in the European scene have been able to crystallise their position to a point where they can accept the existence of one another. Military action will not determine the problem of dealing with Communism. If the honorable member for Lilley is correct we should go ahead now and destroy China instead of waiting for her to gather strength. If the Government believes that that is the answer to the problem why does it not say so? Do not let us just drift on along because if we do Africa will be the next place where we will have to face another Vietnam. That is the danger if the latest reports on the Congo are correct.
In my opinion, we have an opportunity now to prevent the spread of what is happening in Vietnam and other places. We cannot isolate Communism by military means alone and we cannot defeat Communism by military means alone. We must face the fact that both China and France have the atom bomb. Are the other great nations so far apart that they cannot allow China to come under the banner of the United Nations? I do not agree with the statements of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) because the inference to be drawn from his speech is that there is no way to get China into the United Nations. The solution offered by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - that we should go in now and blow the factories of China to hell. If that is the only answer to the problem, we can foresee the destruction of this world as we know ft. We must either work out a plan for co-existence between the nations or destroy humanity. At present it is being destroyed piece by piece.
Anybody who has studied the American soldiers and airmen in Vietnam knows that there is no more unhappy body of men on the earth today. They have indicated that in appearances on television. To continue the present conflict is not an acceptable answer. World history has shown that in every war there is a point at which negotiations can be commenced. Does the Government believe that we have reached a situation where we cannot enter into negotiations to settle the conflict in Vietnam? Are we to allow the situation to deteriorate further as we are doing in the case of Malaysia?
I was deeply impressed when I noticed that on the very day the Minister for External Affairs delivered his statement we suffered our first Australian casualties in Borneo. It was the first statement by the Minister in the 12 months he has been the Minister for External Affairs and in the meantime he had been around the world. He has visited Russia and talked with the Russian leaders. He has had discussions with virtually every person of consequence who can deal with matters of international importance. If we cannot get leadership after the Minister has been in office for 12 months and has toured the world we have reached a sorry state of affairs. In relation to the Malaysia dispute can we not get the sort of leadership that will prevent a situation like that in Vietnam gradually creeping upon us? We should not be prepared to allow the Malaysia situation to deteriorate gradually as the position in Vietnam has been deteriorating for the last 11 years. In my opinion the Government should issue a White Paper to the Australian people telling them exactly where we stand in our relations with Indonesia. The training of eight teachers is not enough to influence the 60 million people in Java. Sometimes I doubt whether a society which is built upon profit can find an answer to help the undeveloped countries to the point where they can accept our way of life, because whether we like it or not poverty and hardship affect two thirds of the world’s population. People are going to bed hungry while we have plenty.
The Minister’s speech does not contain one word of hope other than that since the Colombo Plan was started we have spent about £6 million in helping Indonesia. This year, however, we are not training as many teachers as would be required for one public school in a suburb of Sydney. This is not the kind of assistance to keep Communism out of Asia. I say to the Minister and to those who are listening to me tonight that we need something better and stronger in leadership than military action if we are to prevent the spread of Communism in Asia and to elevate the people of Asia to our standards. They may then accept our democratic way of life instead of Communism which means only the starvation, degradation and poverty which they have experienced all their lives. We can find an answer to this if we are up and doing. Do not let us sit down and breed hatred, because hatred can breed only further discontent and lead to the final dismemberment of nations. We should set out to do something realistic, taking the Minister’s speech and moving from there to a point of leadership where we do everything in our power to bring about a settlement of the disputes.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fox) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
e asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answers -
son asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 March 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650325_reps_25_hor45/>.