25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Mon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 9.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask for leave of the House to table a statutory declaration, as I previously promised to do, identifying Mr. Sam Lewis of the Teachers Federation of New South Wales as an undercover member of the Communist Party.
– I rise to order. The honorable gentleman said he would ask for leave, but he did not get it.
– Order! I think the position is quite clear. The honorable member has the right to ask for leave and to make reference briefly to the text of his reason, but he has no right to discuss the subject matter that he is likely to introduce, fs leave granted?
– I present to the House a statutory declaration in the terms I have mentioned. Is it required that I should read it? I think perhaps ! had better do so.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. He has presented the statutory declaration. I suggest that if he followed it through to its ultimate conclusion he would be here on vs own tomorrow discussing it.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he noticed the report that his friend, Air Vice-Marshal Ky, on his return to South Vietnam, said that the government, or what poses for a government in Saigon, will never admit the Vietcong to the conference table? Is this statement in accordance with the declaration of the Manila Conference? Is it the policy of the Australian Government that those fighting on both sides shall all be invited to the conference table when peace is being discussed? If there are any differences between the Prime Minister and Air Vice-Marshal Ky, what are they?
Mr. HAROLD HOLT__ I have not seen a detailed report of what Air ViceMarshal Ky is alleged to have said, and I would treat with some reserve incomplete newspaper accounts of his views. I was present with him when he, with representatives of the six other governments, including our own, indicated willingness to enter into negotations without any preconditions whatsoever.
– That is typical of Ky. He said the same thing to us.
– The report I saw said that he was not prepared to take Communists into his Government. I can say the same thing for the present Government of Australia. If honorable gentlemen opposite can give us the same assurance, that will bring some comfort perhaps to the Australian people.
– How did the Government win in 1961?
– Not so well as it will win in 1966.
– Answer the question.
– I said that I have not seen the report and I am not prepared to comment on it. I said also that Air Vice-Marshal Ky, in company with the rest of us, said he was prepared to enter into negotiations without any preconditions.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of Australia’s position as a trading nation and our vital interest in seeing that world liquidity is ample to finance future trading, has Australia taken any steps to join the Group of Ten which directs world talks on monetary matters? Has Switzerland been accepted by this significant group, and has Australia justified an invitation because of our emergence not only as a trading nation but also because of our importance in world economics generally?
– Switzerland has been accepted in what is known as the “ Group of Ten “, and consequently it seems logical that the name should be changed from “ Group of Ten “ to “ Group of Eleven “. As to Australia’s participation, we have not actively sought to become a member of the
Croup of Ten. We feel that our record speaks for itself, not only because we have fulfilled all our obligations under the International Monetary Fund agreements and our agreements with the World Bank, but also because we have, whenever it seemed necessary, made contributions to world liquidity and have loaned money to deficit countries. As well, we are in a group of countries - three or four of them - that have substantia) reserves overseas. Consequently we fed that when the number of members is to be increased again Australia should foe entitled to membership of the Group of Ten. Any single nation now belonging to the Group has the right to veto increased membership. Consequently, we never want to push our barrow too hard lest we create the impression of over anxiety to become a member. Nonetheless, 1 think the majority of members do think that Australia is entitled to be a member of the Group of Ten. We are not taking the initiative to see that we are invited.
– ls the Prime Minister not aware that Air Vice-Marshal Cao Ky has on many occasions stated that he would never negotiate with the Vietcong? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that other leaders of the South Vietnamese Government, such as Dr. Tran Van Do, the Foreign Minister, have said - he told me personally - that the only choice the Vietcong had was to be killed or be converted? Is he not aware that this has been the consistent position taken by the Vietnamese Government in respect of negotiations with the Vietcong? If that is so, how can he reconcile this with the Government’s statement and the statement of the Government of the United Stales that it will negotiate unconditionally? Is it not a fact that the outcome of the Manila Conference is that the only alternative being offered to the other side is to surrender or be destroyed?
– The honorable gentleman knows very clearly that this is not the case. I gave as much detail as I felt necessary to put the facts before the House last night and in my earlier statements. The North Vietnamese Government is itself a Communist Government. No-one argues about that in this place.
– We sell them wheat and wool.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT__ That is not right.
There is no question about the willingness to negotiate with the Communist Government of North Vietnam. I know what the Leader of the Opposition is talking about and I shall try to get this matter in its proper perspective. What has also been said by Air Vice Marshal Ky, as shown in my statement, is that we will open negotiations without any preconditions. What has been said is that there will be close consultation in any such negotiations, and the seven governments would have an opportunity to put their views as to what ought to be done in relation to these negotiations. The honorable member for Yarra is one who has taken part in the criticism which has been persistently pursued by the Opposition to denigrate Marshal Ky.
– He needs no denigration.
– As I said yesterday, this man has been fighting for more than half his life the enemies of his country, as he sees them. What the honorable member is apparently urging is that he takes those enemies not only into his councils but into his Government as well.
– All the way with Ky.
– Well, the honorable member is off key most of the time, and likely to remain that way. If there is a genuine move for peace on the part of North Vietnam I have no doubt that there would be a settlement of which we would not disapprove - nor would those associated with us disapprove of it.
(Mr. Pettitt having addressed a question to the Minister for the Interior, and the Minister having partly replied to it) -
– A point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is a question on this matter on the notice paper. It is addressed to the Prime Minister, and it is No. 2066. It has been on the notice paper since 20th September.
– Order! This is a very difficult point to decide. I think the information asked for by the honorable member for Hume could be supplied in answer to the question on the notice paper.
The honorable member’s question is, therefore, out of order. However, I think the Minister has got in quite a lot of his answer already.
– I should imagine the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be very interested to hear this, because nobody else has been more vocal on this subject.
– Order! I think this argument can be settled outside.
– Can the
Prime Minister tell the Parliament whether his friend. Air Vice-Marshal Ky, told him why he publicly expressed his admiration for’ Adolf Hitler?
– I am not in a position to comment on any views which Air Vice-Marshal Ky, or for that matter any number of public men. might have expressed in Hitler’s time. As I recall, Adolf Hitler completed his period of power on this earth in 1945. I cannot remember the precise date, but at about that time Air Vice-Marshal Ky would have been in his early teens, I should think. His views would be of some historical interest perhaps, but they are hardly to be held against him when, as now. he is in his late thirties.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the current opinion of the people of the United States of America towards the allied involvement in Vietnam. Are there any indicators which would tend to contradict reports in some newspapers that a substantial number of people are against involvement? Has the Prime Minister any recent voting figures from the American parliament when issues ratifying the involvement of the United States in Vietnam were before it?
– I am glad that the honorable member has given me an opportunity to put these criticisms in their proper perspective. I do not have details of all the recent voting. What does remain in my mind, because of the significance which I felt should be attached to it, is the recent vote in the United States Senate on the defence appropriations, including the provision of funds for the conduct of the military operations in Vietnam. The Senate vote on that issue was 87 to nil.
– J desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry the following questions. As the Country Party, in its recently announced “Ditch the Liberal Party “ policy, declared that it supports the encouragement of overseas capital to invest directly and through international loans to assist in the development of Australia, and in view of the declaration of the Minister himself that too great a dependence on overseas capital robs a nation of its freedom, 1 ask him: When is the point of too much dependence on overseas capital reached? Will it be in a very few years when over 50 per cent, of Australian industries are owned overseas? Is foreign owned capital helping Australians to develop this country now that only 30 per cent, of our industries are owned overseas? Will Australians be helped -
– Order! I think it might be a desperate throw at the finish, but I suggest that the honorable member is giving information when he should be seeking it.
– I am seeking information.
– Order! The honorable member will direct his question.
– That is what I am doing, Sir.
– Then the honorable member will do it properly.
– Will Australians be helping foreign investors to run the big business of Australia when, in a very few years, over 50 per cent, of this country is owned by overseas investors?
– The policy of my Party is to be found in the document which has been issued. My own views on this matter have been stated quite frequently, in this Parliament formally and outside in other addresses, and there is no need for me again to repeat my views, which are quite positive but which contain qualifications. What is interesting in this regard is that the views I have expressed have been expressed in the interests of the Australian nation as I see them. Until I raised this matter I had never heard a single member of the Australian Labour Party declare any consciousness of it at all. Since J. have raised the matter members of the Australian Labour Party have raised it frequently in this House, not in the interests of the Australian nation but to try to snatch some party political advantage from it, which is a pretty poor thing.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. In the absence of recent Press reports on the subject, would the right honorable gentleman inform the House as to the present position with regard to Communist subversion in the Malaysian State of Sarawak? Is this Communist activity increasing in this State or not? When may we expect the Australian Labour Party to begin to call this subversion a genuine patriotic uprising?
– I cannot give the honorable member any recent information about any change in the situation in Sarawak. The relationship between Sarawak and the rest of the Malaysian Federation is a matter that is receiving the close attention of the Government in Kuala Lumpur and I believe the outcome there will be one which will be quite satisfactory to Australia. It has been known for some time that there has been some minor element of dissidence in Sarawak, but I believe the Malaysian Government is able to deal with this quite competently and in a way that will give a quite satisfactory outcome.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. How many of the nine questions standing in my name on the notice paper which he still has not answered for me does he expect to answer today? I am not concerned merely with the one about the difference in the Commonwealth’s treatment of the Tumut road and the Captains Flat and Bateman’s Bay roads, which has been on the notice paper since 20th September. I am interested just as much in the three questions which have been on the notice paper since the day this session commenced. I ask him, for instance, why it has taken him so much longer to secure an answer for me concerning the ships -which Aus tralia charters and subsidises when this question is in the same terms as those I have put each year to his predecessor and which his predecessor answered on 11th September 1963 and 30th September 1964, before the last general election, and on a similar question concerning drought areas and cloud seeding techniques developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, for which he is responsible to the House. 1 remind the honorable gentleman that there are six other questions which he might not consider or concede to be so important.
– I do not know of any Parliament in which a greater volume of questions has been put, in particular by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and in which a greater number has been answered by the Government, lt is my own wish and intention to give as much information as practicable to honorable members who seek information. In many instances this involves a tremendous amount of research and a great deal of departmental time and activity. However, 1 do not begrudge that when the questions are asked in a genuine search for information. I believe the honorable gentleman has ret an all time record in the number of questions he has asked. In the aggregate I should think I have answered hundreds of questions myself in the course of this Parliament, questions asked by him alone. On some of the matters he has raised I know that I cleared answers to about 20 questions after midnight last night. If there has not been time to have them processed and cleared from the notice paper by now, then I have no doubt this will occur in the course of the day. Some of the questions referred to stand in my mind as questions which I answered at that point of time. If there are others, I shall see, if it is humanly practicable to do so, that the honorable member has answers before the election campaigning commences.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether it is correct that the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement is terminable upon 12 months’ notice. If it is correct, did the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Douglas Jay, during his visit to Australia, seek to have established a trade agreement upon a more substantial basis than the one to which I have referred? Would it be possible for the right honorable gentleman to give some broad indication of the nature of the talks that he and the President of the Board of Trade held when Mr. Jay was in this country?
– I think, from memory - 1 am not perfectly sure - that the Trade Agreement, which I know was firm for five years, is terminable upon six months’ notice, not 12 months. The position with relation to the duration of the agreement at present is that at a meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers held at a formative period early in the negotiations for the Kennedy Round, it was decided that there really was no purpose in trying to re-negotiate a further long term trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom when the United Kingdom had decided that it would make an offer of a 50 per cent, reduction in tariffs in the Kennedy Round negotiations. A 50 per cent, reduction in tariffs on those items of trade in respect of which Australia enjoys a preference would mean that Australia’s preferential position would be halved and therefore the balance of advantage would be substantially altered. In view of this possible outcome of the Kennedy Round negotiations, we agreed that the best thing to do was to continue the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement in being for an indeterminate but terminable period. I am sure the position must be that we shall review this situation so soon as the Kennedy Round negotiations are concluded, and it is pretty clear in my mind that these must be concluded within about six months because the permission of the American Administration to grant tariff concessions terminates on 30th June next.
If Britain’s offer of a 50 per cent, cut in tariffs is accepted and put into force, the terms of any existing agreement between Australia and the United Kindgom, or indeed the question whether there should be any agreement at all, will have to be examined after the conclusion of the Kennedy Round negotiations. If that were substantially the position, then we could have a re-negotiation to examine the balance of advantage of the trading position and to readjust that balance if both governments so desired.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether he is aware of the tragic loss of life of five underground mine workers at Wyee State Mine in the electorate of Robertson last Friday. Will he, as a matter of urgency, use the Government’s powers under the Coal industry Act, to have the necessary amendments made to the Coals Mines Regulation Act, which were recommended by a court of inquiry following the recent Bulli mine disaster?
– Naturally I am aware of this disaster and 1 extend my deepest sympathy to all relatives of the men involved in it. 1 can assure the honorable member that the recent falls of rock are being investigated. The Joint Coal Board does not administer the New South Wales Coal Mines Regulation Act. It is administered by the State Government. As the honorable member will realise, any alterations of the provisions of this Act can be implemented only with the agreement of the Commonwealth Government. 1 am assured by the Board that alterations to the regulations proposed as a result of the Bulli disaster will have no application to the recent accident. 1 can assure him also that the Commonwealth has not at any time been responsible for any major delay in the alterations of the regulations requested by the New South Wales Government. That Government took nearly four months to study the results of the inquiry into the Bulli accident and to decide what action should be taken. We have dealt with the matter speedily but have recommended certain minor alterations that we believe are necessary. I understand that the two Governments are now in a position to negotiate the completion of the required alterations of the Coal Mines Regulation Act.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, is directly related to two previous questions of a general nature that T have asked on the same matter. I now ask: In view of the drastic restrictions which have been imposed on water usage for irrigation and domestic purposes in the Murray Valley this season and which have very recently been removed, can consideration be given, as a matter of urgency, to the construction of added water storage facilities upstream from the Hume Dam in order to lessen the likelihood of a recurrence of similar serious water shortages in the area which is served by the dam and which produces so much of Australia’s wealth?
– The River Murray Commission is undertaking preliminary studies of two possible sites for future major storages above the Hume Weir. If these studies indicate that either of the sites would be suitable for a major storage, closer investigations will be made to see whether the work should proceed. As the honorable member knows, there is in the Snowy Mountains Agreement a clause that states that the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority is responsible for either paying half the cost of increasing the capacity of the Hume Weir from 2 million to 2) million acre feet or else constructing a major storage on the headwaters of the River Murray. The option does not have to be exercised before 1974. It had always been expected until now that the Authority would pay the cost of raising the height of the Hume Weir, which is estimated, I understand, at about $4 million. But it is now possible that the Authority will not do this. If it does not build a major storage this sum will be available for the building of a storage at one of the two sites now being investigated by the River Murray Commission.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. I ask: Will he make arrangements so that national servicemen who are still in Australia at Christmas can spend it with their families? Further, will he consider giving them extended leave so that they can celebrate Christmas and New Year at home?
– There will be no distinction between national servicemen and members of the Australian Regular Army during the Christmas and New Year period. The Army intends to make it possible for as many soldiers - both regulars and national servicemen - as possible to be at home over Christmas and the New Year. However, if certain matters have to be looked after in various units throughout
Australia over the period, men will have to be on duty for the purpose. Any agreements that are made will extend equal consideration to both national servicemen and regulars.
– I ask the Prime Minis ter a question. The right honorable gentleman will be aware of frequent attacks upon the Government by its opponents because we are trading in non-strategic goods with China, which is held to be our enemy. Is it correct to say that we fight not against nations and nationalities but against an international force destroying the values, the principles and the integrity of nations and international society? Has our refusal to identify nations such as Indonesia with the real enemy - Communism - and our policy of trading with them while deterring their aggressive policies been vindicated by recent history? Finally, does the Prime Minister consider that the deliberate obscuring of the real nature of our struggle in Asia by both right and left wings of Labour is aiding and comforting Australia’s enemies?
– The Government does not regard China and the 700 million people of China as our enemy. The Government regards aggressive international Communism as our enemy and wherever that occurs we do what we can to resist it. This applies inside Australia as well as outside Australia. 1 do not think I should attempt to deal with all the matters raised in the honorable gentleman’s question. I shall study it carefully and see whether I can give him a detailed reply later. I assure him that the Government recognises that there are people of goodwill in every country. It may be that at a particular time there are regimes in some countries that are abhorrent to us. It may be that within our own country there are people who hold views abhorrent to us. We deal with situations to the best of our ability in the interests of Australian security and those principles of freedom and personal liberty which we hold so dear.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. The right honorable gentleman will recall that during World War II all servicemen serving overseas received their pay. lax free. Will he stud) the present position to see whether it is possible to extend that concession now to all serving servicemen because at present all servicemen are liable to serve overseas? I have been advised that to extend this concession will cost about S6.8 million a year. Does thi Prime Minister not think that this would be a good source of advertising, bearing in mind that about S2 million is about to be spent on recruiting advertising?
– The question raises some budgetary considerations in that the honorable gentleman seeks to have concessions applied over a wide field. From time to time, the Government has considered conditions of service and rates of pay of servicemen so that it might deal not only justly but also liberally with Australian serving men. 1 recall that when I last reviewed this matter the Australian private serving man ranked as the highest paid serving man in his category anywhere in the world. I think that position still holds. So we have not dealt in any niggardly way with those who serve this country. The honorable gentleman has raised a matter of policy - even budgetary policy, f undertake to look at it and have some discussions about it with my colleagues.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of an increasing interest in and apprehension about the appearance of dip resistant cattle tick in Queensland? ls he aware that there arc widely divergent views among experts as to the best approach to this problem? As this is a national problem and not one confined to Queensland, will the Minister consider holding an urgent expert inquiry into it with a view to deciding upon effective measures which may lead to an early and effective attack upon this serious problem?
– I am interested in the question asked by the honorable member. I was also interested in a speech he made in the House in which he suggested an approach that could eradicate ticks. His suggestion was far reaching, but if it could be adopted and if we could remove cattle from the affected areas for the necessary time, no doubt his scheme would be successful. I note his suggestion for a thorough investigation. However, I can assure him that this is already under way. Only in the last week 1 saw a statement that the experts hope that they now have a dip that will meet the purpose and they believe they can make headway against this scourge. I assure the honorable member that I will certainly do anything 1 can at the Commonwealth level. I will keep in touch with my Department and the Queensland Department, and if necessary I will contact the New South Wales Department and follow up his suggestion.
– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, relates to the welfare of our troops in Vietnam and Malaysia. Is the Government aware of the valiant but struggling efforts of the Overseas Amenities Fund to raise money for the purchase of amenities for Australian troops in Vietnam and Malaysia? Are donations to the Fund deductible for taxation purposes? Do the amenities sorely needed by our troops in Vietnam include, as I have been told by local Army authorities, sporting gear and other recreational equipment? Does it not seem shameful and extremely paltry that, at a time when the Government has budgeted $1,000 million for defence requirements, it should leave to the vicissitudes of private donors the provision of such comforts and amenities for our troops in theatres of war?
– I will see what information I can secure promptly for the honorable gentleman. However, a reply I have already given to a question has made clear that the Government can stand comparison with any government in the world for the provision it makes for its servicemen, not only in their pay but also in amenities and in other directions. The tradition through all the wars and similar disturbances that I can recall during my time in public life and before that, regardless of the Government in office-
– The Government will not even bring home the bodies of the dead.
– Order! The honorable member has asked his question.
– I do not recall the Labour Government bringing all the bodies back home when it was in office. 1 do not recall the Labour Government finding it unnecessary to have Salvation
Army services. Australian Comforts Fund services and other similar services during a period of war. Many Australians welcome the opportunity to supplement the quite reasonable and. I believe, adequate provision that the Government makes for its servicemen, whether serving in peacetime conditions or in conditions of hostilities. When the honorable gentleman says that what we are doing is inadequate for our servicemen he reflects not only on the Government but also I think on those who support the Government so strongly, and that is a considerable majority of the Australian people.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. The Minister will recall that I asked whether he would, when practicable on his world tours, refer to the promised vote for selfdetermination of the residents of what is now called West Irian. I ask: Is there any reason why this subject, once very often heard in discussions, has apparently ceased to create interest? Is the United Nations preparing for the vote, and will Australians and representatives of other countries be allowed to be in West Irian at the time of the poll, as observers?
– On my recent visit to Djakarta in order to meet and have conversations with the new Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Mr. Malik, this question was raised and was discussed with complete readiness and frankness between Mr. Malik and myself. Mr. Malik made one of his earliest duties as Foreign Minister a visit to Sukarnopura in West New Guinea in order to inform himself of conditions there. He assured me that he recognised the obligation that Indonesia had incurred of carrying out an act of ascertainment in West New Guinea and his intention to comply with that obligation.
– Before I ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry may I say that I have received a note from the Prime Minister informing me that he has approved answers for eight of the nine outstanding questions on the notice paper in my name and that the answer to the other question, dealing with the Canberra-Tumut road, has been drafted and is on the way to me from his Department.
– 1 have also given the Deputy Leader of the Opposition the last question in this Parliament.
– Yes, and 1 acknowledge that.
– My question lo the Minister for Primary Industry arises from an answer which I have just received from the Minister for Customs and Excise in which he informs me that as a result of conversations with the Department of Primary Industry a bylaw exemption was granted two days ago for the importaion of whale oil for the manufacture of margarine. Since in the answer the Minister for Customs and Excise tells me that the value of the bylaw exemption last year was over $130,000- - virtually a subsidy for the margarine industry - I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Did his Department approve of a bylaw exemption for the same amount of whale oil for margarine “his year as it approved for last year?
– I cannot remember all the details, but the principle thai has always been adopted has been that, provided the locally produced oil is bought at a satisfactory Australian price, with a view to keeping the cost down to the consuming public certain primary products can be brought in at a concessional rate. That applies to peanut oil. If the local product is purchased, then by a Tariff Board decision, approved by the Government and the Parliament, three gallons of imported oil for every gallon of oil from locally crushed nuts is permitted to come in at a concession rate.
– My question related to whale oil.
– The same principle applies. It -does not necessarily follow that all of the whale oil is for margarine. This is where the question is perhaps misdirected. The oil that is imported - and the quantity of all varieties was 35,000 tons last year - is used for edible and other purposes and part only would be used for margarine. I doubt whether much of that oil goes into margarine manufacture. However, it would not affect the overall position, because the locally produced oil, plus the 35,000 tons of imported oil, would be used only to the extent laid down in quotas prescribed by the States. The balance of all vegetable oils is used for other purposes.
.- I presentthe following paper -
International Monetary Agreements Act - Annual Report on operations of the Act, and insofar as they relate to Australia, of the International Monetary Fund Agreement and the International Bank Agreement for year 1965-66.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 2320), on motion by Hr. Harold Holt-
That the House take note of the following paper - Manila Summit Conference - Ministerial Statement, 27th October 1966.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) speaking without limitation of time.
.- Today is the fiftieth anniversay of the defeat of the first conscription referendum in 1916. I think that this is an appropriate day on which to again state our opposition to the conscription policy of the Holt Government of today - the conscription of half a century later. Whether by accident or design, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) made it clear beyond all doubt on his return to Australia from the Manila Conference on Wednesday night last that his Government, if re-elected on 26th November, will increase Australia’s commitment in Vietnam. This means therefore, that the main issue on which the elections will be fought will be conscription. It cannot be anything else. The issue must be conscription because, without conscription, Australia cannot sustain the commit ment made by the Menzies Government and increased by the Holt Government for any length of time.
For months past, the Government has been guilty of evasion and deceit in relation to the extent of our commitment in Vietnam. The Prime Minister has made it clear that he intends to send more conscripts to Vietnam but not until the elections are over. Between now and 26th November the Government proposes to disclose nothing about its commitments to Mr. Johnson and Marshal Ky at Manila. Please God, when the elections are over we will have a new Prime Minister in Australia. We certainly need one. During the absence of the Prime Minister the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), in answer to my question about Australia’s commitment in Vietnam, said quite definitely and unequivocally that the Federal Government had not considered sending any more troops. So here we have a situation in whichthe Prime Minister says one thing and the Deputy Prime Minister says quite the opposite. Perhaps the Prime Minister is ignoring his Deputy Prime Minister and I certainly would not like to even insinuate that the Deputy Prime Minister was prevaricating. I am sure he was not. No doubt the Prime Minister made his mind up at Manila. If that much heralded Conference has achieved nothing else it has made it a certainty that more Australian conscripts will be fighting and dying in Vietnam if the Government wins.
The Prime Minister has called this Conference an historic event - the most historic in his lifetime. Most commentators have called the Manila Conference a fiasco and, that to me, is the only description that can be attached to it. The only signature to the document that is worth anything is that of the President of the United States, because his signature means something. There was no signature of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, of the President of France, of the foreign affairs ministers of France or of Russia. There was no signature of the Prime Minister of Japan. Those signatures were all missing. If these other powers were not there, how could this have been a conference for the purpose of bringing peace not only to Vietnam but to the whole of Asia - a peace which, in the Prime Minister’s words, is necessary to the peace of the world? The only power represented that has any real authority in the world today on the Western side was the United States of America.
The Holt Government no longer stands by its statement that the war will continue until China is defeated. It does not want Communism to be rolled back; it only wants Communism to be stopped from rolling forward. I do not know what force China can use to extend Communism south of its present boundaries. It certainly cannot send an army ‘fo invade any country. It has no navy; it Has no mercantile marine, and it will not be in a position to have any in the next 30 or 40 years. All it has with which to transport troops today is a collection of junks and sampans. Our egregious Government says China is our enemy; but the same Government is more interested to give this enemy favoured nation treatment if it will only trade with us. The contradiction is incredible and the attempt to mislead disgraceful.
I would like to know the Prime Minister’s attitude to free elections in South Vietnam, and what he would say if South Vietnam ended up with a Titoist type of government, or the type of government that exists in Finland and existed in Indonesia before the abortive coup - with Communists in their Cabinets. His thoughts have not been projected so far ahead. With Australia having a token force of 4,500 and New Zealand 200, and wilh the Philippines and Thailand also contributing little, there is certainly nothing to justify the foolish, the nonsensical claim that our Government is playing a worthwhile part in preventing the onward rush of Communism.
The truth about the Manila Conference is that there was no time to discuss peace. The first day was spent discussing the war and any pronouncements on peace were so much padding to make the communique sound good. The Prime Minister himself has made it clear that peace was a sort of secondary consideration. I shall give the House two quotations from his speech last night -
We devoted a good share of our discussions to peace objectives, reviewing the many efforts for peace already undertaken.
This shows that nothing new in the way of peace proposals was even considered. Then he said -
The question of peace was given a great deal of attention in the conference itself.
I think, Sir, that in common with the rest of mankind we were under the impression that the main purpose of this conference was to find a way of gaining peace. The conference was, in fact, described as a conference for peace, not a conference for war. It is obvious that discussions on peace were very low on the agenda list.
– Not correct.
– This summit conference has reached a consensus on war. There is no evidence that it has reached a consensus on peace. The Prime Minister says that that is wrong, but I am sure it is right. If there is any evidence to disprove what I say, let some Minister give it, because the Prime Minister has not given it.
Of course, some sort of agreement was announced on the conduct of the war. To counter any possible losses in the American congressional elections on 8th November, President Johnson wanted a declaration of absolute resolve. President Marcos was the dove but I think the Korean and South Vietnamese representatives were the hawks. Where the people expected a worthwhile programme for an early peace, they have been regaled with cliches, platitudes, sophistries and schoolboy aphorisms. Our Prime Minister, who has dodged answering vital questions about our future security, now wants a blank cheque to enable him to dispose of the life of every man of military age in Australia in any campaign in which Australia is already engaged or in which it may become involved during the lifetime of the next Parliament.
There are 600,000 mothers in Australia with sons aged between 15 and 20 years. Does the Prime Minister really expect those mothers to give him a mandate to send their boys to any war to kill or be killed, anywhere he chooses? Does he expect the fathers and brothers and sisters of those young men to give him a vote of confidence as he plans to drag the boys from their homes after their numbers have been chosen from a death barrel to fight in an undeclared, unwinnable war, a war which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has said cannot be won by either side and a war in which neither side should surrender? The same Minister was perfectly right when he said the war in Vietnam could be stopped only by agreement.
The Minister made these statements before the United Nations on 27th September last, and then, just a few days later, when addressing the American-Australian Association in New York, he said that the war in Vietnam must not end prematurely and that the fighting must go on until its purpose has been achieved. In other words, the Minister is saying that the people of Vietnam must not be given the opportunity of having a negotiated peace as quickly as possible. This shows the confused mind of the Government on whether or not they want peace. They are frightened of peace.
The confusion in the Government’s attitude towards Vietnam reflects the contradictions which are becoming more apparent in statements by United States’ spokesmen. The military advisers of President Johnson want to escalate the war. And the Prime Minister says that he will accept anything that the military advisers suggest to President Johnson. The Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk, says that the war must not be escalated. Sir, I have a very real fear-
– When did I make that statement? 1 challenge the Leader of the Opposition to say when I made any such statement.
– What statement?
– That I would accept unreservedly the views of the military advisers.
– Every person in Australia knows it. I will give the Prime Minister a photostat copy of it and I will give him my autograph. The Prime Minister was reported as having said that, and he has never denied it. What I am telling the House is the complete truth, and I say it on my honour.
– The “ Sydney Morning Herald “?
Mr. CALWELL__ No. The Melbourne “ Herald “.
– Produce it now and show it to me.
– The Government is trying to run away from it now. They do not want to fight on the issue of conscription. I have a very real fear that the Americans are getting impatient with the war, and it is up to the Australian Government to use its influence to ensure that this impatience does not lead to hasty military decisions to further escalate the war by more bombings or by an invasion of North Vietnam. And let us be realistic; the Americans, only, make all the decisions in this matter. The Allies have never been consulted very much on Vietnam policy, either on the military field or on the attempts to persuade the North Vietnamese to negotiate. Australia and the other Allies, for instance, were not invited to the hurriedly called Honolulu Conference between President Johnson and the South Vietnamese leaders last February. The Manila Conference, at least, did correct this oversight.
The Labor Party will be completely happy to fight the election on the issue of conscription and on the other issues that affect the well being of the whole community, such as increased social services, the planned abolition of the means test, the development of the north, the need to control prices and interest rates, and the pressing need to assist education. We on this side of the House put Australia first. We will ask the people to support our policy of a better Australia for all Australians, wherever they live and regardless of how they voted in previous elections, or whether they are voting for the first time.
The Australian Labor Party believes that Australia should continue as an independent nation inside the Commonwealth of Nations. We believe that Australia, as an independent nation, should possess an independent foreign policy and that this policy should be designed to make Australia strong and secure, with its people enjoying the highest living standards. We maintain the attitude adopted by the Curtin and Chifley Governments in this regard, and that means that wc condemn the subservience and the obsequiousness in foreign affairs of the Holt Government.
One of the greatest obstacles in the way of negotiated peace in Vietnam is the political instability in South Vietnam. Air Vice Marshal Ky is faced with a serious rebellion inside his Cabinet. It is not my wish to see more turbulence occur in that tortured country, but it is an obvious fact that political stability simply does not exist in South Vietnam. Government after
Government has been bolstered up by American might and prestige only to fall victim to its own corruption and lack of popular support.
With the exception of the South Korean divisions, the allied contributions in Vietnam are not vital or decisive from any military sense, other than the American contribution, but the Johnson Administration regards them as valuable from a propaganda point of view. I mean that they regard our contribution as valuable from a propaganda point of view. It suits the interest of the present American Administration.
– The newspapers are saying just that.
– Of course they are. They have been saying it for a long time. The Holt Government, which has blindly committed Australia to go al! the way with L.B.J. , will increase our involvement in Vietnam. The Prime Minister has freely admitted that this is his intention. It is significant that while he was in Australia President Johnson said, publicly to our Prime Minister, in relation to Vietnam: “ My work is not done. Nor is yours “. That leaves no doubt in my mind that we arc going to become even more, involved in the Vietnam mess unless the Government is defeated. I will interrupt myself to say that while President Johnson was in Australia he never once mentioned conscription.
– Why should he?
– Well, he said a lot of other things. He said: “ My work is not done. Nor is yours “. That was a statement of great significance. In referring to the Manila Conference, on his a! rival at Sydney the Prime Minister said: “ lt went beyond our best expectations “. That phrase has a certain regal ring about it, but it exposes the fact that very little must have been expected to come out of it anyhow.
– Did the Leader of the Opposition object to American conscripts in the last war?
– If America cares to send conscripts, that is her business. But there can be no continued commitment by Australia unless we conscript on a greater scale than we are doing now. In two years time, if this Government lasts, practically every Australian boy fighting in Vietnam will be a conscript. That is not the position in the United States. Thu: 75 per cent, of servicemen are volunteers. Britain has no conscription, but she has 57,000 troops deployed east of Suez and many thousands more in West Germany.
– They do not have full employment in Britain.
– Ah! So we can get volunteers in Australia if we put on mass unemployment? That is what is being suggested on the Government side of the House. The world was left hoping for great things from Manila, but in the United States the Conference has now been accepted as the President’s own spectacular election gimmick. And one Melbourne news commentator summed it up quite well when he wrote: “ So fat as major peace moves or war moves were concerned, the Manila summit laboured for a brief 1 2 hours and brought forth a mouse “. This is the sad truth; the world was really taken in by the big parade to be followed by an acute sense of disappointment.
What did the allies expect to achieve in 12 hours of discussion, particularly when so much of this time was spent drafting the final announcement? They spent more time drafting the final announcement than they did on the discussions that they engaged in. We must all support any efforts made in the cause of peace, but it is to be hoped that there will be no more Manila-style conferences. Perhaps after the mid-term Congressional elections are held in America on 8th November there may be a more serious attempt to gain peace in Vietnam.
The two people who will be most responsible for bringing about peace in Vietnam will be Mr. George Brown, the British Foreign Secretary, and Mr. Gromyko, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia. They are the co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference and they are getting closer to a peace settlement than Marshal Ky could get with his principal admirer in this country, our own Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister has quite rightly referred to the “ sad and dreadful situation “ in Vietnam. There is no glory in Vietnam. On 2nd January 1954 the French Commander in Chief. General HenriEugene Navarre. said -
I fully expect the defeat of the Communist Union after six more months of hard fighting.
Yes. that was said in 1954 - 12 years ago. On 9th March 1955 the then United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Foster Dulles, said -
I was much impressed by Prime Minister Diem of free Vietnam. He is a true patriot, dedicated to independence and the enjoyment by his people of political and religious freedom.
But he was murdered by Marshal Ky, the Prime Minister’s friend.
Government members. - Oh!
– Withdraw that.
– He was. Marshal Ky murdered Diem and Diem’s brother, and another brother sought asylum in an American consulate but was handed over to the Diem Government and murdered.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. There is a Standing Order which makes it disorderly to refer in a disparaging way to the head of government of a friendly country.
-Order! The Prime Ministers point of order is well taken. There is a Standing Order which makes it disorderly to reflect upon the head of government of a friendly power, members of the Royal family and others. I think the Leader of the Opposition should withdraw his remark.
– 1 withdraw the remark. On 31st October 1963 the United States commander in South Vietnam, General Paul D. Harkins, said -
I can safely see the end of the war in sight.
This was the American commander in 1963. Then about six months later, on 19th February 1964, Mr. Robert McNamara said -
The United States hopes to withdraw most of its troops from South Vietnam before the end of 1965.
Another year has passed and the troops are still there. If the Holt Government is re-elected they will be there at the end of the triennium of the next Parliament. The Government just does not know what is happening in Vietnam and does not know what is likely to happen there. The truth of the position in Vietnam has been stated by Senator Robert Kennedy who suggested that the United States offer the National Liberation Front and other dis contented elements in South Vietnam a share of the power and responsibility. Also, President Johnson has said that if free elections return a government which includes Communists, the American Government will recognise it. Today we were told by the Prime Minister that his Government would not recognise it. So now he is not going all the way with L.B.J.
Senator Kennedy said that this would be the best way of getting a negotiated settlement. He said also that there were three things one can do with those groups, both Communist and non-Communist, who desire to change the existing political and economic system in that country - kill or repress them, turn the country over to them, or admit them to a share of power and responsibility. That is what he said; it is possible that he will be the next American President and we will have to deal with him.
– Not a chance.
– The Treasurer said that Senator Robert Kennedy has not a chance, but that is for the American people to say. His popularity is outrunning President Johnson’s popularity at the moment. Of the three alternatives mentioned by Senator Kennedy, he chose the last. He said also -
We must be willing to face the uncertainties of election and the possibility of an eventual vote on reunification. We must reveal enough of our intentions to Hanoi to eliminate any reasonable fear that we ask them to talk now, only to demand their surrender.
– How does he vote in the Senate?
– He votes to support the Administration, of course, and so do all the Republicans.
– What do you do here?
– I am trying to lead this country back to sanity. Senator Kennedy said also -
Now, if you’re going to talk about a negotiated settlement you should talk about it realistically. Those who argue for a negotiated settlement without facing up to the implications of what that means are, I think, being less than realistic and less than candid. One of the facts of life that you have to face up to is that the Communists, or dissident elements, will play some role in the Government, at some point, as a result of a negotiated settlement in which both sides make some concessions.
I think that is the position. That is what many Americans say, and I think they arc right. I believe that Senator Kennedy has put the matter wisely and well, fairly and factually, i am sure that President Johnson, like the vast majority of Americans, is just as anxious foi’ peace as anyone else. Unfortunately, both in Australia and in America there are too many people who talk about a negotiated peace and have no conception of what this will involve. That is why so many plans for peace have failed; they have not been realistic; they have not been put forward with the real situation ir Vietnam in view. We cannot go on deluding ourselves that Vietnam is a bastion of democracy or a battleground of freedom and that the Vietnamese people want to be just like us in matters of domestic politics and international relationships.
The dangerous situation in South Vietnam is aggravated by the intemperate titterings of Prime Minister Marshal Ky. While America’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Arthur Goldberg, told a United Nations week observance in Dallas, Texas, that there were a few faint signals that North Vietnam wanted to talk peace, Marshal Ky, on his return to Saigon from Manila, a couple of days ago, made it clear that he was as determined as ever not to negotiate with the Vietcong. Marshal Ky vowed to fight to the end. The peacemaking efforts at Manila have had little effect on him. Is the Australian Government proposing to allow Marshal Ky to fight to the end, to the last Australian? Will the Government say just where it stands on that? The honorable member for Hatton (Mr. Reynolds) has sought but failed to put certain matters before the Parliament in regard to the position of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. A delegation visited that country some time ago and a report was made to Parliament. I propose to quote from an extract of the official report of the delegation which was circulated only two days ago. It states -
Mr. Lee said that he was not in favour of the isolation of China, which he felt simply made China less tractable and led it to adopt more aggressive policies. He nevertheless considered that a firm stand in Vietnam was necessary for the security of South East Asia, although he had similar doubts to those expressed by Tunku Abdul Rahman about the solidity of the foundation in Vietnam for such a stand.
My honorable friend told me that in addressing them Mr. Lee said - the Vietnam problem could only be fruitfully examined in the much broader context of South East Asia. Vietnam could not be treated as an entity in itself.
The honorable member for Barton added that Mr. Lee said that, in his view, unless healthier relations developed between the United States of America and some of her friends, on the one hand, and China on the other, there would be “ several 4 Vietnams ‘ in South East Asia “. He continued -
Being of Chinese birth, he claimed that though he was strongly opposed to their Communist regime he could readily understand their mind. Their attitude, he said, was just the obverse of that of the United Slates of America and her friends. He described the latter’s view as an overwhelming suspicion that China was out to undermine and subvert all non-Communist governments in her neighbourhood with a view lo overrunning those countries. China, on the other hand, believes earnestly and fervently that America and her friends are out to bolster up all kinds of hostile governments around China’s border with the ultimate aim of infiltration and subversion of China itself. (t is well that these opinions of Mr. Harry Lee Kuan Yew should be on record, as well as the garbled . accounts which have been served up to us in this Parliament in recent times.
I have spoken about the attitude of the Prime Minister. He says that our commitment in Vietnam will be reviewed. It will be reviewed upwards. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Mc Ewen) said that it is a sad situation in Vietnam. Every speaker on the Government side has said that conscription is regrettable but necessary. Not one Government spokesman in this House or anywhere else is proud of the Government’s conscription policy. Ministers were so anxious to quieten public feeling on this matter that, on 14th April last, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) was reported in the Melbourne “ Age “ as having said -
The Government had declared to Australia and to her allies that the task force commitment of 4,500 had to be regarded as the utter limit of Australia’s contribution to the war in Vietnam.
I repeat, the Minister for Defence said that in April last. Now, in October, the Prime Minister says, in effect: “ Give us a blank cheque and trust us to win the war in Vietnam.” The same Minister for Defence said that I was completely irresponsible when I suggested that Australia would have 10,000 national servicemen in Vietnam within a year. Now that the Prime Minister is asking for a blank cheque to conscript whomever he likes, is it irresponsible to suggest that he will double our commitment in Vietnam if he wins the elections. He could treble the commitment to 15,000 and still be going only part of the way with L.B.J. Going all the way with L.B.J, means conscripting all Australian youths. The only reason there are not more soldiers in Vietnam is that we do not have any more. We have eight battalions. Four of those were formed six months ago. If they were all battle trained, they would be in Vietnam now.
I ask the Australian people not to cast a blood vote for the Holt Government and conscription. A vote for Labour will be a vote against conscription. Conscription is the issue that faces the nation as the 25th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia moves quietly to its close and the campaign for the election of the 26th Parliament is about to commence.
– This is a debate on a statement made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Holt, regarding proceedings at the Manila Conference, accompanied by the tabling of the documents which were produced by that Conference, lt would be hard, after listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to be aware that that was the subject matter of the debate. In characteristic fashion, as he has done on so many occasions when solemn national issues have been brought before the Parliament; he talked of everything else; he skirted all round the place; he made many wild statements which cannot be verified; and failed completely to face up to the central issue and tell us the views of the Opposition on the great matters that are raised in the debate now before us - the great issues which were clearly stated by the Prime Minister and which are contained in the declaration and in the communique issued after the Manila Conference.
I shall not attempt to pursue the honorable gentleman through all the statements he made, but I think there is one point that ne:ds to be stated quite clearly so that there can be no misunderstanding about it in the minds of the Australian public. It relates to the question of commitment. As the Prime Minister has said, both in his statement and by interjection, there was no commitment asked for and no commitment given with respect to a further contribution of any particular size, of troops to fight” in Vietnam. The Prime Minister has made it quite clear that our position, simply and straightforwardly stated, is that the Australian people know our policy. We have declared it plainly and sincerely and with all the honesty that we can command. We have put that policy before the Australian people. If, on that policy, the Australian people return this Government to power at the coming elections, as we confidently believe they will do, then, consistent with that policy, we will make decisions in the light of circumstances as they arise regarding ways in which Australia can best serve that policy. That is the only point I want to take up from the wanderings and the vague and inaccurate statements that were made by the Leader of the Opposition.
The Opposition clearly derides this Conference. The Leader of the Opposition said he hoped there would be no more Manila style conferences. In order to test that kind of criticism, I think we need to learn from the Opposition just what it is that honorable members opposite object to in what the Conference declared. The Conference produced three documents. What passages in those documents does the Opposition reject? What is the precise disagreement honorable members opposite have with them? What is the proposition that the Opposition can test and say is a wrong proposition?
I should like to recite the preamble to the Declaration of Peace and Progress in Asia and the Pacific. It commences -
Having faith in the purposes and principles of the United Nations . . .
This is something based on the Charter of the United Nations. Do honorable members opposite say that they disagree with propositions based on the Charter of the United Nations? The declaration goes on to talk of our determination that aggression shall not be rewarded. Does the Opposition propose that aggression should be rewarded? Or do honorable members opposite subscribe to the simple proposition that aggression should not be rewarded? The declaration then goes on to talk of respecting the right of all peoples to choose and maintain their own forms of government. Does the Opposition refuse to subscribe to that proposition? In particular, do honorable members opposite put forward the proposition that the people of South Vietnam, singularly among all the peoples of the world, should not have the right to choose and maintain their own forms of government? The declaration goes on to refer to the seeking of a peaceful settlement of the war in Vietnam. Does the Opposition deny that proposition? The declaration also speaks of being greatly encouraged by the growing regional understanding and regional co-operation among the free nations of Asia and the Pacific. Is that sort of development, which is so pleasing and so encouraging to all of us on this side of the House and which is so fateful for the whole future of the Australian nation, the sort of thing honorable members opposite deplore? Or is it something they believe is good? It was on those recitals that the nations at Manila proceeded to a declaration of peace and progress in Asia.
We and the Australian people are entitled to hear from honorable members opposite whether they subscibe to the aims ma! were declared at Manila - that aggression must not succeed; that we must break the bonds of poverty, illiteracy and disease; that we must strengthen economic, social and cultural co-operation within the Asian and Pacific region and that we must seek reconciliation and peace throughout Asia. There is no more important spokesman who can speak for the Opposition than its Leader. When he said that he hoped that there would be no more Manila style conferences, did he mean that the Opposition does not want this sort of thing, that it turns its back on this sort of thing, that it is disappointed that these achievements were made at Manila?
We go on to test the Opposition’s criticism as voiced in the derision that the honorable gentleman levelled at the results of the Conference at Manila. I believe that we can test it by looking at the achievements of the Conference. Digesting the documents of the Conference, I have tried to set down what 1 believe to be its achievements. The first achievement was that it demonstrated the unity of the seven participating Governments. These are seven Governments that have not only used words about the situation in Asia but also backed their words by action - the seven Governments that are prepared to stand by their words by the contribution of forces in support of the principles that they believe have to be applied in Asia. So the first achievement of the Conference was this demonstration of unity - a demonstration which, I am sure, gave reassurance to each of the participants, which gave to the aggressor a plain signal that there was this clear resolution against him and which also gave to the world a manifesto that these seven nations which are leaders in the affairs of Asia and the Pacific are clear in their own minds and resolute in their will about what needs to be done and what they themselves are prepared to do. So the second achievement of the Conference was this reaffirmation of their resolution and determination and their capacity to back their determination.
Another achievement was the clear agreement that they reached on their aims - aims that are limited but firm. I should like to direct attention to the way in which these force contributing Governments clearly show that their aims are limited. In relation to the conflict, they made this quite plain, in these words -
Our common commitment is to the defence of the South Vietnamese people. Our sole demand-
I emphasise the words “ our sole demand “ - on the leaders of North Vietnam is that they abandon their aggression. We are prepared to pursue any avenue which could lead to a secure and just peace whether through discussion and negotiation or through reciprocal actions by both sides to reduce the violence.
Those are clear, limited and non-aggressive aims. They are simple aims designed to achieve the circumstances in which a brighter future can be opened not only for the people of South Vietnam but also for the people of other countries in South East Asia.
Since 1 am talking of peace, may I digress at this point. I should like to refer to something that the Leader of the Opposition said. Summarising a passage in his speech, he said in effect: “ How can we have a peace conference in the absence of the other great powers’? How can we have a peace conference just with the people who were present at the Manila Conference? “ This relates to something which is clearly realised by all of us and which is relevant to a great deal of the chatter about peace that is going on. I do not think that we should declare in advance the precise conditions and circumstances - the actual setting - in which any discussions should take place. I go back again to the statement of aims that I have already quoted, as follows -
We are prepared to pursue any avenue which could lead to a secure and just peace whether through discussion and negotiation or through reciprocal actions by both sides to reduce the violence.
Speaking for myself, 1 say that I realise, as clearly as I realise any other factor in the situation, that peace may be achieved in a variety of ways. We are not to stipulate in advance who should or should not participate in a particular series of discussions. Wc are not to stipulate in advance the terms on which a settlement can be made, lt may be - indeed, this would be the hope of many of us - that in the search for a peaceful settlement we shall have the good offices of countries that are not participating with forces, that we shall have the good offices of great countries that have friendly relations with both Hanoi and Peking. We do not exclude the possibility that others may help us to make peace. We do not reject the various circumstances in which discussions may be brought about.
I return now to the achievements of the Manila Conference. I repeat that there was a clear agreement on the limited but firm aims of the Governments represented at the Conference. As I have indicated, there was a clear agreement on the approach to a peaceful settlement. This was not a rigid approach but one designed to take advantage of any opportunity that may open. This approach recognises that other powers may play a part. Another achievement was a clear statement of long term aims. There was a clear statement of the fact that once certain conditions for security are achieved, the Governments assisting South Vietnam have no wish for their forces to remain, that their installations will be evacuated and their troops withdrawn. Indeed, at one point in the communique there was even something in the nature of a timetable set down in respect of this. I direct particular attention to it. It is expressed in these terms - . . Allied forces are in the Republic of Vietnam because that country is the object of aggression and its Government requested support in the resistance of its people to aggression. They shall be withdrawn, after close consultation, as the other side withdraws its forces to the North, ceases infiltration and the level of violence subsides. Those forces will be withdrawn as soon as possible-
After those conditions have been realised - and not later than six months after the above conditions are fulfilled.
Another achievement of the Conference is one concerning which our Prime Minister has. 1 think, set out very clearly and very eloquently the significance of the primary role that was played in the Conference by South Vietnam. We are supporting South Vietnam at its request. At this Conference, the Government of that country, through the Chairman of its National Leadership Committee and through its Prime Minister, revealed itself as a government with a purpose. If I had time, I could recite to the House - honorable members can find these things stated in the documents - the clear purposes that the Government of South Vietnam has drawn up and the principles to which it has committed itself in respect of what it describes as its revolutionary development programme. The basic concepts of this programme, as revealed to the Conference at Manila, are the eradication of the Vietcong terror, the eradication of what may be unsatisfactory or tyrannical in officialdom, the establishment of a new organisation for the country, an attack on illiteracy and disease, a programme of land reform, the development of agriculture and handicraft industries, and the development of communications. It was in the light of this recital by the South Vietnamese leaders that the other leaders at the Conference pledged their continuing support. This programme of revolutionary development is a programme of hope for the people of South Vietnam and one that could be the beginning of hope for peoples beyond that country. It can succeed only if it is supported directly, actively and continuously. At present, it needs the support of armed forces, because it is essential that security be ensured so that these works may continue. When honorable members study the communique, on which I have based most of my remarks hitherto, as distinct from the declaration, ii will be found to be based largely on the announcement by the Government of South Vietnam of its plans and purposes and the support expressed by its allies to help it to ensure that those plans and purposes can be carried out. There will be continuing co-operation.
One deplores the failure of the Leader of the Opposition to express the views of the Opposition on any of these matters or even to discuss them seriously. One also deplores even more the studied denigration of the Government of South Vietnam. Indeed it seems almost as though the Opposition is hoping for the failure of the Government of South Vietnam, on whose hopes for the future the people of South Vietnam depend so much. In the light of this phase of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, one is entitled to ask and the people of Australia are entitled to ask: What does the Opposition want? Does it want failure in South Vietnam? Does it want confusion? Does it want uncertainty? Everything that has been said in this debate this morning is of a kind that shows that the Opposition does want failure,’ confusion and uncertainty in South Vietnam. Heaven knows why the Opposition should seek that path. Heaven knows why it should be so regardless of the happiness and welfare of the people of South Vietnam. But all this was clearly implicit in what the Leader of the Opposition said. Failure, confusion and uncertainty in South Vietnam spell success of aggression, lt spells not only success of aggression but also the imposition by force of Communist rule on yet another country that wants to be free. It spells a deterioration in the hopes for security in Asia. It spells an erosion of freedom in Asia. It spells a rebuff to the United States. Is this really the sort of thing the Opposition wants? I can scarcely believe it. Perhaps some honorable members opposite who are now interjecting do want this sort of outcome, but I cannot believe that the majority of the Opposition wants it. 1 am certain that the majority of the Australian people do not want that sort of outcome. This is something that is vitally connected, not only with our situation in Australia and our relations with our allies, but something that is vitally connected with the region in which we live and the future, the security and the progress of the region in which we live. It is vitally connected with the hopes for building a neighbourhood in which we can have harmonious and friendly relations.
.- In his statement last night, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) for the fust time abandoned the suggestion that we are really at war with China. What for three years has been a major Government propaganda ploy has therefore been tacitly dropped. Secondly, for the first time he has clearly stated that the policy of his Government is to accept as permanent the division of Vietnam. This is implicit in his statement that it is not an objective to overthrow the Hanoi regime. A third important part of his speech was inadvertent. When he departed from his script and shouted at the Opposition, demanding that it appreciate that Marshal Cao Ky had been fighting for his country for 20 years, he overlooked that this meant that when Ky was fighting for 10 years against the French he was fighting for his country. I might add that when Ky was fighting against the French he was classified anonymously among all such forces by the then Minister for External Affairs, now the Governor-General, as a Red. Our former Minister for External Affairs always said that the French forces were fighting the Reds. In the then terminology of this Government, the French were always fighting the Reds.
There has been a sustained claim over the years that the Government has the right to demand that the Opposition accept the Government’s estimates of all foreign figures and their policies at any time, including Nasser, Syngman Rhee and the succession of Prime Ministers in South Vietnam. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) challenged us to comment on the declarations of the Manila Conference. One of them was this -
In the modern world men and nations have no choice but to learn to live together as brothers.
I do not think anybody challenges that statement. I do not see that it has any practical bearing upon the policy that we frame. There are a lot of pacifists outside who think that using napalm is a barrier to living together as brothers. You still have to discuss policy and not general terms to See whether the policy is attaining these objectives. This is the criticism which has been emanating from so many critics of the Government’s policy. They do not believe that the Government’s policy is attaining this kind of objective. Honestly, if the Minister for External Affairs genuinely believes that in South Vietnam there has been clearly apparent a series of governments whose passion was to conquer hunger, illiteracy and disease; to build a region of security, order and progress; and to seek reconciliation and peace throughout Asia and the Pacific, it is very surprising, because we have recognised at least one government in this succession whose credential to office was that it murdered its predecessors - very disgracefully murdered its predecessors. So the idea that we must at various times accept Quat or Marshal Cao Ky. five of whose ministers have just resigned, as necessarily figures upon whom stability can be built is quite false.
The Prime Minister also made a soul stirring denunciation of aggression. 1 want to refer to a past fact because it has a bearing on the reference to the United Nations by the Minister for External Affairs. This is October 1966. In October 19S6 1 saw the dragoons and the uhlans out in this House accusing everybody on this side of being traitors because we would not support the Government’s aggression against the United Nations in Suez. If I never accept readily the charge that the United States is an aggressor power it is because I saw the United States stopping the Government’s aggression in Suez on that occasion. I do not rush readily to these accusations for that reason. But I do not accept the infallibility of the Government’s interpretations of events today any more than I accepted the infallibility of its interpretation of events which took place in Suez. In October 1956 the Government proposed, planned and supported the carrying out of blatant aggression at Suez. The Government, having planned and supported aggression as a junior partner then, has never yet had the decency to admit that Nasser offered at the time, and has offered since, to pay for the canal.
– Sir Robert Menzies was the chief negotiator for peace. He was unlucky not to achieve it.
– He made the first propositions for war some six months before the event. The Treasurer should look at the statement made by the Prime Minister preceding the event, in which he said that here was a situation in which we should not hesitate if it was necessary to use force. That is the first statement by any statesman of the proposal to use force. I wish the Minister for External Affairs could show us clearly the efforts that the Government has made to get this matter of Vietnam before the United Nations. It seems to me that if you have reproduced at Manila the essence of the principles of the United Nations Charter, that is fine, but why not invoke also the power of the Charter if you want a settlement in this field?
The main significance of Manila does not lie in any of the aspects which the Prime Minister emphasised. The main significance of Manila lies in the fact that Air Vice Marshal Ky has been induced to limit his war aims to South Vietnam. A few weeks ago he logically, from his own point of view, demanded the invasion of North Vietnam. I say “ logically “, because if North Vietnam, with vague overtones of Chinese aggression and Chinese menace, is a threat to Australia’s very survival, as government propaganda for years has suggested it is, and if North Vietnam is a threat to the whole of South East Asia, there is no case for Prime Minister Cao Ky’s limited aims. If all that is true, the only intelligent objective is the elimination of the Government of North Vietnam. Manila may have prepared the ground for a deal between the Soviet Union and the United States to impose a settlement on Vietnam. In essence, the settlement would be the same as has been imposed in Germany and Korea - the tacit acceptance of two States and the tacit recognition that one will be Communist and the other not.
Air Vice-Marshal Ky, at this belated point of time, seeks to win over the Vietcong with an amnesty. Nothing in the completely fierce statements that both sides in Vietnam have directed at one another has ever suggested that anybody there was capable of giving an amnesty, but there is a great deal of significance in the place where this statement was made. The significance of the statement is that it was made in the Philippines, where this policy was actually carried out by Magsaysay. When the Huk rebellion took place, Magsaysay effected a reconciliation with them, but Magsaysay was a genuine democrat. I would have to swallow hard to be able to say that I believed that a succession of governments in South or North Vietnam had any real democratic sentiment. Magsaysay was a genuine democrat whose motive of humanity and whose policy of land reform was understood by the Huk rebels. He applied his policy early. In South Vietnam, the policy has not yet been attempted after years of fighting. After the years of a war in the south, which is in part a civil war within a civil war and which has been characterised by extreme terrorism, there will be difficulty in inducing people to believe in the reality of amnesties.
What do we know of the Vietcong guerrilla fighter’s motives. What does he believe be is fighting for? This is quite important. Honorable members opposite can put their heads down, go red in the face, especially when an election is approaching, and say: “The true patriot is the one who howls abuse at the enemy, and we can have a competitive howl to ensure that we win the election “. I do not accuse the Minister for External Affairs of doing this, but it is the amosphere in which elections are fought. But we must make some kind of assessment of the enemy. These are vital questions if the Manila policy of winning over the Vietcong is real and is to work. If the Government believes that Air Vice-Marshal Cao Ky can win over the Vietcong, it must have arrived at some estimate of the Vietcong. We know little of the motives of the Vietcong, but we do know their performance. We know of terrorism and of torture. We know all the terms of hatred normally applied to an enemy. But, considering the Vietcong as a force, I believe we also know this about them. Coming to very simple propositions, we know they have no tanks, 00 aircraft, no helicopters, no napalm and no navy. Why have they been able to hold together for as long as they have in the face of a massive assault from the greatest military power on earth and the greatest military power of all time? That is one of the most interesting questions to ask about the Vietcong.
– Has the honorable member never heard of the geography of the place? Has he never heard of the terrain?
– The Minister will have his chance to speak. We hear much of the Ho Chi Minh trail. It is unlikely that the trail is as efficient a supply line as is the United States command of the Pacific Ocean supply lines and possession of a productive capacity exceeding the whole of the rest of the world put together. It appears that, because of rampant corruption in Saigon, some of this massive American production sustains a blackmarket in arms where the Vietcong can freely and almost openly obtain their equipment. It is also never contradicted when leading American journalists assert that the Vietcong collect income tax in Saigon on an organised basis, with arrangements for postponement of payment when the taxpayer is in difficulties and advance payment when that is convenient. In other words, the Vietcong have had a passion to win. In South Vietnam, many generals have had a passion for their own power and they murdered Diem to get it. In South Vietnam, Chinese businessmen have had a passion to secure their future and have paid taxes to the Vietcong in the hope of securing it. The programme of amnesty and reform outlined by Ky is a programme drafted by his allies and far from the convictions that his Government has ever shown at any time in the past. This may account for the flurry of ministerial resignations from his Cabinet this week.
– What evidence have you for that?
– Because no South Vietnamese Government has ever shown that it had those kinds of objectives. None of the Governments has ever spoken about amnesties or winning over the Vietcong before. It is a new form of thinking for a South Vietnam Government.
The Prime Minister claims Asian support for his policy. If Japan, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma are part of Asia, I think the claim is unjustified. Asian opposition to his policy means nothing much one way or the other. I am not saying that, if Asia does not support his policy, his policy is, therefore, wrong. I think there are other criteria by which a policy should be tested than whether somebody approves of it. But merely as a statement of fact, I do not think Asia does accept his policy. Asia accepts the destruction of the people of Tibet without turning a hair. A policy is right or wrong in itself, regardless of approval or disapproval.
In this Parliament, one should say what one thinks. I believe that the use of napalm against civilians in villages means that any government established by this means will not be accepted permanently. I simply believe that that is true, lt can be called treason or anything else, but I believe that a government known in Asia to be established by the intervention of outside forces using napalm, which certainly strikes at civilians and villages, will never be permanently accepted. I simply believe that to be true. Of course, I cannot prove it. It is just a profession of my belief. 1 think this is why, in other areas where discriminating weapons were used, as in Malaysia or by Magsaysay in his dealings with the Huks it has been possible to detach people - to detach the Huks - from the rest of the community, to isolate them and to win them over. But if Magsaysay had gone tearing around the Philippines with napalm, I think we would still have confusion there today.
The tragedy of Manila is that it did not articulate clearly what would be the one defensible motive of Australia, the United Stales and the other Manila powers in Vietnam. This is that the people of South Vietnam should be free to establish their own government, free from any coercion or terrorism, even if that government is totally unacceptable to us. Supposing the people of South Vietnam electa Communist government. ls this to be accepted? If there is an election in South Vietnam, will there be Communist candidates? I do not know what the people of South Vietnam think about these things. I do not want to see such a government there, but I am not sure whether we can do anything permanently if we are going to turn ourselves into a holy alliance and say what kind of government we are going to establish there.
When Eisenhower was supporting the French, who were supporting the Emperor Bao Dai as the legitimate Government of Vietnam, Eisenhower expressed the view that, asked to choose between Ho Chi
Minh and Bao Dai, 80 per cent, of the Vietnamese would choose Ho. This statement is frequently misrepresented as meaning that 80 per cent, of the people would choose the Vietcong. Eisenhower said they would choose Ho Chi Minh. The Bao Dai for emperor policy and the French rule policy were pursued nevertheless. Any sane person must hope to see in Vietnam all the things the Prime Minister said were objectives - such as a social revolution of hope and progress ending the tyranny of poverty, disease, illiteracy and social injustice. I am afraid, however, that the Vietcong would say that this was its objective also. What is in doubt is that any of these objectives are the objectvies of anybody in Vietnam, North or South. Vietnam is a struggle between two forces, neither of which possesses any genuine democratic sentiment and both of which are determined to impose themselves on the confused Vietnamese people. One of these forces - that of Ho - does not suit us, because we believe it lo be a potential ally of China and part of world Communist aggression. If we come back to that simple statement, then I find it difficult to refute it, but if we then go on to suggest that everybody who is opposing it is a noble democrat likely to be able to establish a permanent government, I say this kind of claim is unproved. As I said, the force of Ho does not suit us because we believe it to be a potential ally of China. With the fissures in the Communist world we are no longer sure of this, and China is being tacitly dropped from Government propaganda.
The true hope in Manila is not in the Manila documents but in the fact that the conference may have prepared the ground for a detente between the United States of America and the Soviet Union to impose peace on the two Vietnams. Ky has been, induced to drop his claims to exclusive power and to accept the fact of two Vietnams. He has been induced also to abandon his aim to kill every Vietcong. These are essential preliminaries to a detente between the two super powers whereby the Soviet Union can save face in the Communist world and the United States can keep faith with South East Asia while getting peace.
– 1 should like to draw this debate back to what 1 regard as the relevant issues that face us today. They are: What are our objectives in Vietnam, and what are our prospects of achieving them? I believe that our objectives were clearly stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and by other Prime Ministers at the recent conference in Manila. They are, first, to achieve peace, and then to try to establish conditions in Vietnam and in other parts of Asia to permit the people to live decent and free lives - free from aggression and free from the hostility of others. This is a great liberal and humanitarian ideal. I believe I will be able to say something to the House this morning to prove that we have set our seal on achieving these objectives, and we hope to achieve them quite quickly. However, first let me test the sincerity of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) who has just resumed his seat. There are two well known critics of the Australian Labour Party’s policy within that Party’s own ranks. Both of them have gone on record. I leave for the moment the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) and come to the honorable member for Fremantle, who built up a synthetic emotion about this motion. I ask the House to test his sincerity and, as it does so, to ask itself what it thinks of the divisions within the Labour Party itself.
First, as to his argument - soundly put, it is true - that the Vietcong ought to be a negotiating party, let me quote what he wrote in the “ Australian Outlook “ of August 1966. lt raises the very fundamental question of whether we think the Communists should be permitted to advance step by step in their march down South East Asia. However, the honorable member said -
To have the Vietcong accepted as a negotiating party in Vietnam. This is regarded in the Labour Party and Movement as an idea, not a strategy. It means, of course, despite our general inability to see it, a great advance in Communist power.
He went on to say -
If the Vietcong (National Liberation Front) negotiate, they stand a chance to take over at least part of South Vietnam in a new partition.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Fremantle who has just been arguing in a way that can only be interpreted as favourable to the Vietcong. So, here is a genuine test of his sincerity - a test of whether the Labour Party wants the Communists to make another step forward in South Vietnam, and, if it does, another step forward in South East Asia. Then the honorable member discussed the question of participation in the war. Let me state clearly the Labour Party policy concerning the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. The Labour Party will immediately withdraw national service trainees - or, if honorable members opposite prefer, we can call them conscripts. The Labour Party policy is that conscripts, or national service trainees, will be withdrawn immediately and that subsequently the whole of the Australian contingent will be withdrawn. Can honorable members opposite explain how a strong defence policy can be maintained while abolishing national service? How would the Labour Party maintain a strong defence policy when it withdrew national service trainees from Vietnam, thus committing an act of treachery against our allies and making certain that we could not make our contribution to the defence and salvation of South Vietnam? The honorable member for Fremantle in the article quoted a most vocal and bitter critic of the Labour Party who had the temerity to attempt to defend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and what he has said.
I want to return to the issues that now confront us. The Leader of the Opposition said that the coming election would be fought on the isue of conscription. So it will be. but only partially, because there are other great issues that must form the basis on which this campaign will be fought.
– Only partially? What is meant by-
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will cease interjecting.
– I am trying to help him.
– If the honorable member will be quiet for a moment 1 will give him an answer. There are two interlocking issues involved. The first is the defence of Vietnam and, I believe, the defence of Australia itself. Secondly, how do we find the means to defend this country and to make our contribution to peace in
South East .i>i.>‘> Lcl me express a Utile homely philosophy. I believe it is the primary responsibility of every country to go :o the limit to defend itself. We in the Liberal and Country Parties have it as the fundamental platform of our programme that it snail be the duty of every Australian to defend this country !> th’ limit of our capacity. The words: “To the limit of our capacity “ arc important, lt means that we have to build up our resources, and we are constantly doing this. Most of us must haw been delighted to note this morning the contribution made by the production of iron ore for export, and the way this country is building up to greatness. We too must have a defence effort and we too must have gre;,t and dependable allies. On this occasion and on other occasions in 1942 we regarded as our great and dependable ally the United Slates of America. Equally, loo, in the defence of South East Asia, must we, if we are to be successful, and if we are to carry out the defence of this country at a distance, seek and have the active co-operation of the United States in the defence of this area.
I come back to what the honorable member for Fremantle said. 1 want to come back to this point now because I want to join his statement with a statement of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). What an amazing thing it is to find that with our security at stake the Labour Party is positively advocating that we are to withdraw troops from the group that is defendin” Vietnam and indirectly defending Australia itself. I want to put it positively and I believe it to be true that if South Vietnam were to fall very shortly we would find that other countries associated with it, such as Thailand and Malaysia, would quickly fall. Within a short period of time we would have the Communist forces on our doorstep and we would be compelled to defend ourselves, not at a distance, but close to our shores. So I come again to what I regard as the major issue - the defence of this country. There seems to be a great degree of doubt in the Labour Party as to whether our defence is in fact involved. Let me take honorable members back to what the honorable member for Batman said in a statement made for radio or television. He referred to the visit that bad recently been paid to South East Asia bv members of the Labour Party. They were invited by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. We have never been able before to find out the reason why they had gone, but we now find that they went for a single reason. They were invited by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who wanted to point out that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists it would be only a matter of time before Singapore fell. In other words, the honorable member for Batman - this is why he has been driven out of the Labour Party - was willing to admit that the defence of South Vietnam was the defence of Singapore. I take it a step further. I say that the defence of South Vietnam is the defence of this country.
I now want to come to the other matter that was so strenuously presented by the somewhat dubious member for Fremantle, and that is the question of our alliances. I want to put it to the House in this way: We believe in the defence of this area and we know that we ourselves would not be capable of defending South East Asia on our own. We know that we must have dependable allies now just as we had them in 1942. What would happen to us if now we were to withdraw from our treaty obligations to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation? If we were lo say to the Americans: “ You take complete responsibility for South Vietnam and for the defence of South East Asia,” we would in fact be committing an act of treachery against our most dependable ally and an act of treachery against our solemn treaty obligations under the S.E.A.T.O. pact. Would any Australian really believe that we could do that with a sense of decency and responsibility? On the contrary, I believe that most Australians place enormous confidence in our association with the United States. They believe that our association with the United States is one of the fundamental elements of the defence of this country, and that if the United States were to withdraw into isolationism and get out of the Pacific area it would be a great blow to the freedom, security and independence of Australia itself. 1 want to make it clear, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we will fight this issue and the inter-related issues. The first issue will be the defence of South Vietnam as the defence of South East Asia and the defence of Australia. The second issue will be reliance on our treaty obligations under S.E.A.T.O. with the United States and our necessity to keep our agreements with the United States if this country is to remain independent and free. We have the great advantage of the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. America has virtually guaranteed our independence and we are under an obligation to join with America in the defence of Asia and the defence of the free countries of the world.
I now want to move on to what I regard as the great objective of the Manila Conference. Two matters can be raised here. The first one that was raised with emphasis by the Leader of the Opposition was that peace was a secondary consideration. I believe that the major consideration at the Manila Conference was both peace and prosperity for South East Asia. I have the great joy to have in my possession a document given to me, before publication, by Lyndon Johnson, setting out what he hoped to achieve when he went to Manila. I believe that the objectives set out in this document have in fact been achieved in a way that we never expected them to be achieved when the Manila Conference was first agreed upon. Let me set out what the intention was. The intention behind the Manila Conference can be set out in three sections. The function, first of all, was to achieve pacification. The Prime Minister did say in his speech last night that one of the great difficulties we face in a pacification programme is that the moment one area has been pacified and the troops moved on to try to achieve success for the Vietnamese people somewhere else, the Vietcong immediately move back, destroy what has been done, murder the village chiefs, execute those who are participating in hospitalisation and educational facilities, and so prevent our pacification and aid efforts from having their full effect.
As the Prime Minister pointed out last night, there has been a change in policy. This policy now is not so much that of search and destroy but it is a policy first of all of obtaining and then holding the territory that has been conquered. So this must be the first objective. I point out that when President Johnson was here he informed us what the Vietcong was capable of doing in a way that must strike terror into the hearts of everyone. President Johnson pointed out that 65 major hospitals and a similar number of schools had been established but that 55 of those institutions, over a period of three months, had been destroyed by the Vietcong who thus prevented the South Vietnamese people from being healthy and from being able to participate in a programme of education.
The function of the Manila Conference had to do with our aid programme: I have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition frequently argue that our aid was not sufficient. Let me point out exactly what is being done. The United States itself has put in more than $3,500 million worth of civil aid into South Vietnam. This document, which I should like to make available to everyone if I could, shows the massiveness of the effort. But, again, the massiveness has been, as it were, braked and almost brought to a standstill by the actions of the Vietcong of the kind I have just mentioned. As to this year’s programme, what is being done? Under what is called the “ A.I.D.” - the civil import programme - the United States intends to spend this year something to the order of $398 million, and on the Food for Peace Programme a sum of $138 million. In other words, we have an amount of $536 million being poured in by the United States in order to build up South Vietnam and permit it to have the kind of life that we, and I believe you, Sir, want the people to have. We are playing our part, not to the same extent as the United States, it is true, but the Prime Minister has put it in this way: We are providing about $122 million of civil aid throughout the world, but the day must come when we will be prepared to make an increased effort in civil aid to South Vietnam in order to help that country to get on its feet.
But this, Sir, is only part of the story. The other part of the story has to do with two other facets of the situation which I would like to mention briefly. In this pamphlet that I have before me two matters are mentioned. The first is what is called the revolutionary programme rural for aid; nhat is, the aid programme for rural reconstruction in South Vietnam. When one reads this document one realises the extreme steps that have been taken to bring about reconstruction in the rural areas, to permit the people there to get back into production, particularly the production of rice. What has been achieved is enough to delight the heart of every true liberal and of everyone with humanitarian ideals who wishes to help all the people of the world.
But I do not want to end on that note; I want to touch on what has been done to achieve representative government in that country, it has been said, and all too frequently - and said untruthfully here this morning - that Air Vice-Marshal Ky is not prepared to engage in a peace settlement. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has stated clearly that at the discussions in Manila Air ViceMarshal Ky said he would go unconditionally to the conference table in an attempt to achieve peace. He might not be wilting to accept Vietcong representatives in his Government, but he has stated that he is willing to go to the conference table to negotiate for peace. He goes much further than that. He has already stated that the provisional assembly. the constituent assembly, an assembly designed to produce a constitution for South Vietnam and to provide representative government, will in fact be operating by the end of this year. It can be argued that some of the Ministers have resigned. The simple truth is that those who know what is happening know that the actions of the six Ministers who threatened to resign have had a purely political basis. Five of them aic still acting within the Government, and the probability is that the great majority of them will stay there. There never has been a major leader in South Vietnam who has capitulated to the Vietcong or has been prepared to throw in his lot with the Communists. Here is a solemn pledge, a pledge that the constituent assembly will bc created, a pledge that by the end of this year there will be representative government in South Vietnam. This is the kind of action that we believe in.
We will fight this election on the basis of the defence of this country and the defence of South Vietnam, on the basis of our will to achieve democratic government and of the massive effort that we will make to assist South Vietnam and to build up living standards throughout the whole of SO’ t’h East Asia.
.- I discount the main arguments put forward by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and therefore will not take up my time in answering them, but there were a few comments that he made about which I would like to say a few words. First, he alleged that there is a division in the Labour Party with regard to its policy on Vietnam, on our participation in the civil war there and on the sending of young conscripts and Australian Regular Army Forces to that country and their withdrawal from it. Let me say at the outset that the policy decision taken by the Labour Party was nearly unanimous. I am not trying to suggest that there were not originally some doubts about the interpretation of certain matters, lt was because of these that a decision was arrived at on 12th May by an overwhelming majority which now provides a clear definition of what our policy will be in the coming election campaign.
The Treasurer has said that there are divisions in the Labour Party but that there are no divisions on the Government side. We know that there are many supporters of the Government who are troubled about Government policy. They sit not only in this chamber but also in another place. We learn from the newspapers that many people who have traditionally been conservative voters are now troubled and will vote against the Government because of its attitude to the sending of young conscripts to Vietnam. ls there a division on the Government side on trade with Communist China? As long ago as 20th August 1959 the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said in this Parliament, as reported at page 479 of “ Hansard “ for that date -
Are some of our excellent citizens aware that the money in their pockets is blood-stained, stained with the blood of Tibetans, because they have received the money from the sale of wool and steel to Red China . . . ?
He accuses not only supporters of the Country Party but also supporters of the Liberal Party. The other night I challenged at least a dozen Liberal backbenchers in this House to declare whether or not they were opposed to the Government’s policy of trading with Red China. Among them were the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), La Trobe (Mr. Jess), Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) and Moreton (Mr. Killen). Not one of them has denied that he is opposed to it. The fact is that they do oppose the Government’s policy of trading with China.
So let us have no more talk about this division in the Labour Party. People in glass houses should not throw stones.
There is a matter that has been troubling me for some time and about which I have wanted to make a statement. I believe I cannot refrain any longer from making some comment concerning the kangaroo trial of Dr. Subandrio in Indonesia. The trial arose out of the charge that the former Foreign Minister was involved in the abortive coup in which six high ranking generals in the Indonesian Army were murdered, as well as the daughter of General Nasution. The blood bath that followed has shocked the world. Between half a million and a million Indonesians have been butchered. One must condemn such violence on either side.
– Order! I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that we are debating the Manila Conference.
– We have been discussing foreign affairs. I do not reflect on the Government’s policy-
– The motion before the House is that the House take note of a paper that was presented, the title of which is given as “ Manila Summit Conference. Ministerial Statement , 27th October 1966”.
– I was going to ask for clemency, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was going to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to- seek clemency for Dr. Subandrio. I was going to quote the editorial in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 27th October in an endeavour to bring a sense of balance to the situation. 1 am against violence, whether it is committed by the Red Guard in Red China or by the white racists in the southern States of the United States. I wanted to put these matters before the Parliament in order to register a protest and to try to bring a little sanity to the position. I will leave it at that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister boasts of the achievements of the allies at the Manila Conference. Let us see who these so called allies were. First there was the autocracy or dictatorship of Air Vice Marshal Ky, supported by the United
States. What were the other five countries? There was Thailand, with a population of 30 million. Thailand has the overwhelming number of 30 people in South Vietnam supporting the so-called struggle for peace and freedom - 30 out of 30 million. These figures were given to me by the Minister for External Affairs in answer to a question on 30th August 1966. Also in Vietnam are 150 New Zealanders. There are 4,500 Australians. There are 2,000 Filipinos, but of course they are engineers. They are not in military actions. They are engaged in engineering and other peaceful activities. The South Koreans have 44,000 troops there, lt is interesting to. note that the South Koreans are on the payroll of the United States. The American magazine “ Newsweek “ of 19th September 1966 reveals this. The passage reads - . . notwithstanding South Korea’s recent economic gains. And so, in addition to the some $150 million that the U.S. regularly pours into Korea in military aid each year, Washington has also agreed to pick up the bill for the extra expense involved in sending troops to Vietnam. From the Pentagon’s point of view the deal is a bargain. For what it costs to maintain a single American soldier, 43 Koreans can be kept in pay, food and equipment.
This news item, and others that could be produced, clearly indicate that the South Korean soldiers in South Vietnam are mercenaries. This is the company that the Prime Minister associated himself with in Manila recently. Why are not the 20-odd nations that are partners in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, Central Treaty Organisation and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation making military contributions in Vietnam. Diplomatic pressures, public pressures and private pressures have been used on countries in these organisations for them to make a contribution, a military contribution, to the struggle in Vietnam, but they have refused. Why? Because they know that this vile, filthy, cruel and barbarous civil war cannot be won by military means, and therefore they have not given support for this action.
In my view the Manila Conference was a step backwards. It was a victory for the war hawk, Air Vice-Marshal Ky. On his return to Saigon he vowed that he would fight to the end. What does he mean by fighting to the end? One must ask what this phrase really means. Does it mean fighting to the last American? Does it mean fighting to the last young Australian conscript? What does he mean? Will he fight to the end? Air Vice-Marshal Ky cannot get the South Vietnamese people to fight the Vietcong even though, according to the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 30th August last, there are 705,000 armed South Vietnamese Government forces. The desertion rate, according to that newspaper, was 113,000 in 1965 and it is now running at a rate of 21,000-odd more. So it is now running at about 135,000 this year. Air Vice-Marshal Ky, on returning to Saigon from Manila, said: “ I will not negotiate with the Vietcong”. He has said that consistently. Manila was a surrender by the United States to Air Vice-Marshal Ky. Previously the United States had moved to a position where it had said: “ We are prepared to enter into peace negotiations at the conference table with the Vietcong”. This assurance was given on behalf of the United States by none other than the VicePresident of the United States, Mr. Hubert Humphrey. It was also given by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Goldberg. So the Manila Conference was a retreat. It was a retreat from peace towards war. It was a council of war. It was not a peace conference at all. It was a retreat from compromise; a belief -in the false premise that there can be a military victory in Vietnam.
What were these peace proposals? The Vietcong were told: “ Lay down your arms and surrender “. That was the peace proposal. I stress, and stress again, that there can be no military victory in Vietnam. The Labour Party has stressed and overstressed this point of view. We have said, and we say again, that, compromises must be made on both sides. Pressure should be brought to bear on both sides to bring about a peace. We support a holding position in Vietnam as proposed by General Gavan and General Ridgway of the United States. General Ridgway was the Commander of Allied forces in Korea and he also commanded forces in the Second World War. We ally ourselves with these American generals. We say: “ Cease the bombing of North Vietnam. Be prepared to sit down at the conference table with the Vietcong.” On the other hand, we have said, and said clearly, that we believe that the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese should drop their preconditions for peace talks - the withdrawal of United States forces and installations before peace talks commence. We believe that force, violence and dogmatism will not bring peace to Vietnam. The Manila Conference was in support of force, violence and dogmatism.
There will be an election soon, not only in Australia but in the United States. In the United States there will not be a choice on Vietnam for the people, because President Johnson’s Party, which is power, is expanding its Vietnam policy. The great challenge to President Johnson will come from within his own Party. The Republicans are still further to the right. The argument of the Republicans is only that money is being wasted - is being spent incorrectly; that the war is not being escalated sufficiently. This is the worry of the Republicans. So the people of the United States will not have a chance to put their views, by vote, on the war in Vietnam.
But in Australia the people will have the right to make a determination on what Australia’s attitude will be. This is the historical position. The Australian Labour Party is proud of its position, and we will fight and strive for our beliefs. We have said, in brief, that the Australian Labour Party will direct the Army to bring home without delay the conscripted men already in Vietnam. We will enter into negotiations with the. United States forces for the return of all ‘Australian troops. The words of our policy are that we will work for and insist upon the return of all Australian forces from Vietnam. That is our position. We will not withdraw them all immediately, but by stages. The Prime Minister has said that he may review the decision regarding our troops in Vietnam. Does this mean that more men will be sent there? If the Holt Government is returned the name of every boy who is now 17, 18 or 19 years of age will go into the ballot box to determine who will go to Vietnam to fight in this filthy, dirty war, a civil war where there are corruption and rottenness in the leadership and a war for which there is no military solution. This is what will happen. This struggle has been going on for 20 years. So boys younger than 17, 18 and 19 may be sent there if the Holt Government is returned. Boys of 17, 18 and 19 should give consideration to the possibility that their names will be going into the ballot box to determine who will go to Vietnam.
– Tell the truth. They can join the Citizen Military Forces.
– I rise to order. That is the truth. The honorable member does not like it. Why does he not tell the truth?
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will resume his seat. A point of order has been taken.
– My time is limited-
– I rise to order. I think the honorable member for Mitchell is not well. Could you have him attended to, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– Order! There is no substance to the point or order.
– It will be said during the election campaign that the Labour Party is anti-American. This will be the charge against us. Let me stress very clearly that we are not anti-American - we are proAustralian. We admire those Americans of liberal thought who are struggling for the emancipation of the Negro in the southern Sates of America. We admire those Americans who are struggling for sanity throughout the world. We admire those Americans who are of the calibre of men like George Keenan and of army generals like General Ridgway and General Gavan. We admire those senate leaders like Senator Mansfield. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) is well aware that Senator Mansfield now occupies the distinguished position which was held by President Johnson before he became Vice-President. We admire Senator Mansfield because of his great liberal view and his great expression. We support and admire men of the calibre of Senator Fulbright and Senator Church. We admire and struggle to support men of the calibre of Senators Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, brothers of the late President Kennedy. These are some of the men we support. We support the great masses of Americans who stand for sanity, because that is what we stand for on this side of the chamber. We are not war hawks; we stand for sanity.
We go into this election struggling not only for the best interests of Australians, for the young men with all their aspirations, but also because we want to bring sanity to the world. We know that a spark could be created in Vietnam which could escalate the present conflict into an intercontinental ballistic missile war. We know that the great powers today have enough explosives to kill the world’s population 25 times over. This is the extent of the arsenal which has been created for war. Therefore we strive to bring sanity into this conflict. We must achieve restraint. The United States is the most powerful country on earth. Surely a country with such power and strength can exercise sufficient restraint to enable it to bring about and hold a peace in Vietnam so that the people of South Vietnam can themselves determine the future of their country and so that all other powers can withdraw and leave the South Vietnamese to determine their affairs without outside interference.
.- The struggle for power in the world is as old as history and the depths of degradation to which people will sink in participa.ing in the struggle knows no bounds. Nowhere has this been more clearly demonstrated than in Vietnam where there is a struggle between two ideologies and two sets of people who are struggling for power. Within Vietnam there is a smaller struggle and, undoubtedly, this is a civil war. The Government can argue until it is black in the face, but there is a struggle between people of the same nationality and who speak the same language. It is just as much a civil war as it would be if it were between two States of this Commonwealth. It is an internal struggle. Whether they are from the South or from the North, the people of Vietnam were not consulted when an arbitrary line was drawn across the middle of their country to divide it into two parts for the convenience of people who were not Vietnamese. And so the struggle goes on.
It is hypocrisy to speak of democracy having any part in what goes on in Vietnam today. The struggle there is being fought between two outside powers. We are told that China stands behind the Communist influence and power in Vietnam, and there is no doubt that the United States of
America stands behind the other power which struggles there. Surely no one will dispute that. The disputation which arises is as to the justice or otherwise of the objectives of these powers. Those who take part can at least justify their actions to their own satisfaction. If there is any one thing which comes from the situation in Vietnam it is confusion. Probably no other incident has produced so much written and spoken argument. Perhaps this’ is because the facilities today are greater than they have ever been before. Today there are more people who write and more who think they can write. There are more radio and television facilities to produce and carry the flood of propaganda to the public at large. And what does the public think about it? No doubt again it leads to confusion. Efforts to sort out the situation lead us to more confusion.
The fact is that in Vietnam there is a struggle for power and this struggle is not supported by the average citizen in this country. Who, in Asia, has ever asked the public what it thinks? There are even some here who would like to hold power without asking the public what it thinks. Anyone who has been in Asia must be impressed by the fact that the first thing they notice is that the peasantry, who make up 80 per cent, of the populations of Asian countries, have no say whatever usually in what transpires. Who elected the Ky Government in South Vietnam? I do not know. Who elected the Ho Chi Minh Government in the North? Those two questions are parallel. If there is no democracy in the North, I think we might easily say there is less in the South. But this situation runs through all South East Asian countries. My colleague, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), has told me that his impression is that Communism today is a vested interest in South East Asian countries. When there is a tendency for international aid from America to dry up, these countries can apparently very conveniently discover Communists. They are remote and bard to find, but the publicity which accompanies these discoveries produces aid from America. It produces roads, money, air fields and technical assistance. The atmosphere is such that they have only to say that there are Communists here or there and aid is forthcoming. Perhaps there are Communists there, but where are they and how numerous are they?
These countries really do not want to hand over their territorial possessions to any foreign ideology. It must be perfectly obvious to everyone that if they do have any aspirations of a national or political character they wish to conduct their own affairs. Intervention by anybody is rarely supported by the population. Undoubtedly the situation in Vietnam is such that the established Government in the South could not maintain itself against its own population without foreign aid. We are told of the infiltration of men and materials from the North, but this claim does not stand up to investigation. The international line that has been drawn between the South and the North is about 50 miles long. There are one million soldiers under arms in South Vietnam. They could stand 100 deep along that frontier. The Vietcong have no artillery, no air force and no navy, and it has to be realised that the North Vietnamese do not have these either. Their only method of entering the South is by infiltration. Every pound of material must be carried by somebody who is on foot. Every man who infiltrates must walk across this frontier and carry with him his arms, his equipment and his supplies. There is no other way for him to reach the South. Is it sensible, is it reasonable that the Government should claim that this infiltration cannot be halted? Of course it can be stopped along such a short line and wilh so many men.
There is also the Ho Chi Minh trail. This goes into Laos, turns south and infiltrates across the frontier into South Vietnam at various places. This presents more difficulties compared with direct infiltration across the international line in that it is a much longer route, so that materials must be carried further and men must walk further. There may be some stretches where it is possible to cross with some type of transport, but they would be open to bombing, and the others have nothing with which to bomb. So the difficulties of infiltration are immense, and if we are to accept the stories that we are told about how the Vietcong, who have nothing, are able to prevent us, with our massive strength in men and materials, from infiltrating to the North, then the only logical conclusion we can come to is that the Vietcong are a race of supermen who can defy the greatest military power on earth, assisted, as it is, by its allies and satellites. What sort of nonsense is this?
We are told that we are in Vietnam to defend democracy. There is no democracy in Vietnam. We are told that we are in Vietnam to defend the right of the people there to select their own government. That is something that they have never done in their existence. Governments have always been imposed upon them and they have been imposed by force, lt would be a very good thing to bring this state of affairs to an end, no doubt. But do we bring it to an end by imposing yet another government by force? What sort of vacuum would be created? There can be no doubt whatever that if Vietnam were left to the Vietnamese, if everybody else were to withdraw from the country, a government would be imposed by force. So what do we fight for? We do not fight for democracy in a country where it does not exist. Indeed, 1 will say without fear of contradiction that the people there are probably not interested in the type of democracy that we envisage and that we think they should have.
What do we fight for, then? We are told that we fight on the side of the United States to ensure that in the event of our becoming involved elsewhere the United States will come to our aid. Where are we likely to be involved in a situation that we could not handle ourselves? People talk of invasion. If they want to learn what would be involved in an invasion on the scale that would be required in order to be successful against this country, let them look at the past. The invasion of Europe from Great Britain during the last war across only 20 miles of sea, took three years to organise and required 2,000 ships. And there, the troops went into a territory which was friendly, a territory where the French, the Belgians, the Dutch and other enslaved people were awaiting the moment to rise against the occupying forces. They went against an enemy involved on a second front in Russia, a third front in Italy, a fourth front in Scandinavia and a fifth front, the underground. And still the invasion succeeded by only a very narrow margin. I remind honorable members, too, that 200 ships were required to convey one division of our own troops to Borneo. Who is going to invade us? The only nation in the Pacific that has the necessary maritime, naval and military power to do this is the United States of America.
We were told in the Press this week that the removal of the United States Forces from Vietnam could not be done at a rale exceeding 65,000 men a month. If only 65,000 a month can be taken out it is logical to believe that at the most only 65,000 a month could be put in. But if we examine the matter more closely, we must appreciate that taking the men out can be done more rapidly than putting them in because they are being taken out to already supplied bases. When men are being put into unsupplied bases it is essential to carry more supplies, so fewer men can take part. There is no logic whatever in the arguments that have been put up in support of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. If there are any other arguments let us hear them. One could raise all the emotional arguments in the world to support this action, but when the situation is looked at coldly and logically, clearly there is not much real argument in the involvement. If we are in Vietnam merely to ensure American support should we be involved in another war, if our troops there are to be regarded as the premium payable on an insurance policy, then we should examine the matter closely because the cost of the premium for such an insurance policy can sometimes be too great.
It is argued that we are in Vietnam in conformity with our treaty obligations, but let me examine that point. The treaties under which it might be claimed that we have an obligation are the A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. treaties - probably the most loosely drawn treaties that, any countries ever got themselves involved in. At the very best, the countries concerned are left free to come to the aid of their co-partners as (hey see fit. The aid is given according to constitutional means, or constitutional procedures. What does this mean? Time after time in this House Ministers have been invited to explain what it means. No-one has ever been able to do so. A former Minister for External Affairs endeavoured to explain it. He said that in his view it clearly meant that the United States must come to the aid of Australia if we were attacked. What happened to him? He is not here any more. He did not last long after he made that statement. And no other Minister has been foolhardy enough *9 repeat it. The plain fact is that these provisions cannot be defined. The treaties provide that the aid will be given only if a country thinks that it should be given and is prepared to give it. There is no hard and fast obligation to give aid. If any Minister thinks otherwise, let him get up and say so.
So, Australia is involved today pursuant to a policy in the making of which we have had no say. It is someone else’s policy. We go to defend democracy; we go to stand by our allies; we go to ensure assistance to us at some other time; but there has been no participation by the Government of this country or any of its Ministers in the drafting of the policy that has involved us in this activity. Australia is not, or should not be defenceless. This morning, one Minister asked: “ Where would our defence be without national service? “ I ask: “ Where is our defence with national service? “ We have eight battalions of troops. Goodness gracious me. I have said in this House before and I say again: The defence structure of this country has only one valuable attribute - the calibre of the men who comprise it. The defence organisation with which we have been endowed by this Government is capable no doubt of successfully waging war against the Republic of Panama, the various banana republics elsewhere in Central America, or Portuguese Timor. But if we went beyond that category, we would probably be in a lot of trouble. With as many as 17,000 prospective recruits offering each year under the voluntary system, the authorities have been able to accept only 4,000 to 4,200. This is exactly the number of young men now being called up compulsorily. With 100,000 men available, the military authorities take only 4,200. This is because the policy of this Government on defence equipment has been so restrictive as to allow only this number to be equipped. The present Government cannot provide the vast majority of the men of this country with the means of defence should this ever become necessary.
This Government has not the required defence capacity. So it leans on its powerful and influential friends who will support it while they find this convenient. This kind of thing is the reason for all international treaties. We enter into treaties for our own advantage. So it is with everybody else. The main defence policy of the United States of America is the defence cf metropolitan America. Everything else is aimed at achieving that end. Who can blame the Americans for this? If the defence structure of Australia has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair as to leave us with no hope of defending this country except by relying on the assistance of some other nation, the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the present Government. If we become involved in wars and tribulations anywhere under policies over which we have no control, the fault lies with this Government. On 26th November, the Australian people, insofar as they are able to understand these matters and insofar as we are able to get the truth to them, will deliver judgment on the policies of this Government with respect to its involvement in South East Asia.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have just heard a very interesting speech by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray). He has told us something of his ideas about what we should do to provide for the future of South Vietnam. He has told us that in his opinion, as 1 understand it, we should leave Vietnam to the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese and allow them to resolve the struggle themselves. On many occasions in this House, we have looked into the possibilities for the future of South Vietnam. What are they? Would any reasonable person suggest that the Communist forces in South Vietnam are not being assisted by insurgents from North Vietnam who are crossing the border at the 17th parallel and travelling down the Ho Chi Minh trail and also by insurgents supplied through the instrumentality of Communist China and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Both those countries are providing aid in such a way as to make the war in Vietnam no longer a matter for determination by the people of Vietnam alone. It is because it is no longer a matter for determination by the Vietnamese alone that the future, without assistance from the United States of
America and the forces of the free world, would hold no prospect for democracy there.
It is all very well to say that at this point of time there is little democracy in Asia. Our point is that there will be no future for democracy in Asia unless we are prepared now to do something to help towards establishing economic and social conditions that will offer reasonable prospects for the future of political democracy. What would be the future, not only for Vietnam but also for the neighbouring countries of Laos, Thailand and Malaysia if we were to say to South Vietnam: “ We shall not assist you in this struggle to establish peace and economic security”? In north east Thailand, the number of insurgents is increasing. In Laos, numerous people have crossed the border from other countries. They are operating there in such a way as to give one little hope for the future of that country without assistance from the United States and her allies. And what of Malaysia? Since the end of the Communist uprising that began in 1948, there have appeared forces which have come from outside the country and which are endeavouring to undermine the Government of the freedom loving people of Malaysia who are trying in their own way to establish some hope for peace and prosperity. If we are to follow the plan proposed by the honorable member for Capricornia, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there will be, I suggest, little prospect for peace, prosperity or democracy in Asia.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) gave us a diatribe concerning the number of people in the United States that he and his colleagues in the Australian Labour Party are prepared to support. We in the Government do not believe in words alone. We believe also in action. It is as a result of action - and responsible action - not just words that this Government has initiated its assistance to the people of South Vietnam. Are our goals to be the goals of freedom that were set out in the documents laid on the table by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) last night, or are they to be the gaols of tyranny and aggression? The alternatives that the House is debating may be stated as the responsible action taken by this Liberal-Australian Country Party Government or the irresponsible inaction suggested by the Australian Labour Party.
The Australian Government and the Australian people traditionally have accepted over the years responsibility for providing military aid in many parts of the world. In the past, we have given such aid to Britain, Belgium, France, Greece, Korea, Malaya and Malaysia. We have also given it to Russia. During the Second World War, Royal Australian Navy convoys assisted in protecting the north Atlantic route by which supplies were taken to Murmansk. Australian airmen assisted in defending Russia against aggression. In all these instances, direct, responsible assistance was given by the Australian people to others who were subjected to aggression resulting from irresponsible action by the peoples and governments of other countries. The documents laid on the table by the Prime Minister last night and the Conference at Manila which was attended by him and other Ministers of this Government resulted from steps taken in order to pursue the goal of freedom, the goal of achieving peace and the goal of ensuring prosperity in Asia in the same sense and in the same sequence as applied to the military and civil action taken during World War I, World War II and the wars that have occurred in the years since.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) spoke to us this morning about the national service scheme. He told us that in his opinion the problem for Australia was that we were not maintaining our independence within the Commonwealth of Nations. He stated that we should maintain an independent foreign policy. If we are to maintain our independence and have an opportunity to establish an independent foreign policy, we must be prepared to play a responsible part in assisting other peoples who themselves arc trying to maintain their independence as nations within the Commonwealth of Nations. It is in this cause that the Prime Minister has been to Manila and has attempted with the other six national leaders to lay down grounds and precepts upon which there should be some hope of the nation of South Vietnam eventually establishing and maintaining democracy and bringing to the people of that sadly war tom country some hope for the future. If the Leader of the Opposition calls the leaders of the Korean and South Vietnam Governments hawks, surely it only typifies himself and his colleagues in the Australian Labour Party as ostriches putting their heads in the sands of 1916, suggesting that the world of today can be resolved in the memory of yesterday. This is not realism. If we are to have any hope for the future, not only in Asia but in New Guinea and Australia, we must be prepared to take a stand. It is because we are acting and not just talking that we are today in South Vietnam supporting our United States allies and our other allies of the free world.
The major issue as I see it is not just the matter of national service but also the matter of the resolution of the struggle in South Vietnam. On 26th November the people of Australia must determine for themselves first whether they feel that Australia is in the right, as the Government feels it is, in assisting the people of South Vietnam to have a chance of independence, economic prosperity and hope for the future. The second issue is that of national service. The resolution of the struggle in South Vietnam must be the main issue before the people of Australia. The issue of national service then arises. 1 would like to deal with it later because 1 feel that in the main we must determine whether we believe that the struggle in South Vietnam is, infact, one towards the resolution of the problems not only of South Vietnam but of those also that affect the future of Asia and the future of Australia.
How did the Manila Conference progress towards the goals of peace? I was most interested to read the four stated goals of freedom as enunciated by the seven national leaders in the document tabled by the Prime Minister. I was interested, not only because of what they contained and the background to them, but because while I was recently in South Vietnam with other honorable members in conversation with Dr. Tran Van Do, the Foreign Minister, he at that time also had enunciated four points as the objectives of his Government. They are not very dissimilar to the four which were enunciated as the goals of freedom at the Manila Conference. These goals were -
It was towards this end that the elections were held in South Vietnam about a month ago. This was the first step on the road towards the establishment of democracy. The other goals were -
Are these the statements of a hawk? They are realistic objectives towards the attainment of peace in a sadly war torn country. It is towards the further hope of achieving peace that the seven national leaders have now met. The document we now have before us has been promulgated as a formal objective and a further stepping stone towards some form of peace.
Beyond all this, in the communique itself there was set down something of the hopes not only for the immediate achievement of some form of peace within which economic aggression should be set out but also the hopes for the cessation of aggression so that the opportunity could be given for the achievement of peace and, beyond this, for the preservation of the territorial integrity of South Vietnam. The communique expressed the hope for the unification eventually of all Vietnam, but only after all the people of Vietnam had been given an opportunity to exercise a free choice without threat or domination from people outside their control. It expressed hope for the resolution of internal problems and the establishment of effective guarantees for security in the future. All these, to my mind, were direct objectives related to the achievement of peace and not, as the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) would suggest, objectives related to a council of war, not of peace.
If we are to look rationally at the situation in Vietnam we must do as the national leaders did in Manila and look first at the war situation. It is for this reason that they had to go over the situation within which it is possible to provide some form of civilian economic aid. How can the Opposition suggest that it is possible to withdraw the free world’s forces - not only the Australian forces, although it is part of the Opposition’s programme to work for and insist on the return of all Australian forces from Vietnam? To announce this policy and at the same time to say that it will provide economic aid is, in my view, quite irrational. Already in this House we have heard the story of the Ben Cat dairy. We have heard of the daily military and terrorist attacks with continuing infiltration and external subversion, all of which meant that this realistic civilian aid project was quite impractical.
How does all this fit in with the concepts of what the Australian Labour Party proposes? I suggest that its proposals are neither possible nor practical. Because of these things, it was necessary in the first place for the national leaders to look at the situation within which it is hoped to establish some form of peace and stability so that the civilian aid programme, which was also discussed, could be further extended. The Prime Minister told us that the national leaders spoke not only of the aid that will be provided from outside - from the United States, Australia and other countries - towards establishing some form of greater economic peace and prosperity in South Vietnam, but also of what the South Vietnamese leaders themselves would do. Honorable members will recall that the Prime Minister said that the South Vietnamese leaders stated their interest in training and assigning a substantial portion of their forces to clear and hold actions in order to provide a shield behind which a new society may be built. How necessary this is. What chance is there if there is no effective local administrative control - if there is no civilian responsibility within the villages and hamlets in South Vietnam and if within the villages there is to continue to be Vietcong infiltration? In these conditions, what chance is there of providing civilian aid to these people? It is because of this that it is necessary to have greater military and police control at the village level. But the South Vietnamese leaders will not provide security only through the extension of their revolutionary cadre programme; they are acting also to establish a series of measures to modernise agriculture and to assure the cultivator the fruits of his labour. Top priority will be given to land reform and tenure. Agricultural credit will be expanded. Crops will be improved and diversified in order to give the people of South Vietnam some hope for the future. 1 mention all these things because this is the general conception of the effects of the Manila Conference. If the Conference is to be effective it must be looked at in this light. It must be looked at in the light of the achievement of military security, of local civilian security within the villages and hamlets, and then it must be looked at in the light of civilian aid and economic aid and the eventual prospect of the achievement of political democracy and the establishment of a political system that might lead to something in Vietnam parallel to our own democratic forms. These were the objectives and the ways in which the Manila Conference worked. This is the practical way in which the Australian Government has acted to give assistance to the people of South Vietnam and assistance towards the achievement of peace in the region. This is why I feel that here we have one of the most notable achievements in the pattern of establishing future hope for the region. A number of nations were brought together around a table in Manila. The leaders of war-torn Vietnam were brought together with those nations that are giving direct military assistance. This gives to the people of the region the feeling not only that they will receive military help but that they have the prospect of continued and expanding civilian and economic aid in the future.
It is in this context that I would remind honorable members and the people of Australia that, if we as a nation want to hold our heads high, we must be prepared to give all forms of help to other people. We have entered into international obligations. The S.E.A.T.O. and the A.N.Z.U.S. treaties established for us the prospect of having on our side the great and powerful nations that are in our sphere of influence - not only the United States but also, in the South East Asian area, the other countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The honorable member for Reid mentioned problems that some European nations may see in giving military aid to South Vietnam. I well remember that not very long ago the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) gave us what, to my mind, is a very good reason why the countries o£
Europe are not so concerned to have the United States in Asia. Not unnaturally, they are concerned that the United States should remain in Europe. Just as Europe has a stake in ensuring that the United States will maintain her position in Europe, we in Australia have a stake in ensuring that the United States remains in Asia. To my mind, the Manila Conference is a notable stepping stone on the way towards achieving peace and hope in South East Asia. When President Johnson was at the parliamentary luncheon here, he quoted Thomas Payne, the American patriot, as saying -
If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
The people of Australia, in their wisdom, are assisting the Liberal-Country Party Government towards its objective of achieving peace and hope, not only for Australia but also for the people of Asia. The Manila Conference is a notable advance towards this objective.
.- The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) spoke much more temperately than either of the Cabinet Ministers who preceded him in this debate did. He differed from my colleagues, the honorable members for Reid (Mr. Uren) and Capricornia (Mr. Gray), who were the immediately preceding speakers. He did not reflect upon them, nor should he. Both those honorable gentlemen have spent some years of their lives in South East Asia. The son of one of them is serving in Vietnam as a regular soldier at this moment. 1 deplore the fact that, as happens so often in these debates on external affairs, motives are attributed. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said that the United States would regard certain expressions as treachery. Does the United States regard Britain or Canada, who are its close allies, as treacherous? Did Britain or France regard America as treacherous when it differed from them at the time of Suez? It was interesting to see how the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) responded to my colleague from Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in his references to Suez. The Government wants it to be assumed that it is always correct, that it is always knowledgeable, that it is always prudent and that it is always successful in its conduct of foreign affairs. Suez, second only to West Irian, is a clear instance in which the Government was prominently wrong.
The Minister for Social Services knows from his recent visit to South East Asia that many of our assertions about the South Vietnamese Government are all too true. We have constantly said that the basic trouble in South Vietnam is that there is not a sufficiently broadly based representative responsible government there. There never has been in history. The Minister yesterday presented to the Parliament a report of the mission he led to the region and he referred to the qualms which both Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Prince Abdul Rahman have expressed about the solidity of the political foundations of South Vietnam. Many statements have been attributed to those two prominent Prime Ministers of Commonwealth countries. I suppose I can claim in the last four years to have seen them as often as any members of the Parliament have. Throughout that period, they have been concerned, first, at the political weaknesses in South Vietnam and secondly, at the indifference of developed countries to the economic problems of the whole of the region and, thirdly, at the ostrich-like attitude of Australia, the United States and other countries to the recognition of China and its incorporation in world bodies.
This morning, the House is afforded the last opportunity for a public debate on these issues before the election. There was to be another opportunity on television, on Channel 7 and all its associated stations, in a programme “ White Paper No. 2 “. dealing with the issues raised this morning and all other election issues. It was to he shown to an estimated 3 million viewers in the week before the election. Honorable members will remember the vast viewing audience which was attracted by “ White Paper No. 1 “. The station proposed that the principal participants should be the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and myself as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Later it was suggested that Senator Gair should participate as a representative of the D.L.P. The Prime Minister refused at the time the suggestion was made.
– I take a point of order. The honorable member is not referring to the Prime Minister’s statement.
Mr. SPEAKER__ Order! The Deputy
Leader of the Opposition will continue.
– The Deputy Prime Minister did accept and, in lieu of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the Treasurer, accepted. A week later, the Deputy Prime Minister withdrew and suggested that he be replaced by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony). Yesterday, the Treasurer intimated that he was reluctant to appear with a junior Minister. The station was unable to get a firm assurance that either the Treasurer or the Minister for the Interior would appear on the programme. Throughout this period, the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were ready to appear, as they have stood ready for months past to debate these or any other public issues in public places or in public media with their corresponding numbers of the Government parties. Here on a principal commercial channel the public would have been able to view the rival political parties, but the Liberal Party has ensured that there will be no such confrontation. I have had occasion earlier this session to point out that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has always accepted the Government veto on a debate on any public issue, because it insists on a balance, and if Liberal Ministers will not appear on any subject, the A.B.C. abandons the subject. Commercial stations, however, have been prepared to continue without ministerial participation, even on controversial subjects. As we know, the telecasts by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and myself are taped by the Liberal Party and are transcribed and distributed by it, It is remarkable, of course, that honorable members in this House who get those documents and know what the Leader and I have said on television should base questions on erroneous newspaper reports.
– Order! I think the honorable member is getting a little away from the subject matter of the paper, which relates to the Manila Summit Conference.
– I am not going to cross you on your last day in the chair, Mr. Speaker. I have too great respect for you. To sum up, this debate this morning will be the last opportunity which the public will have before the election of knowing the rival views, because all other opportunities have been denied them.
– Well, get on with it.
– The honorable gentleman who interjects will not participate in any debate on these subjects outside the House. It was clear from answers which the Prime Minister gave to the honorable member for Fremantle yesterday that the feelers are already out for an increased military commitment by Australia in South Vietnam. He detailed the process which was followed after the Senate election early last year - the whole process of the feelers. The Prime Minister is not as frank as the Prime Minister of New Zealand in revealing the final letters. Before the 1963 House of Representatives election and before the 1964 Senate election were the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, the present Prime Minister, the present Minister for External Affairs or the present Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) frank with the Australian public in the Parliament or in any of the mass media? There was no reference in the policy speeches to any military commitment and there was no reference to conscription. I correct myself: There was one reference to a military commitment, and this was during the Senate election. Sir Robert Menzies said that we had to introduce conscription to defend eastern New Guinea against an Indonesian invasion. There were no other references by any of the other honorable gentlemen I have mentioned.
The Manila declarations certainly have not been embellished by either of the contributions by the second and third members of the Liberal Party here today. There has been no suggestion of any peace initiatives. One would have thought that somewhere at Manila there would have been a reference to the Geneva Conference. One would have thought that there would have been some reference to it by the Prime Minister last night or his Ministers today. We have very close ties with Great Britain, which is one of the co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference. We have close ties in this region with the great nations of India and Pakistan, in the Commonwealth, and with Japan and Indonesia. Their goodwill Russia desires. Their views Russia would heed in co-operating with Britain in reconvening the Geneva Conference. It is clear that on all initiatives for peace the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues are barren of ideas.
If they are not interested in peace, are they interested in the war? They have expressed no qualms about the use of napalm or the erroneous bombing in Vietnam. I have seen the notations on the maps. I have flown in the helicopters looking for objectives. I recall enough from my own experiences to know the difficulties, but nevertheless one must be appalled by the constant errors which are made, and the brutal use of these means. There has been no sympathy expressed for the innocent victims. Have the objectives for which napalm and bombing were used been achieved? There is no sign of it. I quote on this subject from today’s “ Canberra Times “ editorial headed “ Report on Manila “ -
We can only hope that this tactic-
That is, the bombing of defenceless villages, sometimes in error, at the behest of the South Vietnamese - has been re-examined along with the effectiveness of search-and-destroy, and that the re-examination has led to the only proper conclusion: that the terrible cost in innocent lives and the deep scars left on refugees make it both barbaric and selfdefeating.
The only person from the Country Party to speak in this debate was the junior Minister for Social Services. It is no wonder that the Leader of the Country Party did not speak, because he is confronted with the constant problem, as the honorable member for Reid stated this morning, of reconciling the Government’s warnings of Chinese invasion of South Vietnam with the Government’s increasing of trade with China in strategic materials. The Government says it complies with the ban on strategic materials. It was imposed in 1951 on the export of strategic materials to Sino-Soviet countries. Anything which any member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can now export to Russia - and what cannot they? - they can export also to China, and so can we. There has been a complete thaw in relations with Russia, and in trade matters we have produced a similar thaw in respect of China. 1 was impressed by an answer which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) gave to me a month ago. For three and a half years not one Australian National Line ship had been allowed to take cargo overseas, until on 6th April this year a 10,000-tonner took a load of steel to China - a fortnight before the first conscripts left for South Vietnam. I quote also from an answer which the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) gave to my colleague, Senator McClelland, in another place about six weeks ago. From his answer it seems that Australia’s exports to mainland China - as the Minister described it - of iron, steel plate and sheet, quadrupled last year. No wonder the Minister for Trade and Industry - the Leader of the Country Party - denies himself the opportunity of justifying Government policy on the eve of the election.
The Prime Minister last night did not express quite so blatantly as he did in the United States a few months ago his opinion that it is bad luck for the Vietnamese that the world power struggle is being fought out on their territory. In the United States, similarly, he unblushingly recounted that, as he put it, some 500,000 or 1,000,000 Indonesian Communists had been knocked off in the last year. He takes the same attitude that Sir Robert Menzies used to take about defence in depth or fighting in other people’s backyards.
During the debate on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs I quoted a letter from the Bishop of Kontum asking for refugee relief, and I noted that last year’s Budget provided $106,000 for this purpose and that this year’s Budget cancelled all such appropriations. On 21st September the Acting Minister for External Affairs announced that this year we would give the sum of $50,000 to the Australian Committee for International Refugee Campaign. Today the Minister told me that some 40 per cent. - I had previously noted in the Press it was 20 per cent. - of this is to be given to Vietnam. Accordingly the Government’s concern for the victims in South Vietnam has been reduced from over $100,000 last year to not more than $20,000 this year. I applaud the Minister for Social Services for referring to our overseas aid. The Government’s overall contribution in this field has been modified. This year’s Budget reduces the allocation for international development and relief from $22.7 million to $17.3 million, and for economic and defence support assistance for Vietnam and the S.E.A.T.O. countries from $2.3 million to $2 million. The document which the Minister for External Affairs has distributed shows that our bi-lateral and multi-lateral aid for all purposes this year is a bit less than it was last year. That is, the whole of the matters which the Minister for Social Services mentioned are less capable of fulfilment this year than they were last year.
I was impressed to see in the communique issued a week ago by our Prime Minister and the United States President, the concentration atManila was to be on how conditions could best be secured for the future peaceful development of Vietnam and of Asia generally. The emphasis was to be on the urgency of bringing about conditions favorable for the rapid economic and social advancement of the peoples and nations of the region. The bulk of the communique was devoted to these questions. ThePrime Minister last night gave no indication how we would contribute to this end, nor did the Minister for External Affairs or the Treasurer this morning. The simple fact is that if any aid is to be given by the seven nations at Manila it must come overwhelmingly from the United States, largely from Australia, and to a certain extent from New Zealand. But none of our Cabinet Ministers mentioned the question at all. Neither of the countries of North America with which we are allied nor any of the western European countries contribute less than twice as much as we do for this purpose.
After the introduction of the Budget a statement was issued in the name of the Minister, and in his absence, leaving the whole matter to the Australian Council for Overseas Aid whose chairman is Mr. Syd Einfeld, the Labour M.L.A. for Bondi, and a former colleague of ours in this place. The Council was ignored in last year’s Budget, but is now being asked to work out methods which the Government has failed to work out itself. It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that in relation to this question, in which our future is so greatly involved, the sessional period is ending with the same governmental futility as was shown in the Budget presented on the night on which the sessional period commenced. Leadership in Asia cannot come from other continents but help in South East Asia must come from other continents.
One week ago at this hour President Johnson was illustrating at the parliamentary luncheon how - political heir of the New Deal that he is - he wants to conduct a war on poverty everywhere. No United States
President has ever been as conscious of Asia as has the present one. One of the issues of the coming election will be: Are we to lose another three years in rehabilitating South East Asia? Are we to defer for another three years the hopes of the people who share this region with us? Are we to lose our opportunities and disregard our obligations for another three years?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Peacock) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
Clause 10. (1.) Sections 61 and 62 of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead:- “62a. - (1.) The judges of the Supreme Court or a majority of them may make Rules of Court, not inconsistent with this Act, with respect to the practice and procedure of and in the Supreme Court. “ (8.) If a disallowed Rule of Court or part of a Rule of Court amended or repealed a Rule of Court in force immediately before the commencement of the disallowed Rule or part, the disallowance revives the previous Rule of Court on and from the date of publication of the notice of disallowance as if the disallowed Rule or part had not been made.
Senate’s amendment -
After sub-section (8.) of proposed section 62a insert the following sub-section: - “ (8a.) Where the Governor-General disallows any Rules of Court or part of any Rules, the Minister shall cause a statement of the reasons for the disallowance to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as possible, but in any case within fifteen sitting days of that House after the date of disallowance.”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
I indicated yesterday in relation to the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that the Government would be prepared to accept such an amendment in another place. I have now formally moved that the amendment be accepted.
.- We thank the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) for having accepted this amendment from the other place. We naturally support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1966.
States Grants (Research) Bill 1966.
Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1966.
Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1966.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The Twenty-fifth Parliament is very close to its demise. There is no senility associated with that, nor decay. In fact, if the proceedings this morning arc any guide, there is a lot of liveliness left in the Parliament. But political circumstances being what they are, and an election having been decided upon by the Government, the Parliament has to run the course which we have prescribed for it, and it will conclude before the weekend. There will be different views taken of the 25th Parliament by those whose business it becomes to study these matters. It has had many moments of sadness in both Houses as we have mourned the loss of friends and colleagues, but I believe that it has served the Australian democracy well. It has maintained the traditional roles so necessary in a robust democracy with a Government and an Opposition.
In relation to the traditions of the House, Mr. Speaker, honour must be paid to you for the way in which you have preserved the dignities of the House and its stature with those who have sent us here. Earlier, we found the opportunity to pay tribute to you for your remarkable period of record service. You will be one of those who, not by force of electoral will but by your own free choice, will sever your direct connection with the Parliament, but I am sure that it will always be with you in your spirit and in your interested observance, and I can assure you that the memory of your long and almost invariably happy period of office will be long cherished by those of us who have had the privilege of serving under you.
There are many that one would wish to thank on an occasion such as this.I shall, together with my own cohorts, shortly be joined in combat in the electorate with the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition and those who support either in this Parliament or outside it, but amongst us on this side there remains goodwill towards them, as I am sure there is goodwill on their part towards us in a personal sense. We all recognise that we have our duties to perform to those who sent us here, to express as faithfully as we can their views and wishes. Our task is to serve the highest master that any of us acknowledges - the Australian nation and people. So I express my good wishes to the Leader and Deputy Leader and members of the Opposition. Of course I hardly need to express such good wishes to those who sit behind me, my colleagues of the Cabinet and Ministry and of the two Government Parties. They know, almost without my finding it necessary to say so, how warmly they are regarded and how strongly both the Leader of the Country Party and I entertain the hope that their numbers will be increased rather than diminished as a result of the election that lies ahead.
– History will tell.
– I do not think we need to wait for history. I think the tabloids will tell before we are very much older. Before I leave my references to the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, may I say that although I cannot with a full heart wish them good luck in the campaign which lies ahead of us, I do most sincerely wish them good health. Those of them who happen to be enforcedly retired as a result of the election will have our best wishes at all times. It may be that we shall come back much as we are. If so, then the struggle will continue.
Assisting you, Mr. Speaker, in you high duties have been several members of the Parliament from both sides. There have been the Chairman of Committee and the various deputies. We give our thanks to them. Without the Whips the disorder in our ranks which occasionally manifests itself would be so very much greater, and I would like to pay a personal tribute and give an expression of thanks to the Government Whip and to his deputy and also, of course, to the Whips of the other Parties. I know it will not be regarded as inappropriate if I remind the House again of the amazing record of the Country Party Whip who. now in his 21st year in the Parliament, has not missed a single day of attendance. That record will never be bettered. His stamina, endurance and capacity for punishment are models for us all.
To the Clerk of the House and the other Clerks at the table we are all very frequently indebted. I know that you, Sir, value their services, and there is not a member of the Parliament who does not feel grateful to them and hold them in warm regard. It is not only their duties inside this chamber that are appreciated; as they go abroad to assist delegations and parliamentary groups at various conferences they are of invaluable assistance and their help is at all times greatly appreciated.
I must refer also to the other members of the parliamentary staffs, and also the parliamentary liaison officer from the Prime Minister’s Department, who have assisted us to keep the Parliament running smoothly. The typing staff sees to it that our illegible scrawl becomes respectable print, thus making our efforts at debate more effective. I find that one of the penalties of the Prime Ministership is that such agreeable institutions as the Library, the Parliamentary bar, the billiard room and even the Parliamentary refreshment can rarely be visited, and
I can only rely, therefore, on rather indirect evidence as to how they have been proceeding. But perhaps the best test of these matters, as a politician soon discovers, is that if people are complaining there is reason to look at what may be going wrong. These days one hears nothing but praise of the Library. I shall not comment on the other institutions except, perhaps, the refreshment room where, in my judgment, the standard of refreshment and service has greatly improved since my early days in this establishment.
The attendants in the House have been I am sure, affected by the growing public interest throughout Australia in this institution. We would do well to remind ourselves occasionally that there is tremendous interest around Australia these days in the national Parliament and, of course, in the way in which we conduct ourselves here. One has only to look at the enormous growth, as an old hand like myself can see it, in the number of people visiting Canberra and coming to study the proceedings of the Parliament, to realise how the modern public communications media of Press, radio and particularly television have helped to stir interest in the doings of this Parliament. The attendants have been the busier on that account, but they always seem to be cheerful, co-operative and helpful in coping with the crowds that throng this place. We are all indebted to the staff connected with the Refreshment Rooms and the other amenities. We do not see the broadcasting staff very clearly behind their shield of glass, but judging by the number of applications received by the Whips from members wishing to speak while the broadcasting staff are working, their work must be regarded as being beneficial for the speaker and therefore they are to be thanked by all honorable members. The telephonists who cope with the incessant demands on members and on Ministers have our thanks also.
Finally, there are the gentlemen, and occasionally the ladies, of the Press. I suppose it is understandable that politicians regard the Press in a sense as being, if not their natural enemies, then included among the hazards of our occupation. There is not one of us who does not bear some scars from the attentions of the Press. They are to be accepted as part of the price of public representation. But I have had an opportunity in my travels of seeing samples of the Press of other countries. I am able to say sincerely that the standards of the Press in Australia are as faithful and as high as are to be found in any part of the world to which I have been where the English language is printed. Members of the Press can feel, therefore, that they have a quite significant role to play in the faithful performance by this democratic institution of its responsibilities. News should be sacred and comment should be honest and faithful. If these standards are met then who is there among us to deny the Press or to complain about the manner in which the Press performs its duties.
As I glance at my notes here to remind me of those to whom reference should be made, 1 find that I have omitted, Mr. Speaker, to mention the “ Hansard “ staff. They, of course, loom very large in our affairs. 1 know it is common to say that death is the great leveller, but “ Hansard “ also ranks as the great leveller in a much happier sense. Our grammatical blunders, the mis-spellings which might be incorporated in our notes, and even the more extreme of our excesses in language, are remedied and our speeches are brought out in impeccable form, and we are able to distribute the “ Hansard “ account with pride and satisfaction to anybody who will take the trouble to read it.
I should not conclude without a word of appreciation to the Leader of the House (Mr. Fairbairn) who, I believe, has performed a remarkable job in bringing us out on schedule with the programme completed. As a member of the Leaders of the House union, I know the sort of problems that have to be coped with to produce this result. I also know that this favorable result could not have been achieved without the assistance of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who performs a corresponding role for the Opposition. In my experience of him he has never yielded a point of his Party’s interest in these matters. But he, together with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), recognises that a democratically elected government is entitled to carry through the Parliament the programme which it has set out, and to carry the responsibility for that programme. While there has been opposi tion there has not been obstruction of an order which would interfere with the conduct of the Government’s business and the conduct of private members. I suitably acknowledge that.
Mr. Speaker, lest I be accused once again of being voluble and long winded, let me bring this narrative to a conclusion. I think that most of us will be here to greet each other when the Parliament resumes. Perhaps we shall be sitting in much the same places that we occupy today. But whatever the outcome of the election, we can all take satisfaction that we live in a country where we can express ourselves freely and robustly without incurring dangers to ourselves and to our families. I know that there have been the rare instances where this has not been so; but there are not many democracies in the world where a public man can move more freely and express himself more freely than he can in this democracy of Australia which we are all so proud to serve. So, Mr. Speaker, I announce the impending conclusion of the Twenty-fifth Parliament and convey to all those whom I have mentioned my personal good wishes and appreciation for the co-operation shown to me during my brief but eventful term as Prime Minister.
– Mr. Speaker, I shall strive to be commendably brief. I observe that it is not for us to decide the future. The people will decide that on 26th November. The day when an election is held is the day when the people do decide. Politicians on that day are their playthings. The people kick them around as they like. If 1 might change the metaphor, the fate of honorable members of this Parliament and of those who are aspiring to become members rests in the lap of the gods - and the lap of the gods is always a very uncertain seat. 1 join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in all that he has said in eulogy and in all his expressions of thanks to all the people who have helped to make democracy work. I shall not go over them, nor attempt to cover any of the remarks that he made. I only endorse them. I hope he remembered the draftsmen. I cannot recall whether he did. They are the most overworked people in the Parliament and possibly the most underpaid. 1 hope we will have a bigger drafting staff in the future, because it is always difficult for the Government and for private members to have legislation drafted. We just do not have enough competent draftsmen. Perhaps it is because we do not pay them enough that we do not get the numbers that we require.
I would like to add to the remarks of the Prime Minister and say a word of thanks to some other people whom he inadvertently overlooked. The police officers who keep order in this place should be thanked. Perhaps I have my own special reasons for remembering the work of the police-
– The Leader of the Opposition also has the honorable member for Hunter.
– 1 have the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), I have the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and I have the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), all of whom were very competent policemen before they entered this Parliament.
– They know where they are going, too.
– Well, I am going with them. I think we should say a word also for the members of the transport pool, the drivers who work from early in the morning until late at night and never let us down.
I want to thank you for your help over the years, Mr. Speaker. You have done very well over the last three years and we are your most severe critics. We think you are the best that the Government ranks could have provided for the Chair, although we do not always agree with you. We think it might be a good idea to amend the Standing Orders to provide that a member of the Opposition shall be the Speaker. The law of self-preservation almost demands that. Sir, you are leaving the Parliament with 10 other members. I took a note of them. One came here in 1936, one in 1946, six in 1949, one in 1951 and one in 1954. They have all given very long service to the Parliament and have done their best with great enthusiasm and devotion. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) is leaving us. He is not here today. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) is leaving us. He is quite a colourful person in his own right. He comes from a very distinguished family which has given many years of service to the political life of Australia. Then there is the silent member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack). We hope that he will burst into song or speech sometime because he did not give us much of his eloquence or the music of his voice while he was here.
The honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson) has served Australia well in the Senate and the House of Representatives, in war and in peace. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who came here in 1951, has decided to leave us. We wish him also a long and happy retirement. We wish the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who came here in 1949 and whose father was the first member for the Northern Territory, a long and happy life. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) came here as quite a young man and has survived the wrath of the electorate for 30 years. We wish him well too. We are to lose also the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), who was one of the most handsome men 1 ever saw. He came here just after his career had ended in the Royal Australian Air Force, lt was a most distinguished career. 1 thought he might have become a Minister, but the fates decided against him. All the people who are leaving us gave good attention to their duties. If they do not come frequently, we hope that they will come occasionally to see those who happen to come back as a result of the next election.
I should like to add to the tribute which the Prime Minister paid to David Fairbairn. He is the only Leader of the House about whom it can be said that he never broke his word. I am not saying that anybody ever did break his word, but we used to have constant arguments over this question. I remember Eric Harrison almost flying at me in fury when I accused him of that dreadful charge, and then accused me likewise. Even the Prime Minister did something of the same thing. But this benign, pleasant Leader of the House, in the dying days of the Twenty-fifth Parliament, has been quite a genial person. He listens to one’s point of view and when an agreement is made we do not have to worry about it later. I am not accusing anybody of having done anything wrong in the past, but we have never had any trouble with the Leader of the House and that is something for an Opposition to say. Even the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), the Liberal Party Whip, has improved in quite recent times. We used to have a little difficulty with him. Sir, I wish you and everybody else a very happy Christmas, whatever the election decides, and a very prosperous New Year, and I hope that in your own benign way, when you are sitting at home listening to broadcasts, if you ever do, you will not be inclined to shout out occasionally “ Order! “; because, if you do, your voice will not be heard.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to support the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in expressing my own thanks and the thanks of my Party to you, in your capacity as Mr. Speaker, to the Chairman of Committees, Mr. Lucock, and to your respective deputies. I join in the thanks which have been expressed to all those who have been mentioned by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and, relapsing into the language of the tariff schedule, I might say, “ others n.e.i.”, and regard this as perhaps comprehensive. We have worked together in this Parliament as parliamentarians do in a friendly relationship and antagonistic demeanour within the House where it is necessary when the occasion demands it. I believe the Parliament has worked as one might expect. In all this we have had the aid, support and guidance of very numerous people, all of whom, in their respective places, are important to the conduct of the business of the Parliament.
To you, Sir, I should like to express my personal good wishes and my personal thanks for all that you have meant to me as a member of the Parliament. I see opening up a new phase of my personal relationships with the McLeays because your brother, the late George McLeay, as is well known to you was a warm personal friend. This is a relationship which has endured with you. I look forward to continuing to know and meet you in your private capacity whatever my capacity may turn out to be.
I do want to say that as deputy to the Prime Minister it has been a pleasure and privilege to work with him during this year. I came into the present Parliament to serve with his predecessor and I have now inherited a new leader with whom I have worked in complete harmony, trust and friendship, for which I express my thanks. I pay a tribute to him by saying that from where I stand there are few people who have contributed so much, in my concept, to what is necessary for Australia to be a safe country, for reasons which I need not expound upon. I have sat in this place with a number of members who do not intend to contest their seats again. Bill Riordan came into the Parliament, following his uncle Darby Riordan, very soon after 1 came. He has been a stalwart member for his Party. Jock Nelson, whose father I knew, is taking his time off. I pay a tribute to the service of both those Opposition members. On my own side of the House is my colleague, Mr. Bill Brimblecombe, who is not contesting the election. He has represented my Party with distinction in his constituency. I take this occasion to say thanks to Mr. Brimblecombe for what he has done for my Party and for the Parliament, and for his service, both private and military, for this country. I do not propose to speak in detail of my other colleagues, but it is with sadness that I feel that if I come back here, as I expect to, I will not find ban Mackinnon next time. He will be in the back paddock in more pleasant pastures, and I wish him luck.
I come now to Bill Falkinder, if I may refer to him in the way not normally permitted. He served me as a parliamentary under secretary for some years and I have nothing but warm friendship and high respect for him. He has rendered splendid service to the Parliament and to the Government. I pay a tribute to him also for his magnificent service in the Royal Australian Air Force during the war.
We shall be sorry to sever our parliamentary relationships with Billy Jack, Bob Lindsay, Sir Keith Wilson and Frank Davis, all men whom we genuinely like and respect and for whom we have warm feelings. I have known Sir Keith Wilson as a senator, a soldier and a member of the House of Representatives. His is a record of real service to this country. These partings have to happen, but they must not be allowed to pass without our paying tribute to the service that has been given by those who are retiring. We go now to the polls. We shall do our best and will come back, I am sure, to carry on a record of democratic government in this country, whatever the verdict of the electors may be - although I have no doubt about that.
– 1 have been deputed by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay), who is winging his way towards a very important conference in Korea, and possibly my dear colleague from North Sydney (Mr. Jack), who. unfortunately, is suffering from a slight attack of laryngitis, to say a few words. I should like to thank you, Sir, the members of the Government and the members of the Opposition for making our period in this place as fruitful and rewarding as it has been. We naturally wonder who makes the wheels turn smoothly, who puts the grease on the bearings. The first to come to mind obviously, are the Clerks and the other officers of the House. I am sure we all regard them with the greatest respect and affection. They have made our lives here very easy and extremely pleasant. Then I turn to the Library staff the members of which, over the years, have had far more responsibilities placed upon them. They have acquitted themselves extremely well with those additional responsibilities. I am sure that as time goes on the responsibilities of the Library will become even greater with the availability of new services, and that the members of the staff will continue to discharge their duties with their customary efficiency.
I come now to those diligent men whom we have to watch and who, we must keep remembering, are putting everything we are saying down on paper. I refer to the members of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. If anybody can be described as embellishers of the truth - or half truth - they can and we are tremendously grateful to them. Then there are the attendants, the telephonists and the members of the household staff within this place. I think we are particularly fortunate in all respects for the tremendous courtesy, friendship and assistance available to us as members throughout the whole of the organisation of Parliament House.
I turn now to that very important part of political life, the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms. Here again nothing is too much trouble for the staff. Sometimes we create some trouble, but the staff has at all times been wonderfully courteous and helpful. I extend thanks also to another section of the Parliamentary institution - the ladies and gentlemen of the Press, as the Prime Minister so aptly described them. The honorable member for North Sydney was inclined to disagree with me on this. He said he was not too keen on this because he thought he had been maliciously and constantly misquoted by the Press. I said: “ Billy, this is the corollary of your extreme verbosity. You lay yourself wide open the whole time. You must realise that it is not their fault and that you a rs probably responsible yourself”. Anyway, he came round and said: “That will be all right “. So I do express to the representatives of the Press our most heartfelt thanks.
I express thanks now to the people who send us here - our constituents. They have a lot to put up with. I have often wondered whether I would reach the stage when they would say of me: “ How are we go’ng to get rid of that old ‘ B ‘ ? “ Then there is that most important part of our lives here, our wives. I thank them for being so longsuffering and patient in their altitude and approach to the responsibilities that are thrust upon us. Without their constant assistance and encouragement I am sure that our task here would be very much more difficult.
Parliament is not a Sunday School and those people who, from time to time blow up and get a lot of publicity in the Press for criticising the parliamentary institution and processes of government have to realise that men’s natures and temperaments are vitally different; that their mental processes are vitally different and that there must naturally be an element of dissent and even an element of strife at times. That is only natural while human nature remains as it is. I can safely say that in my opinion and from my knowledge and study of other institutions of this nature throughout the world the conduct of affairs within this place has always been on a very even keel.
Of course, we have our moments of tension and our moments of strife, but that is only natural where tempers are aroused and where people have the right to express themselves freely - perhaps too freely at times. Let this institution go on in the way it is. I feel pretty confident that on Saturday November 26th the electors of Australia, in their sanity will see that it continues in the same safe hands as it is in at the moment.
– I wish to express my appreciation to the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) for the tributes they have paid to those members who are retiring. 1 wish also on behalf of the retiring members to thank al] persons associated with this Parliament for making it work so smoothly. 1 know that my colleagues, like myself, retire from this Parliament feeling that every member of Parliament is a friend. I have great friends on this side of the House and great friends on the other side of the House. 1 feel sure that Parliament will always remain the safeguard of the freedom and liberty of the people so long as our differences can be settled inside the House and not by the violent means that are used in some other countries. My interest in this Parliament will ever continue. I want also to say: “ Thank you “ to the many friends with whom I have been associated in playing my part in contributing what 1 could towards the legislation of the country.
– I support the remarks of previous speakers in congratulating those who, behind the scenes, do so much to make this Parliament function and who contribute such a great deal towards making our democracy work.
My main purpose in rising is to express my personal appreciation to you, Mr. Speaker, for your kindness and courtesy over the period for which we have been associated. By your humour and tolerance, you have made my position a very much easier one to fulfil than it might have been. I express to you also, on behalf of the Deputy Chairmen, their appreciation and thanks for the assistance you have given. We all join in hoping that you and those other members who are retiring from this place - or who know at this moment that they are retiring - have a very happy and enjoyable retirement.
.- Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, Ministers, members all: First of all, I wish to disagree with what the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) said about me and my relations with the Press. The Press has been very helpful to me indeed. Whenever it has given me a writeup, I have increased my majority by about 2,000. I thank all in this House for the help that they have given to me and for the friendship that they have shown me. 1 have made here longstanding friendships that will be with me until I die. I have had a very happy time in this place. I thank the Clerks of the House and also the staff for helping to make my time here so happy. I never thought, 17 years ago, that 1 would be a member of this House. I was semi-retired then. When I heard what salaries were paid to members of the Parliament, I thought it would be a good thing for me to go into Parliament. So I stood for North Sydney. I ratted on the union, but I was very happy to be elected. I am only sorry that my salary will stop on Monday.
I extend the season’s greetings to each and every one of you. I generally send out Christmas cards, but this will save me from having to do it this year. I congratulate our Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). He has done a wonderful job in the time that he has been Prime Minister. The GovernorGeneral spoke to me about this last night at a civic reception given to him at North Sydney. I almost blamed the Press for making a mistake and thinking that the function was held for me. At any rate, the Governor-General expressed the same opinion about the Prime Minister as I have. I hope and trust that the Liberal Party of Australia will be returned to office on 26th November.
– The honorable member is almost out of order.
– Please do not name me, Mr. Speaker. I hope and trust that each and every one of you will have good health and happiness to help you carry on your campaigns.
– I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and other honorable members for their kindly references to the work that I have done while occupying the office of Speaker of this House. My duties were made easier by the fact that the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Leader of the Opposition all lead parties that believe in the institution of Parliament. 1 have felt - at least, on most occasions - that though they may quarrel among themselves, they always have a deep reverence for the Chair. For this I am grateful. I am sorry to see that some honorable members are retiring from the House. I shall retire with them. I thank all those who have been associated with me who will be voluntarily retiring. I shall sympathise with those, if any, who find themselves in a different category.
I agree that we in this House are entirely dependent on those who advise us. I have no doubt that in our present Clerk, Mr. Alan Turner, and also in the former Clerk, Mr. Tregear, we have had advisers who have been dedicated to the institution of Parliament and to the service of all honorable members regardless of the side of the chamber on which they sit. I recently attended two Speakers’ conferences. I can say without fear of contradiction that in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and among the Secretaries of the Branches overseas. Alan Turner is more highly regarded than is any other man who occupies a similar position. In the Association, he has made a tremendous contribution to a very worthy cause. T think that the most outstanding feature of his work for this House has been the improvements of the Standing Orders that he piloted through. I know that his views on that subject have been canvassed. At this point, I have a confession to make: In his absence, we installed the clocks at the sides of (he chamber that indicate how much time is left to the member speaking. Mr. Turner was opposed to them. However, I think he will agree, after having listened to the speeches made today, that those clocks ought to have been installed even earlier.
I thank my colleague, the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Lucock), and the Deputy Chairmen for the help that they have given me. I deeply appreciate the loyalty and devotion to duly displayed by the Chairman. In one sense, I feel a little cynical, for I recall an occasion when he and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) - both members of the cloth - became enraged in a verbal battle with one another and it became necessary for a Papal Knight to interfere and restore peace and order.
I now wish to mention the joint committees of the Parliament. What I have to say of them, to cut it short, applies to the members of all those bodies that serve the House: We appreciate what they have done and the contribution that they have made in various fields. We all know of their intense devotion to duty. I would like to say how grateful we are for the services that they have rendered to the Parliament.
I come now to the Press. The reporters’ behaviour in the galleries is the only aspect of their work that comes under my administrative control. What happens outside this place is not under my control. They are entirely free to go their own way.
I am sure that all honorable members will be pleased to know that Mr. and Mrs. Frank Davis are now on their way home. We all were very sorry that Frank Davis and his good wife had the misfortune that befell them in Canada. I am sure that wherever he is winging his way at the moment, he will understand that we all are thinking of him and his wife and that we are really pleased to know that their problems are almost over. Sincerity compels me to say that I believe that I should thank the wives of all members of the Parliament for the great tolerance, understanding, co-operation and goodwill that they have shown to my wife since she has been associated through me with the office of Speaker. My advice to every member of Parliament is that if he wants to hold his seat he must have the goodwill not only of his own wife but also of the wives of all his colleagues. My wife and I will long remember the kindness and understanding of the other wives associated with this Parliament. We appreciate it very much indeed. To all those who may have been missed, especially my personal staff, let me say that they can take it for granted that my thanks and appreciation are extended to them all.
Let me say finally that I am obeying instructions that I used to receive sometimes when I was in the Army. I used to be told that there is a time when one retreats to a strategic position. That is what I am doing with respect to my own future. I am grateful to all in the Parliament for their tolerance, understanding, co-operation and loyalty. After I pass for the last time through the door behind the chair and go to the Speaker’s suite, I may be for a little while in a category different from that of most of you. But when 1 do become an ex-member of this House, I shall always remember with pride and deep affection all the members who have been associated with me in any way. May I say that I trust that we all shall meet again as private individuals.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 2.8 p.m. until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker and to be notified by him to each member by telegram or letter.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Northern Territory: Current Pastoral Leases. (Question No. 2018.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions have been supplied to him. For general information a copy of the answers, most of which are embodied in a comprehensive Schedule, is available in the Library.
a asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
Agreements since the commencement of the first agreement?
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions:
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
On what dates, by what means and with what results have communications passed between the Commonwealth and the States concerning the application of cloud-seeding techniques developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the use of drought relief money for this purpose?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The honorable member is referred to the C.S.I.R.O.’s annual report, tabled on 1st September 1966, which shows that the States have been kept informed and have made use of cloudseeding techniques. Officers from all States have attended schools of instruction provided by the C.S.I.R.O., and following requests from authorities in New South Wales and Victoria, seeding operations were undertaken by C.S.I.R.O. in March 1965 in connection with bushfire emergencies.
The Commonwealth is reimbursing the States of New South Wales and Queensland for expenditure on drought relief measures and has indicated its readiness to reimburse the running costs of intensified cloud-seeding operations designed to increase rainfall in areas declared to be drought affected.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
These ships have been made available to the Government under varying charter terms, or according to detailed agreements with the shipowners concerned, and it is not considered appropriate to reveal the details of the terms of the charter.
In addition to the ships listed there have been charters of vessels of small capacity for the transport of stores and cable laying operations, etc.
The Department of Trade and Industry, although not engaged in the actual chartering of vessels is responsible for extending financial assistance to shipping companies operating direct services to South America. These services were introduced to assist Australian exporters develop the South American markets.
In respect of the service to the West Coast of South America and the Caribbean, the agreement which came into force in May 1965 has been extended. The company agreed to continue the shipping service to the area for an additional 12 months. Due to a temporary falling off in demand for cargo space during the second half of 1965, shipping schedules had to be re-organised and the term of the agreement was extended to July 1966 to permit the Line to make nine sailings. The Commonwealth undertook to subsidise this service on a “ guarantee against loss “ basis up to a maximum of$340,000 for the nine voyages. It is expected that the full amount will become payable. The service to the east coast of South America was operated under an agreement which expired in December 1965. It provided for eight sailings during a period of two years, which was eventually extended by a further six months. The agreement provided for Commonwealth financial assistance to a maximum of $350,000 over the period at a maximum rate of $43,750 per voyage. In January 1966 the service was taken over by another company which has since been operating without financial assistance from the Commonwealth.
In support of the Australian Selling Trade mission to the Middle East with emphasis on Libya during May 1966, the Commonwealth agreed to guarantee to ship-owners the cost of direct calls to Benghazi and Tripoli up to a maximum of $5,000 per call, for two voyages. Provision is made for a reduction in the amount of this guarantee, according to the revenue received from freight on cargoes shipped to these ports.
An annual subsidy is paid in respect of vessels on the Australian Register and operated by Australian crews, in competition with other vessels on the Australian-New Guinea trade. The rate of subsidy was $300,000 per annum until 31st December 1964 and $400,000 per annum since that date and is paid quarterly in arrears. Actual payments in the financial year 1965-66 totalled $400,000.
A subsidy is also paid in respect of the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island. This subsidy takes the form of an operating subsidy paid to reduce the charges for the service by $5 per ton for general cargo with broadly proportionate reductions for other cargo. This subsidy has operated since the 19th April 1965, except that reductions for livestock were made retrospective to the 1st January 1965. The total payment made during the financial year 1965-66 was $161,107.
A subsidy of $43,600 was paid in respect of shipping services to isolated Northern Territory ports in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In what cases are the drivers of Commonwealth cars (a) required or (b) accumstomed to pay lolls for the use of roads, bridges and ferries?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
and (b). The only known cases where Commonwealth drivers pay tolls for the use of roads, bridges and ferries are -
n asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What legal costs were ordered to be paid by each of the unions listed in his answer to me on 29th September 1966 (“Hansard”, page 1516)?
– The following table sets out the available information. It gives the amounts of costs which are actually taxed by the Industral Registrar pursuant to decisions of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Costs have only been taxed in those cases where a bill has been lodged.
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Can he say how many Australian youths in the 19, 20 and 21 age groups were living in the United Kingdom at 30th June in each of the years 1963 to 1966, inclusive.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Records arc not kept by either Australian or United Kingdom authorities from which figures could be extracted to show the number of Australians, in any particular age group, living in the United Kingdom.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
On what duces, by what means and with what results have communications passed between the Commonwealth and Queensland and/or Western Australia concerning the Snowy Mountains Authority?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
As the honorable member will be aware, the Snowy Mountains Authority has been in existence for nearly two decades.It would therefore be a major research undertaking to find the information requested, which in any case may not be available for public information without the prior agreement of the State or States concerned.
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he arrange for the Public Service Board to expedite its decision on the requests of the New South Wales Credit Union League Co-operative Ltd. and the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association for the granting of leave of absence without pay to an officer of a Commonwealth Department who is required to devote the whole of his time to the duties of an executive officer in a credit union operating within a Commonwealth Department?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
I have been informed that the Public Service
Board is placing the subject on the agenda of the next Joint Council meeting. Further consideration of the request has therefore been deferred pending advice from the Board of the outcome of those discussions.
The New South Wales Credit Union League Co-operative Ltd. and the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association have been informed of this decision.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Will he investigate complaints by the combined unions site committee that -
h. - The Minister for Works has supplied the following information -
The work of rectification of items referred to in sub-paragraphs (a) to (d) was carried out by the contractor at no cost to the Commonwealth.
As regards the statement made in sub-paragraph (e), the Department of Works general conditions of contract require that rates paid by the contractor to his employees shall not be less than those under the relevant award which are observed by the Department of Works. The actual wages paid are a matter between the contractor and his employees.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1. (a) How many works of art have been acquired by the Government since his predecessor’s answer on 29th September 1965 (“ Hansard “, page 1475), and at what cost? (b) How many pieces of sculpture were included in the acquisitions? 2. (a) How many works of art have Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities acquired in the last five years for their buildings in (i) Canberra and (ii) each State capital, and at what cost? (b) How many pieces of sculpture were included in the acquisitions?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) During 1965-66 146 works of art were acquired at a cost of $40,000 for the National Collection. These do not include the items mentioned in the answer to (2) below, (b) One piece of sculpture was included in these acquisitions. 2. (a) and (b) (i) In Canberra Commonwealth Departments and instrumentalities have acquired 15 works of art valued at $42,621. Nine pieces of sculpture were included in these acquisitions, (ii) In Sydney departments and instrumentalities acquired two works of art, including one piece of sculpture, valued at $25,000. In Melbourne three works of art, including two sculptures, were acquired for $48,000. In Darwin one piece of sculpture was acquired for $4,000.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
rns asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. The approximate total strengths of foreign forces serving in South Vietnam are -
These forces are all serving in support of the Government and people of South Vietnam at the request of that Government and all are making an important contribution to the resistance of aggression and subversion there.
The approximate strength of South Vietnamese forces of all types is 706,000. lt can be positively stated that the great majority of these Vietnamese forces is actively engaged in combat operations and during the 20 months period January 1965 to August 1966 their casualties were 16,500 killed in action and about twice this number wounded in action.
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Separate forecasts are not made in respect of metropolitan and country areas.
In these figures no account has been taken of the likely level of applications for services which use lines and equipment already in place because the incidence of these applications reflects mobility of the’ population and is very difficult to forecast. In addition, these applications are satisfied very soon after being lodged and provision of the service involves little or no work effort.
In the t’able of expected demand during 1965-66 supplieS in answer to part 5 of your Question No. 1181 on Paper No. 96 of 25th August 1965, the component relating- to services requiring the provision .of new lines or equipment was as follows - f
Each State will distribute its connection effort between metropolitan and country areas according to the relative incidence of demand and physical capacity to meet that demand.
In the table of connection targets for the year 1965-66 supplied in answer to part 5 of your Question No. 1181 on Paper No. 96 of 25th August 1965, the component relating to connections requiring the provision of new lines or equipment was as follows -
The division of this expenditure between metropolitan and country areas will be dependent to some extent on the incidence of demand, but is expected to follow the pattern of 1965-66.
Vietnam. (Question No. 2145.)
Or. J. F. Cairns asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Huw many prisoners have been taken by Australian forces in Vietnam?
What has happened to those prisoners?
How many have (a) died and (b) been in hospital since capture?
Where are the prisoners now located?
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
In what respects did the experience of Messrs P. J. Browne and C. Milton in the cattle industry fail to satisfy the Northern Territory Land Board that they had sufficient relevant experience to be allowed to remain in the ballot for the Alexandria Downs blocks which were recently allocated?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The applications by Messrs Browne and Milton were considered by the Northern Territory Land Board which decided that the applicants were not qualified by experience to take up the leases. Both applicants protested against the decision and their protects were heard in public by the Board. After considering all available evidence, including oral evidence given by Mr. Milton at the hearing, the Board reached the unanimous decision that neither of the applicants was qualified by experience to take up the leases applied for.
d asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
This system operates at the majority of aerodromes in Western Australia and is accepted as a satisfactory and safe practice so long as pilots observe the rules and adopt a commonsense approach to their operations.
Presumably the question raised by the honorable member refers to a report forwarded to my Department’s Regional Office by the Esperance Shire Council on 1st August 1966, in which it was stated that a MacRobertson-Miller passenger aircraft and a light aircraft operated in close proximity at Esperance on 12th July 1966. If this is so, 1 am informed that when the report was investigated by my Department’s Regional Office, the pilot in command of the passenger aircraft advised that there was no risk of collision at the time as he waited for the light aircraft to cleat the runway before making his approach to land.
Although no order of priority is laid down for landing at these aerodromes, light aircraft pilots, and particularly training organisations at country aerodromes, normally exercise sufficient courtesy to ensure that regular public transport aircraft are not delayed.
As no complaints of delays to passenger aircraft have been received by my Department’s Regional Office in respect of Esperance aerodrome, I am informed that it is not proposed at this stage to restrict the local training organisation’s activities during arrival and departure of airline aircraft.
Last financial year, the Department spent $900,000 on development grants and $286,000 on maintenance grants towards aerodromes owned by local authorities.
Under the circumstances it is neither appropriate nor necessary for the Commonwealth to take over the Esperance aerodrome and the council has been suitably advised in reply to the requests made in .this matter.
With regard to the provision of a positive air traffic control separation service, the Esperance Council did request the Department to provide such a service in its letter to the Western Australia Regional Director dated 1st August 1966.
However, the Council was informed by the Regional Director that the standard procedure, based on the “ see and be seen “ principle whereby pilots arrange their own separation, is accepted as a satisfactory and safe practice if pilots play their part. These procedures are employed at 70 licensed aerodromes and 28 government aerodromes in Western Australia, and several hundreds of aerodromes throughout the Commonwealth.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
Such information is regarded as confidential and is not disclosed. 4. (a) 100 tons
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When will the balance of surplus funds held by the Superannuation Board be distributed?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
My statement to the House on 25th October 1966 provided details of the arrangements for the final distribution of the surplus in the Superannuation Fund at 30th June 1962.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The Commonwealth Government undertook to meet the cost of drought relief measures instituted by the governments of New South Wales and Queensland but the two States concerned are responsible for the formulation and administration of the particular drought relief measures. As part of these arrangements, the Commonwealth agreed to reimburse the New South Wales Government for the cost of grams which that Government might make to local authorities to provide temporary employment for persons affected by the drought and to relieve unemployment in the areas concerned.
The New South Wales Government has supplied the details set out below regarding these grants to local authorities in 1965-66. I understand that -
although every effort has been made to eliminate over-lapping, the total of “ amounts sought “ could include some double counting:
in ca-rs where local authorities did not request specific amounts (as in the case of applications based upon the number of persons to be employed at a specific rate) the amounts received arc shown as also being the amounts sought.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
United Kingdom For 1965-66 - 15 per cent, on diminishing value or61/2 per cent, on prime cost for nonrefrigerated tankers or refrigerated ships, and 124 per cent, and 5 per cent, respectively for nonrefrigerated steamers.
United States of 5.5 per cent, on the prime cost America method, based on an estimated useful life of 18 years in the first instance, or such other percentage on an acceptable basis as will not write off more in the first two-thirds of the useful life than would be written off under the diminishing value method assuming twice the prime cost rate were applied.
Japan Normal depreciation is based on a useful life of 18 years for ships generally, 16 years for tankers and 10 years for whalers. 3 and 4. Representations have been received for increases in the rates of depreciation for Australian registered ships. They are still under consideration and will be replied to as soon as practicable.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
As complete information on State revenues and expenditures from all sources is not yet available, it has been necessary to use the figures of revenue and expenditure of Consolidated Revenue Funds (excluding revenue and expenditure of business undertakings) as published by each State. These figures are not fully comparable as between States or as between years. In particular, it might be noted that -
The figures of both revenue and expenditure of New South Wales and Queensland include receipts of Commonwealth drought assistance and the corresponding expenditure by those States on drought relief measures;
Any transfer from and to reserves are included in the revenue and expenditure figures;
Important accounting changes in 1966-67 in both New South Wales and South Australia affect comparability with the 1965-66 figures;
Western Australia’s revenue figures in clude the “completion” part of the special grant. This part of the grant - which relates to the budget result two years previously - is normally paid out of Consolidated Revenue Fund in the year it is received, thus reducing the outstanding deficit on revenue account. In Tasmania, on the other hand, the completion payment is not paid into Consolidated Revenue Fund;
Payments from Tasmania’s Consolidated
Revenue Fund to recoup losses of business undertakings are excluded from expenditure of Consolidated Revenue Fund. Such losses reflect, in some cases, interest and sinking fund charges incurred by the undertakings as well as deficits on operations. In other States, only the operating expenses of business undertakings are deducted from Consolidated Revenue Fund expenditure;
The extent to which Commonwealth speci fic purpose grants are paid into Consolidated Revenue Funds varies from Slate to State;
In compiling the answers to questions 3 and 4 Commonwealth reimbursements to the States for National Welfare fund payments made on behalf of the Commonwealth have been excluded from total receipts of Consolidated Revenue Funds and from receipts from Commonwealth sources. Other (small) Commonwealth reimbursements to the States for services rendered on its behalf have not been excluded.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he give an indication of the date upon which Commonwealth public servants who are entitled to a refund of excess contributions paid by them to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund between 1st July 1957 and 30th June 1962, can expect to receive a refund of these excess contributions?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
My statement to the House on 25th October 1966 provided details of the arrangements for the final distribution of the surplus in the Superannuation Fund at 30th June 1962.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
On 13th May in reply to Question No. 1544 from the honorable member for Stirling, the Attorney-General gave details of action proposed by the States (see “Hansard”, page 1893). Since that reply was given the South Australian Government has advised that it proposes to introduce appropriate legislation.
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 3. I am informed that the policy of the Australian National University, which recruits staff from many employing organisations, is not to give credit for accrued furlough.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Trade Agreement : Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. (Question No. 2140.)
m asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice -
Doesthe Trade Agreement between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Australia, which the Australian Ambassador signed in Moscow on 15th October 1965, apply to trade between Australia and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Australia has never recognized, and does not now recognize, the juridical incorporation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the territory of the Soviet Union. The Agreement to which the honorable member refers provides for the exchange of most favoured nation treatment between Australia and the U.S.S.R. Most favoured nation treatment also applies to trade between Australia and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
t asked the Minister for Terri tories, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The present Sessional Committee on Integration which was appointed in December 1965 has met on a number of occasions but has not yet presented a report. The information sought will no doubt become available when the Committee makes its report.
n asked the Minister for Terri tories, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
A range of enterprises required for the development of the pastoral and mining industries in the Northern Territory and to support the population as a whole have been owned or controlled by the Commonwealth since the Territory became a Commonwealth Government responsibility in 1911. A number of these enterprises have since ceased activity. From the records available it is not practicable to provide the detailed information required.
t.- On 25th October 1966 the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) asked the Acting Prime Minister a question about the review of academic salaries. The Acting Prime Minister undertook to have the honorable member supplied with the information he sought.
When he announced the Government’s decisions on the report on academic salaries by Mr. Justice Eggleston, Sir Robert Menzies said -
This kind of machinery is perhaps the most satisfactory means we can devise for arriving at a measure of academic salaries.
He went on -
Therefore, as suggested by Mr. Justice Eggleston, we stand ready to employ this kind of machinery again: we are not, however, prepared to adopt any specific period between reviews. That must depend on circumstances.
At no time did the then Prime Minister give an undertaking to hold a review of academic salaries for each triennium.
The attitude of the Government, as set out above, has not changed. We continue to be prepared to consider requests for a review of academic salaries for the purpose of Commonwealth grants to universities. Recently we have in fact received and considered such a request from the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations. The Government gave careful attention to the arguments set out in that case, but reached the conclusion that current circumstances do not warrant a review of academic salaries at this point of time. Senator Gorton announced this decision in his statement to the Senate on 21st September about tertiary education policy.
Torres Strait Islands.
t. - On 29th September the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) asked me whether the Commonwealth Government bad been requested by the State of Queensland for special financial assistance for the servicing and administration of the islands in Torres Strait. The honorable member also asked whether the Commonwealth Government would take over the servicing and administration of these islands if requested to do so by the State Government.
There is no record of a request from the Queensland Government on this matter.
As to the second part of the honorable member’s question I do not think the Commonwealth could be expected to state in advance what its attitude might be if such a request were to be put to it.
t. - On 23rd August the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) asked without notice whether an approach had been made by the Government of New South Wales for financial assistance for a five year water conservation plan for that State? He also asked whether further thought had been given to the establishment of a national conservation organisation which would use the staff of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority?
With regard to the first part of the question, it is not customary for details of communications which have passed between State Governments and the Commonwealth to be made public without the prior consent of the State concerned.
In answer to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I would refer him to the statement which I issued on 28th August 1966 concerning the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The text of the statement is as follows - “ The Commonwealth Government has been giving a good deal of attention to the question of the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The major work in the Snowy Mountains area will be completed on present estimates by about 1972, and the Government hopes it will be found possible for a continuing use to be made of some of the specialised skills which the Authority can provide.
Examination has been conducted by means of studies at the official level and inter-Departmental discussion. These have, of course, included consultation with Sir William Hudson, Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Authority, and his senior colleagues. There has been consideration by Cabinet itself. What clearly emerges is that it is mainly in the area of State works that the future collective use of the skills which the Authority has built up is likely to be found. The works programmes of the Commonwealth and notably the water resources programmes in the areas under its control offer limited scope compared with those of the States.
Before a final decision can be made about the future of the Authority, it is necessary that the Commonwealth Government should be in possession of the views of State Governments as to whether they would see a requirement within their works programmes and the funds likely to be available to them, to engage the skills of the Snowy team to the extent necessary to sustain a workable organisation. The Commonwealth’s purpose would be to ascertain in general whether they would regard the continuation of the Authority as likely to serve State and Commonwealth purposes in a valuable way.
Most of the State Governments have, of course, design and constructing authorities of their own, but some, or indeed all, of them may feel that they could be considerably assisted by the services of the Authority. There have already been instances of this.
Australia is the world’s driest Continent, and all Governments, State and Commonwealth, recognize that continuing progress in water conservation is essential to further expansion of production and to national development. Our recent drought experience has brought home to us all how gravely affected Australia continues to be by the lack of regular supplies of water in adequate quantities. There is much that Australia can do by ils own efforts to meet its growing needs for power and water. The skills, experience and expertise of the Snowy Mountains Authority should - if the States decide to avail themselves of them - be capable of making a valuable contribution for these purposes.
We propose, therefore, to consult promptly with the State Governments on the specific question of the Authority’s future. Before we can finally decide on the size, role and structure of a continuing organization, we must have been able to assess the extent to which the States would avail themselves of the services of such an organization.”
t.- On 25th October in reply to a question from the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), I undertook to obtain some information concerning the Commonwealth/State Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation.
The honorable member will no doubt recall that at a Premiers’ Conference in July 1964, there was a discussion of various aspects of the subject of decentralisation and it was agreed that Commonwealth and State
Officials should undertake a joint pooling of knowledge about, and study of the many issues involved.
The Committee held its first meeting in March 1965, and agreed to the appointment of a technical sub-committee to report to it on various aspects of decentralisation. The studies by the sub-committee were recently completed and were circulated last month to members of the main Committee for consideration. Arrangements are now in hand to call the Committee together again to discuss the matter further, and it is hoped that a meeting can be held in the near future.
As the honorable member will appreciate the subject of decentralisation is a complex one and there is a need for a great deal of information to be collected and analysed before it will be possible for the Commonwealth and no doubt the State Governments to reach conclusions of value on the subject.
t. - On 20th September, in reply to a question without notice from the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), 1 undertook to provide information on the system of basing valuations of land for estate duty purposes on land sale prices.
The Commonwealth is not alone in adopting “ market value “ as the general measure of the value of property on which estate duty is payable. This system is in general operation in the States and in other countries which impose comparable duties.
The courts have held that this value is best evidenced by sales figures for comparable land, provided that any sale used as a yardstick has not been influenced by special circumstances causing a price which is out of line with normal market prices.
If some different basis were to be adopted for rural land with the result that lower values applied for estate duty purposes, it would, as a natural consequence, increase the value of that land to potential purchasers. The field of potential purchasers would, no doubt, include persons not engaged in agricultural or pastoral pursuits, who could be expected to take the opportunity of acquiring assets that would bear a lower weight of estate duty than other assets of comparable value. This would inevitably lead to increases in the normal market values of rural land which would, of course, be to the disadvantage of existing landholders who wished to settle their children on the land or expand their holdings for other reasons. On the other hand potential sellers, including deceased estates which had paid duty on less than market value, would obtain windfall capital gains.
The adoption of market value as a general yardstick in valuing property for estate duty purposes is designed to avoid discriminating and to ensure that estates bear duty on an equal footing irrespective of the nature of the assets in the estate. In the circumstances the Commonwealth cannot see that any good purpose would be served by departing from the present system.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 October 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19661028_reps_25_hor53/>.