25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has left Australia to attend a meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers and the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and associated institutions. He will be absent until 27th September and, until his return, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) will act as Treasurer. The Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) who assists the Treasurer in Treasury matters, will assist the Prime Minister during the Treasurer’s absence. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) will visit the United Kingdom and Europe to undertake personal negotiation at the ministerial level of several matters relating to his portfolio. He will leave Australia on 4th September and return on 2nd or 3rd October. Over that time, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) will be Acting Minister for Supply. Under present arrangements the Minister for Supply represents the Minister for Defence in the House of Representatives. While he is absent the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) will represent the Minister for Defence. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), will also be making a brief visit overseas on government business. He will be away from 2nd to 23rd September. During that period I will act as Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I ask the
Minister for Health whether he has seen a published claim by a Sydney medical practitioner that he had been fined more than £1,300 by a pensioner medical service committee of inquiry for over-visiting pensioner patients and that he had in his possession a tape recorded statement that a person in authority had said to him: “You have committed no offence. You were just too kind.” Has the Minister investigated the basis of these claims by the doctor? If so, are they correct? Secondly, how are the committees of inquiry constituted? Thirdly, do the committees give reasons for their findings, at least to the doctors who appear before them? Fourthly, is there any definition of or any yardstick in regard to the term “ over-visiting “?
– I anticipated a question of this nature. I welcome this opportunity to reply to it, because I have seen Press reports about a Sydney doctor who claims that he was fined by a medical services commitee of inquiry for being too kind to pensioner patients. The reports apparently come from an aggrieved source, and they are not in accordance with the facts. The reports suggest that the Government regards the pensioner medical service as being only a second class service. There is absolutely no foundation for this mischievous inference. The pensioner medical service provides first class medical treatment for pensioners and their dependants. They receive an average of nine medical services a year. But in this case claims by doctors for 83 patients were for an average of 50 visits per patient per year. After a case by case investigation of the clinical records of the 83 patients the committee decided that the services claimed by the practice were in excess of those considered to be necessary for the medical caTe of the pensioner patients concerned. It is interesting to record that of the five men who comprised the committee which conducted the inquiry four were doctors who were practising in areas with many pensioner patients. Honorable senators will know that these committees of inquiry are set up on the nomination of the Australian Medical Association.
As a result of the committee’s report £1,342 18s. of the doctor’s claim, which totalled £9.697 over 16 months, was disallowed. There was no question of a fine. Two of the doctors from the three-man practice, including the one who apparently is now complaining about his treatment, attended the inquiry. A medical services committee of inquiry never questions the services that are rendered to patients who are in need of medical care, but in this case the committee found that some visits were superfluous. I remind honorable senators that the Government will not permit any section of the community to exploit the taxpayer for his own benefit. The work of the committees is fully supported by the Government and the Australian Medical Association.
Throughout Australia 3,899 doctors are enrolled in the pensioner medical service. Enrolment is entirely voluntary. No doctor is compelled to take part in the service nor is any doctor prevented from paying as many social calls as he pleases provided, of course, he claims only for medical services rendered. I hasten to assure the Senate that the great majority of doctors make their claims for payment according to a strict set of principles. During the 12 months ended on 30th June 1964 it was found necessary to reduce doctors’ claims in only 35 cases. A break-down of the 35 cases concerned shows the following result in the various States: In New South Wales, twenty; in Victoria, nine; in Queensland, four; in South Australia, nil; in Western Australia, one; in Tasmania, one.
There is another point which troubles me greatly. In the “ Bulletin “ of 29th August Dr. Sproule is reported to have taken a concealed - mark you, concealed - tape recorder with him when interviewing the Commonwealth Director of Health. I find it difficult to believe that a doctor, when conferring with a professional colleague, would be guilty of such an unethical act.
– I also direct a question to the Minister for Health. By way of preface I say that I was interested in reading the thirteenth annual report of the Blue Cross Association of Australia today, to see that 70 per cent, of all people insured for medical benefits are insured with this Association and that it has paid out in the last year £42 million, including Commonwealth benefit. How many women would be involved in the Association? Does the Minister consider that suitable women would be able to make a valuable contribution to the governing body of the Association? Will the Minister consider taking up with the
Association the matter of including at least one woman in the 13 persons who govern it?
– It is true to say that women generally have a vital interest iri the national health scheme and the benefits which flow from it, for when sickness strikes a home the woman, of course, carries added burdens. If I might express a personal opinion on the latter part of the question, I would say that my experience in the Senate where we have, as you know, Sir, five women senators, leads me to believe that a lady on the board of the Blue Cross Association of Australia would prove a great acquisition to it. Having said that, I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the chairman of the board, who is a very distinguished male.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is the Department of External Affairs responsible for our political relations with other countries or are our foreign policies being dictated by the Waterside Workers Federation? How soon may we expect the Government to take appropriate action on wasteful political strikes by Communist dominated unions, such as the Waterside Workers Federation?
– The political relations of Australia with foreign countries and the attitudes and policies of Australia visavis foreign countries, are entirely within the responsibility of the Department of External Affairs, acting for the Government. Lately, and indeed from time to time in the past, industrial actions have been taken for political purposes. The value of these is very difficult to assess, as I know of no occasion on which any political purpose has been achieved and of many occasions on which economic hardship has been caused to persons engaged in the industry by this sort of action.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Government, when considering its proposals in respect of wool, give full consideration to the
Importance of private selling of wool and will it, in its study of proposals, have in mind the impact of the retention of private selling? Is it a fact that almost one-third of the total Western Australian wool clip is sold privately?
– I believe it is a. fact that one-third of the Western Australian wool clip, or maybe more, is sold privately, and I think it is fair and proper to say that in Western Australia a very efficient method of private selling has been developed in recent times. I am asked whether the Government will consider retention of private selling in the scheme of things that may eventually develop. I should like to make this point perfectly clear: This Government has from time to time emphatically stated that it does not lay down policy for the primary industries. They are invited to bring their proposals to the Government, and when they speak with unanimity and a voice that is discernible as the voice of the industry the Government does endeavour to implement the proposals of the organisations. I am sure that it would be proper for me to say that the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the woolgrower organisations will have regard to this aspect of the report. Until they have made a recommendation on it, I think it would be quite improper for me to say anything further.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question which also refers to wool. At the outset I take the opportunity of acknowledging what the Minister said as to proceeding on proposals from representatives of the wool industry. Has it come to the Minister’s notice that the Rural Committee of the Liberal Party made a most important recommendation during the week end to the effect that the present wool proposals should not be put into operation without a referendum in the industry? Will the Minister ensure that the recommendation from the Committee referred to will have the careful consideration of the Government, both because of the intrinsic value of the recommendation of such an experienced Committee and because, as the committee pointed out, any action in this industry must create a precedent for any other primary industry?
– I find myself in a most invidious position, because within the last five minutes I have declared that the Government, when approached by the industry, heeds its opinions and endeavours to implement its proposals. My learned friend from Tasmania has - I am sure quite unwittingly - caused me some embarrassment. Having said that, may I say that at this point of time I have heard no suggestions from what I would call the organised voice of the industry suggesting that a ballot be not held. It has been advocated for many moons now that a ballot should decide the fate of any alterations in wool selling plans. I go further and say that from time to time the Government has laid it down as a desirable policy that a ballot should be conducted in the event of proposals for a change coming from the industry. I do not think I can be more explicit than that.
– Can tha
Leader of the Government in the Senate advise the Senate of the truth or otherwise of a statement in today’s Press, under the heading: “Doubt on Wheat Switch to India “? It reads -
Mr. J. V. Moroney said today he was “not very optimistic “ about the possibility of diverting to India Australian wheat being shipped to Britain.
– Order! It is not in order for an honorable senator to read extracts from a newspaper when asking a question without notice.
– I ask the
Minister: If this Press report is true will he intervene to assist the starving people of India, a fellow member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and avoid the danger of 500 million people turning to the Communist world for assistance?
– I can only refer the honorable senator to the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister, when his attention was directed to this situation and the reported request of the Government of India that certain wheat shipments now on ‘their way to the United Kingdom should be diverted to India. The Prime Minister then said that he had not been made aware of the situation and that he had not received any request but that, the matter having been brought to his notice, he would set in train immediate inquiries to find out what the situation was and to what extent, if asked to do so, the Australian Government might help.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Did he see a statement in the Press of last week to the effect that the development of northern Australia is seen as the key to Australia’s survival? This statement was made by the Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, Sir William Hudson, who said also that if the waters of northern Australia were developed they would provide irrigation sufficient to cater for a community of some 3 million people, and that a further 5 million people would be catered for in other parts of Australia. Can the Minister say whether the Government has considered starting some hydro-electric scheme or irrigation scheme in northern Australia, particularly in an area that will supply water not only to Western Australia but also to the Northern Territory? If so, can the Minister inform me when we can expect irrigation work to start in the Northern Territory?
– Taking the last part of the question first, I am sure the honorable senator is well aware that the diversion dam on the Ord River, financially supported by this Government, is already completed and that plans for the construction of a main dam would, if carried to fruition, make water available not only for the Kimberley area of Western Australia but also for an important section of the Northern Territory. The honorable senator referred to a statement made by Sir William Hudson. Any statement made by Sir William Hudson, particularly on a matter of this nature, is worth very deep consideration. I have not seen the statement but because of the importance of the subject matter of the question I will take an early opportunity of having a look at it and of referring it to my colleague, Mr. Fairbairn, who, no doubt, will take considerable pleasure in commenting on it.
– I desire to ask one simple question of the Minister representing the Treasurer, but before doing so I should like to say that a month or two ago Sir Warren McDonald, Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, in a public speech invited those who were endeavouring to help Australia toy means of discovery or invention not to be backward in applying to the Commonwealth Bank for financial assistance. One citizen of my acquaintance, who had copyrighted a thesis on electronic treatment of disease, was refused financial aid to further his efforts. No doubt hundreds of others have received similar treatment, probably with reason. Will the Minister ascertain the general conditions and limitations surrounding this proposed financial assistance so that honorable senators can pass on the information to inquirers, thus avoiding disappointment and misunderstanding?
– I think that what might be termed the general policy of the Commonwealth Trading Bank, and indeed the general policy of the other trading banks, in respect of the granting of advances is fairly well known. However, if there is any doubt in the honorable senator’s mind about that general policy, I will ask the Treasurer whether there is available any general policy statement that might be of assistance. I am bound to point out to the honorable senator that whatever general policy is followed by any banking institution, the decision as to whether an advance should or should not be made is, always has been, and always will remain, the particular decision of the particular bank to which the application is made, arrived at by that bank on the merits of the application.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that at the moment there is a controversy between the Premiers of South Australia and New South Wales concerning the export of oranges and bananas between those States? As the selling of oranges is of far more importance to the people on the River Murray than interstate jealousies and difficulties, will the Minister for Trade and Industry examine the position to see whether it is possible to find additional opportunities for selling oranges overseas?
– I have no knowledge of the situation referred to by the honorable senator. I can only say that I will bring the question to the attention of the Minister for Trade.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he has seen a report that the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, when introducing the Budget in the South Australian Parliament yesterday, justified his crippling taxes on commercial transactions by saying that the Commonwealth had taken far too severe an approach in its financial policy towards the States. Would the Minister care to comment on the statement of his party colleague in South Australia?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator but it has about it a ring of familiarity. I grant that it is rather unusual that a statement of that sort should be made during a Budget Speech in a State Parliament, but it is certainly not unusual for a State Premier under other circumstances to point to the Commonwealth Government as the source of all evil when he finds himself short of cash. This may well be the case in this instance. All I can say is that I will examine the article and if I believe there is any need to make any further comment I will do so.
– I direct my question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Am I correctly informed that a scheme for exchange of Australian and Russian professors has been set in operation? Could the Minister indicate to what extent we have received visits by professors from Russian universities and in what fields of knowledge? Has the Minister any views upon this scheme in relation to security?
– Mr. President, I would like to prepare a statement on this matter for the honorable senator, setting out precisely what is happening. At present I can give him only what is in my mind which is that there has been an arrangement between the Australian National University as such - not the Australian Government - and some Russian organisation or university for the exchange of teaching professors. It is a matter for the Council of the University. I shall not ask the honorable, senator to put his question on notice, but I shall obtain details for him.
– I ask the Minister for Health: Has his attention been drawn to reports appearing in the Adelaide Press and referred to in the South Australian Parliament concerning a naturalised migrant and his wife being exiled in Germany because of the lack in Australia of medical treatment. employing oxygen therapy for arteriosclerosis? Such treatment is available only in Germany. Will the Minister investigate this case and the question of the value of such treatment with a view to issuing a reliable medical opinion for the guidance of those persons suffering from arteriosclerosis?
– I would like the honorable senator to know that my Department is already undertaking the course of action he has suggested. When it has finished fts investigation I will be very pleased to let him have its findings.
Senator WRIGHT__ I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Will the Minister give to me the substance of an announcement that was made during the week-end about the conclusion of an agreement for some form of communications between the United States of America and Australia involving the expenditure of £2.5 million? Is it proposed to submit that agreement to the Parliament in the form of legislation for the authorisation of the expenditure?
– I can give the honorable senator’ a copy of the statement to which he has referred and I shall be pleased to do so. If the honorable senator will put the second part of his question on the notice-paper, I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral to furnish him with a reply. I do not know of my own knowledge the intentions of the Postmaster-General in this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Have representatives of the flax industry in Western Australia applied to the Tariff Board for a tariff on imported flax fibre? If so, when was the application made and when is it likely to be heard?
– Yes, an application has been made and I. understand the hearing is fixed for a very early date. I am not sure when the application will be heard but I will get the information for the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Has the Minister received representations from local government authorities requesting the allocation from Commonwealth funds of not less than £5 million for scientific research to prepare and implement a plan to eradicate the fly pest in Australia? If so, will the Government give earnest, objective and prompt consideration to the destruction of this pest which is the cause of so much disease in Australia?
– With the concurrence of my colleague, I shall answer the question as this matter is related to the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation rather than to the Department of Health although, of course, the Department of Health has an interest in it. Suggestions have been made by various State organisations that the C.S.I.R.O. should embark upon quite a large programme in an endeavour to eradicate the bush fly and flies generally. Extensive research would be involved and it is unlikely that the objectives could be achieved because of the large uninhabited area of Australia where the bush fly breeds. For these reasons, the C.S.I.R.O. is not able to provide funds from its budget for extensive research into this problem at present.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that a new drug is being publicised as a palliative for cancer sufferers? Does not the Minister consider it necessary that all such drugs should be fully investigated by his Department before they are advertised and raise false hopes for cancer sufferers? Is there any way in which such advertisements can be controlled before tests are completed?
– I agree wholeheartedly with the suggestion made by Senator Tangney that the efficacy of these drugs be ascertained before they are advertised for public use. It is cruel to see people who are suffering this dread disease buoyed up by false hopes. However, the Commonwealth Government has no jurisdiction over’ newspaper advertising. This is the responsibility of the State Governments. I believe some effort could and should be made, however, and I will endeavour to initiate such a move in order to spare people from what must be a very cruel anti-climax.
– My question is directed to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Pursuant to legislation passed by the Senate last May, has the Government yet received requests from, and made moneys available to, the Governments of the States, firstly for technical educational buildings, and secondly, for science blocks and science teaching equipment? If so, what amounts are claimed to be due to South Australa? Have these amounts yet been paid.
– The Commonwealth has made available to all the States moneys for the purpose set out in the Schedule to the Act which was passed by this Parliament last May. At the moment I cannot bring to my mind the exact amount which is attributable to South Australia, but if the honorable senator looks at the measure he will see the figures. The whole of these sums have not been made available, but from memory one-quarter or one-third has been made available. The States have been notified that as this money is used it will be supplemented until the full amount for the year has been made available.
(Question No. 117.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers -
The extent of overseas ownership and control of the Australian copper industry can be judged from the information given in answer to Question No. 2 concerning ownership of the Australian companies engaged in copper mining, smelting, refining and manufacturing. Known overseas ownership is specified. The balance of ownership would normally be expected to be predominantly Australian but no detailed information as to individual shareholdings is available to my Department. 2. (a) Mining Rights. - The following information relates to companies which hold an interest in areas not at present in production. The Depuch Shipping and Mining Co. Pty. Ltd. holds rights to mine copper from the Whim Well mine in Western Australia. It is understood that 90 per cent, of the company’s ordinary capital is held by Japanese companies and nationals, principally Dowa Mining Co. Ltd. and Rasa Trading Co. Ltd. Cobar Mines Pty. Ltd. and Cobar South Pty. Ltd. are concerned in developing copper mining at Cobar in New South Wales. Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation Ltd. of Britain holds 90 per cent, of the ordinary capital of Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Limited which in turn holds 231/3 per cent, of the ordinary capital of both Cobar companies. Production by Cobar Mines Pty. Ltd. is expected to commence in 1965; eventually production is expected to reach 18,000 to 20,000 tons of copper a year. Australian Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd., which is a whollyowned subsidiary of Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd., holds mining rights near Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory. The company has established the presence of a worthwhile copper orebody and has decided to proceed with mining of it.
In turn Cable Makers Australia holds the whole of the issued capital of Power Cables of Australia Pty. Ltd., which manufactures impregnated paper insulated power cables. Texas Instruments Australia Ltd., Elizabeth, South Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Instruments, Inc., Dallas, Texas, United States of America produces copper and brass strip to close tolerances. Copper Refineries Pty. Ltd. produces copper rod and wire.
(Question No. 149.)
asked the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. On18th January 1962 the Council of the Academy of Science submitted to the Government a proposal for -
the appointment of an editor and staff to compile a comprehensive flora of Australia.
(Question No. 150.)
asked the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. On 27th November 1962, the Council of the Academy submitted to the Government a proposal for the provision of sounding rockets to further Australian space research. The proposal was that the Commonwealth should procure twelve such rockets for a research programme over a period of three years. In these rockets various organisations which wished to sponsor experiments designed to elucidate the characteristics of the upper atmosphere would place their own equipment. 3 and 4. The cost of preparing the experiments would be borne by the institutions sponsoring them. The charge on the Commonwealth would be £150,000 over the three year period plus the cost of making certain facilities at Woomera and Salisbury available.
(Question No. 151.)
asked the Minister in
Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable senator to my answer to Question No. 149.
(Question No. 152.)
asked the Minister in
Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. In January 1963, after previous informal discussions the Academy of Science proposed that a trust fund be created immediately by the Commonwealth Government for the support of individual researches of high quality in the physical and biological sciences for which existing sources of support are inadequate. The Academy proposed that the fund be set up initially for three years and that prior to the expiration of this period the Government should review the situation. 3 and 4. The Council did not go beyond proposing that the fund should be “ of modest dimensions “, nor did it suggest what the Commonwealth financial contribution should be. As mentioned, the fund was to have an initial period of operation of three years.
(Question No. 187.)
Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 189.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
What are the countries, from which Australia has received migrants, which do not recognise Australian naturalisation if and when migrants return to their original country?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Information is not readily available on the nationality laws of many countries. However, information furnished to the United Nations by the governments of various countries reveals that of the European countries from which Australia has received numbers of migrants, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungary, Roumania, Switzerland, the U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia have provided in their nationality laws that their citizens do not automatically lose their citizenship upon acquiring another nationality. Citizens of these countries lose their citizenship only if prior to becoming citizens of another country, they obtain a release from nationality from the appropriate authorities in these countries.
Where dual nationality is recognised, the principle of master nationality operates. This means that when a person has dual nationality, the nationality of the country he is in at the time becomes his master nationality. When sucha person is a naturalised Australian citizen and issued with an Australian passport, he is given a written notice in the following terms -
Holders of Australian passports who are Australian citizens by naturalisation may possess, in addition to their Australian citizenship and British nationality, the nationality of the country of their birth.
When in the country of their second nationality they may not be exempt, by reason of their Australian citizenship, from their obligations - (such as military service) - as a national of that country. They may be claimed as nationals of that country, in which case Her Majesty’s representatives abroad cannot intervene on their behalf against the authorities of that country, even though they are in possession of Australian passports.
(Question No. 196.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 203.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has provided the following answers - 1 and 2. These matters come within the province of the Government of South Australia.
(Question No. 213.)
asked the Minister in
Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
Seantor GORTON.- The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
Research on blue mould is undertaken mainly at Canberra, and in Victoria in co-operation with the Victorian Department of Agriculture. While the investigations in Victoria are centred at the State Tobacco Research Station at Myrtleford, observations are also made at other tobaccogrowing areas of the Ovens Valley. The work on blue mould involves the study of the factors responsible for the occurrence and development of epidemicsof blue mould, the development and testing of new tobacco lines for resistance to blue mould, and evaluation of tobacco leaf quality.
Research is also undertaken at the C.S.I.R.O. Tobacco Research Institute at Mareeba, North Queensland, where seedbed and field tests for resistance to blue mould and the study of factors affecting the growth of the tobacco plant are in progress. While this work is centred at Mareeba, the results obtained can have application to other tobacco-growing areas in Australia.
A review of tobacco research work undertaken by C.S.I.R.O. over the past five years was prepared for the Central Tobacco Advisory Committee in 1963, and I will be pleased to provide the honorable senator with a copy of this report.
1961- 62- £88,074.
1962- 63- £73,298.
1963- 64- £69,282.
(Question No. 231.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers -
– On 1 1 th August Senator Benn asked a question about the production of natural gas in the Commonwealth. My colleague, the Minister for National Development, has supplied the following information -
Natural gas has been discovered in promising quantities in five widely-separated parts of the Commonwealth, viz. the Roma area of Queensland, Gidgealpa in South Australia, Yardarino and Barrow Island in Western Australia and Mereenie in the Northern Territory. The companies concerned with these discoveries are all, very naturally, anxious to ensure that they are used to the maximum advantage, and are continuously assessing the situation to determine the point at which a commercial undertaking could be initiated. Three factors must be taken into account in making this decision. These are, the reserves of gas; size of the market; and distance from wellhead to market. There is every likelihood that suitable markets could be found within Australia which could satisfy these requirements. At the present stage of development of the exploration, however, reserves are yet to be established which could justify the cost of the necessary pipelines. The further the gas must be transported to the market, the greater becomes the size of market necessary to offset the increased pipeline cost. If a large centre of population or a large energy consumer were situated adjacent to any of the fields already discovered, the gas could be used immediately, as in the case of the Roma power station, where natural gas has been consumed for several years now, supplied from two wells within a radius of three miles from the power station.
The most advanced stage in the establishment of gas reserves is in the Bowen-Surat Basin (Qld.) where, in recent years, the Associated Group has completed thirty wells with a potential shut-in capacity of about 120 million cubic feet per day. Amalgamated Petroleum Exploration Pty. Ltd. is also drilling in the same area and recently completed a gas well (Snake Creek No. 1) with an open flow potential of 4.6 million cubic feet per day. The Associated Group considers that a pipeline from Roma to Brisbane would be justified if it were backed by reserves sufficient to sustain a minimum flow of 20 million cubic feet of gas per day for a minimum of twenty years. There is also a possibility that at some future stage a 200 mile pipeline to Gladstone may be justified; some substantial industrial developments are planned there.
Recent developments on the large Gidgealpa structure in north-east South Australia indicate the possibility of a commercial accumulation there. Four wells have been drilled so far and their cumulative initial production potential is of the order of 43 million cubic feet of gas daily. Further drilling will be required before reserves can be assessed. Other similar structures in the area still remain to be tested. Gidgealpa is 500 miles northnortheast of Adelaide. Studies of potential markets for this gas are being undertaken by the operating companies.
Recently another large gas field has been indicated at Mereenie, about 150 miles westsouthwest of Alice Springs. Two wells drilled have indicated a cumulative open flow capacity of 50 million cubic feet or more of gas per day. A considerable amount of additional drilling will be required to assess reserves. Recent drilling by West Australian Petroleum Pty. Ltd. on Barrow Island, some 60 miles north of Onslow in Western Australia, has indicated another potentially large reserve of gas - oil was also present in this well. Barrow Island is relatively close to the extensive iron ore deposits in the Pilbara district. Substantial gas flows were also reported from the first well drilled by West Australian Petroleum Pty. Ltd. on the Yardarino structure in the Perth Basin. Yardarino is some 200 miles north-north-west of Perth. However, further drilling is required in the Yardarino area before the gas potential of the structure can be assessed.
Notwithstanding the recent encouraging developments in locating potentially large natural gas resources it must be borne in mind that, with the possible exception of the Bowen-Surat Basin, a considerable amount of additional drilling followed by testing and reservoir engineering studies is still required before reserves and production potentials can be established. However, in the expectation that substantial reserves will be established, some operators are undertaking feasibility studies as a basis for development planning. My Department is being consulted in these and has given technical assistance when requested. The situation is continuously under review as new discoveries arc made and it seems to be only a matter of time before it will be economically possible to exploit this newest of Australia’s natural resources.
– On 18th August, Senator Scott asked in a question without notice whether an application had been received from Western Australia for longer terms of repayment for the loan offered by the Commonwealth for the Comprehensive Water Scheme. The Treasurer has now furnished the following reply -
A request has now been received from the Western Australian Government for a liberalisation of the terms of the loan which the Commonwealth Government has offered the State for the Comprehensive Water Scheme. This request is being examined and will be given full consideration by the Government.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That the following Orders of the Day, Government Business -
No. 1. - Provision of Science Buildings and Equipment in Secondary Schools - Ministerial Statement- Motion for Printing Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.
No. 2. - Cereals Agreement Between Australia and United Kingdom - Ministerial Statement - Papers - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the Senate take note of the Papers.
No. 3. - Seato Council of Ministers- Ninth Meeting - Ministerial Statement- Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the Senate take note of the Paper.
No. 4. - Commonwealth Secondary School Scholarships - Ministerial Statement- Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the Senate take note of the Paper. and General Business -
No. 3. - Commercial Television Stations - Grant of Licences in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth - Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the Paper be printed.
No. 5. - International Affairs - Ministerial Statement - Paper - Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the Senate take note of the Ministerial Statement on International Affairs presented to the Senate on 18th March 1964- be discharged.
– by leave - I refer to item No. 9 in Orders of the Day, General Business, Report of the Royal Commissioner on the Loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. The motion, standing in my name is: “That the Paper be printed “. I understand that some embarrassment is caused by the motion in that form. I move -
That the motion standing in my name be altered from “That the Paper be printed” to “That the Senate take note of the Report”.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 19th August (vide page 116), on the following paper presented by Senator Gorton -
Incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 11th August 1964.
And on the motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the paper be printed.
– Honorable senators will recollect that when the debate was adjourned on 19th August I had a slight opportunity to follow Senator Cohen, who had been speaking on the events in the Gulf of Tonkin when an American destroyer “ Maddox “ was attacked by torpedo boats of the so-called democratic country of North Vietnam. I do not think that the arguments used by Senator Cohen must be isolated entirely from the remarks of other honorable senators opposite who have spoken in the debate.
Senator Toohey in his speech mentioned ; quite properly I think - that in the outline of the policy of the Australian Labour Party in relation to defence there was a reasonably broad spectrum in which Labour senators could place different emphasis upon aspects of Labour’s defence or foreign affairs policies. I seem to remember that the honorable senator followed Senator McKenna who commented in relation to Labour’s policy and the events in the Gulf of Tonkin. I shall turn to those events in a moment. After Senator Toohey, Senator McKenna and other Labour senators had had their say, Senator Cohen began to explore a new line in relation to events in the Gulf of Tonkin. Honorable senators will remember that he began by taking a passing slap at United States Senator Goldwater and then made the remark - which is perfectly true - that, following the two attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on American destroyers, the Chinese Republic and the United States seemed to have pulled back from this clash. I think that proposition, which at present seems valid, is one with which we can agree.
Senator Cohen continued by saying that in view of the events which are causing so much concern in what used to be known as Indo-China, the signatories to the Geneva Convention of 1954 should be reconvened in order to put a stop to the hostilities. I assume the hostilities are those that have existed or, perhaps, will continue to exist as a result of the tensions caused by the naval clash in the Gulf of Tonkin. 1 think ] have stated the substance or the kernel of Senator Cohen’s speech, to which 1 shall return later. I must refer, also, to Senator McKenna’s observations on the internal situation in South Vietnam and the general situation that exists in the area of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. I was particularly impressed by Senator McKenna when he said that we must pay due and proper acknowledgment to the activities of the United States since the cease fire agreement arranged in Geneva in 1954 in an attempt to rehabilitate South Vietnam.
I do not remember whether Senator McKenna mentioned the sums of money involved, but I have had the curiosity to turn them up. Since 1954 the United States has poured into South Vietnam the sum of 1,300 million dollars. This is a pretty substantial sum of money. It indicates at least, support for the claim by honorable senators opposite that the solution to the problems in the border areas where Communism is confronting countries that are attempting to establish themselves is to aid the economy. Financial aid has also been given, oddly enough, by France, in the form of substantial sums of money and the Commonwealth of Australia has contributed substantially. Over and above that assistance as I have said, the sum of 1,300 million dollars has been provided for South Vietnam by the United States.
The contrasting views forecast by Senator Toohey can be found in the speech of Senator McKenna, on the one hand, praising properly the United States of America for its activities in South Vietnam and, on the other hand, in the views expressed by Senator Cohen.
We should try to see this problem of South Vietnam in perspective. It is true, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that 1,300 million dollars of American aid has been poured into South Vietnam. But honorable senators opposite have said - and it has been suggested also substantially by the left wing Press in other parts of the world - that the assassinated President of South Vietnam, President Diem, was a man who did not try to do his job properly. The truth is that not all of this 1,300 million dollars poured into South Vietnam by the United States Government was used - in Senator Cohen’s terms - to provide the elements of social justice. It is true that a great deal of this money went into the defence forces of South Vietnam. The point of dispute between the U.S.A. and President Diem was this: Diem claimed that because of the problems which existed while he was in office as president, it was necessary to establish the authority of the central government. The authority of the Central Government could be sustained only by the armed forces and the Army administration, and Diem’s personal authority over the whole of South Vietnam was thus built up.
So although the money provided by the United States was not used for social activity such as agrarian reform, the truth is that something in the vicinity of 500 million dollars or 600 million dollars was used for social reform. In addition President Diem was able to carry out reforms and abolish some of the worst abuses that existed in South Vietnam.
While this was happening, the economy of North Vietnam, under the administration of Mo Chi Minh, was starting to go down the drain. But the economy of South Vietnam - as Senator McKenna expressed it quite correctly - was beginning to rise. There began at this stage the marked intrusion into South Vietnam that has reduced the country to the unhappy state it is in at present and inevitably this led to the events that occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin.
I think it is important to recollect that quite a brilliant French officer drew up a formula dealing with this problem of the incursions in South Vietnam of the Communists or the neo-colonialists as one might reasonably describe them. At the time of the incursions into South Vietnam, the economy was getting on an even keel, social abuses had been substantially corrected and there was a reasonable chance they would be fully corrected. This was the French officer’s formula: RW equals GW plus PP. Before I elaborate on this, I will explain what it means. RW is an expression for revolutionary war. GW means guerrilla war and PP means political psychology. What the formula means in essence is that revolutionary war equals guerrilla war plus political psychology. In the circumstances that exist in South Vietnam now, this formula is best expressed in polemical terms by Truong Chinh, one of the leaders in North Vietnam. He has made this statement -
Only under the leadership of the working class can Vietnam’s resistance and revolution be successful.
He goes on to say -
This is an historic truth. The right to leadership of revolution must be obtained by bloody sacrifice built on achievement and adorned with selfsacrificing spirit. This right to revolutionary leadership must be guaranteed by vanguard revolutionary theory and correct line of policy. Only a party that has a vanguard theory can lead the revolution.
This is the main stream of history that Senator Cohen referred to when the debate was adjourned last week.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The actual words used by Senator Cohen appear at page 116 of “ Hansard “ of the 19th August 1964. He said -
We would not want to be judged as always swimming against the stream of history.
– Read the sentence before and after. Do not take it out of context.
– This is not taken out of context. This phrase “ swimming against the stream of history” is exactly what the honorable senator said.
– I rise to order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mackellar). - Order! The honorable senator will have an opportunity later to make an explanation.
– I do not think I have taken the quotation out of context. It is an alarming phrase.
– Why is it alarming?
– I will deal with that point. What Ho Chi Minh means by the stream of history is found in a statement he made in Moscow some years ago when he spoke of this problem in South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh said -
We are building socialism in Vietnam but we are building it in only one part of the country while in the other part we shall have to direct and bring to a close the middle class, democratic and anti-imperialist revolution.
In other words, this is a clear admission on two counts by two leaders in North Vietnam that they must achieve such an objective in South Vietnam. Truong Chinh clearly demonstrated that the revolution in South Vietnam must be, in his terms, a working class revolution. He meant that because it is part of the philosophy of the Communist Party. It is part of the dialectic of Communism. Giap, the military leader in North Vietnam, had this to say -
Where the peasants make up the majority of the population the people’s war is essentially a peasant’s war under the leadership of the working class. The problem of land is of decisive importance.
These are the elements of three of the spokesmen of North Vietnam which illustrate the formula I quoted to honorable senators - that revolutionary war equals guerrilla war plus political philosophy.
In South Vietnam we find that the Vietcong are directing this struggle and concentrating on the problem of land. South Vietnam is primarily an agricultural country. The Vietcong have been able to establish themselves there in three main concentrations and have almost disrupted the entire agricultural economy of the country by telling the peasants that land will be redistributed to them when the Communist Party or the Communist Government or the leaders of the revolutionary working class take over control of South Vietnam. This is the political psychology. This is part of the dialectic, the plan and the political psychology. Mao Tsc-tung used it in China and, oddly enough, Lenin used it in Russia.
– Something needs to bc done.
– I explained that 1,300 million dollars were poured into South Vietnam by America and that the people were getting on to their feet but were distracted by the incursions of Vietcong guerrillas. This is part of the platform of the Australian Labour Party, as Senator Cohen said. But when an attempt was made to give aid to South Vietnam and that country was getting economically on its feet, the Vietcong deliberately set out to disrupt the economy. The diabolism of this Communist tactic - this political psychology - is that when the unfortunate peasant in Vietnam has land distributed to him, then comes the grim holocaust that occurred in Russia from 1923 to 1927, has occurred in China during the last tcn years, has occurred in North Vietnam, and will inevitably occur in South Vietnam. This is the stream of history.
I wish to associate myself with remarks that have been made by honorable members in another place and by some honorable senators. We abhor the fratracidal strife that is taking place in South Vietnam. It makes one weep in one’s mind even to read about it. We must ask ourselves, as people who are not directly involved: What are people to do when they are laid under this menace? Are they to submit on the basis that this is an historical necessity because the Communist party is the vanguard of the working class, and because social reform can be achieved only by the revolutionary vanguard of Communism? Are people to submit to this on the basis that their function is to be Red rather than dead? Or are we to help them to resist?
– That is reading too much into it.
– I do not think it is, because this represents the Communist stream of history, whether it is in Ruanda, in the Congo, or in South Vietnam.
– Could the stream of history not mean the end of colonialism?
– I am telling you what it means in part; but this is a new colonialism. The Communists do not admit that when they move into South Vietnam they do so as new imperialists and new colonialists, but that is the truth. Senator Cohen suggests, in the terms of humanity - I am sure that was what was in Senator Cohen’s mind - that to put an end to the situation that exists in. South Vietnam, the signatories to the Geneva Convention of 1954 be recalled. One must ask oneself at this stage: Why is it necessary to recall the members of the Geneva Accord. The plain answer is that the signatories to the Geneva Accord have not been able to prevent the assault on South Vietnam. This is a point that must be clearly understood. If the 14 signatories of the Geneva Convention were to be reconvened what guarantee would there by of a new accord that would be enforceable? I think that honorable senators must understand that there have been many protests. The papers made available to the Senate by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) indictate that there have been many attempts by the South Vietnamese Government to direct the attention of the signatories to the Geneva Convention to the present position, but these efforts have been nullified by the Polish representative on the Control Commission who applies the veto every time. At this period when the accord is supposed to be subscribed to by North Vietnam, the truth is that there has been constant physical penetration into South Vietnam by the Vietcong from North Vietnam. This is the very foundation of the statement made to the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs on 1 1 th August. He said, referring to the policy of the Australian Government -
In seeking peace as the final objective or our policy, we must recognise the need at the present time of the deterrent effect of power . , .
The Minister has been assailed both in another place and in this chamber for making that statement. It is no good attempting to reconvene the Geneva negotiation unless you can do it from a basis of power. Practice has already illustrated that unless there is some inhibiting power structure to enforce the accord, it is not much use doing anything about it.
I suggest, however, that there are movements afoot. There are published statements that Laotian and Cambodian representatives are in Paris at the present moment, and curiously enough, the Government of Poland at this juncture has asked for the reconvening of the Geneva signatories. This may be due in some measure to the quarrel that exists between Russia and China at the present moment - I do not know. Although the French Government claims that it has nothing to do with the presence of the Laotian delegation in Paris, and that it is simply making facilities available, I am not too happy about what might happen because I feel that inevitably, General de Gaulle will use this as an opportunity to move forward on his long stated policy of the neutralization of South Vietnam.
– How do you explain that the French still have £400 million invested in South Vietnam?
– I do not know what the amount is, but I know that they have a substantial amount invested in rubber.
– They do not seem to be in fear of losing it?
– I think that is one of the substantial reasons why they want neutralisation in South Vietnam.
There is not only this problem of Chinese aggression into the Indo-China area or into Burma or Thailand. Concurrently with this penetration there is Chinese Communist penetration in Zanzibar, in the Congo, and in other parts of South East Asia. I mention this to illustrate what seems to be a fallacy that exists in the policy of the Australian Labour Party in relation to external affairs. The Australian Labour Party says that it is necessary for us to have pacts. But as is demonstrated by the behaviour of the North Vietnamese and the Chinese a pact merely gives the Communists a breathing space so that they can re-establish themselves for a further assault on the people who live around them. In other words it gives them a chance to apply their formula. I join issue also with that part of the platform of the Australian Labour Party that relates to aid. Senator Cohen was speaking in part from that platform when he said that the problem of holding the line against the Communists in the South East Asian area, or in Africa for that matter, required the provision of aid.
The platform says that aid shall not be an arrangement by government agencies but shall be given on the basis of need. There is evident need for some sort of aid in North Vietnam at the present moment, but should aid be given to a Communist Government which is engaged in an assault on its neighbour? That question surely needs answering. This is part of the Australian Labour Party’s old socialist theory that aid should be on the basis of from each according to his means and to each according to his needs, but I am not prepared to agree that aid from us or from anyone else should be given without any strings attached to it. An assault is being made on the free world at the present moment and I consider that aid is one of the effective elements in the defence of the free world. If people wish to resist Communism let them have aid; if they are not willing to resist Communism, let them get aid from Communist sources. That policy will ensure that more aid goes to those people who are prepared to resist.
I cannot conclude without directing attention to the fact that this instability in Vietnam is one of grave importance, not only to Australia, but also to the Western world. I do not think it is soluble except by a political decision of the United States of America in the first instance. If the United States is determined to try to rehabilitate the situation, then the United States and it alone is able to make that decision. If it makes that decision, I am sure that this Government, anyway, will go along with it. If the United States wishes to take the matter to the United Nations Organisation, let it do so. If the United Nations Organisation wished to take over South Vietnam, the activities of that Organisation in relation to other nations which have found themselves in a position similar to that of South Vietnam leave me with no sense of confidence that it would be able- to produce the necessary power which the Minister for
External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said properly was the basis of all negotiations. If that power is absent - and it obviously is absent in the United Nations Organisation - we come back to the question of a political decision of the United States of America.
The events that happened in the Gulf of Tonkin, and the instability that exists in South Vietnam at the present moment, have a harsh reality for Australia, because the instability in this area has been noted most frankly by President Sukarno of Indonesia. It is obvious that in the last fortnight there has been a major political shift by the President of Indonesia. He has announced that he believes that North Vietnam and South Vietnam have to be amalgamated under Chinese leadership. He has already publicly announced that North Korea and South Korea have to be re-united under North Korea’s Chinese leadership. In other words, there are signs inside Indonesia of a marked shift to the left. I think it is a reasonable assumption that the President of Indonesia is preparing himself for circumstances which he anticipates are likely to arise in the Indo China area in the foreseeable future. He is preparing to make a deal. He is preparing to get himself into the position where he will be able to make a deal with China and say to it: “ You take over all the area that has an ethnic affiliation with China, and I will take over all the area that has a Malay ethnic association with Indonesia”. I suggest that President Sukarno feels that the circumstances that exist in South Vietnam at the present moment bring closer the day when he will be able to achieve that imperial design which has never left his mind, since the famous conference in Java in 1945.
The unease that exists in the world today is, to a substantial degree, engendered by the Chinese. It has been pumped into the world by aggressive Chinese Communism. The guns that sounded in the Gulf of Tonkin a short time ago were the thunder of a gathering storm which may affect people, even as far south of the Equator as the Australians. This particular stream of history may indeed become a ranging torrent which will wash against the whole coast of Australia. We cannot shut our ears to the thunder of the guns that is beginning to sound in that area.
– I wish te make a personal explanation.
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the course of the speech by Senator Cormack, which has just concluded, the honorable senator made some play with a phrase which he had taken from the speech I made when this matter was last being debated by the Senate. He attempted to suggest, by implication, that there was some sort of similarity between a phrase “ swimming against the stream of history “ which I had used, and statements or ideas that had been put forward by North Vietnamese ideologists. I invited the honorable senator to read the sentence before and the sentence after that which he quoted, but he declined the invitation.
Mr. President, I want to read the whole of the passage in my speech, so that it will appear on the record and so that my position will be beyond misrepresentation. This is what I said during the course of my speech, as reported at page 116 of “ Hansard “-
But while there is even the possibility of such an event happening by accident, all the efforts of men of goodwill have to be strained towards preventing any war, containing any conflict and limiting the area of any kind of war. This is what we are after in South Vietnam. I think that is what the vast majority of people all over the world are after.
I come now to the passage containing the words that Senator Cormack quoted -
We, in Australia, have a special responsibility because the kind of policies we are pursuing are going to be judged by hundreds of millions of Asians, in whose general area we live. Wc would not want to be judged as always swimming against the stream of history. We would not want to be judged as always looking for the difficulties. We would like to be judged as always looking for optimistic and hopeful solutions which will have the result of bringing about peace on earth and goodwill towards all mcn.
That is the whole of the passage. I suggest that if it is read in the whole context of my speech there can be no warrant whatever for the insinuation that was made by Senator Cormack when he suggested there was some kind of comparison between my language and the language of people ideologically involved in this conflict. I was concerned to draw attention to the great problems that Australia faces and the importance of our being judged as looking to the ultimate peaceful needs of Asian people rather than an immediate military solution.
– The Government has decided to return to the debate on the paper entitled: “Incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin - statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 11th August 1964.” We commenced this debate some time ago and it has been on the stocks since then. Honorable senators who have spoken in this debate have covered a much larger area than the Gulf of Tonkin, where particular incidents happened. I think it is a pity that the Government did not refer to other areas when it presented the paper. It would have been better if the Government had made the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin a part of a general statement on Vietnam. The incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin were only a small part of the trouble that exists in Vietnam.
These attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin were obviously an extension of the guerrilla activities, and they were repelled with efficiency, justification and despatch by the United States Navy. I should have thought that the Government, following the long parliamentary recess and having regard to the deteriorating situation in Vietnam, would have been most anxious to put before this Parliament the information in its possession concerning events in Vietnam today. If there is a situation which many people in this country believe raises the possibility of a third world war, the least the Government could do is to give members of the Parliament a chance to express themselves on it. They ought to be able to do that without their motives being the subject of insinuation or innuendo. If any individual member believes that this situation has in it the seeds of a nuclear war, surely this is the time and the place to try to influence Australia’s attitude towards it. There was a marked omission from Senator Cormack’s speech. He failed to deal with the facts of the situation in Vietnam. He did not say what this Government ought to be doing to protect Australia and Australia’s interests in the very serious situation which has developed in that area.
There are two reasons why the Government did not make a general statement but tried to confine its remarks to the small incident in the Gulf of Tonkin or, as one newspaper reporter described it, the storm in the Tonkin teacup. First Senator Cormack underlined this reason - no matter how serious is the issue that wc are debating, the Government always tends to seek some political advantage from the debate rather than to discuss the issue as it ought to be discussed in a national assembly. In relation to industrial matters, and particularly in a situation such as the present one, if members of the Liberal Party or the Australian Country Party think they have an opportunity to indicate that the Australian Labour Party is leaning towards Communism or is extending its arms to embrace Communism, they twist the situation to suit themselves. They are doing that even in relation to the present serious situation in Vietnam.
Unfortunately, Senator Cormack suggested in his opening comments that the Australian Labour Party was not game to debate this subject. He had only to go to your desk, Mr. President, and to look at the list of speakers or to consult the Government Whip to ascertain the facts. Senator Cormack, when talking about pacts, criticised the Australian Labour Party for wanting to have clear, public treaties with the countries to our north. He asked what would be the good of such treaties with Communist countries like North Vietnam. We wanted a public treaty with Malaysia in relation to the presence of our troops in that country. Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that the Government of Malaysia is developing into a type of government with which we could not have a treaty and on whose word we could not rely. We advocated the negotiation of a treaty at that time because we believed that the Australian public and the Australian Parliament ought to have stated in black and white the reasons why our troops were in that part of the world.
The second reason why the Government did not make a general statement was that it did not realise - I doubt whether it does even now - the importance of South East Asian affairs in the whole international spectrum. I shall come back to that matter a little later. As Senator Cormack indicated, our thinking about Vietnam is likely to be led astray by a discussion on the Diem regime, the presence of American and other troops in the country, the Gulf of Tonkin incident - even though the Government may not have confined itself to that issue with malice aforethought. Buddhism versus Catholicism, General Minh versus General Khanh, and so on. We must come back to the fact - Senator Cormack dealt with it as an individual but did not indicate that the Government had not grasped the fact and had not acted accordingly - that the present situation is part of a cold war which has resulted from the existence of two giants in the world. On the one hand we have the Communists who believe that they ought to control the world, and on the other hand we have the Western powers which are determined that the Communists shall not control it. If as a sub-editor I were writing an article on this subject I would use the heading “ Cold War “ and the sub-heading “ Hot Aspects of the Cold War “. A byproduct of this situation is the division that has occurred between Communist China and Russia within the last few years. Communist China is adhering to the old Communist philosophy that it is possible finally to gain control of these countries by means of internal revolution. They say that the validity of that concept can be proved in the Asian sphere. Russia, on the other hand, being more sophisticated is afraid that revolution might escalate into a nuclear war and that she might lose what she already has.
I well recall that when the Geneva Accord was written 10 years ago we had a similar debate to that which we are having today. I recall that, the relevant news having been published in the afternoon Press, Senator McCallum had an opportunity after the dinner suspension to tell us very effectively what these things meant. The Labour speaker who was to follow him had a well prepared set of notes which had become obsolete during the afternoon. I well remember, because I was that Labour speaker. I cannot help feeling that all of us who speak this afternoon and tonight might well bc dealing with a situation that could be changed by tomorrow morning. As Senator Cormack, and certainly Senator McKenna, pointed out, it was not the signing, of this Accord which triggered the war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. There was a lull of about five years during which the South Vietnamese Government had a quite unexpected run of success. We saw the removal of Bao Dai following the holding of a plebiscite which was supported by the French, the adoption of a written constitution and elected members with Diem, as President, and also a fight against the religious sects which was frowned on by many of the Western powers because they believed that Diem ought not to become engaged in war so soon after taking over the country. The single-mindedness and courage of Diem, which was so marked in the early period of his rule, led him to fight and to get rid of the religious sects, the war lords of old, to undertake land reform which probably was comparable with the great land reforms of Taiwan and Japan, to get rid of the French and the Chinese who were sitting in a double layer over the Vietnamese in business and industry, and to give the Vietnamese a chance to move forward.
That state of affairs continued until the attacks of 1959 and the adoption in the north in 1960 of the official Communist policy to liberate South Vietnam or to engage in what has been described as the war of liberation. I thought Senator Cormack dealt rather narrowly with the reasons for these delays. I suppose it is true to say that the South Vietnamese could not stand up to this competition. But when one was in Saigon at about that time one could not help but note the optimism of the South Vietnamese and the Westerners who were living there. They pointed out that Vietnam, which was divided at the 17th parallel of latitude, was inhabited by the same race of people but that the South Vietnamese were winning the race right along the line. It was obvious that South Vietnam was likely to have a still bigger flood of refugees from the north. The North Vietnamese and many observers throughout the world did not think that Diem could succeed, but it was obvious after five years that he was succeeding. Secondly, the North Vietnamese had their own revolution to consolidate. Thirdly, it must be remembered that it was intended to have a plebiscite in South Vietnam. As happens when anybody is getting ready for an election, the Communists did all they possibly could to win as many votes as possible. That approach is adopted whether people are working under the Communist pattern or under any other pattern.
What they were fighting for at that period was to control completely the North Vietnamese vote and then, with the few dissidents still left in the south, to try to bring about a victory there if a plebiscite were to be held. They could not use the old cry about absentee landlordism. The South Vietnamese were shrewd enough to know that the Communists had succeeded largely in China after having used that cry, and they were determined to remove absentee landlordism as an issue. As I have already pointed out, Diem had been successful in office. So control of South Vietnam could not be achieved merely by infiltration and by appealing to the peasants. The Communists called their campaign a war of liberation and added that they wanted to get rid of the American aggressors.
– Do you mean that the land had already been distributed in the south?
– Yes, Diem had distributed that land.
– In. the south?
– Yes. Therefore, the cry that had been used by the Communists on former occasions could not be used effectively this time. I have already mentioned the dichotomy of the Chinese and Russian ideologies. Just how strong the division of opinion is we do not know. But if we are to fail in Vietnam, it could mean that this by-product of the cold war was much stronger than we at first thought. It could give an impetus to world revolution in an area far beyond our control. That the Chinese are winning this argument there is no doubt. In view of the deterioration of the situation in Vietnam, it is of no use to argue about this. It is an accepted fact. We have there the very parlous situation that we had before. It is always strange - I have noticed this so often - that the very people who are loudest in their cries against Communism are frequently the people who put into the hands of the Communists the weapon that finally strikes them down,
The uprisings of the Buddhists and their complaints against the Diem Government of -victimisation played into the hands of the Communists. The ultimate nepotism of Diem himself and of his Government also played into their hands, and finally made his replacement almost inevitable. But nothing played into the hands of the Com.minists more than did the useless and brutal murder of the Diem brothers themselves. It was unnecessary, it was brutal, and it was stupid in the extreme. If they had been forced to abdicate, if they had been given refuge in their own or in another country, there might have been a peaceful revolution such as those which we have seen in so many Asian countries. This would have been approved by most of the people in the world, but the moment that the new regime introduced itself by the murder of two prominent people it laid itself open to the violence and bloodshed which is being experienced to this day. However, every Government, including this one tumbled over itself to recognise the new regime, without one word of protest against the murder of two of the most prominent parliamentarians and administrators in that area. I still think that this laid open the way for the violence and bloodshed which we are now witnessing. There was no point in it. It was completely silly, and no government did anything to mitigate the violence that finally came about. The United States State Department did say that it regretted the murders. In my book, that was nowhere nearly good enough. Condemnation should have been on a much higher lever than that. In general confusion of this sort, 1 have never quite found out what prompts governments to recognise other governments. There was plenty of room for protest, to indicate to the new regime that those who lived by the sword might very easily die by it.
I remember very well, Mr. President, when President Diem sat at your left hand in this Senate and when he sat in another place. I remember dining with him and with every other member of the Parliament as a guest, I think, of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). I remember the eloquent speech of the Prime Minister when he said that President Diem was a man of competence and courage in a very troubled sea. I agreed with every word that he said. But on the death of Diem, with all its implications, not a word was said. It came at a time when the Buddhists were hurling at him accusations that the Diems, because they were a Catholic family, had been persecuting the Buddhists. This accusation was never proved and it has been largely withdrawn by the world Press.
Of nepotism Diem was undoubtedly guilty, but after all, in his defence can it not be said that this was pretty understandable? His was not the only government in the world which appointed brothers and cousins of the leaders to important positions. It was unfortunate for him that those persons governed with such a heavy hand and that they were so insensitive to world opinion. But when one is in a hurry, as obviously he was - he wanted to get things done quickly - it is only human to lean upon the persons one trusts, who will carry out one’s orders to the nth degree, so that things will be done with all speed.
This brings me to the point which everybody on the other side has been dodging, namely this Government’s attitude. We are Australians. It is very good to examine these things, but particularly in the Pacific area we must come back to a consideration of where we stand and what we are to do about them. My great complaint is that this Government has a foreign policy of consequences. It has a consequential foreign policy. As a consequence of America’s having a friendly hand on the shoulder of Diem, we brought him down here and paid him homage in. this Parliament. As a consequence of America’s taking that friendly hand off his shoulder, we uttered not one word upon his death, recognising the new government without any protest.
It has become obvious that the murder of Diem was not only the murder of a person but also the murder of law and order in Saigon. It becomes twice as difficult to get back law and order when they have been broken by oneself. That is what happened there. What did all this achieve? There was the coup of Minh on 1st November and the coup of General Khanh in January. We have witnessed the vacillating, with Khanh being brought back again over the past few days, the temporary government of Khiem and the suggestion that Khanh may even yet come back to govern the country. I wonder how stable government can be obtained in Saigon. Could one say to prominent, stable citizens, “ We want you to take over in an administrative capacity and do the jobs which governments do in other parts of the world “, when their reward might be to be thrown into gaol if they were lucky or to be murdered if they were unlucky?
This is the sort of ground that we have prepared. How many more coups can Saigon take? I suggest that each of these hammerlike blows has helped to destroy the confidence of the people and give solace to the Communists. Each of the new leaders has said that he will fight better than the former one. How many more of these coups can the people take? I suggest that they have taken about their last one and that in the present climate unless something is done rapidly this country will be lost. We must realise that the Vietnamese people have had 23 years of fighting, except for a short hiatus. Even then there was not complete peace because Communist guerrillas were in action around the borders of South Vietnam where they could be serviced from the sea or from neighbouring countries. The people have had experience of governing themselves only during the past ten years. It would be very easy for them to say: “ Let us go back. This democracy, this business of appointing members, of having a President for whom we voted, is not all that it is cracked up to be.” There is that danger in a people who have been a subject people for so long. In their lifetime they have been a subject people of the French and of the Japanese. They have had 23 years of continuous fighting, with very little opportunity to govern themselves.
What is the situation that faces us now? Surely two things stand out. One is that we must try to get stable government back in the area, and the other is that somehow we must win back the people in the villages to faith in Saigon. The strategic hamlets which were so successful in the early days are now a failure. Obviously the only strategy that can be pursued now is to move into the last remaining safe areas and try to push out beyond them, getting back the confidence of the villagers. Although the question of economic and social help has been scorned and laughed at, the final result must be to take the villages back and to rehabilitate them socially and economically. The only progress that has been made in Vietnam since 1941 has been made precisely like that. It is very easy to score political marks by saying that there is ho room for social and economic help iri the middle of a war, but the military solution is not the final one. There cannot be a military solution because of the geographical situation of South Vietnam. What has to be done must be done in the way that Ramon Magsaysay adopted in the Philippines. He kept up patrols for 24 hours a day until the villagers knew that they had nothing more to fear from the Huk rebels and started to give their confidence to the government troops. When they were confident at long last that they had in Manila a government that could and would protect them, and that would give them advancement, then and then only did the villagers start to go back. In very quick time the revolution in the Philippines collapsed. Something along those lines is needed in Vietnam. No two countries are exactly the same, but broadly those principles will have to be pursued before peace can be restored.
– Are you suggesting that there is a rebellion in South Vietnam?
– No, I do not suggest anything of that sort. I mentioned the rebellion in the Philippine Islands and 1 was talking about the Huks.
– But you were using the analogy.
– I was using the analogy of the economic and social help that was given in the Philippines. I am sorry if I misled you. On the question of the Government of South Vietnam, if a solution is not found, things which could easily shock everybody in this chamber may be done. Obviously, the desirable thing to do - if it is possible - is to find somebody in Saigon who can take the place of President and govern. If this is not possible, we might find ourselves faced with a situation where there will be some sort of partnership government - possibly American and South Vietnamese. Nobody wants to see that - least of all myself. But if you cannot do the first thing I have mentioned and do not do the second, you face up to complete rejection and complete defeat in South Vietnam. I am wondering whether this Government is learning a lesson from the situation in South Vietnam. Are the old dogs learning new tricks? I was shocked to read again the speech of the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) when dealing with the question of Indonesia when the Labour Government was in power. He then said -
The end of white rule in Asia would be the ecstacy of suicide.
Surely to goodness he ought to have known at that time that the reverse position would be the ecstacy of suicide. Look at the countries involved - India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Indo-China. Twenty-five years ago or Jess every one of those countries was under white rule. Would it not have been the ecstacy of suicide if we had tried to hold white rule there against the genuine nationalistic movements? The position is quite the reverse of what the Prime Minister said. The only part of this portion of Asia still under white rule is Portuguese Timor, and on the day when somebody gives that a decent shove white rule will be there no longer. The most chastening thought is that Thailand, the one country in the area which has never had white rule, is probably the happiest country of them all. lt is not worried with colonialism and is worried very little with Communism.
One of the things which is holding this Government back is its preoccupation with London, with Ministers flying over there every year, without thinking of dropping in to the Asian countries. There has been one trip to Indonesia by the Prime Minister, and that only after Dr. Subandrio visited this country and said: “ It is time you came to Indonesia “. Because of this attitude we are losing our voice in South East Asia. We had the unfortunate stand the Prime Minister took on Suez and then his clashes with people like Nehru. His Britishtothebootheels statements make wonderful reading in the Asian and African Press throughout the world. As I said at the outset, one of the reasons why the Government is handling the situation by .these piecemeal methods is that Cabinet does not yet grasp the importance of South East Asian affairs in the whole of the international spectrum. The Government is still worrying about the action taken in London when it ought to be worrying about the action taken in Asian capitals. On one occasion, somebody said that you ought to tread softly and carry a big stick but, over the last few months, this Government has been going out of its way to reverse that attitude. We have had the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) tramping around South East Asia with hob-nail boots and Senator Paltridge, as Minister for Defence, down here, carrying not even a small stick, but a tooth-pick. In answer to a question the other day he emphasised the small number of troops that we have in South East Asia.
We have this business of rattling the sabre all around South East Asia and at the same time saying: “ Yes, but we merely have token forces there “. In another place, a young Liberal member said that it is not the power that we have but the power our friends have that counts. This seems to me to be a completely new approach. If it works, it is a lovely approach. You stand out and threaten everybody around the world and say to them: “ If you dare to touch us other countries of the world will come and defend us “. I do not know quite where all this confusion is getting us. It appears to me that the only people in Australia who are happy with our defence effort are the 25 members of the Ministry. I do not think anybody else is happy about it. If the Government faced up to the situation it would tread softly instead of tramping around in bob-nail boots and talking of what our friends and neighbours are going to do. As Senator Cormack rightly pointed out, the situation is South Vietnam today is tremendously bad and dangerous. We do not know whether political stability can be reintroduced in Saigon. If that can be done and law and order can be got back into the streets of Saigon there will still be the possibility of carrying out the original thought - that of the military manoeuvres going into the safe areas and then gradually pushing into the other areas. If that is done, it will be necessary at the same time to rehabilitate the villages by means of the social and economic help that people are laughing at today. That is what Ngo Dinh Diem did in the early days, but you say that cannot be done.
– I did not say that.
– I meant that most people on the Government side say that. I did not say that you said it. If you can do that slowly, somewhere along the way you might get a solution by means of a political settlement. Do not scorn the possibility of a political settlement, because it has to come at some time, either through a dictatorship or when it is posible to negotiate from a position of strength. If you can go along the road I have indicated it may be that at some time in the future you will reach that situation. If that is not to be achieved in the immediate future we are going to face a defeat which will have repercussions throughout South East Asia and which could result in the isolation of Australia. The repercussions could easily be felt and certainly would be felt in the trouble spots in South America and Africa. Even though we have only a handful of people in South Vietnam today, what happens there can affect every Australian now and in the future. As I see it, the mandate of this Government is not to stand back, as a consequential government, waiting for somebody to do something. It must use its voice and action while they are still effective, for Australia and Australians in this area.
– In discussing the incidents that occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin only a few weeks ago, both Houses have taken the opportunity to go into some detail in regard to the position in South Vietnam. I propose to follow that procedure, but would like first to say that I have not had the experience of being in either South Vietnam or North Vietnam. My nearest approach to that area on the ground was at Bangkok, some 400 or 500 miles west of the nearest point of South Vietnam. Later I flew over South Vietnam. My remarks will therefore be based on what I have been told and what I have been able to read in connection with this subject. To get back to the incidents that occurred on 2nd August and 4th August in the Gulf of Tonkin, we are all aware that on 2nd August American ships patrolling some 60 miles off-shore were attacked. That was all right and that incident was passed off. Then, on the night of 4th August, an attack was once again launched on these ships. As a result of that, certain action of a punitive nature was taken by the American vessels. I will quote what the President of the United States of America said in that connection. He said -
But repeated acts of violence against the Armed Forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defence, but with positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak to you.
That is what the President said on 4th August 1964. He continued -
Air action is now in execution against gunboats and certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam which have been used in these hostile operations.
He said, further -
In the larger sense, this new act of aggression, aimed directly at our own forces, again brings home to all of us in the United States the importance of the struggle for peace and security in South East Asia. Aggression by terror against the peaceful villagers of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the U.S.A.
The determination of all Americans to carry out our full commitment to the people and Government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage. Yet our response for the present will be limited and filling. We Americans know, though others appear to forget, the risks of spreading a conflict. We will seek no wider war.
Indeed, the position was as the President outlined. Attacks were make, and we are familiar with what happened. Having pressed home these attacks, no further attacks were made. In this connection I want to come to the defence of Senator Mattner. When he was speaking in this debate earlier he said that a member of the Opposition in another place had made certain remarks which he had tried to find in ,l Hansard “, without success. He was then told by a member of the Opposition in this place that such remarks had not been made. However, Senator Mattner was correct, because at page 247 of “ Hansard “ of 13th August the member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) is reported as saying -
Claiming provocation - and who can affirm or dispel the claim - the United States unleased a barrage of death-dealing destruction on North Vietnam, its territory, its people and its military installations.
That is the statement which Senator Mattner alleged had been made and which an Opposition member in this chamber said had not been made. So, in fairness to Senator Mattner, I provide this corroboration. Of course, no such attack on Vietnam occurred. The statement was a violent exaggeration of the action of the United States, and it did nothing at all to help matters in this country or elsewhere. Surely the United States had no alternative but to take the action it did. After all, was it just going to brush the patrol boat attacks aside? Had it done so I do not think there is any doubt that this would have been regarded as an encouraging sign for the same forces to come back in greater strength and again harass the United States vessels. However, since the United States took action, very fortunately we have had no further incidents. I think we all agree that the North Vietnamese attack was very foolish. What they hoped to get out of it I, for one, would not attempt to forecast.
Let us look at the situation in South Vietnam itself. In 1954 the country was divided, North Vietnam from South Vietnam. The Communists, and those who favoured Communism, were to go to North Vietnam, and those who were antiCommunist or not enthusiastic about Communism were to remain in the South. A period of 300 days was allowed for this movement to take place. At that time there occurred what seems to us, looking back, a wonderful opportunity for the Communists to get their key people in strategic areas in South Vietnam to set up cells, as they eventually did. One could not imagine a more favourable set of circumstances in which to promote Communism. Of course, the Communists are clever at this form of propaganda and at building up their forces to harass other nations. The Communists took every advantage of the situation. Other Conditions were also favourable. For instance, some of the younger members of families which, in themselves, were not favourable to Communism, went into North Vietnam. Then, either because they were Communists before they went to North Vietnam or because they were indoctrinated, after a period of perhaps two or three years they returned to the arms of their families, were welcomed, and then set about building up the Communist organisation. This has been one of the big handicaps that the South Vietnamese have had to face.
Another difficulty that was encountered in setting up the Government in South Vietnam in the early stages arose from the fact that when the French retired from the area all the administrative personnel - civil servants as we would know them - left, too. Whether by design or accident I do not know, but the French apparently did not train any local people to take over these duties. It may be hard for us to imagine the chaos that would result with a government trying to take over and run a country without trained personnel to help, but that is the situation with which the South Vietnamese were faced. It was an extraordinary hard task, without all the other disadvantages with which they were faced.
As a result - I think this is one of the reasons why the people in the area became restive - South Vietnam was not well governed. I find it hard to see how it could have been well governed in these circumstances. It must inevitably have taken a long time to get the administration of the country running smoothly under people who could be entrusted to carry out efficiently and loyally, the duties of government. I do not think it is to be wondered at that the people became restive, and that this was a breeding ground for Communism. It is easy to be wise after an event, and looking back one can realise that foolish actions were taken by those in power at that time. They probably had their reasons, though, and I do not propose to debate them now.
Another difficulty was the lack of communications. I have been told that in the southern areas of South Vietnam there are road making materials but inadequate means of transporting them to the north for the construction of decent roads. We must remember that South Vietnam is narrow for a considerable length of its northern part, but broadens out into the delta region in the south. South Vietnam has a difficult terrain. In the north are high mountains of 13,000 to 14,000 feet, and the country is heavily timbered. The undulating country in the delta region is known as flooded forest. It is flooded to the extent that many people build their homes in trees and out of materials which are reasonably bullet proof. This area is interspersed with a system of canals, and this makes transport very difficult. When one envisages this one can realise how difficult it is to combat the guerilla forces operating in this area. I understand that attacks from the guerillas often come from trees in the delta region. In this area are 5 million inhabitants of South Vietnam. It also has the largest Chinese population and one would expect the sympathies of these people to be with the Chinese motherland. One can realise how easy it must be for these people to be indoctrinated by the Communists and how difficult it must be for the Western forces, including our own chaps, to combat Communism.
Supplies are difficult to transport, particularly in the areas where there are canals. I am told that the Communist forces often allow supplies to get through. They levy a type of tax on the supplies - they take a portion of them. Every now and again the Communists hold up all supplies for some time - presumably as a demonstration of what they can do to upset the economy of the country. I am also informed that even when military supplies for the American forces arrive it is necessary to send out a company of troops to clear the road and then to escort the supplies.
All the time that this is going on signals are being sent out from behind the guarding forces and very often from in front of them. It presents a very difficult picture. Some people may wonder why greater military success has not been achieved .in this area. Surely to goodness when we consider these facts we find the answer. The fighting has been continuing in Vietnam for so many years that one would think that the people there would be sick and tired of fighting and that it is only fear for their existence that makes them continue to resist either one side or the other. One would think that capitulation would occur. I suppose that some people are capitulating to the Communists and perhaps others who may have been a little inclined towards Communism but who are living in a position where they could not resist them might capitulate to the anti-Communist forces.
At the beginning of the conflict it was said there were about 30,000 troops of Communist persuasion in the Vietcong. Although about 1,000 Vietcong troops have been killed each month - or at least 12,000 troops a year - I am told that there are still about 30,000 guerrillas in the Vietcong. It. shows that the guerrilla forces are being quite steadily reinforced and in quite substantial numbers. No doubt some Communist troops are infiltrating through Cambodia, in spite of dentals issued from that Country. I do not know what resistance is offered by Cambodia to the infiltrators. It may be token resistance or real, but there seems no doubt that infiltrating troops and supplies are coming down through Cambodia.
asked what will happen if South Vietnam goes. The great danger is, as he pointed out, that if South Vietnam goes Communist, Cambodia surely must follow. Thailand, too, must then be in very grave danger. This is of the utmost importance to Australia. I disagree very strongly with Senator Willesee’s statement that the Australian Government is not ahve to the dangers. It is, but its actions can only be limited. Even the United States of America, with its huge resources - quite apart from the huge sums of money it has poured into South Vietnam, as mentioned by Senator Cormack - is able to achieve only very limited success. I do not know the answer nor, I think, does anybody in Australia. We have a tiger by the tail and we cannot let go. If we did, the results would be too serious for words.
I have referred to the fact that some Communist indoctrinated people return to their homes where they approach others with a view to getting them to assist the Vietcong. The Villagers are asked, first of all, to do only minor work which may not be of a military nature, but simply observation of the movements of people - possibly not eve* of droops. Gradually they are asked, to do a little more and each time are given small rewards. In this way they are slowly indoctrinated. It is difficult to know whether a peasant working in a paddy field is for you or against you. They are all dressed in the same way and the struggle is made very much harder by this factor. I cannot envisage a more difficult situation.
It is not possible to stage a pitched battle in that type of country. Early success was obtained by helicopters but the Vietcong speedily produced an answer. I am. told that forces of up to 500 troops are sent out and encounter much larger forces, in odd instances. From what I can gather there are not many instances where large bodies of troops are involved. Often, when a body of troops is sent out their movements are made known to the Vietcong. When the force reaches its destination the Vietcong has gone.
– Ambushes are the main trouble.
– Ambushes are ‘ prevalent but one of the main troubles appears to be that the troop movements all along the line are made known to the Vietcong. This may be because, as has happened in other areas where the people are subjected to guerrilla type warfare, the inhabitants are terrorised. Consequently they may be forced to give assistance to the Vietcong against their wishes. It is not a very pleasant picture.
What are we to do? I agree with those people who have said that we cannot win the struggle by military tactics alone. Success must be achieved, I think, by a combination of several methods. I have here a publication issued by the Department of External Affairs entitled “ Vietnam Since The 1954 Geneva Agreements “. I think it contains the answer to Senator Willesee’s allegation that the Government is not aware of what is going on. The honorable senator’ has only to read the comments of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), the Minister for Trade and-
Industry (Mr. McEwen) and several other people who are quoted in this document to see that the position is certainly viewed with fitting gravity. In the document is a record of questions asked on 14th May of General Taylor in the presence of Mr. Robert McNamara, the United States Secretary of Defence. Mr. McNamara was asked -
Mr. Secretary, would you compare the conduct of the war now with your last visit as only making’ progress?
Mr. McNamara replied ;
I think we arc, and I remain personally convinced - and I would like to have General Taylor who is far belter qualified than I to speak to this - that persistent execution of the political-military plans of General Khanh’s government, plans that they have developed and that we have concurred in and have agreed to provide assistance, will lead to a successful conclusion of the war. But I want to emphasize it is not that kind of war. This is a war for live confidence of the people and the security of those people, and that kind of war is a long, hard war.
When asked what measures he recommended, Mr. McNamara suggested that General Taylor comment on the question. General Taylor said -
I could add very little more except to say that General Khanh impresses mc as a very energetic military leader. He thoroughly comprehends this complicated war - that it is not purely military by any manner of means but involves political and economic facets as well. I think it is very encouraging and perhaps surprising to find in a young man who has so quickly pulled together ‘ the many facers of this problem.
However, as the Secretary has said, this is not ‘ something that can be done overnight. The programmes being executed are involved, they are . complicated, and I think they would test any government.
– That document is a week old. It is passe.
– As Senator Willesee said this afternoon, even as we speak events are changing. The afternoon Press, carries items which differ quite considerably from those carried by the morning Press. I agree with him. That is what we are faced with. It is a very difficult position.
One of the difficulties is that up to this time, through all the unrest and changes in government, the people apparently cannot get a government that they can trust and be loyal to. This is the picture I have been at some pains to paint. It is not easy for the people. They have religious differences and until they get a government that they are prepared to trust’ and help, I cannot see that this unhappy country will progress in the way that we would so much like.
It is all very well for Senator Willesee to say that the anti-Communists have to take the villages. The honorable senator would agree that once the villages are taken, they must be held and this seems to bc the problem. Unless sufficient forces are stationed in the villages they become absorbed once again ‘by the Communist forces. That is the difficulty encountered in this type of terrain. Tremendous numbers of troops would be required to maintain law and order and, after all, there is a limit to what can be done in this regard.
It is a very unhappy state of affairs. All Australians are sad to see such conditions existing in South Vietnam. These people have been faced with war for so long. Unfortunately for us it seems that time does not matter to the Communists. Time is on the Communist side. If they do not win in two years, three years or four years they still continue the battle. Unless we can do something to combat the wish of so many of these people for Communism then we will be faced with similar trouble in these areas for a very long time.
I think it is very fortunate for us that at present the two great Communist countries, Russia and China, are violently opposed to one another. Were it not so the position would be a great deal more serious than it is. I do not know that J have been able to contribute as much to this debate as I would wish. At least all honorable senators can take this opportunity of expressing their horror at the conditions facing these poor people. We can express the earnest wish that it will not be ‘ong before they will get the measure of peace and stability they deserve.
– This debate arises from the ministerial statement on the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin. 1 think the debate in this chamber, and the public discussions elsewhere, have been helpful to the Australian community and must be helpful to the Government also if it is prepared to take notice of (hem.
This debate has allowed the Australian Labour Party to place on record its own principles. I refer to the excellent statement made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna). He gave a number of facts which probably were unknown to honorable senators. They were facts concerning the policies of the Australian Labour Party and are available to the public. These principles are often forgotten or glossed over, but they have a very important bearing on the contribution we make to the debate on a subject such as this and have a very important bearing on our interpretation of the events which have occurred in the unhappy area of Vietnam.
Towards the end of his speech Senator McKellar said that if the people of South Vietnam were able to get the Government they wanted, they might be on the road to recovery. This is a very keen observation and we on the Opposition side consider that this proposition could be very important in reaching a solution to the problem. I will mention it later in my speech.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– The Minister’s statement of 11th August seemed to indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that a great deal more weight was being placed on military action in South Vietnam than on means of reaching a peaceful solution to the problems in that country. Whilst we accepted the action by the American forces, members of the Australian Labour Party and, we believe, the whole of the Australian public, were concerned as to whether there would be an escalation of the incident. After the threat of a widening of the conflict had receded most people began to wonder whether some moves other than military action should be considered. Surely there are some alternatives for a country which has been subjected to various wars for more than 20 years. This, of course, has caused speakers from the Australian Labour Party to mention policies which they think ought to be pursued to bring about a lasting peace.
I wish to refer to the declared policies of the Australian Labour Party, arrived at after deliberations at its Federal Conference. Some of these policies are important enough for me to mention on this occasion. They have not been referred to previously in this debate and many people who criticise
Labour speakers have no knowledge of them. A discussion on an important subject such as that now before the Senate should be wide enough for theories to be advanced in respect of issues that are beyond the immediate scope of the Minister’s statement. Over the years, the Australian Labour Party has subscribed to certain policies on foreign affairs, but at its most recent conference in 1963 the party made the following declaration -
Australia must give unswerving and paramount loyalty to the United Nations and seek to have carried out the principles of the United Nations Charter and in particular their application to the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The party further declared -
Co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained.
It will be seen that the charge that the Labour Party is not concerned with the United Nations organisation, or is not concerned with co-operating with the United States, is quite wrong. We have also some views which are important to Australia’s attitude of self determination in the new emerging countries. Our policy is stated in these principles -
Labour believes that Australia must now take the initiative to seek new treaties as follows: -
A pact of friendship and non-agression with all South East Asian nations.
A friendship, trade and non-aggression pact with Indonesia,
A new development plan to provide the pooling of resources for the provision of capital, technical and training assistance on a large scale to the peoples of South East Asia and their allotment on the basis of need and not by selective, independent intergovernmental arrangement.
The Australian Labour Party declares also that-
Australia should seek the establishment under U.N.O. auspices of effective machinery for determining (a) border disputes, and (b) problems of self-determination.
That policy is the reason why Labour speakers have pointed to the need to revise our ideas on the solution to the problem in South Vietnam. We believe that the Minister’s statement was, to a large extent, tied to the conception that this is purely a military situation and ought to be approached as such. We think that that is not enough; that we must look further than that.
Labour believes, however, in the need to prosecute the present military situation. Let me dispel the idea which some people may have that Labour does not believe in this. The Federal Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Mr. Calwell, in a public statement referring to Labour’s policy in respect of Vietnam, spoke of the need to replace reliance on a purely military solution with attempts to seek a political and social solution, but he said - the situation that 1964 has inherited obviously makes the abandonment of the military effort impossible. Nor do we advocate such an abandonment. The search for a political settlement requires negotiation and it is imperative that the anti Communist forces should negotiate from a position of strength.
He went on to say that Labour suggested the consideration of three avenues to achieve a peaceful solution. The first was through the Geneva Conference, the second through the United Nations, and the third through a concerted plan of economic aid. We admit that there are difficutlies in all these propositions, except perhaps that of economic aid, and even that is difficult in the present disturbed internal situation in South Vietnam. However, although the other two propositions may be difficult, it is necessary that we consider them.
These propositions are important, and must be canvassed in relation to a country where a military situation has obtained for so long. It is a country which has been subject to many wars. In fact it is probably true to say that in this area, which embraces the old French Indo-China, the struggle for self determination and the rise of the Communist forces were started by the action of the French in the 1920s in refusing to recognise demands for self government or at least local representation in government. This caused a great upsurge, and the ensuing struggle with the conquering Vietminh under its dedicated leadership has produced the present situation which we are trying to uphold by military action. When the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred we were all concerned to ensure that it would not develop another world war. Fortunately the situation has subsided a great deal, but some grave internal difficulties have arisen in South Vietnam.
People in Australia are wondering about the situation. The Adelaide “News” of
Friday 14th August has put the position perhaps, better than 1 can. It said -
Australia’s support of the United States’ military actions and its dependence on this great ally for ils defence are facts of life. But they may be misunderstood if they are continually stressed.
Economic and social conditions in South East Asia are just as much a contributing force to the spread of Communism as is the threat of military aggression.
What this newspaper has written represents Ohe views that Labour has expressed from time to time, but in this situation their application seems to be more urgent.
I was one of a delegation which recently visited these countries. We had the good fortune to discuss our policies with the various leaders and also with some people in lower positions, including some of the trade union people in Saigon. We saw the sort of internal difficulties which must arise in a country which lacks a democratic administrative body- a country whose form of government has evolved as a kind of patched up affair which has not its roots planted in the community. This seems to members of the Labour Party to be the very essence of the problem. If we are concerned with these people and their efforts we must advise them as to the possible ways of improving their present situation. We are concerned also about the declarations to which we have subscribed. The Australian Labour Party, of course, supports S.E.A.T.O., except that we think there should be extensions in the cultural and economic fields.
After the settlement in Vietnam, Australia was contracted into the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which was signed on 8th September 1954. Article III of that treaty provides -
The parties -
And we are one of them - . . undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operate with one another in the further development of economic measures, including technical assistance, designed both to promote economic progress and social well being and to further the individual and collective efforts of governments towards these ends.
It seems to me to be a foolish exercise to try to argue, in a debate such as this, about what motivated the forces in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or about what has happened since the Geneva Conference when a type of peace was negotiated. It has not been exactly satisfactory, but at least, over the years it has had some degree of permanence. We know that the International Control Commission has had softie difficulties in carrying out its task. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen’ last year said in another place that the Australian Government accepted all the responsibilities involved in this particular arrangement and was anxious to see that the terms of the Geneva Agreements and Accords were applied. In this respect we have an obligation to try to reach a permanent solution.
In relation to the American participation. I recognise that the United States has been saddled with a position which it is trying to hold. The situation in Laos is not as difficult as is the situation in Vietnam. Perhaps the Americans are saddled with people whom they do not like. To intervene or to advise as to the constitution or as to the form of State powers might be construed as being an imperialist action. I am of the opinion that, to some extent in relation to economic organisation, the United States has tried over the years to apply the kind of remedies which might have an effect on the prosecution of the war. We know that in the events which form the basis of our present discussion the United States wanted nothing else but to limit the conflict. I think that the words used by President Johnson have been mentioned, but I shall repeat them. Ha said -
Yet our response, for the present, will be limited and fitting. We Americans know, although others appear to forget, the risks of spreading conflict … we still seek no wider war.
I have instructed the Secretary of State to make this position totally clear to friends, to adversaries, and indeed to all. I have instructed Ambassador Stevenson to raise this matter immediately and urgently before the Security Council of the United Nations.
When I was in Laos I saw an example of this situation. It was evident to me that the great powers wanted to limit the war and wanted to have a situation in Laos where a composite government might be formed again. They had the fullest confidence in the Premier, Prince Souvanna Phouma. They were holding up requests to remove the headquarters of the Pathet Lao from Vientiane, where it is at present. It is a strange paradox that in this country where the government forces are fighting the Pathet Lao the government accepts the headquarters of the Pathet Lao and permits a radio link with the Pathet Lao forces. When we raised this matter with Government officials and officers of the Western powers in Laos they said: “ We believe we should maintain this situation within the capital with the idea of establishing, as far as possible, a link with the opposing forces “. These experiences convinced me that our own people, and the people with whom we are associated, had a genuine desire to limit the war and were advising the adoption of economic and social policies which might be successful. This, of course, is the great task that confronts these countries today, more particularly in South Vietnam because land policy there needs urgent modification.
When we were in South Vietnam we talked about the necessity of having economic and social reforms. We always received the answer: “Well, there is a grave war situation at present.” There is a pacification policy which incorporates many economic reforms in the country but as soon as these reforms are carried into the villages, the Vietcong come in and kill off the leaders who are trying to apply the reforms. The amazing thing is that there is a large degree of acceptance ‘by the peasants of this situation. I think that a previous speaker mentioned a paradox similar to the one I am about to mention. In Vietnam, at Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, the farmers have to pay tax to both the Vietcong and the Government forces. This situation is accepted because it has been going on for over 20 years. From talking to many Australians in that area I formed the opinion that our people were less effective than the Vietcong as far as leadership was concerned, because the Vietcong are more dedicated. They have been trained in North Vietnam or China and the Communist theories have been implanted in their minds. In South Vietnam there are not the economic policies which go with a completely political set up. These are matters which occurred to my colleagues and I when we visited these countries.
I suggest that the recent religious riots in South Vietnam have demonstrated that this is an urgent matter. We should say to these people whom we consider our friends and to whom we are providing technical aid. that they should adopt proper legislative procedures. There are moves afoot in this direction at the present time. One group in South Vietnam is trying to have the authority pf the National Assembly accepted.
It is true that many countries of South East Asia are linked. If one looks at South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand or Laos, one has to accept the proposition that the actions of the insurgent powers, the actions of the Pathet Lao and of the Vietcong are interwoven. A settlement in Laos cannot be obtained because if a settlement was reached supplies would be cut off to. the Vietcong in South Vietnam. The whole country is involved and there has to be an overall solution. Because of this situation the Thai people, not for the first time, have been greatly concerned about the threat on their border. In these circumstances the Australian Labour Party is not changing its attitude in relation to military commitments, but it thinks that at some stage there has to be talk of a solution. In the long run military methods have to give way to peace talks. Someone has to undertake to discuss what is to be done about South Vietnam.
If, in the present internal circumstances of South Vietnam, we applied political reforms it may even be too late to get the whole population on side. Confusion exists in the minds of many people about possible solutions. If one takes note of the comments of some of the best international reporters in the world and of people who are specialists on affairs in South East Asia, and if one listens to the arguments of his opponents, one observes a great deal of confusion. Even those with whom we have had direct talks have said that the position is too confused for them to be able to offer any concrete or positive solution of the problem. In view of the history of the country, this is not surprising. The struggle by these people for self-determination was diverted by the French and was subjected to delay because of the Second World War when the Japanese occupied the country. Then, because of a lack of co-ordination in the implementing of social and economic policies by people who should have known better, the Communists took control of the whole national front movement and they have now gained ascendancy throughout South Vietnam.
There must be a solution to the problem. As 1 see the situation, efforts to stabilise the country seem to be coming to a head. The need for a national assembly has been recognised. If we put aside the battles that have been waged on religious grounds - they are just a means of expression at a time of great tension - behind the struggles of these unfortunate people is a natural aspiration to have a say in running the country. The American Government is putting £1 million a day into the country. Economic proposals have been advanced which have not been adopted. Somebody must say to these people: “ Look, if you are to win this struggle, if you want to maintain a peaceful South Vietnam, you must set up a stable government “.
That brings me to an observation that was made in Washington last year by Mr. Quat, the Foreign Minister of South Vietnam. He said - 1 said earlier that the war in Vietnam was of a deeply political nature. I shall even say that in my opinion the key to victory in this confrontation lies in the setting up of an administrative machinery which is capable of maintaining order and wellbeing, in the cities and in the countryside, and of helping the Vietnamese redeem their dignity as human beings, their privileges as citizens . . .
One of our most difficult tasks in the present juncture is certainly the search for governmental stability. In advanced societies, governmental stability can easily be achieved and preserved thanks to the normal functioning of democratic institutions.
That seems to me to be one of the most urgent matters that we should be discussing and in relation to which we should be advising these people. We should think of the Opposition’s proposal. We suggest that while this military situation obtains we should act to refer the dispute to the United Nations with a view to the reconvening of the Geneva conferences and the establishment in South Vietnam of a democratic form of government. I do not advocate the usual form of democratic government to which we have become accustomed. Probably the establishment of that form of government is not possible.
My time has just about expired and there are many matters that I have not been able to mention. But before concluding let me say how much the Labour members of the delegation which went to South East Asia appreciated the activities of the Australians who are in this area. I refer to the military advisers in Vietnam who are employing to good effect the Australian tradition of casualness in their instruction of these people in military tactics; to the Air Force; to those other Australians, both civilian and Service personnel assisting in various construction and technical projects, and to our Embassy staffs. All those whom I saw were dedicated to the task they were trying to perform. I conclude by saying that I think the solution to this great problem lies not only in doing the sorts of things which I have been mentioning but also in offering as much practical aid as possible and in indicating that no strings are attached to it.
.- Mr. President, tonight the Senate is engaged on the most serious task of debating the statement that was submitted to the Parliament by the Minister for External Affair9 (Mr. Hasluck) in relation to what we refer to as the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. Really there were two incidents - one on 2nd August and another on 4th August. As this incident occurred a month ago, some would tend to adopt the attitude that it is a stale affair and that discussion is superfluous. I take quite the opposite view. I believe that discussion at this point of time is much more likely to be fruitful and to lead to dispassionate and critical consideration of the matter than if it had occurred at a time of tension and emotion. Anybody who bears the responsibility of representing in this Parliament a section of the people of Australia should be very sensible of the weight of responsibility that attaches to national leaders in America and Australia in particular, and in turn to Ministers and members of the Parliament.
What was the incident? It has been described by the Minister for External Affairs in these terms -
On 2nd August the United States destroyer “ Maddox “, which was on routine patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, was attacked, some 30 miles off shore, by three North Vietnamese fast patrol boats using torpedoes and machine gun fire. The attack was deliberate and made in daylight on the high seas. The “ Maddox “ returned the fire and disabled one vessel. Subsequently the President of the United States issued a statement announcing that the Navy had been instructed to continue the patrols with two destroyers instead of one; that the destroyers would be provided with air cover; and and that they had been ordered to attack any force which attacked them. North Vietnam was warned of the consequences of any further incidents.
On the night of 4th August the “Maddox “ and a second destroyer, “ C. Turner Joy “, were attacked about 60 miles ofl the coast by a number of vessels under cover of darkness. This attack was planned and deliberate. It was beaten off, two of the attacking vessels being sunk and two damaged.
In response to that attack the CommanderinChief and President of the United States, realising in a most serious way the extraordinary responsibility that accompanied his action, ordered that the attackers should be repelled. As a consequence, some 25 motor torpedo boats were destroyed or damaged and an oil depot was in large part destroyed.
I have recited those events in that way because in a matter of international incident such as this it is imperative that everybody should understand the basic facts completely. I am very happy to have been reassured in my own convictions as I have listened to a most thoughtful debate by every senator who has participated in it. Some honorable senators have referred to party aspects and some have referred to them by way of criticism or disparagement of the opposite parties - but in the main incidentally. I deplore those references in a debate on such high national issues as this, but every senator to whom I have listened has accepted the basic statement of fact. From everything that I have been able to read on the subject, through the cables and through the parliamentary papers, and from what I have learned in conversation and discussion with members of the Parliament, I believe that all of that statement it literally true. I say that with some emphasis, because the people of Australia were treated to some propaganda, almost immediately after this incident, by one person at least who represented himself as having recently come back to Australia from Vietnam and who challenged the factual basis of these attacks. It is a sufficient commentary on isolated suggestions in propaganda of that sort that, so far as I have listened to the debates in the Senate, every senator irrespective of party who has spoken on the subject accepts that basic statement of the facts of the incident.
The essential aspect of the question that warrants the consideration of every member of Parliament is not the internal affairs of Vietnam or a prognosis as to whether or not the people will succeed in establishing free institutions, a viable economy or independence. To me, the issue that is of real significance to this Parliament is nothing other than the issue of war and peace, the issue of whether this continent will be directly involved in a war of which the nucleus will be to the near north of Australia. This would be a war involving Australia’s security in the most serious aspects. In a short lifetime, Mr. President, I have lived through other incidents of this nature. We are responsible for involving a nation of which the most important component now is the generation which includes our children. The previous incidents, when war broke out in 1914 and 1939, involved me first as a child and then directly as an adult. The incident of 1964 brings home to the mind of every senator that it is our children’s generation that we would be ruining by any untoward decision in a matter in which the essential issue is war and peace. We have so developed the horror of war by the advancement of science in the post-war years that it is unthinkable that any man would talk on a subject such as this with the slightest element of levity or with the slightest deflection from the main issue to subsidiary matters that engage us in day to day politics.
So, Mr. President, we know that two attacks were made - the second repeated after a deliberate warning from the United States - against United States vessels on the high seas, the first 30 miles offshore and the second 60 miles offshore, the first in daylight and the second accompanied by fire power and in a manner which left no doubt as to its deliberate nature. These presented the United States Government, and the President in the final responsibility, with the need to make a tremendous decision. The Australian Government, forthwith as a deliberate act and not as any automatic reaction, announced that it approved of the President’s action. To me it seems that the question before the Senate is whether the Parliament approves of the President’s action in repelling those attacks. With all the abhorrence that I have of war, and with an appreciation of the seriousness of its implications to the generation for which we are responsible - remembering the alternatives which honorable senators have, I think, properly emphasised - I cannot escape the conclusion that the Senate must approve the course that the President of the United States took, with the support of the Australian Government, as the only course which a democracy with the responsibility of the: United States could take. But,. Mr. President, nobody ought to make that decision without fully realising what it might have meant on 4th August 1964. It might have been equally as serious as the decision of 4th August 1914. Anybody who remembers Paschendaele and Gallipoli would say that we would not enter upon an engagement a thousand dmes more frightful unless the eternal, fundamental issues effecting the very things for which we aspire to live were threatened by these attacks and properly met by the only means that attackers such as that can understand, that is a reply by force.
I find great comfort in having listened to speeches in the Senate in which there has been an absence of deep division on that conclusion. In particular, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who can fairly be said to have spoken quite responsibly for the Opposition, traced the various background arrangements with regard to Pacific security. Having referred to the Communist menace that had been established under the might of Communist China and had been needling away and undermining by processes that Senator McKellar recently described and to which Senator Bishop referred, the Leader of the Opposition asked: “ What else could the United States do? “ As I understand it, Senator McKenna indicated unqualified approval of the action taken by the United States of America on this terrific issue. I find great comfort in the fact that whenever national issues of this dimension confront the consideration of this National Parliament we can see, as one single issue, that the security of Australia has to be maintained - if all the channels of diplomacy and all the conferences fail - in the last resort, if we are attacked, by defence. If I misunderstand the thoughts of any section of the Senate, I hope that any diversion of views from that line will be made clear at a later stage in the debate.
In post-war significance I bracket this incident in the Gulf of Tonkin with Suez and Cuba. Undoubtedly an attack was deliberately made on the United States armed forces. This required a direct decision as to whether or not measures should be taken in reply. The United States, -with a great sense of responsibility, took a decision which may have involved the whole of the Pacific and, indeed, the whole of the world in a total conflagration: with modern weapons. Not only did the President of America take that decision, but on 6th August, both Houses of Parliament of the U.S.A. passed a resolution, both parties supporting it, which will surely be historic for galvanising the Pacific nations - the countries lying around the Pacific - into united support of the ideals which underlie both the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact and the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. The resolution passed by Congress read as follows -
The Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as CommanderinChief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression. The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in South East Asia.
Congress then went on, as part of its declaration on that occasion, to make this most heartening statement -
The United States is, therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty requesting assistance in defence of its freedom.
I take leave to remind the Senate that when I last spoke on foreign affairs in this chamber, before the winter recess, I expressed some disquiet in relation to the Indonesian and Malaysian issue. We had not then, so far as I knew, a firm declaration, such as that which I have just read out, of ready and determined American assistance to defend our interests in that issue. As I have said, the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin has brought forth a resolution by the Parliament - both parties supporting it - that the United States of America is prepared to take defence measures to assist any member or protocol state of S.E.A.T.O. requesting assistance in defence of its freedom. If we reflect on that declaration, surely no-one here will disparage the efforts of the Australian Government over the last twelve years in negotiating, first, the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact and, secondly, S.E.A.T.O. Surely they are two arms of alliances that embrace the Pacific and each of them includes a country whose Parliament is capable of subscribing to a declaration of purposes in common with our own.
There is surely no-one who, on reflection, will be blind to the importance and significance for our survival of the two treaties I have mentioned. They are the structure of a strategy which defends the Pacific and, within that, our own security. The alternative would be for Australia to face a predicament such as that which exists, with a declaration from America harking back to the Monroe doctrine or the Wilson complex of isolation, away from which America was persuaded to move by the terrific oratory, influence and personality of that British statesman whose retirement from the House of Commons we noted in this chamber within the last fortnight. I refer to the man who, under the stress of war, was able, not only to galvanise Great Britain and her allies to armed strength to meet Hitler, but who also had the ability to speak to America in a way which not only the President understood but which also imparted persuasion to the soul of the American people. They, thenceforth, having become engaged in a vast world conflict, have marched forward to a pre-eminent position of responsibility and, with their allied democracies, have faced war to the degree that they have been pouring money into South Vietnam, the particular locality upon which our attention is focused. As I think Senator Cormack said this afternoon, the United States of America has spent 1,300 million dollars in giving assistance to South Vietnam, as well as retaining advisory forces there and supporting them with materials and men. The American Secretary of Defence, Mr. Robert McNamara, in a speech to which Senator McKenna referred, on the occasion of the Forrestal Memorial Awards dinner in March, 1964, said -
First and most important is the simple fact that South Vietnam, a member of the free world family, is striving to preserve its independence from Communist attack.
He said, further -
Second, South East Asia has great strategic significance in the forward defence of the United States. Its location across east-west air and sea lanes flanks the Indian sub-continent on one side and Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines on the other, and dominates the gateway between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In Communist hands, this area would pose a most serious threat to the security of the United States and to the family of free world nations to which we belong. To defend South East Asia, we must meet the challenge in South Vietnam. And third. South Vietnam is a test case for the new Communist strategy. Let me examine for a moment the nature of this strategy.
He went on to say that there could be total war, sporadic war, local war or liberation war. He thought that this would be an instance where Communist China, influencing North Vietnam, would hazard to some degree a liberation war. After expressing these thoughts, he said - 1 have pointed out on other occasions the enormous strategic nuclear power which the United States has developed to cope with the first of Mr. Khrushchev’s types of wars, deterrence of deliberate, calculated nuclear attacks seems as assured as it can be. With respect to our general purpose forces designed especially for local wars, within the past three years we have increased the number of our combat-ready army divisions by about 45 per cent., tactical air squadrons by 30 per cent., airlift capabilities by 75 per cent., with a 100 per cent, increase in ship construction and conversion. In conjunction with the forces of our allies, our global posture for deterrence and defence is still not all that it should be, but it is good.
Mr. McNamara was not boasting then, and anyone who takes the trouble to read about the dimensions of the United States defence effort and realises that this is pledged along with the nations of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation in the securing of the United States interests and in our interests in South East Asia, should feel a measure of reassurance with the diplomatic arrangements that the Australian Government has made.
We cannot have a resolution to commit ourselves on incidents such as this unless our defence strength is capable of adequate response to any declaration that commits us. I am not one of those who decry the defence effort of Australia up to the present. In, a post-war era it is most difficult to maintain enthusiasm and readiness in armed forces, because militarism is repugnant to the ordinary civilian spirit of our community. The Government has, within the limits of the capacity which the people would approve, called for defence votes to maintain that degree of defence strength which I believe has been possible up to now. With the heightening of tension in Indonesia and South East Asia in the last 12 months, the Government is confident that the Australian people would, without murmur, respond to any call that was made on them for a greater defence effort. That view is supported by the manner in which the people have received the current Budget.
The Government has shown a resolution to increase the defence strength of this country. We enter upon this with a heavy heart, because we cannot contemplate warlike preparation except to build up our strength to meet an aggressor who preaches a doctrine of war for the spread of Communism as the Chinese nation does, and as in a subterranean way, the Communist protagonists of Russia do. We cannot bring our minds to relish promoting defence strength. Resolved as we are as a Parliament to support America’s decision in the incident under debate - presumably this carries with it approval of a like decision in any similar circumstances - let us place emphasis upon all diplomatic means of bringing the opposing elements to the conference table to foster understanding and to defer a commitment to war. By international visits and by diplomatic means we should endeavour to convince our enemies that a war will mean their annihilation and the ruin of their cause. If we can do this we may be able to keep war from our generation and succeeding generations.
– I add my congratulations to the United States Government, under its President, for the very swift action that was taken in South East Asia. This has been responsible for the present, shall we say, peace in that area. I congratulate the Australian Government, too, for its swift action in coming to the support of the Americans. However, I must say that if the incident had developed the support that we would have been able to give would not have been as great as it should have been. We have been telling the Australian Government for several years that it must be prepared for situations similar to that which took place in the Gulf of Tonkin. Although Senator Wright seems to think that defence expenditure in Australia is sufficient because we are not at war, I do not agree. I believe that the position in this part of the world today is such that we should have greater defence preparation. What some people do not seem to understand, but what we are up against, is the fact that the Communists, led in this part of the world by Red China, are out to conquer the world and, in that process, to conquer Australia. We think of Communists as just another adversary - one to whom we can talk and with whom we can meet at the conference table. History reveals that Communists attend conferences only to fight delaying actions. They seek their objectives by subterfuge, and what the’y cannot get by that means, they seek by revolution or by war itself.
I do not think we can believe the Communist world. It is aiming at an objective and it is time that the people of Australia and of the other democratic nations knew what it is the Communists have in mind. The events in the Gulf of Tonkin were used by Ho Chi Minh and by the Peking Chinese to test the reactions of the American fleet in the area. It was of vital importance that the Americans acted quickly; otherwise I believe a land invasion from North Vietnam into South Vietnam would have followed. The Australian Government supported the Americans’ actions. Similar incidents in different parts of South East Asia may occur at any time. That is why I urge the Government to do all it possibly can to strengthen our defence resources to the utmost. That is why for many years we have been advocating that the manhood of this nation should be prepared to a certain extent so that when the testing time comes they will be at least partially trained.
Like other organisations throughout Australia, we insist that it is most important that we should have national service training. Other countries which are not so closely connected with or within easy reach of the struggle in South East Asia have national service training, yet we, who are so closely concerned, still refuse to consider it. Pechaps national service training would upset our economy to a certain extent but we have to be prepared to do that. The present debate has furnished a good platform on which to discuss the conflagration in South Vietnam. At present it is impossible to see an end to it.
I have listened with interest to most of the well considered speeches in this debate but I disagree with the main proposition which has been brought forward - that there must be economic change, or political change if you wish - within South Vietnam. Some speakers honestly believe that economic change should go hand in hand with a certain amount of preparation for war or assistance for war from Australia. I think that time has passed. I believe such a proposition could have been brought forward several years ago with some hope of success, but I do not believe that there would be any success in such a venture now. To me the Minister seemed to imply that, at present, it is a war proposition and not an economic proposition and that the Vietcong must be crushed in South Vietnam before the economy can be stabilised. It is practically impossible to improve the economic situation of the South Vietnamese, especially in the rural areas, while the Vietcong is allowed to run loose. All economic efforts will be destroyed and all the money poured in to help the peasant economy will be lost unless the Vietcong is stamped
Out. All the attempts by the peasants to fortify their villages and to defend themselves will be lost; worse still, most of the aid will go across to the enemy.
First and foremost, there should be an all out campaign to destroy the Vietcong in South Vietnam. Why does the Vietcong exist? We know that the overall strategy of the Communists from China is deliberately to cause disruption in this area. The Chinese Communists have trained men who have been sent into South Vietnam to act as saboteurs and it is these agents who are causing the damage. Endeavours to improve the economic situation of the peasants in South Vietnam will not make the slightest difference to the Communist saboteurs. Supplies and troops from North Vietnam and trained South Vietnamese are sent down the Ho Minh trail. A decision must be made to close this lifeline for the Vietcong and the only way that it can be done is ‘by force of arms. If not, I foresee that South Vietnam will be destroyed before very long. There is no stable Government in South Vietnam and there is not likely to be.
Through the murder of Diem we lost our advantage in attempting the defeat of the Vietcong. I believe that was the turning point in our assistance to South Vietnam. It seems to me that the Americans should accept a certain amount of blame, as should correspondents of the world newspapers who were living a high life in Saigon. During Diem’s reign there was nepotism in the Government. I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Willesee’s remarks on that point this afternoon. A great many things were wrong in the Diem Government but we and the Americans deliberately supported him as the best means of defeating the Vietcong, lt was through the reports of correspondents in South East Asia that the thinking of the Americans was changed. Time after time we saw blazoned across the pages of our newspapers pictures of the burning of Buddhists.
– By their own hands.
– Of course; and the Press would be notified where the burning was to take place. To the Vietnamese suicide by burning is nowhere near as gruesome as it is to us. If the Vietnamese do such a thing for some noble purpose, it is to them a way of entering paradise. Those pictures were shown throughout the world and it was said that the Buddhists were being ill treated. Since the death of President Diem have honorable senators seen a picture of a Buddhist being burned? They have not. Yet since his death many more Buddhists have burned themselves to death than was the case before Diem died. But one never sees anything in the newspapers about it.
I believe that with the death of President Diem we have lost our strongest opponent of the Vietcong. Now we have to find some other means to carry on the fight against them. Whether we will succeed depends to a certain extent on whether we can get a stable government in South Vietnam. We do not know what is happening right now.
So far as Australia is concerned, the position is very grave. At one stage I was rather against the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Now I am rather in favour of it because it has been the means by which the United States of America has been able to enter the fight. The Americans did this because South Vietnam is a protocol state.
I would like to see something better than S.E.A.T.O. set up in this area or in the Pacific area generally. I would like to sec a confederation of all the non-Communist countries in the Pacific joined in a political and defence alliance to stop Communism and to contain it within its present boundaries. But that seems to be something in the future and so S.E.A.T.O. is very important at this time. S.E.A.T.O. has given the United States and Australia the right to enter into the fight against the Vietcong in South Vietnam. Moreover, Thailand is also a member of S.E.A.T.O.. As I have said, we are not sure of the future of South Vietnam. No-one would like to bet on the outcome of the struggle there at this time, tout at least we still have one country left between Australia and the downward march of Communism - and that is Thailand.
As Thailand is a member of S.E.A.T.O., it will be obligatory for S.E.A.T.O. powers to move into the struggle in full strength if she is attacked. As 1 see it, that is why it is so important that S.E.A.T.O. powers should be in this area now. Even France will be obliged, under the Treaty, to join in the struggle if Thailand is attacked.
– Or else get out of S.E.A.T.O.
– Or else get out. So it is evident that S.E.A.T.O. is of the utmost importance to the defence of Australia. I listened to what Senator Wright had to say but 1 was not quite sure just what he meant when he said that Australia will be ready for the attack. I know that he believes Australia should have a good line of defence. These countries in South East Asia which the Communists are trying to take over are the outer bulwarks of Australia’s defence. The Australian Government has recognised that fact to a certain extent by sending a few military advisers to help in the battle against the Vietcong. 1 say that the Australian Government should do more - a lot more - in this area because it is still the front line of our defence. Australia has to show the U.S.A. that it is prepared to do something. We should not continually rely on the Americans to pour money and equipment into the defence of these areas and moreover to lose the blood of their soldiers, sailors and airmen. The United States is not doing this just for herself. She is doing it to contain Communism and by doing so is defending Australia. We must show that we are prepared to take up our share of the burden. If we do not do so, America could pull out and leave us on our own.
It could be said that in this part of the world Australia, Taiwan and other coun tries are really America’s outer defence line. But the United States has other defence lines to which she could withdraw and if she does not receive help from the people affected in this area, who could blame her if she did withdraw to a closer defence line which she could control? If Australia docs not do its part and show willingness to forego some of its economic prosperity in order to build up its defences, and thus play a part in affairs in this part of the world, then we deserve to be left right out on our own. If that happens we in Australia will not have much of a future.
Then let us consider other parts of the world. There is trouble in Malaysia. We are doing something there. It may not be very much but it is a little. The country we have to think about more than any other is Indonesia. As has been said here many times Indonesia could become a Communist country overnight, especially if Sukarno were to die. In view of the parlous state of South Vietnam just where would we be? I support the Government and praise it for its swift action in supporting what the Americans did in the Gulf of Tonkin.
The Government of Australia must not be afraid of the electors when it comes to spending money on defence. It must see that Australia’s defences are put into order so that when we need people to safeguard this country they will be prepared to do so. Australia has safeguarded itself before and can do so again. I do not think that the Government would find any difficulty in increasing taxation for defence purposes if only the people knew that they were being taxed for their own benefit and for the defence of Australia.
We have had our Cuba, on a small scale, in the Gulf of Tonkin, and I am very pleased that the Americans acted as they did. I am pleased also that Australia came to America’s assistance, by words at least, if not by deeds.
.- This debate in the Senate was occasioned by a statement made in the House of Representatives toy the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), and read at the same time in this chamber. It related to an attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on 2nd August last against an American destroyer. This attack was followed two days later by further attacks by a number of torpedo boats against two American destroyers. The attacks on both occasions were carried out in international waters. These were acts of hostility and endeavours to sink the destroyers. Retaliatory measures were taken by America immediately by destroying the bases in North Vietnam from which the torpedo boats came. A statement was read to the American nation by the President advising of the action he had taken. Then the President sought the approval of the American Congress for his action.
I should like to quote part of the statement of the President to the American nation. He said -
This new act of aggression aimed directly at our own forces again brings home to all of us in the United States the importance of the struggle for peace and security in South East Asia. Aggression by terror against the peaceful villagers of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America. The determination of all Americans to carry out our full commitment to the people and Government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage.
This statement was made over the television stations of the United States. As I said previously it received the full support of both houses of the American Congress, with only one dissenting voice. There followed immediately a statement from the Prime Minister of Australia (Sir Robert Menzies) giving the American President his wholehearted support.
What are the reasons that lie behind these acts of aggression? I believe that they were part of a wider plan by the Communist countries to gain complete control of the world. I should like to refer to an article entitled “ China’s Schools of Revolution “. Under the heading “ Support for Rebels” the article begins with the following quotation from the Peking “ People’s Daily “ of 24th June 1964 -
State power, independence, freedom and equality can be won by armed force and armed force alone and safeguarded by armed force and armed force alone. This has been and is the universal law of class struggle.
The article goes on -
For years the Chinese have been training selected people from developing countries in guerrilla warfare and subversion so that they may be ready to seize control if a revolutionary situation arises.
But the Chinese revolutionary objectives have by no means been confined to “national liberation” of peoples under colonial rule. They are also eager to accelerate the gains of “ national liberation “ into “ Socialist revolution “ by equally violent methods. Thus Peking comes out in open support of armed rebels fighting governments which have gained independence.
In both their militant revolutionary roles - directed towards “national liberation” or against elected governments - the Chinese set great store by their military training facilities and courses in sabotage and subversion offered to potential revolutionaries from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In Asia, pro-Communist Vietnamese are known to have attended military training centres in China. Three hundred Vietnamese are reported to have completed an 18-month course on heavy weapons, armoured vehicles and Communist ideology in Hopei province.
Acts of aggression have taken place in South Vietnam. Now the North Vietnamese have come out on to the high seas and attacked the destroyers of a peace-loving nation in the Gulf of Tonkin, with intent no doubt to sink them. We have seen the retaliatory measures that were taken by the Americans to protect themselves. I think it must be plain to everybody in this chamber, to everybody in Australia and indeed to everybody in the world, who is the aggressor in these particular circumstances.
I believe that this armed attack in the Gulf of Tonkin was designed to discover what action would be taken to combat the attacks. It must be remembered that some two months earlier in Saigon Harbour an aircraft carrier was sunk by the North Vietnamese. They waited then for two or three months to go a step further, and the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin were the next step. I believe that if no action had been taken to let the Communists know where they stood in these matters, they would have gone further and we might have had an all-out war in North and South Vietnam. The Communists are waging a world struggle for power. In the case of South Vietnam Communist China is seeking power.
In October and November 1962 we had the Cuba incident. The Soviet Union, with the permission of Castro, installed bases from which atomic missiles could be launched. All the weapons were pointed at large cities of America. We remember distinctly that the late President Kennedy said to Mr. Khrushchev: “ If you do not dismantle these launching pads in Cuba we will have to take the necessary action to destroy them”. The choice was then one for the Russians. They had to decide whether they wanted all-out war or whether they wanted peace. As I have mentioned, the weapons were aimed at American cities. At the pull of a trigger or the push of a button they could have destroyed those cities within minutes. If the Russians had been allowed to keep their missile bases in Cuba I believe they would have gone a stage further. But when they were faced with force and were told explicitly where they would stand if they continued with the construction of the missile bases, Khrushchev said that he would remove the launching pads within a certain period and also remove the technicians who were installing them. The American action stopped the aggression of the Communists in that area.
Now we have the same kind of thing in the Gulf of Tonkin. We see that the Communists, headed by the Chinese Communists in this instance, are busily engaged in training people from North Vietnam and converts from South Vietnam in methods of subterfuge, in methods of infiltration, in methods of destroying the economy, and in methods of destroying the peaceful ways of South Vietnam. In fact, we know that there are as many as 300 cadres per month coming down from North Vietnam, many of whom have been trained in Communist China, to perform these acts of subterfuge, aggression and killing in South Vietnam. We see the problem that confronts the people of South Vietnam. We tried to establish strategic hamlets where the people could be protected. We found ‘that during the night there would be an attack and in the morning it would be discovered that the head man of the village had been killed. This is what the South Vietnamese are led to expect.
It was mentioned here tonight by Senator Cole that we in Australia should be spending more on defence and in providing extra help. He spoke as though he thought that South Vietnam might be gone and that we out to strengthen our position in Thailand. I ‘believe that America, which is the most powerful nation in the world and which is receiving our support at the present time, is prepared and is taking a firmer line in South Vietnam and in South East Asia generally. I believe that a start has to be made with the best means at our disposal to stop these acts of agression, lt is a terrific problem because they have been allowed to go so far.
We must remember, of course, that in the past the Communists agreed not to obstruct the development of South Vietnam. I think that in the Geneva Agreement of 1954, which was signed by some 14 nations and which had the approval of America and South Vietnam, it was agreed that the Communists should keep to the north of the 17th parallel and that the South Vietnamese should have control, without any Communist activity, of South Vietnam. Now we find that this agreement has been broken intenally and we may have to take whatever measures are necessary to stop the inroads that the North Vietnamese are making in South Vietnam, which may result in the slaughter of many South Vietnamese.
I suppose many people are of the opinion that what is happening in South Vietnam is similar to what happened in Malaya 10 or 15 years ago. It is quite different. The British had their own Army in Malaya. They were in control of the country; at that time the Malayans had not achieved independence. Australia had troops in Malaya in support of the British troops. Those troops were able after seven or eight years to clean out the Chinese Communists from Malaya. The problem there was quite simple in comparison with the present problem in Vietnam, because in Malaya the Communists were mostly, if not all, Chinese. All that the troops had to do was to close the border on the north, locate the Chinese who were coming in, and then clean them out.
In South Vietnam we have a picture of quite different colour. The Americans are there by invitation; they are not in control of the country. South Vietnam has its own government. The Vietcong has members from North Vietnam and South Vietnam. They all are of the same colour and the same breed; they are all Chinese. It is difficult to believe that in South Vietnam a farmer may be talking to or working during the day with one whom he believes to be a friend and during the night be killed by that person, who was a member of the Vietcong. That gives an idea of the nature of the problem. We are informed that there are approximately 30,000 members of the Vietcong in South Vietnam. That shows how difficult it is to single out these people before they can be dealt with. It is recognised throughout the Free World that it takes at least ten men to locate and destroy one of these infiltrators. So 300,000 trained personnel would be needed to deal with them all.
– That number would not include base troops.
– No. That would be the number in the field. This is the biggest problem we have had to face in South East Asia for many a long day. I believe that the action taken by the Government of the United States, supported in the statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), is the right action to take.
Tonight Senator Cole said that he did not believe that we in Australia were spending sufficient money on defence. What have we done? I do not want to adopt a party political approach, because I think this debate goes beyond politics. We are dealing with a problem that confronts Australia. Let me remind the honorable senator that over the last 15 years Australia has spent no less than £200 million a year on defence. The amount provided for in the current Budget is £294 million. That is a large sum of money, because we are only a developing nation. We are not an old country as is Britain or America.
– And we have only 11 million people.
– That is so. But we are prepared to play our part. I believe that as the years go by our defence commitment must increase. Prior to the last war we had to the north of us countries that were controlled by great powers such as England, France and Holland. Those countries had large colonial empires in the area. Overnight we in Australia have been left on our own as a part of South East Asia, which the Communists would like to control and over which they say they will get control in the future. It is our duty to help America and/ or England to look after this particular area. We must take direct action or whatever other action is necessary to help the freedom loving South Vietnamese to free themselves of Communist aggression. We have seen what
Communist China, has done. She has gone right through Tibet, she has crossed the borders of India, and I understand that she is now talking about giving direct aid to President Sukarno. In addition, she is helping the North Vietnamese to infiltrate into South Vietnam. She has endeavoured to gain control of Cambodia. Indeed, there are few nations in South East Asia that have not felt the effects of Communism. If we lose South Vietnam and Thailand - I do not believe we will - the attack will advance down to Malaya, Singapore and Indonesia. If all that area passes under Communist control, New Guinea and Australia will be on their own.
I firmly believe that we must get right behind America in its efforts to save the southern part of South East Asia from Communist aggression. I repeat that I believe that the action taken by the President of the United States of America, supported by our Prime Minister, is designed to achieve the best results not only for the South Vietnamese but for the whole of South East Asia.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, the subject we are discussing has been described, for the purposes of debate, as the Tonkin incident. This incident is one that may well alter the shape of history. I do not think that we in the Senate, the Government itself, or the people of Australia understand the true significance of the subject we are debating. The incident is part of a pattern which has been evident in South East Asia ever since the Japanese overthrew the forces that had been the power behind the throne in most of these countries for a century or more. The name “ Tonkin “ has a significance in the history of this area, particularly so far as it relates to the period of the French protectorate. Tonkin is one of the richest rice growing areas. The delta of the Red River in the Tonkin area is considered to be the bread basket, giving subsistence to the vast majority of the North Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese are traditionally peasant people, agriculturists. They are self reliant and, when left to their own resources, they live a life of rhythm. On their plots they follow the cycle and flow of nature, the rise and fall of the river and the fall of the rain, preparing the rice fields- establishing young plants, and some six months latex harvesting the crops. Through many centuries that has been the routine of the people who are vitally concerned in these incidents. To a great extent the French allowed this pattern to be followed by the peasants, but they imposed their own form of government in place of the traditional form which was based on the village council. The French imposed a drastically altered government apparatus, with a Governor and an administration which included policemen, postmen and other officers of the categories found in the French public service. A tremendous vacuum was caused by the upheaval which was initiated by the Japanese occupation and which continued up till the time of the Geneva Accord. One might say that the death knell of Indo China as an historical entity under French protection was sounded in 1940 when the Japanese came down and the regime was sympathetic to them.
Under the Geneva Accord, an arbitrary line was drawn to divide the north from the south. The Government of North Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, a man trained in Moscow and sympathetic towards China, set about communising and organising the North Vietnamese, who had been left in the vacuum. He was able to get the peasant farmers to replant and to develop their agriculture. He was able to indoctrinate them with a type of temporary nationalism and to establish in them a dedication towards Communism. He is the main adversary in the battle that is being waged. The crisis we face today, of which the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin is a relatively small part - although perhaps a flash point - must be discussed in terms of the cold war that has been waged continuously through the area over the past 20 years. In this context the whole of South East Asia is a single geographical entity. One cannot separate those two important factors. On the one hand is a clash of rival ideologies. On the other hand the Vietnamese, both North and South, are in a most important strategic position in relation to the rest of the area. The warfare that is being waged in South Vietnam has not been a matter of black and white or right and wrong. After the Geneva Accord there were many unsolved problems. It is estimated that from 800,000 to 1,000,000 refugees came from North
Vietnam into South Vietnam. These were placed in various localities and many of the highland dwellers of South Vietnam resented their intrusion very much. That was the basis for a critical situation which is very seldom mentioned, caused, as in other parts of the world, by a sudden flush of refugees going from one country to another. That is the situation which has arisen during this recent critical period of South Vietnamese history and it is a point which must be considered when looking at the whole situation there. There is also the vacuum left in South Vietnam after the Geneva Accord and after the French Administration had withdrawn. We found there also that cry which will never be stilled in Asia - the cry for land for the landless and for the right of the peasant to reach an estate where he can provide for his wife and family from the abundance that the delta areas and rice bowls can provide in plenty.
This is a matter which has to be tackled on fundamentals - from the grass roots - in all South East Asian countries. South Vietnam, like many other countries, was ripe for the expression of the long-lived belief that some day the yoke would be lifted from the necks of its people and that they would have land which they could till in order to join in the rhythm of the seasons which are so regular in that area. Another quite obvious factor in South Vietnam was the religious differences. These are matters deeply ingrained into these people and they stretch back, in some of the religious practices, for thousands and thousands of years. On the one hand, there have been made by the Buddhists, the most powerful religious group in South Vietnam, demands that the vacuum was unable to satisfy. On the other hand, there was the fact that the selection of leaders in the country was perhaps a matter of expediency rather than the result of a long range, broader objective view which may have resulted in a better choice than that which was made.
The choice of Ngo Dinh Diem gave a relatively longer period of government of its kind in South Vietnam than has been attained in most other parts of South East Asia. But as history has proved, the undercurrents and unsolved difficulties which I have mentioned came to the surface in the form of violence which we all abhorred but which represented the realities and the facts of life. As a consequence, the top level factions decided that Ngo Dinh Diem must go and he went the way of many others, at the hands of the assassin. Whether or not we can believe that he took his own life and whether or not we can believe many of the reports circulated about the way in which he went is a matter for our own opinion. The propaganda machine which so rapidly changed opinion against Diem, and the anti-Diem propaganda of parading Madame Diem throughout the Western world and showing her as a fighting vixen and as a strong-willed, ruthless women cieated a picture and image which to my mind represented a short-sighted policy. We come, then, to the present era, in which General Khanh was selected as successor to the Diem regime. He spoke with great force when he took over authority in South Vietnam. On 30th January 1964 the new Chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council, Major-General Nguyen Khanh, said -
On 1st November 1963 the main reason that pushed the Republic of Vietnam armed forces to rise up and overthrow the dictatorial, rotten, and inefficient Ngo Dinh Diem regime was the desire to realise a total revolution to build up a truly democratic regime, increase effective anti-Communist measures and ensure for the entire people a free and prosperous life.
He said, further -
The Armed Forces are determined to continue the Revolution and to fufil the aspirations of the nation.
The Armed Forces are determined to smash the Communists and the traitors who advocate neutralisation.
The Armed Forces are determined to restore security and order with the assistance of the population in order to .provide for the happiness and maintenance of the nation.
The Armed Forces are determined to place the country on a free democratic basis with the assistance of the population.
The Armed Forces earnestly appeal to the population to remain united so as to achieve victory rapidly.
The events of the last few weeks - since the statement on this issue was made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) - ‘have not only shown that that policy has been a failure but have also brought about a new wave of violence in South Vietnam, of previously unknown ferocity. The General who made the statement I have read out is up in the hills, sick, and we have another gentleman,
Nbuyen Xuan Aanh taking over. He is going to bring some law and order into the Administration of South Vietnam. The important matter involved here is that, with all these conflicting opinions inside South Vietnam, with all these rapid changes in leadership and with all the assistance which is being poured into the country we are committed there in what is a hot war. I believe the people of Australia are unaware of the immediate implications of this. It is interesting to observe that it is 100 years since the Crimean War. It was 50 years last week, since the beginning of the First World War, and it is 25 years tomorrow since the beginning of the Second World War. Today we are facing throughout the world situations in which we see colour against colour, race against race, national against national, religion against religion and might against might and, in all these clashes, ideology against ideology.
We are living in times when, because of the seriousness of the situation, we cannot strike poses or make aggressive moves. Senator Scott said that we could deal with this position in the same way that the United States dealt with the situation in Cuba. However the issues are different. Quite apart from what Castro is, the revolution in Cuba was long overdue, and the tossing out of the exploiters from Cuba was possibly, in the long range view of history, the best thing that ever happened to Cuba. However, Castro’s actions in building up his forces provoked the United States into action. It said: “You are showing force; we cannot afford to have this so close to us “. Cuba was isolated in this area and it could be handled. The United States was ideally situated to deal with the situation. Here was an enemy trying to get into the ring with the United States, but the United States had the weight, strength, power and glory on its side.
However, the Tonkin incident, cannot be compared with the Cuban position. It is an ocean away from the United States. There is no specific point where an attack can be made, because millions of people can be swallowed up in the jungles. The method of warfare in that area presents a new concept in modern times. Tactics have been developed through experience. We are at present facing a situation of historic importance. The action that is taking place at this moment between North Vietnam and South Vietnam is the basic cause of the rift between China and the Soviet Union. It is a difference of opinion between Mao Tse-tung and Khrushchev over the way they should wage their fight to capture the world.
The tactics that are being adopted by guerillas in South Vietnam can be likened to the actions of fish in the sea. Those of us who have watched a shoal of fish can realise how difficult it is to pick out a fish in the shoal if a piece of bait is dropped near the shoal and that fish darts out. snaps up the bait and darts back. Not only that, one can appreciate the savagery with which a fish will deal with a piece of bait or with another fish that is wounded. This concept is the concept that has ‘been inculcated into the Communist trained, inspired and dedicated guerrillas. Anyone who talks about doing the same in North Vietnam as the United States did in Cuba, is only begging the question, because there is no similarity in the situations.
After quoting a statement that he had issued on behalf of the Australian Government, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said -
In confirming that statement I should like to remind honorable members of the fact that the incidents in the Bay of Tonkin are part of a long sequence of aggression in South East Asia. They should be viewed in the context of danger throughout this region and not as an isolated event
Later, he said -
In the face of events, the Australian Government is convinced that, whatever possibilities the future may hold for a genuine settlement in the region, there is no current alternative to the effort of assisting South Vietnam to preserve its independence and there is no current alternative to using force as necessary to check the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism.
We are faced with the question: Where are we going to use force? The force which is necessary cannot be exercised in the jungle. The force which is necessary must be backed by a population that is behind the efforts. The force which is necessary must have the people of other surrounding areas of South East Asia to back it up. At the same time we must have some purpose and some objective in using force. How is this to be done? The Government has not told the people of Australia what its plans are or how it views the situation. It has skirted around the subject. It has perhaps involved itself in a situation, the full implications of which it does not know.
As I see it there are two alternatives. One is that we follow the policy that ‘the Minister has indicated and we reach the flashpoint in the two main points of conflict - the rival ideologies of Communism and the Western world. If that conflict takes place, whichever side starts to lose will, in my firm view, use the thermo-nuclear bomb. That is the natural consequential outcome of this policy. The other policy - and it is my strongly held view that this is the right policy, and it is the policy of the Australian Labour Party - is that even at this late stage the people with a sense of survival, with a sense of history, and with a sense of the obligation of mankind to try to preserve himself, should seek a return to the council tables for diplomatic compromise and for a lessening of force. We are in opposition and can only express these views; we are not in the position of the Government and able to make the necessary moves. We believe that the Government should make these moves. We will get a bi-partisan policy when the Government makes these moves. I believe that for the future of mankind it is the responsibility of this Government to start thinking along these lines.
– It is very fitting that the Senate should be discussing this ministerial statement tonight, on Wednesday, 2nd September, because one month ago today this incident happened. We are in a changing world where events happen rapidly and we tend to look back on issues such as this, which are a month old, and say: “ It has happened; it is now a dead issue”. But let me assure the Senate it is not dead; it is very much a live issue. As late as this afternoon we heard of a statement made today by the North Vietnamese in Hanoi that they had the right to attack United States warships in waters up to 12 miles off shore. Throughout the world it is an accepted fact that territorial waters extend to three miles off shore, but this is not accepted by Communist countries who prefer to adopt a standard of their own. The statement also said that North Vietnam declared today that it would resolutely use its sacred right of self-defence to smash American acts of .provocation and aggression. I ask honorable senators: Who was the aggressor in the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin? It certainly was not the American forces. They were attacked and two days later were again attacked. Today the Communist Chinese leaders sent to North Vietnam a message reiterating Red China’s earlier statement that the United States owed a blood debt for its retaliatory air attack of 5th August on North Vietnam.
I thought that Senator Scott raised a very pertinent question when he asked: “ Who is the aggressor in these incidents? “ The Western forces were certainly not the aggressors. It is a month ago today that the United States destroyer “ Maddox “ was attacked toy North Vietnamese patrol boats. It was a deliberate and unprovoked attack carried out in daylight in international waters 30 miles off shore in the Gulf of Tonkin. Following the attack the American President informed his armed forces that if they were further attacked they were to defend themselves. Two days later, the destroyer “ Maddox “ was again attacked and it defended itself. The attack was planned and deliberate and caused the American President to make the statement which was subsequently ratified by the United States Congress. In my opinion, the most important part of the resolution of the Congress is that which stated -
The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in South East Asia.
I am very proud to be a supporter of a government which, as soon as it heard of the incidents, responded in the following way -
The Australian Government believes that the United States Government could do no less than take the necessary military measures to protect its naval vessels from attacks in international waters. The Government believes that this action was completely justified, as North Vietnam could not be left undisturbed in its capacity to launch and renew such attacks.
Whatever possibilities the future may hold for a genuine settlement of the conflict in Vietnam, I believe that there is no current alternative to the effort of assisting South Vietnam and of using force. It is necessary to check by force the southward thrust of Asian Communism. We must be determined to stand by our S.E.A.T.O. allies in their defence in this area against the Commu nists. Certainly, we must prevent aggression by Communists in South East Asia. Australia’s future security and survival are tied up in this region.
This debate has been conducted on a high level in this chamber and I do not wish to lower the standard. However, I shall refer to a couple of statements made in the other place where one honorable member asked: “ Why have we got Australian troops in South Vietnam?” He said that about 60 Australian Army instructors had been sent to South Vietnam. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) interjected and asked: “ Would you bring them back? “ The speaker replied: “Yes, I would bring them back “. On the same day, reference was made to a statement by Mr. Calwell on 19th March 1964 in which he said that treaties alone do not guarantee our rights to allies. I agree with that sentiment. Mr. Calwell went on to say - . . although some members of the Government parties think they do. It is only by demonstrating our willingness and capacity to fight in our own defence and to contribute to the common defence that the promise of help is converted into a right.
I have quoted the two Labour speakers in order to illustrate the conflicting opinions. I suppose that is all right. Probably there are conflicting opinions on this side of the chamber when matters of such great importance as defence are approached. We are represented in South Vietnam because we were asked by the Government of that country to supply help. Some Opposition speakers have said that we should have refused the call for help until a treaty was negotiated. With respect, that seems to conflict with the opinions of other Opposition speakers who have always been ready to remind us with great pride that during the last war Labour invited the United States forces to come to Australia. I do not denigrate their pride in that action for I believe they are to be congratulated upon it. Thank goodness they did invite the Americans here. But did Labour make a treaty with the United States Government, or did the United States Government require a clear treaty with Australia? Of course not. The Americans realised that the facts of life were so overwhelmingly serious that there was not time to worry about treaties.
Today, the Opposition tells the Government that we should have treaties. South East Asia is Australia’s front line and I would like to see far more assistance given in the way of troops. I do not know how many troops were requested by the South Vietnamese Government but I would like to see more Australian troops in South Vietnam. 1 maintain that the destinies of the Australian people are not being decided here but in Vietnam and Malaysia.
– Only our destinies?
– The destinies of you and me and of the people of Australia are being decided, not here in Australia, but in Vietnam and in Malaysia.
– Not the destiny of Great Britain, too?
– No. I am speaking now as an Australian about Australia, Senator Ormonde. If we do not try with all the strength at our command, I think defeat is certain. South East Asia will be subjected to the tyranny of Communism if we lose the fight in South Vietnam. This is inevitable unless we have allies who are strong enough to help us. But to earn this help we must be prepared to help others. 1 said before and I say again that I just wish we were doing a little more.
The next big problem that is going to confront us as members of Parliament and the people of Australia generally is that of nuclear weapons. I am quite sure that Red China will shortly have nuclear weapons. 1 pose the question: What do we do then? I think Australia will have to have the means of using nuclear weapons, whether they are produced here or not. I have often thought that we should have looked at this matter before and perhaps considered the purchase of intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of these very expensive bombers which cost a fortune to buy and a fortune to repair and maintain. It is a costly business also to pay the hundreds of technicians required to keep the bombers in service.
In my opinion there has been a lot of confused thinking about the war in South Vietnam. I think it is a very real war and not just a civil war. I think it is a straight out war against the Communists. The South Vietnamese are not the aggressors here, as
Senator Scott said, and I think everyone agrees with him. This is a straight out war against the Communists who are aiding the Vietcong against ‘the South Vietnamese people. For that reason I think the South Vietnamese need the maximum help and encouragement. Surely, after Korea and Cuba, we should have learned the lesson that we must be prepared to tell the Communists that they can ‘go so far and no further. To be able to do that we must have adequate deterrents - and I mean the Western Powers and not just Australia. We must prove to the Communists that they can >go just so far and that we in the free world are prepared to act and take the necessary steps to defend ourselves and our friends.
I lived with the people of South Vietnam for four years during the Second World War and I believe that these people respect and understand only one form of diplomacy, and that is the diplomacy of force. The tragedy of Vietnam in my opinion is that the free world does not realise how important Vietnam is to the survival of freedom as we know it. If South Vietnam falls to the Communists, the next step will be Thailand, then Laos, Cambodia, Burma, down through Malaya, Borneo and Singapore, into Malaysia and ‘perhaps even to India because Red China has alreadyshown interest in the border of India.
President Sukarno has shown this week that he is prepared to play along with the Communists. It may be ‘forced on him - I am not going to canvass or debate that question - but he has admitted a Communist to his Cabinet. If South Vietnam is lost and the series of events that I have stated occur, then Australia will be looking right down the loaded barrel of a gun. We are fortunate in that we do know who our enemy is and where he is. We know what we have to face - and that is the menace of Communism and Communist ideology. We also know which Asian countries are opposed to this doctrine which, to me, is an obnoxious and filthy one.
If we look at a map, we see that in South Korea, Japan. Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and South Vietnam we have an inverted umbrella of antiCommunist peoples numbering some 200 million. This serves as a barrier between
Australia and the Red Chinese, and any weakening of this umbrella is a direct threat to us. 1 am always appalled when I hear anybody - whether on the Government side of the chamber or on the Opposition side - advocating the recognition of Red China. Surely those people know that the conditions laid down by Red China include taking over Taiwan. There are at least three honorable senators in this chamber, including myself, who have been to Taiwan. Anybody who has been there knows that the recognition of Red China would mean the death sentence for 12 million antiCommunist Chinese in Nationalist China. Moreover, Red China has broken and violated practically every rule that has been laid down by the United Nations. There are too many of these violations for me to go into detail, but they extend from North Korea to Tibet.
Perhaps I have approached this debate in a rather gloomy fashion but we live in a very uneasy peace and war has been just round the corner since hostilities ceased in 1945. Perhaps I approach the problem in this way because there seems to be some awful inevitability in the march of Communism which could mean the end of freedom as we know it.
But my heart lightens a little when I think of one of the first speeches I made in this Senate. It dealt with foreign affairs and it was delivered almost six years ago. I said then that Communism carries the seeds of its own destruction. I maintained then - and I still do - that the very forces which created Red China are just as fearful of it as we are. Soviet Russia is not happy with this misbegotten monster that it helped to create. I say this because Red China looks threateningly to the north and west and that is towards Russia. As I said six years ago - perhaps in my immaturity - it could be that the two great Communist powers may be locked in a struggle, probably to the death. This could be the salvation of the Western way of life.
In making that statement I am reinforced a little by something that happened in Moscow today. I refer to a Press report which states -
Russia today warned China that “the most dangerous consequences “ could follow China’s claim to hundreds of thousands of square miles of Soviet territory.
That article bears today’s date. The Communist newspaper “ Pravda “ gave the warning in a 5,000-word statement to the Red Chinese denouncing alleged territorial ambitions by the Chinese leader, Mao Tse-tung. So, perhaps, this could come about.
Senator O’Byrne said that he had not lost faith in the belief that perhaps we could still get around the table and talk about these problems. Perhaps I am cynical, but I think that whilst we are doing the talking, the Communists are doing the acting. That has been the pattern in the past. Whilst people throughout the world who have a real desire for peace and a real desire to help underprivileged countries try, in an enlightened way, to solve problems by talking, the Communists are acting. I do not think you can talk to dedicated Communists because Communism is an ideology, a belief, almost a fanatical religion. I do not think you can bring common sense to bear in dealing with these people. They play on this weakness of ours of being gentlemen and trying to get around a table. Senator O’Byrne genuinely and hones’ly believes we should try to solve these problems by talking.
– Why did the United States immediately refer this incident we are debating to the United Nations?
– This is highly desirable.
– You are saying that it is not.
– I am not saying that. I think it is highly desirable, but I do not think it will achieve what Senator O’Byrne genuinely wants to achieve. I have no argument with the honorable senator. His is a fine principle and a fine ideology, but he will not be able to convince the Communists of that. Whilst we are talking, they are acting.
America’s action in the Gulf of Tonkin was similar to, but not as strong as, its action in the Cuba crisis. The action in Cuba was claimed by the Western world to be a masterly stroke, and one of the few tricks we have taken since the Berlin airlift and since Korea. I am delighted that our own Government acted immediately - I believe it was the first to do so - to commend the Americans on their action. I hope that the situation will develop in a similar manner to what happened in Cuba where the Americans said, in effect, with our backing and support: “This is the line, you must go no further”. If we do permit them to go further I think that the train of events I outlined earlier will happen. The result will be inevitable - Thailand, Malaysia and ultimately, not only you and I, but our children, will be having a look at Communism. I support the motion for the printing of the paper.
– Probably there never has been a more important discussion than the one in which we are now engaged, and in my experience, there has never been a more pathetic attempt to debate an issue than that made on this occasion by Government supporters. Senators have made statements and have asked us to accept those statements as facts. No attempt has been made to substantiate them. Senator Wright said that we all accept the basic facts outlined by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in his statement on the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin. I suggest that we have all accepted those statements because we have not examined the position.
It appears that some of the statements made by the Minister are not facts. In “Time” magazine of 14th August 1964 we find comments on the situation by no less an authority than Admiral Sharp, Commander in Chief of the United States forces in the Pacific. He tells us what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin on the 2nd August. When two torpedo boats approached within 1,000 yards of the “Maddox”, the Commanding Officer, Herbert L. Ogier fired two warning shots, and when the torpedo boats did not desist he fired at them and they returned the fire. That is different from what the Minister said. He stated that the “ Maddox “ returned the fire. I am only pointing these facts out because it seems that we are trying to arrive at a judgment without examining the truth. I do not think that we can condemn the American forces for taking the precaution of firing shots when the torpedo boats came within 1,000 yards of them, but we can come to the wrong conclusions if we do not try to find out the facts. Of course Senator Branson must be in error when he says there was an unprovoked attack. There was no attack until the “ Maddox “ fired its machine guns.
It is freely admitted today that there had been a continuous serious of raids on North Vietnam by South Vietnam. If honorable senators read the foreign news in the last issue of “ Muster “, the wheat growers’ journal, they will find that it is recognised in Washington today that on the day before the attack there was an attack on North Vietnam by South Vietnam. These attacks were being made by a government that apparently America cannot control.
The President of the United States of America has said in no uncertain terms that he does not want a wider war. I take it that he is sincere in that, but he is supporting a government that is being blamed for attacks on North Vietnam. If the Americans genuinely believe, as is suggested in “ Muster “, that there could have been a feeling in North Vietnam that the American destroyer “ Maddox “ was protecting or covering up the South Vietnamese attack that had occurred the day previously, it seems that we can hardly be surprised if North Vietnam counter attacks. This could end in global warfare or an extension of the war. It is useless for America to plead for no extension of the war if she or a country she supports is contributing to these incidents.
– Don’t you think that South Vietnam was entitled to prevent the smuggling of arms from North Vietnam?
– That is the whole question, but the honorable senator makes a statement without offering one iota of proof. We heard Senator McKellar say tonight that he had heard that South Vietnam was getting troops from North Vietnam. Just because he heard ir he suggests that it is authentic, but we find in the “ Newsweek “ magazine of 27th July 1964 the United States Defence Secretary, Mr. McNamara, is reported as having stated: “ I know of no North Vietnamese military units in South Vietnam “. We have here from a high authority in the United States a denial that troops are coming into South Vietnam. Another senator, by interjection, said that South Vietnam Communists were getting arms from North Vietnam. That may be so, but no one has proved it. In fact, the former head of the United States Forces in South Vietnam, General Paul Harkness, said in a press conference -
Guerrillas are obviously not being reinforced or supplied systematically from North Vietnam,
China or any other place. They apparently depend on weapons, primarily whatever they can capture. Many of their weapons are hand made.
That was published in the Washington “ Post” of 6th January 1963. Therefore, we say they are getting them because we want to believe they are getting them.
– That is nonsense. I said that South Vietnam had stopped the arms traffic.
– If it has stopped the arms ‘traffic, we need not harp any longer on the question of arms coming from North Vietnam. If what the honorable senator says is correct, they are simply not coming from North Vietnam. Despite the fact that we have stopped the arms, we are still losing the war. Therefore, it necessitates an examination of our conduct of the war in South Vietnam at the present time. Whilst we are advocating more and more bullets, we must try to seek a solution to the whole problem, lt seems that the more armed forces America is pumping into the country, the more the situation is deteriorating.
Since the Senate debated the Gulf of Tonkin incident on the last occasion, there have been uprisings in Saigon. The Buddhists, who are opposed to any form of killing, even of vermin and reptiles, and the followers of a Christian faith and of a Saviour who said: “Peace on earth and goodwill towards all men”, are so worked up that when they meet in the public square they hack one another to pieces with axes and butcher’s choppers. This is the situation that has been reached in South Vietnam at the present time. They parade a 13 year old boy through the streets and then behead him in a public square. This is what we have taught them - that extremism in the cause of justice has a virtue and is not to be deplored. That is the situation that has been reached in Vietnam.
– We have not done this; the Communists have forced the issue.
– We are supporting a government that permits conditions which we cannot tolerate. No matter how often America changes the dictatorial control of South Vietnam, these things continue to happen. How can the South Vietnamese fight a war against an alleged Communist army when they have a war in their own capital, and when they do not support ‘the Government that is forced on them from time to time? We have heard of the riots and disturbances of the student groups. They have said they want a two months truce without any hostilities, and at the end of the period they want a national assembly established. Is that an .unreasonable request to make?
I recently went on a trip to India, Pakistan and Ceylon. At Rawalpindi, the provisional capital of Pakistan, the Minister for the Interior spoke at a dinner one night and said that one of the greatest pleasures he had experienced was having a discussion with the President of Pakistan. He said what a great and intelligent leader President Ayub Khan was and bow proud the Pakistanis must be of him. I have here a report from the “ Pakistan News Digest “ in which it is stated -
The “London Times” has highlighted President Ayub’s remarks that the conflict in Laos and Vietnam is a conflict for the minds of men and a negotiated settlement and not a military confrontation could solve the issue.
The President clearly pointed out, at the Prime Ministers Conference in London that the conflict in Laos and Vietnam is a conflict for the control of the minds of men and that the war cannot be stopped with bullets. History has taught us that if we use bullets to fight a war for the control of the minds of men, we will lose the war. If we ever get to the stage where we use an atom bomb on the pretext that extremism in the cause of justice has its virtues, we shall lose the war much more quickly than we have lost wars in the past. We may have the power to annihilate South Vietnam, or China or Russia, but if ever an atom bomb was used for such a cause there would be such hostility from all the people of the world, including the Americans who desire peace, that our way of life would go completely, and hostility to America would be such that we ‘ could never again lift our heads in other causes.
Our efforts to control the minds of men are being defeated by the use of bullets. Honorable senators from time to time have advocated that we should increase our forces in South Vietnam. If the cause justifies it, we should do so, but the point I make is that by our present methods we are losing the war. I do not discount the statement that the ideology of Communism is for export. It is an ideology that could well spread throughout the Asian nations and reach our northern doorstep. Whether it would spread to Australia by armed intervention I do not know, but I am not discounting the possibility. We on this side of the House, as well as honorable senators on the other side, realise the necessity to stop the spread of this ideology, but we seem to be doing nothing about it. We have not endeavoured to find out how we can halt this progress that is taking place at the present time. We have been relying on armed forces for too long. We have as our ally America, one of the greatest armed forces in the world, but, in the words of Senator Morse of the United States Senate, America cannot win this war and cannot win any land war in South East Asia. They are the words of a man who has taken an interest in these matters.
We must look at the alternatives. Time will not permit me to go into this question tonight. If the opportunity presents itself in the future, I will put the proposal that we should endeavour to improve the conditions of the people in these countries who, in desperation, have turned to Communism and will continue to turn to Communism unless we do something about the deterioration of their economic position. We should change our policy to one of assistance rather than one of bullets. I think that the United States destroyer “ Maddox “ would be giving greater assistance to the cause of peace in Asia if she filled her holds with wheat which is available in Australia at the present time and took it to the starving Indians, instead of cruising around in the Gulf of Tonkin. She would be making a greater contribution to the cause of peace and to stopping the spread of Communism if she assisted to relieve the starvation in India today.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir
Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I bring a message of grievance from the people of north Australia who feel frustrated and aggrieved by the many mistakes that have been made by successive Governments led by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Economic injustice has been perpetrated against the north. I personally, in addition to the people of the north, feel aggrieved by the hullabaloo which was raised last week by the recently arrived distinguished senator from Queensland. I almost used the word “ extinguished “, but I would not wish death on my best friend or even my worst enemy unless he was in a position to meet his Maker. I was not told that I was a liar, but I was told that I did not tell the truth and that I knew I was not telling the truth. I do not think that I shall have to speak at very great length in reply tonight The honorable senator repeated his statement. So I propose to traverse the story again to show that any average intelligent senator who was listening at the time would have known that I was telling the truth, that I was consistent in developing the story, and that I knew my facts.
Let me traverse the history of the discovery of bauxite in Australia. The first discovery was made in 1903 by a Mr. Jackson, who was the State mining engineer in Queensland. He discovered the metal on the Cape York Peninsula, but because of staining he thought it was iron ore. He had it assayed and it showed an alumina content of 34 per cent. Before I mention what happened in 1947, I remind honorable members that in the interim a Labour government had established a smelter at Bell Bay, to which it brought bauxite from overseas.In 1947 Dr. Whitehouse brought back from the Cape York Peninsula samples which upon assay revealed an alumina content of about 50 per cent. Then Mr. Mawby, now Sir Maurice Mawby, the Chairman of Directors of the Conzinc Riotinto organisation, realising that laterite beds traversed the north of Australia and that in many places in the world bauxite occurred in laterite beds, saw fit to send a geologicial team to the north. That team explored the Weipa area.
It is known that 600 million tons have been proved in the area that has been drilled. Drilling has not been undertaken outside that area, although it is known that bauxite occurs. Those concerned are now engaged in what is termed closer drilling in order to determine exactly what the monthly production of bauxite will be. It is quite evident that in this particular area there is a large extension of the bauxite deposits. There could easily be 1,600 million tons of bauxite. A lot has been eroded from the Gulf of Carpentaria.
In the Darling Ranges, outside Perth in Western Australia, the Western Mining Corporation and its associates have proved deposits of bauxite to the extent of 400 million tons. I wish to repeat what I said last week. I have the support of some of the highest authorities. Irrespective of what the distinguished senator from Queensland may have said in an attempt to contradict me, the company which proposes to establish a refinery at Gladstone is not under any compulsion to smelt the ore and to produce aluminium ingots. It is under compulsion only to produce alumina. That was what I said last week. Irrespective of what was said by the honorable senator, who should have known better and who was a prominent member of the Queensland Government, at the end of 1957 the State Government sold out the deposit at Weipa on the basis of 6d. a ton royalty. When decimal currency is eventually adopted, that sum would be equivalent to the cost of a postage stamp. That is the position, and the honorable senator knows it to be so. Does he not look ashamed now? I repeat that that is what happened - .the honorable senator knows it - when the agreement was signed in 1957 by the present Premier of Queensland.
Although the Weipa deposit was discovered much earlier than was the deposit in the Darling Ranges in Western Australia, the ore that is produced by the Western Mining Corporation and its associates is sent to Kwinana to be refined. The alumina is produced there. With the assistance of an anti-Labour, Conservative Government in Victoria, which subsidises the cost of electrical energy, the alumina is smelted in Victoria. But although Queensland possibly has the best commercial deposits of bauxite in the world, the Government of that State has not attempted to compel the new organisation at Gladstone which consists of the Pechiney organisation of France, the Canadian aluminium company known as Alcan, the Conzinc Riotinto organisation, and the Kaiser Corporation, to produce aluminium ingots. If my friend dares to rise and contradict that, if he says that the company that is to be established at Gladstone is under compulsion to produce aluminium, I shall not say that he is not telling the truth - I am too gentlemanly to do that - but I shall say that he does not know the real story. That is fair enough, too. I have never accused anybody of being a liar, and just quietly, I will not be accused of being a liar.
That is the story. What is to happen? Each year 1,200,000 tons of bauxite will be produced at Weipa and it will be sent to Gladstone to be refined. Some of the alumina will go to Bell Bay in Tasmania - I do not begrudge that area anything - but most of it will be shipped overseas for smelting. Alumina is the raw material used by secondary industry, which provides massive employment and a higher standard of living. When one thinks of aluminium, titanium and certain other metals, one just does not realise the future of aluminium. At the present time Australia does not use nearly the quantity of aluminium that is used by the United States of America on a per capita basis. We have a responsibility, Mr. President, to the people of this country to utilise the raw material right through to the ultimate stage of production. As with copper, the production of aluminium opens the way to the manufacture of flat plate and tubular products. The benefit to be derived from the establishment of a manufacturing industry is to be denied to the State of which the distinguished senator is so proud. I repeat that that is the real story and that the honorable senator knows it. He should know it better than I do, but apparently I know it better than he does. Possibly because of the ravages of age and worry he has forgotten the story.
I repeat that supplies of bauxite from the comparatively minor deposit of 400 million tons in the Darling Ranges are being forwarded to Point Henry in Victoria, where aluminium ingots are pouring out. No ingots are being produced in Queensland. The organisation which is being established there is under no compulsion to pour out ingots. The nearest thing to that end being achieved is that in the process of time consideration will be given to the matter. That is embraced by the agreement, and the honorable senator cannot disagree with the statement. I saw fit to check it this week. I knew that I was right last week, but I was too gentlemanly to contradict the honorable senator firmly. I certainly take exception to being called a liar. I will not cop that from anyone, however august he might be and however august might be the chamber in which it is said. What he said is quite apparent from a perusal of the records, and it was repeated. In addition, he said: “ It is not true and you know it is not true “. He was not satisfied with saying that I was not telling the truth. He would not give me credit for thinking that I was right, although I might have been wrong, or of being ignorant of the facts. He had to say that I knew that I was not telling the truth. Until the Commonwealth or the State Government does the right thing by its raw materials, the people will be denied their legitimate rights. They will be denied the reasonably high standard of living which is consistent with the natural endowment of this country.
There is another message from the north. 1 want to refer to beef roads, because the Queensland Deputy Commissioner of Main Roads saw fit to take me on. I use that colloquial term, because I have not the command of language that he apparently has; in relation to the criticism, he used the word “ rubbish “. A newspaper published last Sunday referred to criticism of beef roads, mentioning the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) and a distinguished senator from Queensland in the person of myself. I was not wise after the event. On 25th October 1961 the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill was introduced into the Senate. It related to the Normanton to Julia Creek road. An amount of £650,000 was to be provided by the Commonwealth Government, and £350,000 was to be provided by the State Government. I said at that time that the money was not sufficient to provide a worthwhile road. I knew the location, the climatic conditions, and the extraordinary expense that would have to be incurred. Not necessarily because of my criticism but at least subsequent to it, the scheme was revised and it was decided that the road must be sealed. Let me tell the Senate the story. I shall not answer for the honorable member for Leichhardt. He is well able to answer criticism of him and he will provide his own argument in his own way and in his own time.
An amount of £1 million was provided for the Normanton to Julia Creek road. Originally the distance was regarded as being nearly 300 miles, but on resurvey it was reduced to 270 miles. Two hundred and ten miles of road have been completed. For a distance of 100 miles the road has been sealed. Tenders have been let for the balance of 60 miles. Up to the present, £1,700,000 has been spent on this road. It is therefore quite evident that the road will cost £2.5 million to £3 million. I said this before it was ever started. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget Speech of 1961 said that the Commonwealth would provide £650,000, if Queensland provided £350,000, for the Normanton to Julia Creek road. In addition, £350,000 would be provided for so-called beef roads in the Northern Territory, and if the Western Australian Government provided £500,000 the Commonwealth would provide an additional £500,000 for the Nicholson-Wyndham and the Halls Creek-Turkey Creek-Wyndham road. Those were the two roads in Western Australia.
In fairness to the Government - as everyone knows, I am never other than extraordinarily fair - the Government announced subsequently that it was prepared to provide another £4,530,000 for beef roads in Queensland. The idea was not original to the Menzies Government, because the Chifley Government in 1949 introduced legislation to provide grants to Queensland and Western Australia for the encouragement of beef production. Nothing much was done until 1961 when, I say frankly, fearing the wrath of the electors of the north the Government came in on this issue. That was the position. The words are recorded. I told the story privately and publicly and I am quite clear about it in my mind.
The Queensland Deputy Commissioner of Main Roads saw fit to say that there were some potholes. Recently I saw the road through Brunette Downs to Anthony Lagoon. The anti-Labour Press published photographs which I did not even bother to bring along. I do not want to capitalise on the sins of others; I am too charitable in my Christianity. In one photograph, which was published in a number of newspapers, one could see only the hair of men who were in a hole in the road, and this, was because they had long hair. I personally stood knee deep in a hole. Would anyone term those potholes? The Deputy Commissioner of Main Roads said that one could drive round them. When roads are constructed at great expense, are people to drive round the holes in them?
– Are the roads to which you refer in Queensland or in the Northern Territory?
– If you knew the north you would know that Brunette Downs was in the Northern Territory.
– Exactly. That is the point.
– Do you know that the Normanton to Julia Creek road is in Queensland?
– Yes, I know that probably better than you do.
– Do you know that the road to Anthony Lagoon is in the Northern Territory?
– Yes, I do.
– If you do not, I am telling you. The particular road to which I am directing attention was damaged in a terrific cyclonic downpour. The Deputy Commissioner of Main Roads - I shall not mention his name as he probably has a family and I do not want to hurt anyone - said that the cost of sending out special equipment to repair the damage was not justified. Those holes remained in the roads for months without any warning signs, until the general manager of a particular property, worried about persons going out to the Brunette Downs races, thought that there might be a fatality on the road. He asked that warning signs be put up and we saw them. I do not know whether the holes have been, repaired since then but I take it the work has been. done. I have never condemned the beef roads scheme. I was aU for it, but I thought it would be part and parcel of an integrated roads plan. Dr. Patterson agreed with me recently when he spoke to the Institute of Management at Rockhampton and said that it could serve various interests apart from the pastoral areas. We know that the pastoral industry is predominant in these areas. Not many years ago Senator Wright mentioned this. He cannot talk in terms of interference with Western Australia, or Queensland, because the money is given to those States, by the Commonwealth on certain terms and conditions and they have the responsibility to spend’ it under those terms and conditions.
A sum of £2,300,000 has been spent under this scheme in the Northern Territory and the expenditure of a further £2,400,000 has been authorised, but not one penny of that expenditure has been referred to the Public Works Committee. Senator Wright saw fit to refer to that on 25th October 1961 as taking authority away from parliamentary representatives. If you want to carry this scheme further, as recently as last year the Wave Hill-Top Springs Road came up for consideration and varying submissions were made as to its siting and cost. There was almost complete antagonism by the cattle producers of the Northern Territory to the proposals submitted. This year the authorities are making submissions as to the siting of the proposed new road on the site of the old road and yet they wonder why we dare criticise the scheme. Surely we, as public figures, have the right to seek information and, where we are not satisfied, we are entitled to criticise. I do not think we have an arbitrary right to condemn proposals willy nilly, but we have a responsibility to state what we know to be the facts. I will not have any Deputy Commissioner of Main Roads saying that when I launch responsible criticism I am talking rubbish. Irrespective of my limitations I would expect that he, in his high position, would not suffer a limitation of language. He should be able to state his criticism in simple, understandable English and not talk in terms of our criticism being rubbish unless he is completely ignorant and divorced from the facts.
.- Notwithstanding my modesty I cannot avoid the assumption that Senator Dittmer was referring to me a little while ago’ in relation to bauxite in Queensland. I would be the last person to question the honorable senator’s, mining knowledge, which extends over 20 years. The time is a little bit late for me to develop the background of his knowledge, but he has it. With his broad general knowledge of mining he has been further assisted - as he told us - by making some reference to the legislation that was debated. He evidently did quite a deal of research for the little effort he made tonight. At eight minutes to eleven o’clock tonight I received a note from the honorable senator telling me he was going to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. He did not tell me what he was going to speak about and I had to come here, to answer him, without any preparation whatsover. I will be very brief. The honorable senator was quite right when he said that bauxite was discovered in Queensland many years ago. He was quite right when he said that the Labour Government in Queensland knew of this deposit in 1947.
– I rise to a point of order. I did not say the Labour Government knew of the occurrence of this bauxite.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Let me ease the honorable senator’s mind by saying that, for some years, the Labour Government in Queensland knew of the existence of this bauxite. We took over as the Government in Queensland around the middle of 1957.
– It was known before that.
– Order! The honorable senator will stop talking when I am standing. Senator Morris did not interject when you were making your speech, Senator Dittmer, and I will not allow you to interject on him. It is up to you whether you continue with further interjections or not.
– The honorable senator told us that negotiations commenced almost immediately we became the Government, and that the bauxite that exists in Queensland is now being exploited. Even the merest novice knows that it takes a great deal of equipment to convert bauxite into alumina and it takes a great deal more equipment and a terrific works to convert alumina into aluminium. The proposal in the original agreement was that there would be three stages in the production of aluminium and that at the last stage - this is the point that I tried to make with the honorable member by interjection - the alumina was to be converted into aluminium. I must apologise for one error. In the warmth of the moment I said that it would be converted in Queensland. That was not correct. I should have said “ converted in Australia “. I was slightly wrong in that regard, but I was quite right in all the other facts I gave. I do not like to hear an honorable senator rise and mislead the people of Australia on any matter of importance. Admittedly, we can all make mistakes. I have acknowledged freely that I made a mistake in saying “ Queensland “ and not “ Australia “; but the Queensland Government immediately set about converting the riches of Queensland into employment for Queenslanders. Further, we are now in the planning stages of an alumina plant to be built at Gladstone at a cost, I think, in the vicinity of £50 million. I may be wrong about that figure. I do not profess to be an expert like the honorable senator opposite. But we are talking of bauxite, not gold, so possibly he does not know quite as much as he thinks he does. However, the point he obviously misses is that in the process of converting bauxite into alumina, and in the subsequent processes also, enormous quantities of other materials are required. Some of these undoubtedly will be produced in central Queensland, so employment will be infinitely greater than he has tried to mislead the people of Queensland into believing it will be.
The inference which must be drawn from what he said was that for all time, bauxite having been converted into alumina in Queensland the alumina would go overseas to Europe and other countries. In trying to convey that impression he misled all of us, and so I challenged him to tell the truth. I am glad to have had this opportunity to put him right. I have not had a chance to prepare my remarks and I have not seen the agreement since 1957 or early 1958. Nor have I had my memory prompted as the honorable senator’s memory has obviously been prompted in the last couple of days. If it pleases him and warms his heart at all, I repeat that I apologise for saying “ Queensland “ and not “ Australia “.
– Mr. President, I claim that I have been misrepresented. The inference was that I said that for all time the alumina would go overseas. I have never said that. WhatI said was that the company establishing the refinery at Gladstone was not under compulsion to produce alumina.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator claiming that he was misrepresented in the speech made by Senator Morris or in the speech he made?
– Senator Dittmer, if you wish to correct amisrepresentation of what you said, do so. I have not the patience to listen much longer.
– Well, I appreciate your tolerance, Sir.
– Do not worry about my tolerance; it is very close to being strained.
– I claim that I have other points, but they are not particularly important.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, you will resume your seat. I call Senator Gorton.
– Today, during question time, Senator Laught asked me a question concerning the availability to the States of Commonwealth finance for the purpose of building technical schools and of building and equipping science teaching laboratories. He inquired particu larly about the sums available to South Australia and asked whether those sums had yet been paid into the State Treasury. I did not at the time have the information with me, but I can tellhim now that in round figures the amounts available for these purposes to State schools in South Australia are, approximately £338,000 for science teaching laboratories and, I think, £466,600 for technical schools - a round total of about £800,000.
I told Senator Laught that this money was not only available to the State Treasury but that part of it had in fact been paid. This statement was incorrect. In fact every State except South Australia has had part payment of the sums due to it. Because South Australia delayed for so long in sending to the Commonwealth the lists of projects on which it proposed to spend money, so that the Commonwealth could approve the projects as being ones for which the Parliament voted money, it has not yet actually had payments made to it. However, South Australia submitted its lists for approval about a fortnight ago and it should be only a matter of daysbefore that State, like the other States, gets the money that is due to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 September 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640902_senate_25_s26/>.