25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ls he aware of the great hardship experienced by wheat farmers due to the failure of this Government to pay the balance of 2s. 3d. a bushel owing on the last wheat harvest? Further, why has the promise by the Government to wheat farmers to pay 20c a bushel now been reduced to 10c, causing untold hardship amongst farmers, and particularly share farmers? Finally, would the Minister intervene in these matters and see that justice is done to those farmers who are in desperate need?
– As I understand the honorable senator’s question it is “ Why does not the Government pay the money due to the wheat farmers?” To the best of my knowledge the money due has been paid, as it is always paid in the course of time. Payments are made from the receipts of each pool - two or three times in the case of some pools - during the course of the year and this, of course, will be done in connection with the pool that the honorable senator has mentioned. I know that Cabinet is considering some of the requests that have been made for a further payment, not from last year’s pool but from that of the year before, and as far as I know a decision has not yet been reached on that matter. But I can assure the honorable senator that justice is being done to the wheat growers, that it has always been done by governments of our colour, and that it always will be done.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. He will know, from representations I have made, that primary producers in Tasmania are anxious to know as early as possible whether the Government has reached a decision on the continuation of the subsidy on sulphate of ammonia, which, under the present legislation, is due to expire on 31st
March? As this matter has a direct bearing on what the price of sulphate of ammonia will be as from that date, can the Minister make any announcement?
asked a question about this matter last week and also directed a question about it to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. The situation is as he explained it. The Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act will expire on 31st March and the Government is still awaiting a report from tha Tariff Board. The matter is linked with a general chemical inquiry by the Board. However, the Government has decided to extend the bounty for a further period of six months pending receipt of the Tariff Board’s report. This is the normal practice in these matters. The only other thing that the Bill to be brought down will provide for will be conversion of the figures from pounds to decimal currency.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact, as stated by the ex-Minister for the Army, Dr. Forbes, at Port Augusta on 21st October 1965, and as reported in the “ Transcontinental “ newspaper -
Does that situation still obtain? If so, what special measures does the Government propose to implement in order to protect tha employment rights of such volunteers for the Citizen Military Forces?
– I am not aw are of the conditions referred to by the honorable senator. I think the best thing I can do is to refer the question to the Minister for the Army and obtain an answer from him.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention has been directed to figures released yesterday by the Commonwealth Statistician which show that personal incomes increased from $1272 a head of population in 1963-64 to $1354 in 1964-65.
Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the level of personal incomes in 1964-65 is a record and is a reflection of increasing national prosperity?
– I have read, naturally with great interest, the statement to which the honorable senator refers. As far as I am aware, the average personal income of $1354 for 1964-65 creates an Australian record. It also reflects the stability of the economy which has been engendered by measures taken by the Government. It should be noted that part of the 1964-65 period coincided with the early stages of the drought so that some of the effects of the drought should be taken into consideration. I am sure that honorable senators will agree generally that the record personal income of $1,354, when compared with the figure for the previous year, shows an improvement of which this country can well be proud.
– I address my questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that the Canadian Government has adopted the principle of integration of the armed Services and that the three armed Services of that country are now administered by a single integrated board? If so, will the Government consider tending Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger to Canada to study the system with a view to its adoption in Australia? How much money was expended on advertising on television and radio and in the Press for officers and enlisted personnel for the regular armed Services between 1st July 1965 and 28th February 1966?
– lt is a fact that the Government of Canada some time ago adopted what is called “ integration “ of the forces under one Minister, with the various Services losing some part, if not all, of their individuality. There is no need at all to send Sir Frederick Scherger to Canada to study the position because, as the process has proceeded, it has been under quite close study by the Defence Department and the Australian Government. It is not for me to comment on the efficacy of what has been done in Canada, but what has been done is known. I shall find out for the honorable senator the cost of advertising for r- cruits for the Services and subsequently advise him of the answer.
– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise inform the Senate of what progress is being made on the question of uniform censorship between the Commonwealth and the States?
– As is known, late last year I met the various State Ministers who are responsible for censorship to receive proposals they had to put to the Commonwealth for a form of uniform censorship in relation to works of literary merit. At that time, with the concurrence of my Government, I met the State Ministers, listened to their proposals and had with them a very frank conference. Those proposals are known because the Ministers concerned held a prior meeting of their own and published them. I undertook to examine the proposals and, having examined them, to report to the Commonwealth Government on them. The matter remains at that stage. I have read with interest, as no doubt have other honorable senators, some comments in certain newspapers in the last few days. However, I repeat that I undertook to examine the proposals and to report to the Commonwealth Government on them. It should be remembered that the Commonwealth, under the customs law, has a major role in relation to this matter. Any proposal that is made has to be examined not only as it relates to the States but also as it relates to the responsibilities of the Commonwealth.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that recently there have been several interruptions in flights conducted by TransAustralia Airlines owing to faulty mechanical equipment? Has the Minister received a report showing that on the 19th instant passengers booked on an early morning flight from Sydney to Brisbane were transferred to an Ansett-A.N.A. service? Will he consider appointing a youthful, energetic and highly qualified mechanical engineer who will be capable of leading the mechanical staff of T.A.A. to a higher level of efficiency?
– 1 will ask the Minister for Civil Aviation to reply to certain aspects of that question, including the reference to a specific incident that may have occurred on the 19th instant. However, I must deplore the inference that can be drawn from the question asked by the honorable senator; namely, that there is not a very efficient - indeed, the highest possible - standard in civil aviation in Australia. I believe that any suggestion that is inherent in the question to the effect that that is not so is to be deplored. We in Australia can be proud of the high degree of skill, efficiency and capability of our technicians and all the other people associated with our civil airways.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. 1 refer to the recent death of an honoured Victorian soldier whose widow must now raise and educate four children. Will the Minister advise the Senate of the repatriation benefits that are available under current legislation to a person who is placed in such circumstances?
– The honorable senator raised this question with me yesterday. 1 gave him certain information which 1 had at that time and J considered the question so important that I decided to obtain additional information for him. In response to his request, 1 give him the following information: Assuming the children are under the age of 16 years, the following basic payments would be payable under repatriation legislation: War widow’s pension, Si 2.00 per week; domestic allowance, $7.00 per week; and pension for four children, $12.15; total, $31.15. If the children are receiving secondary education or professional or vocational training the widow is also entitled to receive education allowance for each such child. Rates range from $1.90 per week, for a child 12-14 years living at home, to $15.25 for a professional student living away from home.
In addition the widow and the children under 16 years are entitled to free medical treatment and certain other concessions including a telephone rental concession. Child endowment would be payable to the widow by the Department of Social Services as follows: First child, 50 cents; second child, $1.00; two other children (at $1.50), $3.00; total, $4.50. That makes a total of $35.65. In addition to repatriation and social service benefits the family would also receive payments under the Defence Forces Retirements Benefits Act, the amount of which would depend on various factors. I understand that the benefits payable to the widow under that Act would be nine-sixteenths of the husband’s pension on retirement.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Can the Minister say to what extent the recent publication entitled “ Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing Industry “ purports to set out a complete analysis of all equity interests in Australian firms which are wholly or partly owned overseas?
– I have had only a cursory glance at this publication, which has recently come to us. Therefore, I am not in a position to answer the question. If the honorable senator places it on the notice paper I shall get the Minister for Trade and Industry to give him a comprehensive reply.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise me of the tonnage of the strategic mineral, rutile, which was shipped to mainland Communist China during the last 12 months? If a considerable tonnage of this important strategic mineral has been shipped, what action has the Government taken to preclude further export of it?
– I have not got the figures. I am not aware that any of this mineral has been shipped in the last 12 months.
– There has been none.
– My colleague says there has been none exported in the last 12 months. I think that answers the honorable senator’s question.
– I wish to direct a question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Yesterday during the course of debate reference was made by an honorable senator to the export of steel to Hong Kong. I ask the Minister whether he is in a position to give the Senate the facts on that subject in relation to any recent period that is convenient.
– I will endeavour to find out the facts for the honorable senator and provide him with them, if they can be obtained. I say that because no embargo is placed on the shipment of cargoes to Hong Kong, which is a British port. There may not be records of just what was shipped or the quantities shipped to that port, either from this or any other country. I would be able to indicate what had been shipped in past years to the mainland of Communist China because such shipments cannot be made without the prior approval of the Government. Ninety per cent. of the shipments would have been of such things as tin plate. There has been no iron shipped at all. If it is possible to find out what went to Hong Kong, I shall endeavour to do so and give the information to the honorable senator.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. During the last sessional period I was advised that a national fitness booklet was almost ready for general distribution. Recently a booklet on this subject, produced by a tobacco company, has appeared for sale in the capital cities. Can the Minister indicate whether the publication under production by the Government is scheduled to appear, or whether the National Fitness Council supplied data for the production of the booklet by thetobacco company as an alternative?
– I do not know the answer to the question. I shall take the matter up with the Minister for Health.
– I ask a question of the Acting Minister for External Affairs. It relates to my previous question. The Minister seemed to imply in his answer that he would be able to give information on the export of steel from Australia to Communist China. I should think that would be very relevant information and I ask him to provide it if he is able to do so.
– I will endeavour to get that information for the honorable senator. It can be obtained because such shipments have to be the subject of export permits, whereas shipments to Hong Kong do not require such permits. That is why I thought it might be difficult to obtain the other information.
(Question No. 802.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. At 30th June 1965 there were approximately 84,000 age pensioners receiving less than the full rate pension. This figure, which is taken out only at 30th June each year, is a total for men and women. A separate figure for each sex is not available.
It is estimated that at 31st December 1965 there were 221,000 men aged 65 years and over and 336,000 women aged 60 years and over who were not receiving age pension. These include approximately 50,000 persons who were in receipt of invalid, widow and repatriation service pension, and also others who would be ineligible for pension on residence and nationality etc. grounds. 3 and 4. The cost of providing a full age pension to those who are now receiving either no pension or only a part pension is estimated to be approximately as follows -
Women - 60 years of age and over - $195-200 million.
Women - 65 years of age and over - $110-115 million.
The above amounts represent the net cost after making allowance for the expenditure currently incurred for people in those age groups who were in receipt of other Commonwealth pension as mentioned above, and after excluding persons unable to satisfy the residence and/or nationality qualifications, etc.
(Question No. 812.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Does the Government intend to give financial assistance for the encouragement of local production of television programmes?
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following reply -
The matter of policy in regard to Australian content in television programmes is,asI have said previously, at present under consideration. As soon us possible I intend to make recommendations to the Government and will, in due course, make a statement on the outcome. Until thenI am not in a position to provide information such as the honorable senator requests in his question.
(Question No. 816.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Following representations from local residents requesting that the existing broadcasting service and station 5PA be retained at Penola, South Australia, and the Postmaster-General’s reply of 20th October 1965 to Senate question No. 630, in which he referred to a survey being made in connection with the re-siting of this station, will the Postmaster-General advise the Senate of the results of the survey and comment further on the general question of an improved broadcasting service for the south cast of South Australia?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer -
Consideration by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board of the matter of improving reception of the national broadcasting service in south east South Australia has now been completed and I have approved proposals which the Board has submitted to me. The proposals involve increasing the power of national station 5PA from 2,000 watts to 10,000 watts and the transfer of the station to a site yet to be determined some miles north of the present location. The implementation of the proposals will greatly improve the effectiveness of station 5PA and ensure a satisfactory service from the station in many areas in the south east region of South Australia where reception is at present below acceptable standards. I should mention particularly that station 5PA in its new location will continue to provide a high grade of service to the town of Penola. The reconstruction of station 5PA is a major project and will take some considerable time to bring to completion.
(Question No. 832.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers -
The matter of interstate trade and the control of disease within the States is the responsibility of the State Governments. It is the function of the Commonwealth to prevent the entry of disease into Australia. Now that Newcastle disease has been diagnosed as present in Australia, each State Government has taken the action which it considers most useful to protect the livestock industry concerned within its State. It is most unfortunate that some disorganisation of interstate movement in the poultry industry has occurred as a result of the recent detection of Newcastle disease in Australia but it must be recognised that this will always occur at least in the early stages of any new problem of this nature in Australia.
The States are fully aware of the problem and are doing the best they can to devise means of coping with the situation. Already two Veterinary Consultative CommitteeMeetings under the aegis of the Australian Agricultural Council have been held at which senior Commonwealth and State veterinarians have deliberated on the problems associated with the presence of Newcastle disease in Australia. To-day, the same Commonwealth and State officers are meeting again as the Third (1966) Consultative Committee Meeting on Newcastle disease and this very problem of interstate trade raised by Senator Mulvihill is an important ingredient of today’s deliberations.
” HANSARD “ REPORT.
– by leave - On page 159 of yesterday’s daily proof “ Hansard “ report it is recorded that I made a remark by way of interjection concerning Fiji. I understand the difficulties associated with recording interjections, but I should like it recorded that the interjection did not come from me. I believe it came from a member of the Opposition.
Debate resumed from 22nd March (vide page 170), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Senate take note of the following paper - Statement of Policy by new Government -Ministerial Statement, 8th March 1966.
Upon which Senator Kennelly had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert: - “ the Senate records -
its most emphatic opposition to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam and the increased military commitment in that country, and
its disapproval of and grave concern at the Government’s failure -
to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian community;
to retain an adequate and proper Australian share in the ownership and development of our national resources, particularly in Northern Australia;
to alleviate the effects of the drought and take steps to rehabilitate rural industries and conserve water resources;
to make adequate provision for housing and associated community facilities, and
to submit to referendum the two Bills to alter the Constitution in respect of Aborigines and the Parliament which were passed last year and, in connection with the latter Bill, to disclose the related distribution proposals “.
– When the Senate adjourned last night I was developing an argument concerning certain aspects of the war in Vietnam. At that stage I was making the point that Australia should oppose Communist aggression before it developed into a major struggle. I reminded the Senate of the problems we had in 1938, 1939 and 1940 through our lack of opposition to the rising tide of Nazism. I invited the attention of the Senate to the attitude of Opposition members to the situation in Vietnam. I said their attitude appeared to be: “ Let us retreat to Australia and abandon the fight against a type of aggression devised by Communist China “. How unthinkable it would be if Australia were to retreat from this situation when one considers the fine record of Australian forces in such great events in history as Gallipoli, the campaigns in France, El Alamein, in the Pacific war zone and Korea as well as in the current fighting in Vietnam. How shameful it would be if Australia, in the light of its commitments under the A.N.Z.U.S. pact and the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty were to abandon the fight against this type of aggression devised by Communist China.
It is a fact of history that wherever the free world has stood firm, it has held Communist aggression and has saved the peace of the world. I refer to the stand taken by the Western nations in Berlin after the Second World War. I refer to the joint effort of the United Nations in Korea, to the attitude of the late President Kennedy towards Cuba and to the work of the Commonwealth forces in Malaysia. History has shown that wherever the free world has stood firm, it has held Communist aggression. Therefore we, as a member nation of the free world and because of our treaty obligations, have taken the proper stand in Vietnam.
I turn now to the question of integrating national service trainees into the Regular
Army. Under the voluntary system, despite intensive advertising and great efforts by serving soldiers, it has not been possible to recruit enough men for the Regular Army. The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, announced before the last Senate election that the Government had decided that it had no alternative but to introduce compulsory selective military service. He stated to the nation that those who were called up would be under an obligation to serve overseas if necessary. The issue was placed before the Australian people clearly prior to the last Senate election campaign, lt was canvassed throughout the campaign and the people were well aware of the importance placed upon this plan by the Government.
It boils down to this: Mainly because of buoyant economic conditions, we were unable to fulfil our obligations to our Regular Army to keep it at full strength and we have had to integrate into the Army national service trainees. As I see it, the issue is whether we leave it to the United States of America, with a very large proportion of compulsorily enlisted men, to protect our part of the world or whether we help to protect it. In the light of what our military experts tell us is the minimal number of men who should be in our Army, and in the light of the fact that we have been unable to recruit men voluntarily, I believe that the selective national service training scheme and the integration of the trainees alongside the men of the Regular Army is the only course open to this nation.
I conclude my speech by referring to other parts of the Prime Minister’s statement, which was repeated here by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty). The keynote of the economic aspects of the statement was that this nation had set out to ensure growth with stability. Because of the favourable economic climate which this Government largely has generated, there has been an inflow of migrants and capital. Although restraints have been put on the outflow of capital from the United States of America and the United Kingdom within the last 12 months, sums of money have been coming forward for investment in Australia. This investment has been in the form of new industries which have brought to this country new techniques, new equipment and new skills. It should be remembered that 90 per cent, of the development of Australia is being undertaken with our own savings and that only 10 per cent, is being undertaken with the savings of people resident in other countries - mainly in the United Kingdom and, secondarily, in the United States.
In the Prime Minister’s statement there was a most encouraging reference to additional finance for housing and an interesting reference to additional finance for rural development. From time to time I have been requested by constituents to make inquiries about the availability of finance. The Prime Minister’s statement caused a fresh lot of inquiries to come to my office. As a result, 1 called on the manager of one of the leading banks in Adelaide and also at the office of the Commonwealth Development Bank. I gained the impression that a sizeable amount of money was available for immediate investment and that it had been available for months before the Prime Minister made his statement. The rural community of South Australia is not applying for this money. This opened my eyes because I thought that the banks were lagging in South Australia. But I am informed by representatives of the banks that money is available. I suggest that the Government should give more prominence to and should advertise the fact that money is available for rural development in certain parts of Australia. The situation may be entirely different in New South Wales and in Queensland but in South Australia the trading banks and the Commonwealth Development Bank have money available immediately. I think it is a great compliment to the Government that, in its wisdom, it has seen that this money is made available. I admit, of course, that from what I have read and seen of the drought in New South Wales and Queensland there could well be a shortage of ready money in those States, especially where rain has fallen and restocking is taking place. But in South Australia the situation regarding rural finance is somewhat buoyant.
I was very interested, also, to read in the statement of the Prime Minister that the Government will get behind research. Research at the moment is largely carried on in Government institutions such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, medical institutions and the universities. But I want to point out the importance of research being carried on within private industry. I would be interested to learn in what way the Government intends to encourage research. I believe it could do so in the private sector of the community with the aid of taxation deductions. I put to honorable senators that it is absolutely essentia) to further research in the private sector of industry. I can think of no better way of doing this than to allow a double deduction in taxation for the cost of equipment, labour and skilled services. This idea of a double deduction is already part of our taxation law so far as obtaining overseas markets is concerned. I submit that a double deduction for research could well apply to industry and would provide a boost in such research.
I wish now to refer to forestry which was mentioned in the speech of the Prime Minister. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), over the last few months, has stressed the acute position in Australia regarding forest products. I understand that at the present time $200 million worth of forest products are imported into Australia and that by the year 2000 the figure could easily be $600 million. Consequently, it is high time that the Commonwealth Government got busy on this question, particularly in regard to softwood timber. It is interesting to recall for a moment where the constitutional responsibility for timber lies. As is well known, we have in Australia six sovereign States. The State Governments virtually own the land upon which the trees grow in the States so unless they get busy it will not be possible to increase the quantity of timber grown. But as I see it the matter is a joint Commonwealth and State responsibility. I am pleased that the Minister has been very busy lately concerning Australia’s forest resources.
On Monday last the Australian Forestry Council met in Brisbane and the whole question of the Commonwealth’s offer to the States was discussed. The softwood forests of Australia consist mainly of Pinus Radiata, which is a tree imported from the west coast of the United States of America. Like a number of other trees which grow excellently in countries outside their native habitat, Pinus Radiata does extraordinarily well here. Its rate of growth in Australia is far greater than that in the country of its origin. As a consequence, in South Australia, the State which I am proud to represent, there has been a very large planting of Pinus Radiata by the Government. 1 understand that in South Australia there are 170,000 acres of coniferous trees out of an Australian total of 642,000 acres. The States have adopted the attitude that whilst they all strongly favour increased planting of softwoods in Australia, they cannot do this without Commonwealth aid. The Commonwealth’s plan is to offer $20 million to the States in long term loans.
The State Ministers for Forests, including Mr. Bywaters, the Minister for Forests in South Australia, met recently in Brisbane and expressed great satisfaction at the offer by the Commonwealth of this loan of $20 million. I understand, however, that they want the term of the loans to be 40 years instead or 20 years and would like them to be free of interest and capital payments for the first 15 years instead of the shorter period proposed. I submit to the Government that the proposition put forward by the State Ministers, which the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has undertaken to discuss with Cabinet, is a reasonable one, because it will be 40 years before any marked commercial result will be achieved from such forests planted now. I therefore urge upon the Government that it should grant the additional periods sought by the State Ministers as, in my opinion, it is a quite reasonable request.
There is no need for me to tell honorable senators that to expend an estimated $600 million a year on the import of softwood timbers by the year 2000 is something that this country should not allow to happen. It is bad enough at the moment spending $200 million a year in this way.
In the next 35 years the cost of imported timber could well go up. Practically all the countries in this part of the world - in the African, South East Asian and Australian area - will be short of timber and the cost is likely to rise astronomically so that even an estimate of $600 million a year might be well out by the year 2000. At all events, the remedy is relatively simple. We have an excellent State forestry service in every State and we have a splendid headquarters here in Canberra. We have a forestry school of world wide reputation which is now part of the Australian National University and it would be sheer negligence on the part of the Government if it did not get together with the States and ensure that Australia’s timber requirements for the next 35 years will be met. 1 commend the Government for its interest in forestry. I wish it well. I also commend the States for their excellent forestry departments. 1 have been most interested over the years in the Sirex wasp which, unfortunately, has already entered Tasmania and Victoria. The officers of the State forestry departments are to be commended for the fact that the Sirex wasp has not been allowed to spread. The combined activities of the late Senator Harrie Wade as Commonwealth Minister for Health, officers of the State forestry departments and the Wai te Institute in South Australia, and their vigilance and scientific works have prevented from spreading the dreaded Sirex wasp which could decimate the radiata pine forests of Australia. That is one illustration of the fine work that can be done by the forestry services of the States combining with the Commonwealth. 1 congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) upon his first policy statement. I also congratulate the members of his Ministry on their zeal. 1 hope that the statement will be the forerunner of other reports to the nation from time to time. In the Senate I represent South Australia and I must say that there was no reference, direct or indirect, to South Australia in the Prime Minister’s statement, other than perhaps to forestry. That reference was, of course, on the Australian pattern. I think this is an opportunity to remind the Government that South Australians believe that a number of matters should be brought before the Government on their behalf. I refer, for instance, to the Adelaide airport. Although the airport terminal building is comparatively new, within ten years of its erection it is far too small to handle the increased traffic, particularly in the light of the way in which the timetables, of flights are arranged. I was hopeful that under the administration of Senator Henty something would be done to improve the position there but nothing was done. I understand that the whole question has been referred to an interdepartmental committee where it rests at the moment. I ask the Minister for Civil
Aviation (Mr. Swartz) through his representative in the Senate, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), to direct his attention to the great need for proper airport facilities at Adelaide, especially facilities for passengers.
On previous occasions I have referred to the Australian Broadcasting Commission building in Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide. Apparently the Commission bought an old church there 30 years ago and its employees are still working under terrible conditions, just as they have been doing, for the last 20 or 30 years. In the various capital cities of Australia I have seen the magnificant offices and studios of the Commission but they could not be so described in Adelaide. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works has not visited South Australia for 30 years, which is a reflection of the priority accorded South Australia by the Commonwealth Department of Works.
Some honorable senators opposite have referred to beef roads in the north of South Australia. One of them has placed on the notice paper a question on beef roads which I hope will be answered affirmatively. Last Wednesday I asked the Minister for Supply a question about the future of the Woomera and Salisbury installations and the activities of the Department of Supply there. I should like it understood in Government circles that we in South Australia put great value on the activities of those installations, as many of our most learned scientists and most skilful technicians are working in them. I hope that, if the European Launcher Development Organisation retreats from its present tempo of work, the claims of Woomera and Salisbury will be brought forward in the minds of the officials of the Department of Supply with the object of getting other overseas people interested in the facilities there.
We were caused great concern recently when Die Casters Ltd. gave notice that it was closing down at Elizabeth. Apparently the motor industry in South Australia was not as buoyant as it had been and the reconstruction of the Die Casters organisation caused it to close down at Elizabeth. This matter concerns us all in South Australia. I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) to do what he can to ensure that the people who have their homes and in teres Ls in our State and are not required to go to Melbourne are absorbed usefully in industry.
Finally, I make a plea to the Government that, in the military expansion that is envisaged, at least one of the units to be trained in Australia be trained in South Australia. We have facilities that rendered great service in World War II. With the necessity to train our troops in Australia, I should like to see some of the expanded training programme taking place in South Australia. All in all, I support the motion and oppose the amendment.
– The paper that we are discussing - the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) - is a 30 page document that touches upon many matters of Australian interest and many Australian activities. Each of them on its own justifies comment, and many of them warrant condemnation. However, because of the time factor, as all speakers have found, it is impossible to deal with all of the issues. Most speakers have concentrated on only one issue in the Prime Minister’s statement. I join with the majority of speakers in stating that we should concentrate on the main issue today, which would appear to be the decision, as announced in the statement, to send to Vietnam additional Australian troops, including a number of 20 year old conscripts.
Apparently, at the time of the visit of Cabot Lodge to Australia last Easter, the Australian people tolerated sending a combatant force to Vietnam. Whether, at the time of the visit of the American VicePresident, Mr. Humphrey, to Australia, they will tolerate the decision to send a force of 4,500 men, including conscripts, to Vietnam we do not know. Gallup polls and demonstrations would indicate that the members of the Australian public are not prepared to tolerate this decision of the Australian Government. The people are not to be given freedom of expression either by voting to elect a government or by referendum. That leaves very little for the members of the Australian public to do other than to demonstrate their opposition to this decision of the Government, which has not been submitted to a vote of the people, by unlawful means such as burning draft cards and demonstrating on the streets.
Although the Government says that it is not afraid to test the opinion of the people, we will have no opportunity to do so before 20 year old conscripts are sent to Vietnam. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in trying to justify this course of action used such phraseology as that with which he concluded his statement -
We have the good fortune to live together in a true democracy. We breathe the air of freedom.
I would have thought that conscription was antithesis of true democracy. The academic seems to place on words different interpretations from those of the layman. Not being an academic, I cannot see that it is true democracy to send voiceless voteless 20 year old conscripts to Vietnam to fight in a tropical country amongst tropical and other diseases and to fight an invisible enemy in country which is 49 per cent, jungle and 30 per cent, swamp. Is it breathing the air of freedom to send these 20 year olds to support the Ky Government, which is the ninth government in Vietnam since we have taken an interest in that country, and which is holding itself in power by using tyranny? Its first action was to erect sandbags in the market place for the public shooting of those who disobeyed the laws.
– Do not the North Vietnamese have executions?
– The honorable senator tries to justify a wrong because somebody else is committing a wrong. If we can justify a wrong because a wrong is being done by somebody else, let us continue to support wrong doing until such time as we can achieve greater wrongs than some other power can commit. The honorable senator, cannot deny that the first action of the Ky Government was to place sandbags in the market place for the public shooting of those who disobeyed the laws. When a question was asked by a member of the Opposition the other day about the shooting of a profiteer in Vietnam before his wife and eight children, the questioner was ridiculed. The honorable senator who asked the question was asked, in effect: “ Are you now supporting exploiters in this situation?” It was not a matter of supporting exploiters; it was a matter of the regard which the Ky Government, which we are supporting, had for human principles. The Ky Government had a father taken out and shot before his wife and eight children. Can honorable senators opposite justify that action by saying that the Vietcong might be doing the same kind of thing? Is that their only consolation in this matter?
– Is the honorable senator trying to justify it?
– I am endeavouring to condemn it. I say that we should not be sending 20 year old conscripts to Vietnam at the present time. I am condemning the whole attitude of the Government in sending conscripts to Vietnam. Let us look at the position. As I have said, Vietnam comprises 49 per cent, jungle and 30 per cent, swamp. Tropical diseases will be encountered and conscripts will be engaged in guerrilla warfare, fighting an enemy that they will see only on occasions.
– What is this comment about?
– The honorable senator will get no satisfaction from my comments because I am totally opposed to the attitude of his Government in willynilly conscripting Australian youths at the behest of the American Government. The point I am trying to make is that if we relate the deaths of 35 Australian soldiers in Vietnam which were reported up until yesterday, and the two additional deaths which were reported in today’s Press, to the 1,500 Australian troops in Vietnam at the present time, we see that it is a death rate of 2.3 per cent. If this percentage is maintained, of the 4,500 troops that we are sending to Vietnam, 100 will die in that area and will never return to Australia. A proportion of them will be conscripts whom we have taken from their normal ways of life and put in the forces. At the present time 156 Australian soldiers have been injured in Vietnam out of a total force of 1,500. That is an injury rate of 10.4 per cent. If it is maintained, of the 4,500 troops that we are to send to Vietnam, 450 will come back maimed and injured. That is the situation we are facing at the present time.
– Would the honorable senator agree to defend New Guinea overseas?
– I am in favour of defending anything that is just and resisting anything that is a threat to justice and principles. If the honorable senator were to listen and not repeat phraseology that he has heard, perhaps he would alter his opinion on this question. Let us be fair to the mothers of Australia - to those who have approached the shadow of death in bringing life into the world. These mothers have fondled their children, they have brought them up and they have sacrificed for them. They have made sacrifices to give them their education.
– The honorable senator is talking about volunteers.
– The honorable senator is not interested in this question because he has not a spark of humanity unless his financial interests are threatened. I am referring to parents who have made sacrifices to bring up their sons to an age at which the parents regard them as the personification of Australian manhood. We are conscripting their sons to take part in a war in which it is doubtful whether they or the majority of Australians believe. We can say to the mothers of these boys that the only thing they did not give them in their upbringing was luck. Their sons were unlucky in the ballot for national service. If this bad luck holds, possibly they will be in the hundred who will never return to Australia. If they are more fortunate, some of them may be in the 450 who will come back without an arm or a leg or with his face shot away or a hole in his stomach. What does this matter if we give them a medal to show that they have looked after America’s interests in Vietnam? Surely honorable senators opposite will agree that is worth fighting for.
There are a lot of questions involved in this matter. This is the first occasion on which we have sent conscripts outside the Pacific area.
– No one has been sent yet.
– I agree with that statement. I hope that the efforts of the honorable senator and myself will ensure that the opinion of the majority of the Australian citizens prevails and that we never will send conscripts to the Vietnam area. It is expected that this will be the first occasion on which we have sent conscripts outside the Pacific area. We had conscription in the Pacific area only when real danger was at the door of Australia.
This is the first occasion on which we will send forces to a war at a time when there is a section of opinion which doubts whether we are right in participating in the war. While we can say that in the early stages of the Second World War the Communist element in Australia was reluctant to participate in Australia’s war effort because it thought the war was a phoney war and that the British were not fighting the enemy, the Communist element never believed in the justice of the Hitler cause. There is a strong belief in Australia that the conflict in Vietnam is a civil war and that certain considerations should be extended to the enemy that we are sending troops to fight.
– Does the honorable senator deny that at the outset of the Second World War there was considerable opposition by his own Party to our participation in it?
– I do not say that there was opposition by my own Party. ] say there was opposition to Australia’s participation by a section of the Australian community and T point out that this opposition did not arise because of any liking for the enemy. That is the distinction. There was never any belief in Hitler’s cause nor any liking for Hitler’s Germany even by those who opposed our participation in the war.
I regret that the Government finds itself in the position it is in today but it is much concerned about this matter. In a debate such as this I have some responsibility to reply to honorable senators on the Government side. Senator Wright, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) and other honorable senators on the Government side all repeated the statement which has run through this debate. In fact, since the First World War we have heard about the expansion of Communism and the threat that this poses to Australia. It is obvious that there has not been any study of the facts. Senator Laught used the words, “ I believe “ and Senator Wright said, “ I firmly believe “; but where is the basis for their belief? Surely some documentary proof is necessary of the claim that the expansion of Communism is a threat to Australia. The fact that Senator Wright and Senator Laught believe that there is a threat is not sufficient. Senator
Wright follows a profession which bases decisions on facts, not on beliefs. His statements in this discussion have been so inconsistent that it is obvious he has not searched for the truth. Instead, he has accepted the recent statements of our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and of someone in England as being sufficient justification for his remarks.
I want to comment now on the statements made by Senator McKellar. He stooped as low as he could possibly stoop and displayed a depraved mind when he spoke about conflicts within the Labour Party. There have always been differences of opinion within the Labour Party on important questions. As he told the Senate last night, conscription split the Party in the First World War. During the Second World War certain elements within the Party held opposing views on the same matter. I have had a long association with the Labour Party and I can say that on all vital matters there are differences of opinion within the Party but the one question on which the Labour Party has been unanimous is the question whether conscripts should be sent to Vietnam. There is complete unanimity in the belief that it is wrong to send conscripts to Vietnam. There is no division in our Party on this issue.
Let us consider the statements which have been made about true democracy. We have been told that we are in Vietnam for the purpose of ensuring that South Vietnam shall be free and independent, to preserve democracy and to stop Communist expansion through South East Asia. That sounds laudable and would possibly justify the sending of our conscripts to that area. We have been told that neither America nor Australia has any territorial ambitions. I think Senator Wright said last night that America has no economic or national aspirations in Vietnam. Perhaps it is all right to say that now because of the force of public opinion, but let us examine the position to see whether this is correct. Let us compare recent statements with those contained in publications of the Department of External Affairs some time ago. We find a conflict between the earlier statements and the propaganda statements that are being made today. Apparently it is convenient for the people concerned to forget their earlier statements.
The Minister for External Affairs made a statement in the House last week and now his remarks are being accepted as authentic. As I have already mentioned, in a court of law Senator Wright would not accept a statement as authentic without having some documentary evidence of its authenticity. I acknowledge the statements made by Mr. Hasluck in Australia and by Mr. McNamara in America as to what the Australian or United States Governments are doing, but beyond that I am not prepared to go without proof of the authenticity of these statements. On page 66 of the Department of External Affairs publication “ Vietnam Since the 1954 Geneva Agreements” there appears the report of an address by the United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. Robert McNamara, at the Forrestal Memorial Awards Dinner in Washington on 26th March 1964. The following appears on page 69 of the publication -
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.
– Does the honorable senator deny that?
– I neither deny it nor admit it. But this is not a matter of denial or admission. I am not raising the question of whether it is right or wrong, but do not let us say that America has no strategic interest in South Vietnam.
– Who said that?
– It has been said right throughout the debate. Do not let us say that we are fighting for democracy in South Vietnam. Let me remind honorable senators that Mr. McNamara said that South Vietnam in Communist hands would be a threat to the whole American strategy. So, if South Vietnam wants to have a Communist government she cannot have one because it would be a threat to the whole American strategy.
– That is untrue.
– That is the statement made by Mr. McNamara. If the statement is untrue, the honorable senator’s quarrel is with him not with me. I accept it as the reason for America’s interest in South Vietnam. South Vietnam is essential to the whole American strategy. In unfriendly hands it would render impossible American defence and progress in South East Asia. We must face the issue. There is no question that America has an interest in South Vietnam. There is no question that we cannot support democracy in South Vietnam unless democracy in South Vietnam will result in a government that is favourable to American strategy. In the short time at my disposal, let us try to get over this question of invasion from the north. If we destroy the suggestion of invasion from the north we destroy the whole reason for which the Government is sending troops to Vietnam at the present time. In 1954 there was a Geneva Conference on Vietnam. The following is an extract from the publication, “ New Zealand Assistance to the Republic of Vietnam “, issued by the New Zealand Department of External Affairs -
In the first month of 1954 it was agreed that a conference should be held at Geneva among France, Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Communist China and other interested countries, to discuss the Korean and Indo-Chinese questions. The Conference began on 8th May 1954, one day after the fall of Dien Bien Phu. In the discussions on Indo-China, the governments of both the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the State of Vietnam participated along with the governments of Laos and Cambodia.
I read that extract for the purpose of showing that both North and South Vietnam were at the conference that endorsed the settlement in 1954. An agreement in 1954 drew a line between North and South Vietnam. It was after the success of the liberation forces of Vietnam, which comprised those who were opposed to foreign intervention in their country, residents of the North and the South, and possibly of all political beliefs. After their success at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, a military agreement was signed by the commander in chief of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the commander in chief of the French forces in Indo-China. The 1954 agreement was between two forces at war and it was an agreement for the sole purpose of settling the war. Part of the agreement was that those who were fighting for the People’s Army of Vietnam would go to the north of the 27th parallel and those who were fighting for the French army would go to the south for the purpose of disarmament.
– No, not the French Army. They were not fighting for the French Army.
– Well, the publications are wrong. The honorable senator is a greater authority than the Department of External Affairs. This was for the purpose of disarmament, and it was an essential part of the agreement that there be freedom of movement for the purpose of disarmament to allow the people to return to their own places of residence. Let us face the facts. That was considered by the experts as a victory for those who were under the control of Ho Chi Minh at that time. The agreement was endorsed by the Geneva Conference, by the Parliament of Australia and by the parliaments of the nations of what we now term the free world. The Australian Prime Minister of that time, who was then Mr. Robert Gordon Menzies, said on 22nd July 1954 -
This armistice, welcome as it is. has the practical effect of substantially advancing the frontier on which the Communists stand.
In the House of Representatives on 5th August 1954, he said -
Not for a moment would I deny that, it is possible, and indeed devoutly to be wished, that the democratic world should live peacefully alongside the Communist powers . . . We must not overlook the possibility that a free election may bc an election which establishes a Communist administration in the whole of Vietnam.
That was accepted at that time. President Eisenhower, in his “ Mandate for Change “, stated -
I have never talked to anyone knowing anything about Vietnam who did not agree that if elections had been held possibly 80 per cent, of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh.
There was never a separation of Vietnam. The people are of the same race and they have the same language. They frequently travel from north to south and there have never been two separate countries. The partitioning of the country which is suggested at present would be economically impossible and would impose a burden upon the whole of the free world, which would have to support economically the two sections of the country, one having the minerals and manufactures and one having the agri culture. Therefore, for the Vietnamese te agree to separation of their country at this stage would be to lose the fight that they won in 1954 and to lose the settlement that was accepted then. If they want Communism, this must be recognised by governments. Let us, as the then Prime Minister said, devoutly hope that we can live together with them.
I regret that time will not permit me to develop my thoughts on the American attitude, the necessity to throw out France, which was under an obligation to conduct a plebiscite in Vietnam, and to bring in America, which had some strategic reasons for saying: “ We cannot tolerate the government that would be elected in Vietnam “. Let me add one more comment in relation to invasion from the North. At page 22 of the publication of the Department of External Affairs is a report of a speech by Ngo Dinh Diem who, in giving reasons why he could not hold free elections, said -
Yet we are talking about invasion from the North. There, Diem was critical because the Viet Minh would not permit men to go from North to South. That is recognition that they are one people, that place of residence must be at the selection of the individual and that there is no demarcation by geographical line dividing North from South.
If we are to have any peace in Vietnam, if we are to have any armistice in Vietnam, we must forget about this talk of a free and independent South Vietnam. We must support the forces who want a government elected by the people of Vietnam, and at this particular time, if we support democracy, we should be supporting the big revolutionary forces in Saigon against the Ky Government. The Australian people have a record of democracy. They are a freedom loving people. Emotion about what we have done in wars in the past will not take away from them their right to put into operation what they desire at present. If they see the Australian nation and their own sons lined up in a cause that they think is not justified, without the right of expression being given to them legally through the ballot box, there will be more demonstrations, more card burning and more heart breaks for the Government, which is introducing into this country systems that have always been avoided by the desire of governments to keep in line with the people. A statement was made last night that someone was pleased to be associated with the Government in doing what it thought was right no matter what the consequences. What is right in democratic Australia is what the majority of the people want and not what the Government wants. We should ascertain the feelings of the people and enforce what they want with all our might.
– lt is not my intention to follow the tortuous arguments of Senator Cavanagh. In the course of my speech, I will answer many of the points he has made. Towards the end of his speech, Senator Cavanagh misquoted Mr. Eisenhower. I believe this has been done before by members of the Australian Labour Party in trying to support their murky and dubious policies on Vietnam. To misquote and twist the words of Mr. Eisenhower as Senator Cavanagh did is most discreditable. I intend to quote in full what Mr. Eisenhower said. This can be read at page 372 of Mr. Eisenhower’s book “ Mandate for Change “. This statement was made prior to the signing of the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and has no relation whatever to the situation that has existed in Vietnam since then. That will be quite obvious from this statement by Mr. Eisenhower -
I am convinced that the French could not win the war because the internal political situation in Vietnam, weak and confused, badly weakened their military position. I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai. Indeed, the lack of leadership and drive on the part of Bao Dai was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for.
I make no further comment. Mr. Eisenhower has been deliberately misquoted.
– I leave that to the judgment of the Senate and the people of Australia. I had intended to speak on several matters which were raised in the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). However, I have noted that the Australian Labour Party has thrown down a challenge to make Vietnam the main issue at the next election. For my part, I gladly and willingly accept this challenge. I accept it because I have confidence in the sound judgment and moral fibre of the Australian people. When they fully realise and understand the real issues involved in Vietnam, the people will respond as always in time of crisis and react against the sickening emotionalism of the Opposition. We had an example of it a moment ago; it forms part of the left wing propaganda of the Labour Party.
Last week Senator Cormack in what I regard as a very fine speech spelt out in simple terms the real issues involved in the Vietnam conflict. They need and deserve to be restated but before I do that I want to say that there has been a lot of talk about inequality of sacrifice in relation to national service. The plain fact is that there has never been equality of sacrifice. In the Second World War, for example, there was no equality of sacrifice. The great burden early in the war was borne by the volunteers while others stayed at home and reaped the benefits. There was no equality of sacrifice when the Australian Labour Party introduced national service although it used the objectionable” word “ conscription “. Some persons, for very good reasons, were able to spend the war in relative comfort in their homes with their families. In the Army and other branches of the armed forces, there was no equality of sacrifice. Many were needed on the home front and lived in relative comfort. It was only some who had to make the full sacrifice and fight in the jungles or the deserts. All this talk about inequality of sacrifice today is nothing more than pure humbug.
As Senator Cormack reminded us, there are two issues in South Vietnam. The first, to which he gave precedence very rightly, is the moral issue. The second is our own national security. I would agree with Senator Cormack that of the two, the moral issue is the more important. In simple terms, the issue is whether the rule of law is to prevail in the world or whether it is to be replaced by the law of the jungle. It is a question whether any nation, Communist or otherwise, has the right to expect that ils territorial integrity will remain inviolate and whether it will decide its own future in its own way without having imposed on it by fear, subversion, terrorism and intimidation from outside a system of government it does not want. That is one issue involved.
The United Nations Organisation was established to protect the rule of law. Regrettably, despite the naive and touching faith the Opposition has in the United Nations Organisation, it has failed to succeed. In Korea by accident and a most incredible act of misjudgment by the Soviet Union, the United Nations was able to take initial action. Then it became impotent and the real power, military and political, was exercised as it is now by the United States of America assisted by a handful of nations of which Australia was one. The United Nations Organisation failed to protect Hungary, lt failed to save Tibet. The campaign there was described by the Communists as a war of liberation. They have informed the world in the most cynical manner that they were invited to invade Tibet by a twelve year old candidate for the position of Panchen Lama who had never lived in Tibet. This was the Communist reason for invading Tibet and the United Nations was powerless to act. Regrettably the United Nations Organisation has failed in South Vietnam. Its efforts have been contemptuously rejected by Communist China and North Vietnam.
– What about Israel?
– The United Nations has not stopped the fighting; it has kept the contestants apart. It has not settled the issues in Israel, Kashmir or any other part of the world.
– It has obtained a cease fire.
– Yes, but the issue still remains. It is the responsibility of those nations that believe in the rule of law to act. In my judgment, Australians have the moral fibre to act, if necessary, and to assist like-thinking peoples to impose the rule of law in the world. The alternative - I do not believe that the Opposition would support this - is international anarchy. Do we as a people believe in international anarchy or do we believe in the rule of law? Do we believe that our own interests are served by descent into international anarchy or the operation of the law of the jungle? Is our own sense of moral values such as to allow us to stand by and see international anarchy? This is a moral issue upon which we must stand and be counted. lt has been said that the only lesson you learn from history is that you never learn anything. I believe that this is partly true. I. take honorable senators back to 1938 and the lessons to be learned from what happened in Europe when Nazi Germany, in violation of treaty obligations, overran one country after another. The world did not act but stood by. Eventually we were forced to act and we faced a major war which cost countless millions of lives, lt is problematical whether, if we had acted at the time of the advance in the Rhineland, the Second World War would not have occurred. But I remind honorable senators of recent history in Berlin when the Western world confronted Communist Russia and the Russians withdrew. I remind them also of what happened in Cuba and Korea. The lesson to be learned is that we should not withdraw but should draw a line and say: “So far and no further”. If we do not do that, we might well find ourselves, as in 1939, encouraging the aggressor, whetting his appetite for further acts of aggression, and eventually having to face up to a major war. I believe that that is the issue that confronts us in Vietnam today.
The second issue is that of national security. Senator Cormack was chided by Senator Cavanagh about his sources of information. Obviously Senator Cavanagh does not believe information that comes from the United States or the Australian Government. I believe he will be satisfied if I rely upon the Australian Labour Party the British Labour Party and Communist sources for my information. I am quite sure that he will regard those sources as being impeccable. I pose this question: Is our own security involved? Is the war in Vietnam a threat to the security of Australia? In answering those quesions I rely on an extract from a statement made by Mr. Calwell as reported in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 19th February 1965. Mr. Calwell made this statement after a meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party -
The demand of the Soviet Government for the immediate departure of all Americans and other foreign forces from South Vietnam would be in the interest neither of the people of South Vietnam nor the people of Australia.
Ils immediate consequence must be a Communist takeover of South Vietnam snuffing out the hope of freedom and of democratic independence in that country and extending the area of Communist control closer to this country.
– Who said that?
– Mr. Calwell.
– It is a good statement.
– Yes. I agree with every word of it. Mr. Calwell continued -
The presence of these (allied) forces is necessary and justified as a holding operation. 1 need go no further. That statement was a recognition by Mr. Calwell, speaking on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, of the fact that a Communist takeover in South Vietnam would not be in the interest of Australia. I commend him for his statement. Surely if what he said means anything, it means that a Communist takeover in South Vietnam would be a threat to the security of Australia. Mr. Calwell accepted the presence of American and other forces in Vietnam as being necessary and justified.
Then we had a change of heart on the part of the Labour Party and this deplorable statement by Mr. Calwell which is reported at page 241 of “Hansard “ -
The benighted Holt Government is prepared to send them-
That is Australian national service trainees - to Vietnam and anywhere else if by so doing it can curry favour with international capitalism.
That is an extraordinary statement. If I understood him correctly, Senator Cavanagh challenged us to say whether this war in South Vietnam is the outcome of an act of aggression and not of an uprising by people who have been oppressed. Mr. Calwell now suggests that this operation has been undertaken at the behest of international capitalism. In answering the question as to whether there has been aggression from North Vietnam I continue to quote from authorities other than those of the United States. To put the issue beyond doubt, I shall again quote Mr. Calwell, because I do not believe that his authority in these matters will be questioned. This is what he said, as reported in “ Hansard “-
That there has been and stilt is aggression from the north and subversion inspired from the north
I do not for one moment deny. I agree that North Vietnamese aggression - and that is the only word for it - has increased.
Mr. Calwell recognises that what we are facing today is aggression from North Vietnam. Mr. Stewart, -the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, whom Senator Wright quoted, is in less doubt about it. Speaking in July last year, Mr. Stewart, referring to the action of North Vietnam, said -
Now, there was no need for that action. The two parts were living in comparative peace; they could have lived in greater peace. They could today, if that call had never been made-
He was referring to the call from Hanoi to step up Vietcong activities in the South - be living in much greater happiness and at a higher standard of life than they are living today.
Then he said -
There was no need for this, lt was a deliberate decision by the Communist North to make an attack on its neighbour, and it cannot be said - it cannot be said - that this could be excused by blaming it on a United States presence in the South … It was not, then, the case that that justification, such as it might have been, could have been pleaded.
So we have the admission of Mr. Calwell and Mr. Stewart that what is happening in Vietnam is nothing more than a blatant act of aggression and a blatant dragging down of the world by the rule of the jungle. This we are expected to stand idly by and witness. Of course, the Communists do not admit that this is aggression. They describe this act as a war of national liberation. As my authority for that statement I shall turn to no other source than the Communists themselves. In 1961 Mr. Khrushchev laid down in very clear terms what was meant by a war of national liberation. This is how he defined it -
Do honorable senators opposite deny that that is happening in South Vietnam today? General Giap, the Commander in Chief of the North Vietnamese forces, has said -
If this so called war of liberation technique succeeds, we will be able to apply it anywhere else in the world.
Here is a clear statement from Communist sources - not from United States sources - that this is a war of national liberation and of how, as Mr. Khrushchev said, it is disguised in nationalistic trappings. Are we to be fooled by all this talk that this is only a pleasant civil war? The 17th parallel is a line of demarcation which is internationally recognised. Unification of North and South Vietnam was provided for under free elections. I could say a lot about free elections in a Communist country of course. The line dividing East Germany and West Germany is internationally recognised and provision was made for free elections to unify those two countries. I pose this question to Senator Cavanagh and the Opposition: If West Germany supported an uprising in East Germany - and there has been an uprising in East Germany against Communist oppression - by sending assistance such as troops, supplies and so on, would this action be regarded as a war of national liberation? We would have on our heads charges from all over the Communist world that this was a war of aggression by Western imperialists. Let us be clear in our minds and let us at least have some sense about what we regard as a war of liberation.
Mr. Kosygin, the Premier of Russia, recently reaffirmed Moscow’s support of wars of national liberation. It became very clear when he was questioned by pressmen that he was not referring to Hungary, Poland or East Germany but only to nations which had non-Communist governments. I think in these few brief words - they are all that time permits - I have put wars of national liberation, as denned by the Communists themselves with remarkable candour, into their proper perspective.
The next point that arises is whether the struggle in Vietnam is in fact a part of the Communist pattern to control the world. I want to quote Peking’s Defence Minister who, in September of last year, outlined again with remarkable candour - and these people are quite candid as to their aims and objectives - a programme of uninterrupted revolution which would first introduce Communist regimes throughout Asia. Africa and Latin America and would then proceed to encircle and conquer Europe and North America. Is Communist China a paper tiger? Is Communist China the innocent nation that we are led to believe it is? Already in Thailand there is a threat to that country. Already the Red Chinese radio is broadcasting appeals for an uprising to overthrow the Fascist government of
Thailand. Already there are two patriotic fronts established for that purpose and there is subversion and aggression from outside Thailand’s borders. Next, we turn to Africa and see whether Marshal Lin was talking with his tongue in his cheek or not. On 3rd October 1962 the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Cameroons told the United Nations General Assembly -
Ft is common knowledge that the regime administering mainland China has subsistently pursued a policy of subversion not only in Asia but in Africa as well. . . . Toward my country, the People’s Republic of China has for years been carrying out a policy of aggression. We know and we have proof that the Government of the People’s Republic of China, on ils territory, has openly trained and armed Cameroonian terrorists who are trying to overthrow the democratically established Cameroonian Government.
Here we see the pattern of Chinese aggression in Africa and in Asia. This is a pattern which we ignore at our peril. If we ignore the pattern, it will not be an organisation to save our sons that we will want, but an organisation to save our mothers and our daughters. We ignore this evidence at our peril.
It has been said by Senator Turnbull, that the United States of America has failed in the past to reply to some sort of effort from Hanoi to hold negotiations. Of course this was denied by the Americans. It was denied that any such effort was made by Hanoi. I wish to quote a statement to prove that the United States has done everything possible to try to get the Communists to the negotiation table. I am not going through the dozens of attempts that the United States has made. There was the great peace offensive which was made recently. There were appeals by the Pope, by India and by other nations, all of which have been rejected contemptuously by the Communists. The British Labour Government announced recently that conditions for negotiations, as laid down by North Vietnam, were impossible conditions.
A Foreign Office statement on the subject read as follows -
The demand is made that the Liberation Front should be the sole representative of South Vietnam. This is an impossible condition for negotiations because it requires the United States to abandon, and even to repudiate, their South Vietnamese allies before negotiations even begin.
Then the Foreign Office statement went on to state -
In a proclamation of support for the resumption of U.S. bombing attacks,
This is the British Labour Government’s view, and that country is not directly threatened. Great Britain is not in the path of the threat. It does not belong to Asia but it realises with a great deal of realism the issues involved in this conflict in South Vietnam.
Has a statement ever been made by the Communist side such as I shall now read? This is a letter written by Mr. Goldberg to the United Nations, which clearly sets out the position of the United States, lt states - . . the United Slates is prepared for discissions or negotiations without any prior conditions whatsoever or on the basis of the Geneva Accords of 1954 and 1962, thai a reciprocal reduction of hostilities could be envisaged and that a cease-fire might be the first order of business in any discussions or negotiations, that the United States remains prepared to withdraw its farces from South Vietnam as soon as South Vietnam is in a position to determine its own future without external interference, (hat the United States desires no continuing military presence or bases in Vietnam, that the future political structure in South Vietnam should bc determined by the South Vietnamese people themselves through democratic processes, and that the question of the reunification of the two Vietnams should be decided by the free dec sion of their two peoples.
This is a statement of U.S. policy. It has never been matched from Hanoi.
– That was an official statement, was it?
– That was an official statement by Mr. Goldberg. Why has it not been matched from Hanoi? The Russians, the Communist Chinese and the North Koreans have no wish for peace. Their philosophy is one of war. To support this I quote none other than our friend Mao Tse-tung who made these statements -
War is the highest form of struggle. The whole world can be remoulded only with the gun. In China the main form of struggle is war and the main form of organisation is the army. Military struggle is the main form of political struggle. The atom bomb is a paper tiger … lt looks terrible, but in fact is not. The outcome of a war 5s decided by the people, not by one or two new weapons.
This is the background of the Chinese Government’s foreign relations. This is the pattern it is following and which we see developing in the world. We ignore it at our peril. I conclude by saying that I dismiss contemptuously this sickening emotional appeal. I can understand the feelings of mothers of sons. We have all been through this. People of my generation, have been through it. But when national security and moral values’ are concerned every Australian has a part to play and I feel contempt for the use of this word “ conscript “ as though these youths were second rate soldiers. They are Australian soldiers, following in a great tradition, and by the use of this word we will produce the same bitterness and feeling of disunity as the Labour Government created in the last war with its two armies. Those of us who went through it know the heartburnings and the feelings of bitterness and disunity that this policy created in the Australian forces, alone among all the allied forces. I conclude by saying that I believe the Government’s action is right. I believe it will be supported by the Australian people because I have faith in them. When they fully understand - as they will - the issues involved, there will be a revulsion of feeling at the tactics being employed by the Opposition.
.- If Senator Sim believes that the action of the Holt Government in deciding to include one third of conscripts in the increased force of Australian troops to be sent to Vietnam will be supported by the majority of the Australian people he is in for a very rude shock. He had better rapidly consult the gal kip polls to which he appeared to be giving approval by interjections during this debate last night.
The Senate is debating the first policy statement of the Holt Ministry and I desire to follow the examples set by most previous speakers in the debate by concentrating my remarks on this new commitment in Vietnam and to speak in support of the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Kennelly, particularly that part of it which reads - “ the Senate records -
Senator Sim criticised what he called the emotional appeal made against the decision to send conscripts to Vietnam. There is nothing emotional about safeguarding Australia’s best interests and the interests of
Australia’s sons and their families. But, if there is, it is a proper emotion and understandable, because this is an issue which is now dividing this country as it has not been divided for very many years, and because it is an emotion based upon very high principles. These principles have been well stated in the “ Advocate “ which 1 understand is the journal of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Melbourne. In its issue of 17th March the “Advocate”, dealing with the issues of principle and morality that are involved in the Government’s decision, says, editorially -
The Government has no mandate whatever for the sending of conscripts into battle outside Australia, particularly since no war has been declared.
Conscription is in itself an evil thing, justified only in an emergency, when other means for the defence of a country are inadequate.
Military conscription without this necessity is a violation of a basic human freedom and leads to a militarisation of civil life and civil mentality described by Pope Benedict XV as “ for more than a century the true cause of countless evils.” A conscript state is, in effect, a slave state; hence it is something to be resisted unless in a last resort.
The journal continues -
We believe that the Government has not any moral right to conscript Australian youth for service overseas and we hope that the strong public protest will bc effective in preventing a violation of human rights which the tradition of Australian democracy has hitherto been able to preserve.
I trust that Government senators, who are in a spot on this question and who are fighting against public opinion with their backs to the wall, will not hit out too wildly in casting asperations upon decent Australians who want to resist this monstrous new decision of the Holt Government. There ace many issues that one could canvass in the course of this debate. 1 want to refer to two particular aspects of the problem. One is the growing anxiety about the extent and the nature of our commitment in Vietnam and that, of course, relates to the commitment both by the United States of America and by Australia.
We live in the time of one of the greatest debates in history, a debate in which many people are pressing earnest views for consideration. I am not one of those who belive that there can be only one side to a question, but I think we must all have been impressed by the vitality and strength of public debate on this issue, perhaps even more in the United States of America than in Australia. We have seen, in recent months, the emergence of views widely held by some statesmen very prominent in the public life of the United States of America - people of the stature of Senator J; William Fulbright, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, Senator Mike Mansfield, Majority Leader in the Senate, Senator Robert Kennedy and a number of other distinguished figures in public life in the United States of America. They are men who believe, as we do on this side of Australian politics, that this war in Vietnam should not be escalated from here on but that some kind of machinery should be found to de-escalate the effort and to bring about negotiations that will lead eventually to a political settlement.
The case that is put on behalf of the Government by speakers such as Senator Sim amounts, in my view, mainly to a torrent of platitudes in which one finds oneself almost drowned at times, lt fails to appreciate the distinction between rhetoric and reality. In the whole of this mighty debate on Vietnam I think it is important to keep in mind that what we are concerned with is what is actually happening in Vietnam and what kind of war it is. Tt is our duty as senators and as political representatives in the Parliament of Australia to question the Government, to cross-examine it and to remain unconvinced if its case is not well founded. Speaking as a loyal Australian, interested in the security of this country and proud of our heritage, I have found myself entirely unconvinced by the arguments which the Government has put forward on the question of whether it is right for us to have troops in Vietnam; on the question of whether it is in Australia’s interests for Australian troops to be in Vietnam; and, especially, on the vital question of whether it is right to take, by direction, voteless youths and send them to Vietnam to accept their fate. I do not believe that any greater burden can be thrown upon a responsible young man of 20 years than to take him and tell him that it is his duty to kill or be killed as the circumstances arise in the course of his service thousands of miles away from his own country.
The case for sending conscripts outside Australia to fight in Vietnam has to be clear and documented, so far as I am concerned.
I do not believe that the Government has come anywhere near convincing the people of Australia that it has made out its case. Senator Sim sought to criticise Senator Cavanagh for not staling correctly, as he suggested, what former President Eisenhower had said over 10 years ago. Frankly, I listened carefully and did not understand Senator Cavanagh to have in any way misquoted former President Eisenhower. I wish to quote what the present President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, said in 1954 when he was Leader of the Democratic Majority in the United States Senate. He was speaking at the time of the Eisenhower Republican Administration. At a Jefferson Jackson dinner he criticised the then Administration in these terms -
We will insist upon a clear explanation of the policies in which we are asked to co-operate. We will insist that we and the American people be treated as adults; that we have the facts without sugar coating. The function of Congress is not simply to appropriate money and leave the problem of national security at that.
So it is that the Australian Opposition insists that there must be frankness on the part of the Government. I say that in a number of respects we have not been taken into the Government’s confidence and the Government has been much less than frank about its objectives.
– Will the honorable senator quote what President Johnson is saying in 1966?
– Everybody else is quoting what President Johnson is saying in 1966. J shall tell the honorable senator something else that President Johnson said in 1954 before the end of the French war in Indo-China. He said then that he was against sending American boys into the mud and muck of Indo-China on a blood letting spree to perpetuate colonialism and the white man’s exploitation in Asia. That was Senator Johnson’s view in 1954.
– Did they not then believe in containing Communism?
– Yes. They believed in containing Communism in those days. Let us not have it as a simple matter of black and white. To the honorable senators opposite who are interjecting I say that I shall not be replying to them. 1 do not intend to be put off my speech by honorable senators opposite who wish to introduce other issues. I shall see them afterwards. I am saying what is being said, not simply by members of the Australian Labour Party or dissident groups in the Australian community, but by responsible men in the United States and many of the world’s statesmen about the issue in Vietnam. On this occasion I do not have the time to canvass the very serious doubts which exist in the minds of some very distinguished lawyers in the United States as to the legal basis of the participation of that country in the Vietnam war.
When Opposition senators ask whether we are at war and whether there has been a declaration of war, supporters of the Government treat it as though it were a bit of a joke or a bit of legalism. In the United Slates this debate is proceeding seriously, because of a responsible body of opinion there. One committee of lawyers has prepared an elaborate and well reasoned memorandum on the law relating to American policy in Vietnam. This committee questions whether the action of the United States Government in Vietnam does not contravene the essential provisions of the United Nations Charter. They question whether it does not violate the terms of the 1954 Geneva Agreements and whether the agreement signed by members of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation justifies American intervention. Their doubts arise because under the regional agreement of S.E.A.T.O. no enforcement action can be taken without the authority of the Security Council. And, further, there is substantial debate proceeding on the subject of the “undeclared war”, because America, also, has not declared war. Only Congress can declare war under the Constitution of the United States and President Johnson has not invited Congress to do so. A serious discussion is taking place on whether what has been authorised by the President amounts to war. I am not concerned on this occasion to press those views as correct or as final. I am merely saying that they are views seriously held by responsible people. In the case of the action of our own Government, we are entitled to question the basis upon which the commitment is made.
– That is fair enough.
– 1 am pleased to hear that interjection by Senator Mattner. It is the only interjection I shall acknowledge.
– The honorable senator is most generous.
– That is the way things are. In this situation, the Opposition is entitled to ask people who want to overwhelm us with abstract nouns and generalisations about the nature of the Vietnam conflict, what is the basis of our engagement there. Let us assume that all that has been said by honorable senators opposite is true and that there is a massive menace from Communist China, although it is very hard to put the two factors side by side. On the one hand, the Government says that Red China is pointing a dagger straight at Australia’s heart. This is the menace of predatory Communist Chinese imperialism. On the other hand, not a single Chinese soldier is involved in the Vietnam war. Indeed, the best efforts, so we are told, of American and world statesmanship are being directed toward keeping Communist China out of the war so as to prevent a collision between the United States and Communist China.
– The honorable senator’s leader in the other place is trying to invite that collision.
– My leader is not. He is ridiculing the contemptuously hypocritical attitude of the Holt Government in prating about the menace from Communist China and then trading with that country, which is one of our best customers, in the interests of the Government’s supporters in rural electorates. That is what my leader is doing. Let us assume that honorable senators opposite are right about this matter. Nobody on the Government side is seriously facing the question of where we go from here. What do we want? Do we want a military victory in Vietnam?
– The honorable senator does not?
– Nobody said anything about a military victory.
– A good many people have been talking as though what they hope will come out of the conflict is a military victory. On that question, I can state my argument no better than in the language of that respected journal, the “ New York Times “. In its editorial of 6th March last, the “ New York Times “ stated -
While a strictly military victory in the normal sense of the word could, of course, be won by the United States over the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong, the cost in escalation, in human life and in moral, physical, economic and political damage could invalidate such a victory even before it was won. Quite apart from the risk entailed in war with China, the picture of Americans obliterating an Asian country and people - even with the highest, most selfless of motives - is not a picture that would in the long run redound to the benefit of the United States nor to its long range safety or interest.
I contend that the same considerations apply to Australia; that we should not be looking to the future with that kind of an end result in mind. On the other hand, I do not think anybody would regard military defeat as being in any way likely at this stage. The United States has committed enormous forces in Vietnam and will continue to commit forces there if the present trend continues. So, what remains is some kind of negotiated political solution. At the moment I am not concerned with debating the sincerity or otherwise of all the efforts that have , been made. I believe that many of them have been sincere. I believe - I have said this on other occasions - that Hanoi and Peking were wrong in rebuffing the Wilson peace mission and other initiatives.
However, I still have not seen spelt out some proposal that the other side can grasp as an opportunity for negotiation. It is all very well to talk about unconditional discussions. The first question is: With whom? This is the area in which the problem is bogged down at the moment. The United States has not conceded the right of the Vietcong to be represented separately at any talks. The Vietcong or National Liberation Front says: “We have substantial support. It is with us that you have to do business, not with North Vietnam or Peking.” What 1 am saying is no idealistic nonsense. It is supported by responsible opinion in the United States itself. It is this: None of the possible terms of settlement - such as whether there can be some kind of Titoist solution or whether there can be some kind of government with a substantial Communist or National
Liberation Front element in it - has been teased out, because we cannot get to the conference table.
I believe that we could get to the conference table if two or three things were done. The first one is to spell out the core of the problem, which is the recognition of the Vietcong as a major negotiating party. If we do not do that the American force -will escalate to a total of half a million or one million troops and we will have not 4,500 but 20,000 or 40.000 Australians in Vietnam in five or six years’ time; and we will still be no clearer as to what our aims are and no closer to a condition of peace in this devastated, war torn, downtrodden land. These are serious questions.
The second point is that the United Nations presence has to be asserted in this problem. Notwithstanding what Senator Sim said about this matter, I do not believe that we have really done all that we could do through the United Nations. Australia has done nothing in this respect. Last year in this Senate I asked whether, before the first commitment of Australian troops was made or since that time, any requests had been made for United Nations intercession. The answer was: “ We duly reported to the President of the Security Council our decision to send the troops “. Full stop. No request for action was made. The Government merely made a report that we were about to send troops. Indeed, it was not until 1966 that this matter first came before the United Nations.
Australia is one of the countries with a major stake in this conflict. Australia is a country - one of the very few countries - with troops in Vietnam. Australia has a special responsibility not just to sit quietly and take whatever medicine is coming, not just to follow mildly in the footsteps of decisions that are taken by the United States and not just to accept being excluded from conferences, whether they are held at Honolulu or elsewhere, but to be in the forefront of the nations that want to see some kind of diplomatic initiative. Although I have seen many statements by the former Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) referring in commendatory terms to peace efforts, I have yet to hear of a single occasion on which the Australian Government itself has called for some diplomatic initiative or has said, for example: “ Mr. President, we do not think you ought to resume the bombing of North Vietnam “.
A few weeks ago, at about the time when Mr. Harold Holt became Prime Minister and some weeks after President Johnson had stopped the bombing, there was a critical moment. The President had to make the difficult decision as to whether he should order the resumption of bombing. He was asked by many responsible persons to continue the pause - U Thant, the Pope and many others. In the end he resumed the bombing without a single plea from Australia not to resume it. All that he got from our Prime Minister was a pat on the back after he had made his decision.
– Mr. Hasluck said that the Australian Government approved of the decision and Mr. Wilson said that the British Government approved of it.
– I am not dealing with Mr. Wilson at the moment. His Government has no troops in Vietnam. I am dealing with the Australian Government. 1 say emphatically that anything that Mr. Hasluck said was said after, and not before, President Johnson decided to resume the bombing. All we know is that after the decision was made Australia said that it was in agreement with the decision.
My time is drawing to a close. I want to deal with one aspect of this matter which seems to me to be extremely important in relation to the issue of conscription. Last week I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question based on a report which appeared in the “ New York Times “ of 24th February and which related to a statement from the Government of South Vietnam on statistics of desertions from the Army of South Vietnam. I did not ask that question idly. I gave the suggested figure, which was 113,000 during 1965 alone. The South Vietnamese Government was reported to have stated that in 1965’ alone there were 113,000 defections. Apparently the United States authorities felt that that figure was an exaggeration or did not take into account men who had come back. Later the figure was adjusted to 96,000. In either case, it was almost half the total American commitment in Vietnam at present. These are men who are not willing to fight in the Army of South Vietnam. It is their places that our young Australian men are being sent to fill - not that they can fill so many places completely. I asked my question seriously and responsibly.
– What kind of answer did the honorable senator receive?
– The answer, which we received yesterday, was that the Department of External Affairs knew nothing of any such South Vietnam statement at this stage and would supply me with information when it came through. My question was whether the Australian Government was aware of these facts in relation to desertions from the South Vietnamese Army when it made its decision to increase the Australian commitment and to include national servicemen or conscripts in the new number of 4,500 men. Are we to assume that the Government knows so little of the facts of the matter that it does not know what is the rate of desertion from the South Vietnamese Army? According to this report, it was 18 per cent, in December. If the Government did not know, it stands condemned for inefficiency and for an inability to look after Australia’s best interests. If it did know, it had a duty to tell the Australian people what the facts were and to provide a clear explanation, to use the language that Lyndon Johnson used back in 1954 in respect of the Eisenhower Administration’s commitments.
The Government and its supporters cannot have things both ways. If they want to convince people in this country that their decision was correct they will have a lot more explaining to do and they will have to give a lot more facts. Frankly, I believe that the Government is now seriously concerned and dismayed at the public reaction to its conscription proposals. Some of its loyal supporters in the splinter party are also dismayed because, according to a gallup poll, 61 per cent, of that party’s supporters oppose these proposals for conscription for overseas service. The onus in this debate is not on the Opposition. It is on the Government to demonstrate clearly and convincingly to the Australian people that it has a case. Frankly, I do not believe that it has. The Opposition does not believe that it has either. That is why we will vote unanimously in support of Senator Kennelly’s amendment.
– I rise to support the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and to oppose the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition. First, in common with other honorable senators on the Government side, I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister on the courage, the determination and the leadership be has shown in his first statement’ of this nature. I wish to speak on two aspects of the statement. The first is our commitment in South East Asia and the second is our economic situation. I have been a member of tha Senate for only a comparatively short time. From time to time we have witnessed many supporters of the Government being critical of Government policy and, perhaps, of Government procedure. As honorable senators know, I have been one of those who have been critical on occasions. But I can assure the Opposition and the people whom I represent that on this occasion we, as a Government, are united in the policy that has been set.
Of course, the debate has been dominated by the question of the Government’s policy in Vietnam. I believe that the Government is adopting the right policy. The Government believes that national security should transcend every other matter which confronts it and the people of Australia. The Government’s objective is to aim for national security, which is of tremendous importance to all of us. We might ask: How do we propose to achieve this national objective? We might also ask whether the answer is to be found in a policy of isolation. I should hate to think that we, as a Government or as a people, would say that we propose to live in this area of the Pacific’, practically on our own and with a long coastline, and not play our part in the international affairs that are taking place around us.
We may say that we will depend on the United Nations Organisation. Nobody will disagree with the idealism of the United Nations. But I believe it is true to say that most of us have been disappointed by the ineffectiveness of the United Nations Organisation since its formation after the last World War. That is unfortunate, but we have to be realistic. On many occasions the United Nations has not been able to lake any part in trying to bring about’ peace in wars that have occurred, particularly in South East Asia, because it has been impracticable for it to do so. 1 believe that the best security can be found not only in supporting the United Nations when the occasion permits, as we did in Korea 10 a degree, and when, perhaps, the United Nations can exert its influence to bring the factions concerned to the conference table, but also in being realistic.
We have joined a group of nations in the area affected in South East Asia. We must consider ourselves to be a nation in that area in order that we might play our part in its defence, that we might create the confidence necessary in the area and so thai we in turn, in time of danger, may look to these other nations for support. 1 turn now to a situation which might be considered to be a part of recent history. Reference has been made to it in the Senate on many occasions during the last few days, but 1 think that it is worthwhile to keep repeating it. We saw the situation that developed in Korea. The Western nations, admittedly in co-operation with the United Nations, played a tremendously important role in bringing to Korea, not only peace but also economic stability. One of the important developments of the past week was South Korea’s decision to send an additional 20,000 troops to Vietnam. Korea is on the border of China. It is nearer to Vietnam than is Australia and it has experienced the kind of trouble which is confronting South Vietnam at the present time. 1 believe that South Korea’s decision to send additional troops was a tremendous encouragement to our cause, ft will bring great satisfaction to those who are determined to stop this aggression and who support the principle of freedom for the smaller nations.
Let us look at Malaya. A few years ago Communist terrorists endeavoured to overthrow the constitutional government of Malaya and to cause general unrest. Then we had Indonesia’s confrontation of Malaysia. British, New Zealand and Australian troops entered the area to defend it against Indonesia’s confrontation. It could well be that our determination in meeting Indonesia’s confrontation policy had a bear ing on the trouble which occurred on 30th September last, when Indonesia was split internally. If Indonesia had succeeded in its confrontation policy prior to 30th September, the people of Indonesia might well have been satisfied because possibly they would have occupied parts of Malaysia. So it can be seen that the action that we took in supporting the United States. Britain, South Korea, New Zealand and other countries has done much towards achieving stability in this area. This is what we hope to achieve by our present policy in Vietnam. I am confident that our past policy will also succeed in this area.
I believe that morally our case in Vietnam is good. There is no need for me to tell honorable senators - it has been stated on many occasions - that not one of the countries engaged in this area has any territorial or economic gains in mind. They are determined to see that South Vietnam retains its freedom. The people will have an opportunity to determine the kind of government they want when the occasion arises. I think that when the occasion arises this Government will do all it possibly can to see that the various parties come to the conference table. The United States went to extreme lengths, in my opinion, early this year when, at great risk and with some sacrifice so far as position was concerned, it decided not to continue bombing in Vietnam.
It is as well for us to remember that nobody wants a total war. The action of the Government is to try to bring stability to this area and to see that the terrorists and the Vietcong are overthrown. We might ask: What is the alternative? We might also ask: What is the policy of the Australian Labour Party? I have listened very intently to this debate and I have read speeches of Labour members in another place, and Labour’s policy appears to me to be one of do nothing and say nothing except to condemn the actions of the Government. I do not think such an attitude will bring credit to the Labour Party or to the people who support it. I am sure that this negative policy will not be approved by the people because it depends almost entirely on emotionalism. It is well to remember that the statement we are debating was made only recently and Labour’s policy may appear to have some support at this time, but I am sure that when the people of Australia really know the facts and know that this Government is united in its policy of providing the greatest security possible for Australia they will, as they have done in the past, get behind the Government and approve its actions.
How does Labour, which supports the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, propose to honour its obligations? Labour opposed national service training which was introduced in 1964. It has not put forward any policy relating to the way in which it would handle the present situation. It has only a completely negative approach. I have never known any organisation, any government or any country to make any progress while following a completely negative policy on any matter.
I strongly support the Government because I believe that we have a moral and a military obligation consistent with our objective of providing the maximum security for Australia. This has always been the Government’s objective and that is why the national service training scheme was introduced. I also strongly support the Government’s action in sending a proportion of our national servicemen overseas because I believe that, too, is consistent with the objective of providing the greatest security for this nation. It is well to remember that this policy of sending national servicemen overseas must be directed not only towards Vietnam but also towards wherever Australia’s security is in danger, be it Borneo, Malaya or anywhere else.
I think everyone would agree that voluntary recruitment was given a thorough trial but sufficient recruits were not forthcoming. For that reason it was necessary to introduce national service training and to implement a policy of using a section of our national servicemen with our overseas force. We must remember also that if we lose the war in Vietnam and Communism spreads south east into Thailand, our position will be considerably worse than it is now. We must ensure that our contribution is consistent with our resources and our manpower. I am sure that the Government’s action will find strong support not only with our own people but also with other countries of the free world.
The Opposition opposes the Government’s proposal. Let me put this proposition to the Opposition: Suppose we adopt a negative, isolationist policy and do nothing about Vietnam, what would be the Opposition’s attitude and reaction if from out of the blue Australia were attacked? I know to which country the Labour Party would look. It would look to the United States. For that reason alone we must play our part. If we are to regard ourselves as being a responsible nation worthy of our forebears, it is imperative that we make the maximum contribution in this area in which we live while at the same time attaining our objective of providing the maximum security for ourselves.
– Where is this place “ out of the blue “ from which the attack will come? Is it Mars or somewhere else?
– One never knows. With modern day weapons we could easily cop it if we were not prepared. Senator O’Byrne probably is one of those who opposed the national service training scheme. He has opposed the defence of Australia all along.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. >
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was concluding my remarks on our commitments in South East Asia and giving my support to the Government’s proposals. The Government’s policy, I believe, has as its objective the security of Australia and is a sincere attempt to play our part as one of many nations in this area in restoring order and stability. As I mentioned earlier, I want to say something about that part of the Prime Minister’s speech which relates to the economy, and particularly about rural loans. Before doing that, I should like to refer to the general state of the economy. There was an improvement in the employment position at the end of February, in spite of the drought which has been devastating. This, I believe, is evidence of the strength and diversity of the Australian economy. This improvement, plus the additional money which is coming forward for housing loans, and the more promising weather pattern over a great part of eastern Australia will, without the slightest doubt, create a good deal of confidence. In addition, as mentioned, I think by Senator Laught, we have an inflow of migrants and an inflow of overseas capital. It is true to say that Australia is regarded as having a stable economy with a high standard of living and this is the result of the Government’s policy of balanced development over many years.
I am pleased that the Government proposes to set up a separate Rural Division of the Commonwealth Development Bank. This is in line with the policy which has been advocated for many years by the Party which I represent in the Senate. I am sure that it will bring a great deal of confidence to rural people. There will be access to $70 million, of which $50 million will come from the farm loan fund and $20 million will come from the term loan fund. I am pleased that this money is to be made available through the trading banks, because we have in Australia a long history of good relations between banks and rural clients. This policy will bring confidence to those people who do their borrowing through the banks and will assist the rural economy generally. I hope that the enabling legislation will soon come before the Parliament and that the machinery will be quickly set up so that the money may become available for this purpose.
I am anxious to hear more details of the proposals, particularly as they will affect graziers who need to restock. This is a matter to which I have referred previously in the Senate and it is terribly important to the grazing industry. I appreciate what has been done already by the Commonwealth and the States in the provision of loans to a maximum of £3,000 to producers to assist them in feeding their stock and for financial carry-on purposes. This assistance to enable producers to get through the drought has been particularly helpful. The recent rains, which we hope will continue, may be the start of a very good season in eastern Australia although, admittedly, many areas have not yet received rains. This will bring a demand for finance for restocking. Many graziers have had heavy stock losses and an enormous amount of money has been spent in feeding stock. They have been under tremendous expense over the last 18 months. As a consequence, many have very little capital and, unfortunately, they have not the borrowing power to enable them to restock.
I have made a survey of the proportion of capital that the average grazier has tied up in livestock. As a result, I believe that stock represents from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, of the capital of most graziers. This means that because of stock losses they have not the capital on which to get a return. If, as I believe to be correct, New South Wales and Queensland have lost 15 million sheep and 3 million cattle in the drought over the last 12 or 18 months, a fair estimate of the capital lost in this direction would be from $300 million to $400 million. I do not suggest, of course, that this amount will be required to assist producers to restock. We know that many will be in the position to do this themselves. Practically all of them will not be in a hurry to restock to the position in which they were prior to the drought. I think it is fair to say that at least 15 per cent, to 20 per cent, of this amount will be required to put these people into a position in which they are earning a reasonable amount of money. This means that at least $50 million to $60 million will be required in order that they may be producing again. I hope that portion of this money will be allocated from these funds for the purpose of enabling stock owners to get on their feet again.
I know that this money is for development purposes generally, but it would appear to me that more money will be required for restocking, and I believe that the Government, acknowledging this, will come to the assistance of those who require the money. The Reserve Bank figures show a decline between 30th June 1964 and 30th June 1965 of $42 million in liquid assets of rural holdings. In the same period, rural indebtedness rose from $1,194 million to $1,294 million. This is a true indication of the difficulties that confronted the livestock industry as at 30th June last. Of course, there has been a serious deterioration since then. This shows the extent of the capital that will be required to help these people to get on their feet again. I recognise that there is a terrific demand for money from all sections of industry. Unfortunately, we have not enough to go round in every direction, but I should like to know bow much will be available for restocking purposes and also for the assistance of wheat growers who may have some difficulty in sowing their crops in the coming year. I believe that much of this money can be obtained through the loans of £3,000 available from the States.
I want it to be clearly understood that we do not find people on the land asking for charity. This is tremendously important. Long term loans at a reasonable rate of interest are essential. I hope that the interest will be funded for two or three years to enable borrowers to further improve their position and reduce their commitments. We in Australia, generally, live in a protected economy. Graziers living in this economy have to sell on the world market and with rising costs their position is difficult. In the interests of these producers and of the national economy generally, the Government must do all it can to get these producers back into production. I know it will do so.
Statistics produced by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics show that taking 1950 as the base figure of 100 for prices paid for goods and services, the index had risen from 232 in 1963-64 to 250 in 1964-65. Unfortunately, it is still rising. 1 repeat that the producers are not asking for charity but they are looking to the Government to recognise their plight and to make more money available for the rehabilitation of producers affected by the drought. It is absolutely imperative that those producers who have been badly hit by the drought be given confidence in their ability to recover from the unfortunate position in which they find themselves. This can be done by the Government by the provision of a reasonable amount of money for restocking. This money should be made available soon on a long term basts. The effects of the drought should’ be minimised by Government action to conserve water for irrigation and conserve fodder by means of a long range programme.
While the man on the land does not look for charity, he badly needs a shot in the arm and the incentive to return to the position he occupied for generations when Australian primary industries attracted capital for investment and increased production because of their prosperity brought about by efficient management. The proposed allocation of funds for rural development will be of great help. This will be a foundation on which to build for the future. In addition, in view of the fluctuations in profits and expenses of primary producers, there is a need for a thorough investigation into the whole field of rural finance and taxation. While I am a member of the Senate I will continue to press for such a review. I congratulate the Government on the measures it has taken because, as 1 have said, this is a foundation on which to build and will be of tremendous help to the rural economy.
– I listened with great interest to the statement of the recently appointed Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on Government policy. This statement was delivered by the right honorable gentleman to the Parliament and the people of Australia about a fortnight ago. After listening to the Prime Minister and to his supporters in the Senate, 1 am reminded of the slogan used by the Windmill girls in London during the blitz of the Second World War. Their slogan was: “ We never close “. An alternative slogan was: “The show still goes on “. Despite the change in Prime Ministers in Australia, there has been no curtain drop by this Government. There has been no change of props or scenery. Neither has there been any change of thought by the Prime Minister and those who sit behind him unless it is that’ their thinking is rather more reactionary than it was before. One person who occupied the stage for 15 or 16 years has retired and another is filling in for the time being in the star role. Obviously, from the terms of the statement he produced for the Parliament a fortnight ago, he is not proving very effective in the role.
For one and a half hours several weeks ago we were told in. a long, dreary, cliche studded statement, that the economic policy pursued by the Menzies Government would be pursued by the Holt Government with all its stops and starts, and that our’ military efforts in Asia would be stepped up by the use of additional Australian troops, approximately one-third of them being conscripts. These conscripts are young men of 20 years who this time last year were engaged in civilian occupations and who will probably be frontline troops in Vietnam in a few weeks’ time. We were given long, laborious and tedious explanations for a number of things but much was not said that should have been said. Such matters as inadequate social services were not even mentioned. The general rundown state of the economy seemed to be glossed over. A number of other important matters of concern to the Australian community were not even mentioned. But as honorable senators on the Opposition side have constantly reminded those who sit for the time being on the treasury bench, the most vital question concerning Australians is the following bellicose statement of the Prime Minister -
Australia cannot stand aside from the struggle to resist the aggressive thrust of Communism in Asia and to ensure conditions in which stability can be achieved.
According to the Government’s own case, Australian blood is being spilt on Asian shores to stop the downward thrust of Communism while the same Government allows millions of bushels of wheat, many bales of wool and unknown quantities of metals to be sold to the nation which is engaged in the downward thrust. One must ask how sincere the Government is. On the one hand it trades to the extent of millions of dollars with the nation engaged in the downward thrust in Asia, and on the other hand it sends a mere 4,500 Australians, including 1,500 conscripts, to stop this aggression.
What is the situation with some of our allies? In a report in the “ Far Eastern Economic Review “ dated 3rd March we find that Singapore and Malaysia, countries more likely to be subject to aggression than Australia, trade with China and Russia. Sales of rubber last month were valued at £8.7 million sterling. If this Government is really concerned about this downward thrust, what has it done to lodge a protest about this matter with the Government of Singapore or the Government of Malaysia? How valid is the Government’s argument? I am certain that, if the Government were concerned about the downward thrust of Communist aggression, more than 4,500 young Australians would be engaged in this war in Vietnam. I rather believe that the reason why these young Australians are being sent abroad is to be found in the Government’s statement that agreement has now been reached on the sale of a substantial quantity of Australian small arms ammunition to the American forces, because in his statement of 8th March, the Prime Minister said -
We believe that Australia can, with advantage to the allied effort, to the strengthening of our own capacity and to the advantage of our own nation, play an increasing part in this matter of supply.
The Prime Minister seemed to be confident that a majority of the members of this Parliament and of the people of this country would warmly support the increase in the Australian contribution to the war in Vietnam. Mr. Morris West, the world famous Australian author, recently said -
I am afraid, terribly afraid, that we Australians may choose the myth instead of the truth. And if we begin to live by myths, our children one day will wake up to a bleak and horrible reality.
If at the next election this Government is not defeated, the children of this country surely will wake up to face a bleak and horrible reality. I hope that sooner or later this Government will wake up to its responsibilities and the realities. For far too long the local weapon of political propaganda has been deluding the Australian people.
In July last I was in Asia with a number of my colleagues of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. I and my colleagues visited, among other places, the Kranji war cemetery in Singapore. There we saw the graves of approximately 25,000 young men, many of whom were Australians who, according to the epitaph that we saw, had died to keep men free. They had shed their blood in the fearsome days of 1941 to 1945. Now 20 or 25 years later we are sending a mere 4,500 young men, 1,500 o£ whom are conscripts, to another war in order, according to this Government, to keep others free.
Despite the fact that this nation is trebling the size of her force in Vietnam in order to resist this “ aggressive thrust of Communism in Asia”, all the experts on both sides agree that the war in Vietnam will go on and on and on. American military advisers have told the American Senate Foreign Relations Committee that that is the position. American foreign experts have expressed the same view. They all have said that this will be a long, hard, costly and bitter struggle. What have we heard from Hanoi? Just recently the authorities in Hanoi said that they could go on for another 20 years. But while this goes on, and while young Australians give up their lives because some of them believe this Government when they are told that they are there to stop the downward thrust of Communism, the Government continues to trade with the Communists to the extent of millions of pounds, millions of bushels of wheat and millions of bales of wool each year.
Let us face the facts. There is no clear victory in sight for either side, and there is not likely to he in the immediate future. If last year this conflict meant increased military expenditure not only for Australia but for all the other nations involved, if it meant extended bombing raids and the use of napalm and gas, and if it meant conscription, casualties, blood and tears, I am certain that that cost would be nothing when compared with the cost in 1966, 1967, 1968, and all the years for which it will continue. The struggle will get worse and worse and worse unless the powers that be realise the hopelessness and futility of it all and do something very quickly to end it. That is why we of the Labour movement, not only here but also in Great Britain, wherever possible have advocated that the warring parties should get around the conference table. If they do not, then the people whose sons have gone into this bottomless pit, the taxpayers who have to pay for the war out of their pay packets, the workers in industry, and all others vitally affected will see that something is done.
We have often heard from the Government, and through its propaganda media, that this effort is all for the purpose of stopping the downward thrust of Communism. Having regard to the fact that this excuse is pummelled into them day after day, not only by Government speakers but also by other people, one could excuse some members of the Australian public for believing what they are told. Let us look at the Asian scene for one moment to see what the real score is. Let us see just how deep is this downward thrust of Communism. In his policy statement, the Prime Minister told us about the recent visit to Australia of the Prime Minister of Thailand. If one accepts what the Prime Minister of Australia said, there was a factual exchange of views between himself and the Prime Minister of Thailand. We gained the impression that the Thai Prime Minister was afraid of China, whereas in actual fact Thailand is frightened primarily of a VietnameseLaotian combination, which she believes would be too much for her. As I said, she is more frightened of this than she is of China, and thus is a firm ally of the United States. But Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia is eager to preserve his country’s independence. He regards the territorial ambitions of Thailand and South Vietnam as being the chief threat to the integrity of Cambodia and it is primarily because of this that he has broken off diplomatic relations with the United States. So far as Thailand is concerned and so far as Cambodia is concerned, it is not a matter of the downward thrust of Communism. It is rather that the situation in the IndoChina peninsula of 1966 is like the situation which existed in the Balkans at the turn of the century. That is the situation so far as Cambodia, Thailand and Laos are concerned.
Let us look at another part of Asia and view the situation between Pakistan and India. I am sure that every honorable senator in this chamber will agree with me when I say that in recent times Pakistan’s fear of India has far outweighed her fear of China. Malaysia’s quarrel with Indonesia has put her firmly into the Western camp. But, of course, Singapore in the last four or five months of 1965 had differences of opinion with Malaya and seceded from the Federation of Malaysia. As everyone knows, in recent weeks, if not in recent days, a series of coups has taken place in Indonesia. Whether we like it or not, bearing in mind all these incidents that have taken place in Asia, and indeed are taking place at this very time, one can hardly refer to this great number of disputes - India and Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, Indonesia itself, the differences between Thailand and Laos, and the differences between Cambodia and South Vietnam - as the product of the downward thrust of Communism.
Only in August last, a former Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom Labour Government, Mr. Patrick Gordon Walker, wrote that South Vietnam cannot win this war, but the United States of America can make sure that she is not defeated. He went on to say -
This is a war in which there can be neither victory nor defeat.
He added -
The outside powers cannot stay forever in Asia. There is no permanent place for them as supporters of one set of Asians against another.
I think that is the kernel of the problem as Australia should view it today. If you go to Asia and speak to Asian leaders of various and differing political points of view you will find that they do not want any part of this war. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, who was in Australia in the early part of last year, will tell you that if you look at the Asian revolution through the eyes of a European you will get the wrong slant on things in Asia.
Let us consider an article by Dennis Bloodworth, a journalist who writes for the “ British Observer “, and who has lived a great part of his life in Asia. He wrote an article in September last year, some four months ago, which appeared in a newspaper published by the Singapore Government, namely “ The Mirror “. In the article, headed “ The Political Problem in Vietnam “ Dennis Bloodworth tells of the hate, the misery, the suffering and the corruption that has taken place in Vietnam. He tells the story of a Colonel Phan Ngoc Thao who took part in the struggle against the French in the days of Indo-China. He tells of the part that the colonel took in the struggle against the Japanese. He tells of the part he took in the Vietminh forces.
He disagreed with the Communist section of the Vietminh forces. He took part in the coup against Diem in 1963 and in the unsuccessful coups against General Khanh in February 1965. Quoting the words of Colonel Phan Ngoc Thao, Dennis Bloodworth said - “ Nine out of ten men who fought the French in the Vietminh were men like me,” he used to insist. “ They were not Communists, but nationalists. And the same is true of the Vietcong. If we have a sound and honest Government in Saigon which proves that it minds more about the needs of the people than its own future power, it will be possible to persuade the majority of guerillas to cross to our side, leaving the Communists isolated. But conversely, if the country’s leaders are only concerned with their own careers, if they treat even fundamentally nationalist guerillas as traitors to be handed over to the French-trained security police and their torturers, and meanwhile money that is supposed to pay for improvements and comforts in the villages goes into the pockets of dishonest administrators, everyone will be driven to support the Vietcong “.
Mr. Bloodworth went on to say
And there was little doubt that he was right, for the more money that Washington poured into South Vietnam, the more numerous the Vietcong became, so that by last year people were joking that you could annihilate the guerilla movement simply by shutting off the supply of American dollars, men, and arms.
That statement appeared in a paper published by the Government of Singapore - a responsible Government which is friendly to the point of view expressed by Australia. It indicates that in Asian eyes it is dangerous for Australia to embark upon the type of foreign policy that this Government has decided to continue - a policy introduced by the former Prime Minister. I turn now to another article in the same paper headed “The Vietnam Tangle”. In an address to the University of Singapore, Inche A. Rahim Ishak, a responsible Asian, and a person whom I, with my colleagues, met when we were in Singapore, dealt amongst other things with the tangle in Vietnam, as the report of the’ address is headed in this journal. Mr. Ishak had this to say -
Assuming that the situation in Vietnam oan be stabilised, brought back to the status quo, the immediate problem is for the non-communist leaders in South Vietnam to embark upon a genuine revolutionary course. Whether this can be done or not I do not know, but if the leaders in South Vietnam are not prepared to make these radical changes in the political, economic and social spheres then in the long run the Vietcong and the communists will win. The Americans can’t win, that I am certain of, because for all the stupid things they have done, the first thing that any noncommunist revolutionary group which might emerge in South Vietnam will want to do is also to get rid of the Americans.
Again, I point out that this article appeared in a newspaper published by the Government of Singapore. Whether honorable senators like it or not this is a statement published in a journal put out by a friendly nation, a country that is responsible in the eyes of many people. The same gentleman went on to say in the article -
The trouble with the Americans is that they think whoever is not like Ngo Dinh Diem, Syngman Rhee or Chiang Kai Shek is a communist. Those who fight on the side of the revolutionary anti-imperialist forces are communists. Whoever is not with them are against them. This is to say the least a very immature attitude of mind. And for this the Americans have found themselves all over Asia and even Africa lighting counter revolutionary wars.
It is rather hard to say these things because we of the Labour movement believe that Australia’s future is wrapped up naturally with the point of view of the United States. But when we believe that the policies being pursued by the United States Government and the Australian Government are not in the interests of Australia it is our duty to express that belief.
I trust that Australian public opinion will force the Australian Government to alter its present policy of despatching conscripts to Vietnam. I trust that the voices of honest, decent Australians will be raised in horror at the thought of conscripted blood being spilled on far distant soil. I hope that the Australian Government will bring some sanity into its thinking and will heed the cry that goes out from members of the Australian Labour movement. I ask this Government to say: “ Let us construct for Australia “, and not: “ Let us conscript for Asia “. Because this Government’s thinking and its decisions in the past have been fraught with danger and uncertainty I believe that we members of the Labour movement have a duty to the Australian people. That is why the Opposition supports the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly.
– We are debating a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in another place on the state of the nation at this time. In that statement many important, indeed vital, matters were discussed - the development of this country, the economic position of this country, this country’s approach to immigration and other highly significant matters. But most of the debate on the statement has been concerned - I think quite rightly - with Australia’s involvement in the warlike operations in Vietnam.
For almost one year Australian regular troops have been in Vietnam - but not only there - engaged in warlike activities repelling aggression. They will continue to be engaged there in future, but integrated with the Australian Regular Army and lighting as part of it will be national servicemen. They will be fulfilling the same task as other servicemen and in doing so they will undoubtedly suffer some loss of life. So it is right and proper that at this time this matter should engage the attention of both Houses of the National Parliament to the exclusion of all else. It is also right that those people who oppose what the Government is doing should advance in the Parliament the reasons why they oppose it and should have those reasons rebutted by the Government, where they can be rebutted.
I approach this matter in the spirit that was crystallised in one sentence by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Calwell). I may say that this was the only part of his speech with which I agreed. He said -
The over-riding issue which this Parliament has to deal with at all times . . . must be judged by this one crucial test: What best promotes our national security, what best guarantees our national survival?
The first answer that I would give to that question is that what best promotes our national security and our national survival is the existence of a world in which aggression by one nation or part of one nation against another is shown to be unsuccessful and does not succeed in whole or in part.
– Hear, hear! Why don’t we pull out?
– I am glad to have agreement with that from Senator Cavanagh because in South Vietnam aggression is taking place and is being resisted, as J propose to show. This is the basic fact on which Australia’s survival ultimately depends. And not only Australia’s survival depends on it. In the interests of all nations, big and small, we must ensure that history is not repeated and that aggression is not allowed to be successful. If it is successful, even the history through which most of us in this chamber have lived shows that it will be repeated and repeated and repeated until ultimately it will become insufferable and will have to be stopped; but it will be stopped at a cost in blood and treasure infinitely greater than would have been the case had it been stopped at its initiation.
I suppose each generation has to learn again. But surely something of what happened in the last generation can be taken as experience by the present one. We saw an attack upon Abyssinia by Italy. That attack was not resisted and so it was successful. Then followed an attack by Fascist Germany. Whatever sparks aggression, whether it is Communism or Fascism, it is the fact of aggression, rather than that which sparks it, that is the danger. We saw treaties broken. We saw a march into the Rhineland, which was successful; then a march into Austria, which was successful as the Premier of Austria lay dying on a couch at Berchtesgaden. Then came a march into the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, which was successful; and finally there was the march into Poland and aggression had to be stopped. It was stopped not only at the cost of suffering on the battlefield but also at the cost of the most sadistic and vile actions ever perpetrated by any nation. These things would not have taken place had the aggression been stopped at its beginning.
I thought that these lessons had been learned, because some years later resolute action was taken to put down subversion in Malaya. This took some years during which many civilians were murdered by the terrorists. Out of the rubber jungles at night came the hand grenade or the stuttering burst of a Sten gun to spread terror and to overthrow a government that the majority of the people in Malaya wanted. Australians were there, with British and other forces, resisting that aggression. We were told - and the words sound familiar today - “ This war will go on forever. This war cannot be won “. But it was won. The Malayan people came out of it. The aggression was not successful there.
We saw aggression again in Korea. We saw the people of the north sweep across the southern boundary with armed formations. Because the stopping of aggression was the basic concept of the formation of the United Nations - it has not been able to stop aggression in all cases but that was its basic purpose - we saw United Nations forces moving in to stop aggression in Korea. And the aggression was not successful. We have seen, perhaps in a muted way, but with the principle the same, aggression on the borders of Malaysia - a new country, a country disliked by its neighbour, Indonesia, and therefore attacked by force of arms and by terrorism. This, too, we have seen being resisted. This, too, we will prevent, just as - let me make this perfectly clear - we would prevent aggression against Indonesia by Malaysia were the positions to be reversed. It is aggression which must be stopped if we are eventually to have a world in which general peace will reign.
– Has the Government ever told them that?
– I will answer the honorable senator’s questions later, unless they relate to what I am saying. I have said that it is the act of aggression which must be stopped. The fact that in Vietnam the aggression is sparked by a Communist power is significant because that power believes in a type of Communism in which apparently Russia no longer believes. It, China, pins its faith on force as the means of expanding the boundaries of the territory ruled by Communism. So that is significant. However, it is not as significant as the fact that the aggression itself is taking place, because that would be stopped whether it were Fascist or Communist or stemmed from the old nationalist desires for expanding frontiers for the benefit of a ruling clique in a particular country. I do not know whether the thesis I have just propounded is denied by any honorable senator opposite. I do know that the actions being taken by Australia are supported by three of the significant political parties in Australia and opposed by one - the Australian Labour Party.
I put the proposition before the Senate that Australia’s security is bound up with the world’s seeing that aggression will be stopped and that aggression will not under any circumstances be allowed to be successful. I trust that most honorable senators, from either side of the chamber, will agree with that as a proposition to which we must subscribe. Senator Cavanagh, who is interjecting, must speak for himself and let his colleagues speak for themselves, because there is more than one voice on his side of the chamber. The question is raised whether aggression is taking place in South Vietnam, because if it is agreed that aggression must be stopped and that our security depends upon its being stopped, then it must be stopped in Vietnam unless we want to buy a little present ease at the cost of much future suffering and Australia’s future security.
The question is: What is the history of aggression in Vietnam? We are told by those who speak on behalf of the Opposition that this is a civil war in Vietnam and not at all a war of aggression. So, in the sense that North Koreans were fighting South Koreans, the Korean war was a civil war. It was also a conflict in which Koreans from one part of the country sought to impose their will by force on another part of the country and were prevented from doing so only by the use of force. So it is in Vietnam that those people in control of one part of the country are seeking to impose their will by force upon those people living in another part of the country. The Geneva Agreements of 1954 divided Vietnam into two zones. One zone was north of the 17th parallel and one zone was south of that parallel. Provision was made for civilian administrations to be set up - one by the authorities in the northern zone and one by the authorities in the southern zone. Provision was also made for those people who wished to leave one zone to enter and live in the other zone to be allowed to do so. We are told that the conflict started because the cease fire agreement had in it provision for elections to be held at a particular time in a particular way and that this provision was breached by the South Vietnamese Government, causing the North Vietnamese to attack. It is a little difficult to reconcile this argument with the argument that there has not been an attack. However, it is stated that that was the reason for the attack by North Vietnam.
The Geneva Agreements contain 47 clauses and not one of them provides for an election to be held at a particular time in a particular way. Indeed, during the time that the conference was taking place, the South Vietnamese representatives made their position perfectly clear. At the third plenary session they suggested to the conference for an international political settlement that - within the framework and under the authority of the State of Vietnam free elections shall be held throughout the territory as soon as the Security Council determined that the authority of the State is established throughout the Territory and that the conditions of freedom were fulfilled. International supervision must be exercised under the auspices of the United Nations so as to ensure the freedom and genuineness of the elections.
Surely that is a reasonable proposition for a State to put and one that is difficult for any member of this Parliament to resist. In the eighth and last plenary session of the conference, the South Vietnamese repeated the request that if any elections were to be held, they should be held only as free elections when conditions allowing free elections occurred and under the control of the United Nations.
In one of the final declarations of the conference note was taken of this stand by the South Vietnamese Government. A final declaration was made - and this is quoted more by Communist sources than by any others - which had nothing to do with the cease fire agreement and which could not in any way invalidate the terms agreed to in the cease fire agreement. In the final declaration, some members of the Conference called for elections in 1 956. The status of this final declaration is well described by the British Government in Command Paper No. 2834. Great Britain was one of the co-chairmen of the conference. In the Command Paper the British Government stated that the final declaration - in contrast to the three Agreements, was not a formal instrument in the usual treaty form, lt was not signed and appears properly to have the character of a statement of intention or policy on the part of those member States of the conference which had approved it.
There was no breach of the cease fire terms on the question of elections in Vietnam. However, there were almost immediately after the signing of the Geneva Agreements quite severe breaches which, I would have thought, would have appalled the humane instincts of any member of this House. These breaches were perpetrated by the North Vietnamese.
One of the most significant parts of the Geneva Agreements provided that on the regrouping of forces of the North in the
North and forces of the South in the South those people who wished to move from either zone to the other zone not only should be allowed to do so, but also should be helped to do so. That is the provision of clause 14 (d) of the cease fire agreement published in the booklet - No. 1 of 1964, Select Documents on International Affairs - issued by the Department of External Affairs. About 860,000 people went from the North to the South because they could not and would not live under the Communist Government of the North. They voted with their feet. That number represents about one in every 15 of the population of North Vietnam at that time who left their farms and their ancestral tombs to travel to the South. It is hard for an Asian to make such a move to a new and unknown country. The move was made because they could not stand the Government which had been imposed upon them. Thousands of other people - probably tens of thousands - in breach of the Cease Fire Agreements were prevented from leaving the north by deliberate action on behalf of the North Vietnamese authorities. If any honorable senator wants documentation of that statement, 1 refer him to page 20 of the Fourth Interim Report of the International Commission for Supervision and Control in Vietnam. Having set out example after example of soldiers tearing away from the Commissioners by force people who had approached and sought a permit to leave the North, the Commission said -
In our view this phenomenon was not a mere social manifestation but an organised plan. While it has been impossible for the Commission to prove that these measures were organised as a matter of policy by the authority in control of the North, owing to the frequency and the common features of this form of obstruction in all provinces investigated there would seem to be little doubt that these obstructions and hindrances had been deliberately planned. Coupled with the general lack of co-operation from Liaison Officers and local authorities, the difficulties encountered by the teams operated to prevent them from obtaining a full appreciation of the size and the extent of the problem with respect to the nonimplementation of Article 14 (d) in the zone under the control of the High Command of North Vietnam.
This report covered the period from April 1955 to August 1955. The Geneva Agreement was signed in July 1954 and, within this period to which 1 have referred was breached in I think, the most heinous way by keeping in the area where they did not want to live, citizens who had the right to leave and go to another area. This is not the only example of a breach of the cease fire agreement by the North Vietnamese.
I revert once more to this question of elections and whether free elections could have occurred. That is one example which shows that they could not occur. 1 have another example. The authorisation for this statement is a Communist source. This is a statement which was made by General Giap, commander in chief of the North Vietnamese Army, when speaking to the Communist Party Central Committee in October 1956 with that self-criticism in which Communists indulge. This is what he said of the time after the Geneva Agreement -
We- the Communists - attacked the landowning families indiscriminately . . We executed too many honest people. We attacked on too large a front and, seeing enemies everywhere, resorted to terror, which became far too widespread . . . We failed to respect the principles of freedom of faith and worship in many areas . . . Torture came to be regarded as a normal practice during Party reorganisation.
General Giap shows what was happening to the North Vietnamese at the time when those who wished to go south were prevented from doing so.
We are told by those who oppose our action and say that agression is not taking place, that it is not real aggression. It is agreed - and indeed the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) agrees - that arms and men are being supplied and troops are being trained and led by the North Vietnamese, but it is said that this is because the United States went into South Vietnam first and this naturally led to reaction by the North Vietnamese command. On the question of the level of the forces which the United States had in South Vietnam, I would like to refer the Senate to the Eleventh Interim Report of the International Commission for Supervision and Control in Vietnam. It covers the period from 1st February I960 to 28th February 1961. On page 18 of the report the Commission points out that the South Vietnamese had approached it and had informed it that they proposed to increase the number of military advisers in South Vietnam from 342 to 685. So as at 1st February 1960 and for some time later, according to the Commission, there were no more than 342 advisers in South Vietnam. What a mighty force that is for the United States to have controlling South Vietnam. Up to 28th February 1961 there were no more than 6S5 advisers. lt is interesting that the Commission took note of this request; that the Canadian and Indian members of the Commission merely noted but did not object to the build up from 342 to 685; and that the Polish member of the Commission took note and objected to the build up from 342 to 685, but not one of them questioned the fact that that was the number of United Stales advisers in South Vietnam at the time. Yet the number of United States advisers in South Vietnam is supposed to be the reason and the excuse for the attacks by North Vietnam. Did those attacks take place? Was there, in fact, aggression in defiance of the Geneva Agreement? For the answer to those questions, I refer the Senate to the special report of the Co-chairman of the Geneva Conference on Indo-China, which was issued in Saigon on 2nd Juna 1962. It dealt with breaches of the cease fire and Communist aggression which took place from 1960 to 1962. Evidence of attacks in the provinces, which are set out at page 5 of the Commission’s report, was given to the Commission. The evidence refers to formed guerrilla forces, to North Vietnamese control, to the North Vietnamese Army and to North Vietnamese incitement. The International Commission referred this evidence to its legal committee. The legal committee, after considering the evidence, gave a report to the International Commission, which the Commission printed on pages 6 and 7 of this special report. I shall refer to the relevant paragraphs. They can all be read with the references I have given. The first paragraph reads -
Having examined the complaints and the supporting material sent by the South Vietnamese mission, the Committee has come to the conclusion that in specific instances there is evidence to show that armed and unarmed personnel, arms, munitions and other supplies have been sent from the Zone in the North to the Zone in the South with the object of supporting, organising and carrying out hostile activities, including armed attacks, directed against the Armed Forces and Administration of the Zone in the South, These acts are in violation of Articles 10, 19, 24 and 27 of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam.
A further paragraph states -
In examining the complaints and the supporting material, in particular the documentary material sent by the South Vietnamese mission, the Committee has come to the further conclusion that there is evidence to show that the PAVN has allowed the Zone in the North to be used for inciting, encouraging and supporting hostile activities in the Zone in the South, aimed at the overthrow of the Administration in the South. The use of the Zone in the North for such activities is in violation of Articles 19, 24 and 27 of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam,
Reference is made in this report to actions stemming from 1960, through 1961 to the time at which the report was printed.
– Is the Minister going to leave it at that? What about the contrary findings regarding violations on the other side?
– Just a moment. If the honorable senator wants me to take two or three minutes longer, I will do so.
– Does the Minister not think he should read on?
– Just a moment. The point I was making was that these violations stem back to 1960. In this report it is also stated - this is what the honorable senator was referring to - that by 2nd June 1962 South Vietnam had appealed for more assistance from the United States to counter this incursion from the north. Senator Cohen would know that this appeal was made to President Kennedy in the latter half of 1961 and was acceded to. If he raises objections to President Kennedy acceding to a request for assistance by a country under attack, then that is his right but I do not agree with those objections. I claim that on the evidence the fact of aggression by the north is shown.
One does not have time to develop one’s thesis as one would like but I claim that aggression must be stopped if the world is to have general peace. I claim also that, on the evidence I have put before the Senate tonight, aggression is taking place and therefore it must be stopped. If it must be stopped, we must stop it not only with words but also with such actions as are necessary.
We cannot stand by, particularly when the aggression is so close to our part of the world, and raise no hand to prevent what we believe must be prevented.
This war is winnable militarily. This war is winnable economically and politically if the Honolulu agreements are to be put into force.
– But we are not at war.
– I am sorry that my argument is raising objections from the Opposition but I believe that it is always a tribute to an argument when it raises a roar from the other side of the chamber. The war is winnable militarily; the war is winnable politically and economically. The war is los:ible only diplomatically and if credence is given to those who would attempt to sap our will to resist or would seek a cease fire while aggression is still partially successful. If our country sees that these are the issues at stake in this situation, as I believe it will, then I believe it will back the Government. If I am wrong, then I believe that the future of Australia will have been dealt a very serious blow and that the young men of this country in years to come will bc called upon to make far greater sacrifices than they are being called upon to make now.
– I rise to support the amendment sponsored by Senator Kennelly on behalf of the Opposition and I commence my remarks by referring to that portion of the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in which he said -
Neither we, nor our allies, are in South Vietnam for territorial gain or colonial power. We arc there to establish conditions in which ordinary men and women . . . can pursue their lives in freedom.
I think the entire membership of this Senate would agree with me that we want to create an egalitarian society. We concede that there are ideological battles to be won. Our view is that over the last five years the continuation of the errors which have been made is one of the reasons why we have lost confidence in the overall strategy in this struggle. Not so long ago President Johnson of the United States and senior members of the existing South Vietnam Government met in Honolulu. Among other things they expounded a vast sociological campaign based on economic aid from the United States and Australia, but the thing which worries us is that for five years we have been looking for these changes. To buttress our concern I refer to a rightofcentre magazine “ Newsweek “ of 14th March. In an article in that magazine a French journalist is inclined to compare the existing atmosphere with that which existed back in 1954. He mentions the names of wives of Vietnamese generals and colonels who act as fronts for their husbands’ business ventures. He mentions also American civil contractors. At the outset let me say that I know that some of these offences have been detected. During the debate comparisons have been made between the movement of refugees in Vietnam and the movement of refugees from East Germany to West Germany and from North Korea into South Korea, but I do not think that one could do other than concede the unity of purpose existing in West Germany against aggression from East Germany and in South Korea in relation to North Korea. There is no comparable unity of purpose at present in South Vietnam. I certainly do not hold the Australian Government or the United States Government responsible for the differences that exist in South Vietnam. Some of these have a religious basis while others have various ethnic bases. The internal situation in South Vietnam is weak.
It might be advisable for us to take a long hard look at the British Government’s policy in relation to Vietnam and particularly at the attitude of Mr. Healey, the British Minister of Defence. He has said repeatedly that British forces would remain in any particular area only if the government concerned wanted them and if they were regarded as policemen or occupying forces engaged in creating or upholding just laws. Although there are various troops in South Vietnam, there is unfortunately no indication that the spirit of resistance which was manifest in occupied Europe during the Second World War exists in South Vietnam today to the same extent.
Let me summarise the position in this way: The responsibility of the Australian Government could rest on two grounds. First, there is the holding operation and an avoidance of an escalation of the war while at the same time building up a society which will become vigorous and which will make the people feel that they have a stake in the country. Last week there was an overdue execution of a food racketeer. I will be quite frank about my feelings in this regard. Whether it be in Asia at the present time or whether it was in Europe some years ago when medical supplies from U.N.R.R.A. were diluted and stolen, there is only one solution - execution. There is nothing namby pamby about this. I do not think the Australian and United States Governments have leaned heavily enough on juntas or administrations in some Asian countries and indicated to them very clearly that more is involved than merely increasing our military contingents. They should be told that their very existence depends on an immediate economic revolution. I cannot see any signs of that happening.
I do not think Australia is inclined to opt out of its treaty or moral obligations to which Senator Sim referred, but we want to see results. The criticism which has been levelled at the Government in this Senate and in the other place has been paralleled by the criticism of the United States Administration by Senator Robert Kennedy. But that does not make him an unpatriotic American any more than the criticism by the Labour Party makes us unpatriotic Australians. We have to be very blunt about this. I, and the Party to which I belong, would be much more confident if the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) made it clear in their utterances that the luxury living and the game of musical chairs which is going on in Saigon among members of the Cabinet must be stopped. They should be told, that they must really bend their backs to the war effort. I am not referring to the Vietnamese troops. It is obvious from the atmosphere which exists in Saigon that there is not that unity of purpose which has been manifest in any of the other areas of the world where conflicts have occurred. There should be a stable society in South Vietnam and the people should be made to feel that they have a stake in the country and therefore something they should be prepared to protect.
History has a habit of repeating itself to some degree. In all of these conflicts, whether they be on a limited basis or general war, whatever the objectives for which you go into the battles, society does not remain static. On that basis, the first alternative may be to have the virtual status quo prevailing in South Vietnam, with a building up of its society. The other question, is as to whether containment of the forces in the North can be obtained. I know that it is a ticklish question. I refer honorable senators opposite to the 18th March edition of “ Time “ magazine, which contains an article on Eastern Europe, which refers to Central European powers, such as Rumania and Poland, as nationalist, neutralist and Communist. I venture to say that if “ Time “ had made that statement eight or ten years ago it would probably have been indicted for treason by the United States Senate. It speaks for the realism of the U.S.A. that from 1949-50, when the first of the Eastern European countries decided to stand on. its own feet away from Stalin - I refer to Yugoslavia - the United States encouraged it. That policy has continued right through the Kennedy administration to the Johnson administration at present. Unpalatable as it may be, I do not think it is impossible to suggest that militant nationalism, unquestionably with a dash of Marxism, will prevail in South Vietnam. I qualify that statement by saying that the rights of minorities will have to be protected. The Labour Party has never suggested otherwise.
It is one thing for forces to be there as at present, or under United Nations control, to see that the rights of South Vietnam are protected against the results of disagreements with people across the border. Let u= look ahead for ten years. It is probably impossible to maintain Governments that are obsessed with the existing status quo of corrupt landlords, food racketeers and other merchant groups. There must be massive internal reform. If that is to proceed or go hand in hand with the existing military force the Australian people would feel there was some expectation of stability. After all, in the Press today we read that in Finland a Government was elected of which the Soviet Union would not be overfond, but the people, with a unity of purpose and a confidence in their country, elected that Government. We concede that you have to have an adequate army to back you up, but you are fighting an ideological battle. It is stupid to imagine that you are going to protect Asian countries whose Governments are not moving with the times. The late President Roosevelt said on one occasion that the greatest threat to our institutions are those who refuse to face up to change. It is not a question of a Munich agreement but of hard commonsense. The perpetuation of mistakes makes us wary.
The “ Canberra Times “ of Tuesday, 8th March, contains a very interesting article on Vietnam’s nextdoor neighbour, Thailand, and certain bases ostensibly to defend it from the march of Communist China. There is plenty of talk about armaments but nothing about social improvements. I attended a dinner some years ago in Sydney, to which Diem came. He was hailed as an economic saviour of his country, and he said so. Unfortunately, his hamlet programme was a flop. I think it will be agreed that if there had been dynamic leadership at that time, with the peasants being given some equity in land, there would have been a hardening of the population. When we talk about commitments in South East Asia, there should be some frank talk about the existing Thailand Government. I do not suggest that the present ruler is on a par with his predecessor, who was renowned for his concubines and for other activities. I am not moralising, but we must see that there is moral leadership. These people in high places have to prove in every way that they believe in sharing the wealth in general. The Labour Party fears that not enough clear-cut ultimatums are issued to these countries. The Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore Governments have not hesitated to criticise all of the Western powers at various times, but 1 think we agree that internally these countries are reasonably strong. Do not get me wrong. I think that even there - particularly in relation to Malaysia - we shall have to have a good hard look every six months or so at the aid that is given and at the social service plans and hospitalisation. We must see that the money is not being cornered by some wealthy merchant and military juntas. They are the problems we are vitally concerned about.
It is necessary to retrace my steps somewhat to mention one or two references by Senator Cormack, and, to a lesser degree, Senator Gorton. Senator Gorton would appreciate this point if he were here.
Naturally, I would not depreciate all of his views. I have heard him on a number of occasions and I have always regarded him as a realist. I can remember his saying here on one occasion that we draw a distinction between some Communist countries in Europe which have no territorial aspirations and the Peking line, which we know is somewhat different from the existing Soviet policy. The lesson in Eastern Europe is that there are new age groups and managerial classes in control. This may be a long way ahead in Asia, but we will eventually have to do business with various Asian leaders who probably led forces against our own people, just as today we eulogise the rulers of India and Pakistan, who had their own civil disobedience struggles against British rule.
It is a fact of life that we have to live with these things, provided security is not endangered. If we accept the view that we expound, or the view of the Government, this is not the only question in relation to world peace. Whatever the outcome in South Vietnam, in five years we shall still have to face the fact that China has become a nuclear power. We all hope that the magnitude of a nuclear war will be avoided because both sides will have nuclear deterrents, which will cancel each other out. The point I am trying to make is that the outcome in South Vietnam is not the be all and end all of our security or of world peace. I am not questioning that it has an important place, but we must keep the matter in its proper perspective. Nobody questions the danger of China’s position in the nuclear age.
We have found that in the last eight years many eastern European countries have gradually become more autonomous and have gone their own way. We must create that situation in Asia. Nations such as Thailand that are in our orbit must provide better social conditions. Earlier in this debate I interjected when Senator Cormack was speaking. I think he misunderstood what I was saying in relation to Hitler. I said: “What about Stanley Baldwin?” He said: “ He was not in Government when Hitler came to power.” But there is an analogy to be drawn. Anybody who reads “ Hitler’s War “ by Hugh Dalton will see that it was the Baldwin Government that was reluctant to give loans to a reasonably peaceful
German Government. As a result of the reaction in Germany an extremist like Adolf Hitler took power. So delayed economic reform can breed these military upheavals. That is the point I made in relation to Germany. Senator Cormack went to great lengths to make another point about the war in Greece and I admired his statistical detail.
It is true that at that time Stalin was trying to expand his sphere of influence, but it is equally true that this world is not always black and white. Not all the people who supported the return of the monarchy to Athens were democrats. Let us be frank about that. If we look at the United Nations reports we will see that excesses and atrocities were committed by both sides. Senator Cormack referred to the situation and said of course Yugoslavia aided and abetted the rebels in Greece. Probably that is so. But if we had had an inflexible policy and the United States of America had said to Tito: “ You are a left winger. You might be against Stalin but we will not play ball with you “, we would have found that Tito would have had to go back to Stalin or conversely he would have had to play it alone with the virtual cessation of aid he was giving to Greece and the rebel movement would have continued. Whether we like it or not sometimes in world politics we have to get around the table with people from whom we differ in order to reach some agreement. I do not mean a Munich type of agreement. History shows that these things have to be done.
Some criticism of the functions of the United Nations has been made. There is a fine point of argument between Senator Sim and myself about cease fires and peace moves. In this Parliament and sometimes in my own party we do not always convince each other that one is right and the other is wrong. But we have to live with one another. If the best we can get in South Vietnam is a cease fire such as we have in Israel and the United Arab Republic we will have achieved something in my book. It may be that quite a number of these conflicts since the end of the Second World War have not been solved to the satisfaction of everybody but even the carnage which occurred in the Congo might have gone on indefinitely and where would we have been then?
There are many other situations which might be studied in this context. It does not matter whether it be Cyprus, Algeria or the attainment of nationhood by Pakistan, India or Indonesia. Whatever birth pangs they might have experienced or be experiencing, nobody could have kept the lid on those countries. Something would have had to come to the surface. 1 expect some honorable senator will say: “ Of course, they were genuine national uprisings. Peking did not have a finger in them.” That is why the position is more complicated now. We have to be much more concerned with the ideological and economic battle as distinct from military might.
The question of peace in Asia has been discussed very widely and in conclusion I might refer to one or two other matters in the Prime Minister’s statement. Reference was made to immigration and I want to refer to several points which were ventilated at the recent Australian Citizenship Convention in Canberra. I believe the Government should make up its mind soon on some of these matters which are largely administrative. One matter was raised by the editor of “La Fiamma”, the Italian language newspaper and also by one or two other delegates. This was the situation of intending migrants and what should come first - health tests or a security test. There have been quite a number of cases in Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia relevant to this matter. Some of these people certainly are not as well off as the average Australian but they have been keen to come to Australia. They have had one and sometimes two medical tests. Perhaps with the second test they have been successful but then they have had an adverse security check. I am not going to argue on that point, though I may have plenty to say about it on another occasion, but I think it is adding insult to injury and I respectfully suggest that the Minister for Immigration expedite a decision in this matter so that at least intending migrants will get an even break. If they are told that they are not wanted because of their turbulent early teenage activities in the post war period, at least they should know where they are going without being put to further economic stress by having medical tests.
The other point concerns a matter which I know is difficult. I refer to the practice of big organisations like the Broken Hill Pty.
Co. Ltd. engaging workers for a specific type of employment. It may be that some of the officers in Australia House are not conversant with workshop practice. Some of these workers come to Newcastle and are allotted to the B.H.P. works. They are housed in a Commonwealth hostel. After a month or two they find there are better working conditions next door at Stewarts and Lloyds and they want to go there. Then they are told they are in Australia under a group migration plan and if they get out of the Commonwealth hostel they cannot get back. What appeared on the surface to be a higher wage at Stewarts and Lloyds is more than absorbed by the higher tariff they have to pay.
Then there is the human side of the problem. One of their children might contract an ailment. Whatever we might say about our national health scheme the British migrant finds that it is inferior to the scheme he was accustomed to in England. I have asked the Minister for Immigration for a breakdown of the position in our Commonwealth hostels. I want to know how many people are in them now. Surely we can be a little more flexible about some of these people going back into hostels. I am fully aware that in individual cases there may be people who have had a lapse with their weekly lodgment but I think many of them meet hard times. I appeal to the Government to do something in this field for the migrants. We know that no community is healthy unless injustices of this kind are removed. That should be done in this case.
My final point concerns the economic field. It is all very well to talk about the vast expansion of the mineral industry that is going on but I feel at times that on a government level we are a little too nambypamby when we are dealing with some of the big overseas combines. I know of the opinions that have been expressed by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and some of his Cabinet colleagues about frightening away capital. But it amazes me that, although week after week we read of revolutions in Bolivia and other South American republics where there are tin mines and other ventures, we never hear of United States capital fading away. It is always there. In this country which has greater stability, whether the capital comes from British or other sources, 1 think that we are a little too easy with our bargaining. Other countries that have recently attained nationhood and which have mineral wealth drive a much harder bargain with regard to royalties. Nobody would deny that some of the valuable finds of minerals in Australia have helped us to build a great society, sometimes in spile of governmental action. But in three or four years time I would like to see this country in a much better position in this connection. 1 have in mind the rutile industry which has been a pretty good money earner for Australia. We know that certain parts of the African continent are on the verge of opening up big mineral deposits and we might find that there will be a depression in world prices. I would not like to think that in 12 months time the Commonwealth Government might suddenly find a reduction in this kind of revenue. We would not want the Government to say then: “ We would like to do more in the field of social services but we are down in relation to revenue”. Unquestionably, this is the time to say to some of these investors: “ You are in a privileged position here in comparison with investors in South American countries and if you want to be with us, you had better disgorge a bit more “. I think we are all imbued with the need for world peace but that goes hand in hand with a better economic way of life. We could exert a much stronger bargaining power than we do, and I hope we will.
– I have listened with interest to Senator Mulvihill. It was interesting to bear him quote from history. Many references to history have been made in the course of this debate. This is a very interesting exercise. This study of history gives us a very good assessment of the trend of events. As the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) pointed out earlier tonight, a study of a particular branch of history is relevant to one of the main items referred to in the state of the nation address which is currently before the Senate. It is a privilege to take part in the debate on the Prime Minister’s speech, which, as I have mentioned, has been described as a state of the nation address. It marks the beginning of a new Administration. The speech obviously has given us a clear insight into the new Prime Minister’s practical and realistic approach to matters. The whole nation is now able to make a very fine assessment of this man’s robust outlook as he faces the many problems that confront the nation.
During this debate most of the attention has been given to the situation in Vietnam. I hope that as time passes there will be opportunities to discuss some of the other matters that were mentioned in the Prime Minister’s speech. All of them are capable, and indeed worthy, of being considerably developed. I should like to turn for a moment to the beginning of the right honorable gentleman’s speech. It is not without significance that the Prime Minister referred to the several missions that visited this country soon after he took up office. I refer in particular to the mission from the United Kingdom and the visit of Vice-President Humphrey of the United States of America. We should not overlook the importance of the involvement of the United Kingdom in this area. The members of the United Kingdom mission came, as did the VicePresident of the United States of America, out of concern for the wellbeing of this part of the world and because of their confidence in this country. They came to acknowledge the significance of the role of the Australian Government. Senator Mulvihill has referred to the United Kingdom Mission and to the part that the United Kingdom is playing in this part of the world. I repeat that, in an age and at a time when we as a nation have a greater concern with and interdependence upon the United States of America, it is well to remember that the United Kingdom is still abroad, is still in this part of the world, and is still ready and able to play a significant and vital part. In a statement delivered recently, the British Government said -
It is in the Far East and Southern Asia that the greatest danger to peace may lie in the next decade, and some of our partners in the Commonwealth may be directly threatened. We believe that it is right that Britain should continue to maintain a military presence in this area. Its effectiveness will turn largely on the arrangements we can make with our Commonwealth partners and other allies in the coming years.
The British Government further said -
We have important military facilities in Malaysia and Singapore, as have our Australian and New Zealand partners. These we plan to retain for as long as the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore agree that we should do so on acceptable conditions. Against the day when it may no longer be possible for us to use these facilities freely, we have begun to discuss, with the Government of Australia, the practical possibilities of our using military facilities in that country if necessary.
Surely this statement emphasises that the United Kingdom is as concerned as we are about conditions in this part of the world, is prepared to take its place in the overall strategy, and to do more than just be an isolated police force, as somebody mentioned earlier, or protect a few isolated interests or nationals. It is important to note that at the beginning of his speech the Prime Minister was prepared to acknowledge the importance of the United Kingdom.
I come now to the visit of VicePresident Humphrey. I understand that this was only the second occasion on which a Vice-President of the United States has visited Australia. We all know that he made a fairly rapid tour of South-East Asian countries. Here in Australia he made a critical and basic assessment of affairs. It should be observed that this was just not a routine visit. The Vice-President came to stress the significance of events and to speak to us about affairs in South-East Asia. He spoke particularly about Vietnam. He spoke for people who have been in Vietnam at close quarters from the point of view of the numbers they have there and the scale of their general assistance in the area. So he spoke with a great deal of authority. Therefore, we should not allow to pass unnoticed the fact that this man, speaking with authority in relation to Vietnam, referred to what he described as the high value of the Australian contingent in relation to both their role as fighting men and their conduct generally. Mr. Humphrey said more than that. He said -
We are proud of you as friends and allies . . . You make our hearts grateful because you show real international responsibility. This is the real strength of a nation. . . .
Your strength is not only in your armaments. . . It is in its people and its purpose. Australia is now demonstrating ‘that strength of people and purpose.
It may be argued that these are phrases taken out of an address which the VicePresident made. I assert that they are more than that. They reflect our larger concern and our practical and realistic approach to matters.
Now 1 turn to that part of the Prime Minister’s speech which has occasioned most of the comment in this debate, and rightly so. This is an important matter, this is a very important debate. I refer in particular to that section of the speech which is headed “ Struggle against Communism in South Vietnam “. I want to refer in detail to this particular part of the speech, because here the Prime Minister referred in very clear, unmistakable and dramatic terms to the grievous problem which the people of Vietnam are facing and which they, together with the United States of America and ourselves, are endeavouring to rectify. The Prime Minister said -
The war in South Vietnam has many brutal aspects. What has been far too little perceived is the systematic destruction of leaders in the villages and hamlets in which most of the population of South Vietnam lives. The Communists deliberately eliminate any elements in village communities who might hold out some hope of effectively rebuilding their community. In the last two years, more than 3,000 local officials and civilians have been murdered. The leaders include teachers, medical workers, leaders in politics and administration, and technical experts of one kind and another. We can all picture the mental anguish and physical distress caused by this systematic butchery and the dislocation it brings to the life of the community where it occurs.
All this is what Communism in Asia means. It docs not stand for peaceful political and economic change.
That is the kind of destruction that has been going on. That is what forms the background to this debate. We in this country must of necessity respond to this need. If this programme is not stopped in Vietnam, it will have to be stopped somewhere else. Australia did not choose a battlefield. Nobody willingly goes to a battlefield of this kind. What is more, Australia is not in Vietnam for territorial gain. We certainly do not believe in aggression. What we do believe in is being aware of what goes on in other parts of the world and in acknowledging that an aggressor unchecked becomes a flame of savage invasion. When the aggressor is spurred on by any success he may have achieved, the flame sweeps on until the world is almost brought down in defeat. We believe in the lessons that history has taught us. Tonight and on other occasions there have been references to history. The tide of Hitlerism is still a tragic memory. The tide of Communism in Europe still produces the kind of tyranny that one would not expect to find in the twentieth century.
So in Vietnam this ugly and dreadful pattern has appeared again. It can be easily seen that if it remains unchecked it will gradually set fire to the remainder of South East Asia. If the Vietcong are liberators, as they sometimes have claimed, why then is there all this murder, pillage and destruction? I return to what the Vice-President said because he made some very pertinent observations on the Vietnam situation when referring to liberation. These are words which 1 think bear repeating so that the people of Australia may know the kind of challenge to which we have responded and the kind of deal which we are trying to mete out to people who would destroy the freedom of others. The Vice-President, referring to the Vietcong, said -
They speak of liberation when they mean oppression. They speak of a people’s republic when they have no regard for the people and no definition or understanding of the word republic. They speak of the people’s democracies and there is not a single democratic thought or institution that has been developed. The Communists have polluted and adulterated the meaning of words that decent humanity has known for centuries.
I think it is about time that we understood that fact. They not only fight us with weapons; they not only use every conceivable device that is known for the purpose of human destruction; they destroy the meaning of language.
It is important to remember that these are just some of the reflections made by a man in his position. Therefore we acknowledge in this country the action of the United States. We recognise the appreciation by the United States of the situation, and its appreciation of our own effort. It is important to repeat that in the long run the threat in South Vietnam could be a direct threat to Australia. It is against this background that we are engaged in this debate and that we are engaged abroad in this struggle. May I refer briefly to one of the statements made at the Honolulu Conference where it was pointed out that this struggle in South Vietnam has four sides to it. I will just take one line from each of the four sides. Those lines are -
We must defeat the Vietcong and those illegally fighting with them on our soil. . . .
That is referring to Vietnam.
We are dedicated to the eradication of social injustice among our people . . .
We must establish and maintain a stable, viable economy and build a better material life for our people . . .
We must build true democracy for our land and for our people . . .
It is in support of these principles, and those that have been stated by VicePresident Humphrey, that the Australian Government has forces in Vietnam. It is assisting to stem the tide of Communist aggression, not only there, but down through South East Asia. If this tide is not checked, of course, there will be several results. It is important to repeat these. What would happen if this tide were not checked in Thailand? That country would eventually suffer a disruption indescribable in character. What would happen in Indonesia and Pakistan? What would happen if, eventually, this tide came down to Indonesia or to West Irian? What would happen in Australia? Someone said earlier tonight that we have to keep the world in perspective and this situation in perspective. If this tide of Communism comes down through these countries I have mentioned, and others, what of Australia? Yet honorable senators will recall that in this place last night Senator Turnbull said that he could not care less if the South East Asian continent became Communist. If there is any support for this view in Australia then surely it is time that we repeated and repeated again the necessity of stemming this tide at the point where we see it now, where it can be best defeated so that the people of South East Asia will be able to develop for themselves along the lines of the four sentences which I have quoted from the Honolulu Conference.
The Prime Minister’s state of the nation address has outlined our responsibility. That address has found expression, as honorable senators well know, in terms of a force that is in South Vietnam. Now it is finding expression in a task force of some 4.500 men. This decision has not been lightly taken. For the Ministers concerned it must have been an incredibly difficult decision to make. Everyone concerned is aware of the implications involved. They are well aware of the personal problems that are entailed. They are acutely conscious of the emotional and related overtones. The decision was not calculated to bring about Government popularity. Tt was taken realistically and, as I said right at the beginning, after a thorough assessment not only of the situation in Vietnam, but of the situation as it would develop elsewhere if this threat of Communism is not dealt with at this time and in this way. The Leader of the Opposition in another place struck quickly to take a political and emotional advantage of the situation. I do not think it is completely relevant to quote the theories of 1916 on matters of national service or conscription, as it has been called. After all, this is 1966 and the whole pattern of world strategy has changed. Similarly, the whole pattern of dealing with it has changed. True it is that war is just as real. True it is that the outcomes of war are just as serious and true it is that the threats of war are just as dangerous. But today, in world strategy, we see amongst the dangers the role of the fifth column and the role of the quisling. We become aware of the role of the subversive and the insurrective. These are all threats in modern world strategy and the sudden illegal aggression far from our shores suddenly becomes our concern.
If I might draw the attention of honorable senators to those three or four things I have said, I would reiterate that these are the tokens of the Communist organisation and we have a duty in this part of the world to do something about them. This is where one must support the Government in its role in Vietnam, difficult though the action involved may be. This is the duty that the Government must carry out under its treaties and obligations to allies. I refer to our obligations as a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation . and as a signatory to the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States. There is, also, very plainly, a moral duty.
Having made that assertion and finding opposition to it from other places I ask how anybody else would deal with this situation if they were confronted with it and asked to make a decision on it. How would the Opposition handle a dilemma of this kind - and it has conceded that it is a dilemma? Would the Opposition recall the forces? If the Opposition withdrew and recalled our forces how then would it talk with our allies? What would be the consequences at the next emergency, if one arose? Would the Opposition expect the United States to come to our aid under those conditions? Would it throw overboard our inter-dependence which I mentioned a few moments ago? The Opposition may say: “ Call the Vietcong to the conference table.” The Vietcong have been called to the table, many times and, what is more, they have been waited for. We have waited for them for a long time, but they have not come. Our course and duty is clear - our duty to our allies and our duty under our treaties.
I will mention very quickly other kinds of duties that I think are related, perhaps not so significantly, to what 1 have been saying, but I think they are duties which we should not overlook. Here at home there are occasions on which we join issue because of what we might call the war of ideas or the strategy of agitation. Its elements take many forms and I do not think everyone realises this. These wars of ideas take place in areas where people gather in large numbers under some form of direction or persuasion. They may be members of groups such as public servants, trade unions, senior schools, federations or universities. There are many other activities which people attend and where discussion ensues. We see in action similar elements of Communist penetration. It is equally clear that it is our duty to watch this war of ideas and agitation because I regret to say that there are people in our community today whose ambition it is to create doubt in the minds of people, to disturb peace, more especially to defy authority, to flout opinion and generally to create confusion and some kind of revolution, if I might put it in that way. The very first element of Communist strategy is to do these things. Carried far enough, this strategy weakens our whole fabric of society and eventually allows a takeover, if we are not very careful. I do not say this in order to destroy criticism or the critical approach. But I draw attention to the widespread cynicism that sometimes besets our community. This is a very convenient weapon for the friends of the Communist movement. So, I sound a note of warning to responsible people that they must carry out their duty and watch these matters carefully, before it is too late.
Our role against this aggression in South East Asia and Vietnam must not be left to our fighting men. I pay tribute to our brave fighting men for the role that they are playing. Whilst it is not easy to devise ways and means in the present circumstances, there is a case for the Government giving consideration to the amount of practical support that can be called for from people on the home front. We are very proud of our standard of living, of our employment conditions, of our country and of things pertaining to it. We live very well. We are very pleased with our progress. But these very things could lead to our being in danger of being swamped by our luxury and therefore being a little indifferent and rather good marks for the subversive elements about which I spoke earlier. How we could devise ways and means by which certain unproductive areas could be either reduced or eliminated I am not prepared to develop at this stage. But I believe that we all would be glad to give some practical and economic support to the forces that are defending us in Vietnam.
We should not conclude arty discussion of Vietnam without saying something on a subject to which the Prime Minister referred in his statement and which is related to Vietnam. I refer to overseas aid. This matter is interestingly placed in the statement because it affects very much the area that is under discussion this evening. The Prime Minister, in this section of his statement, said -
We are currently spending about 0.6 per cent, of our gross national product on external aid. There are few donor countries which can match this record.
This aid is being given not just at the governmental level. If I had time I could enumerate many Australian organisations, voluntary and of other kinds, which are sending overseas not only hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid to underdeveloped countries and needy areas but also teams of voluntary workers. I pay tribute to these organisations and to the people in them who are playing their part in the total world strategy by rendering this kind of assistance. I stand firmly on the Government’s decision to send this kind of assistance to Vietnam, to play this role in South East Asia, to stem this tide of aggression and, generally, to serve Australia in this way. I support the motion that is before the Senate. I ask honorable senators to reject the amendment.
– I support the amendment moved by
Senator Kennelly. I refer particularly to the first part of it, which reads -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “ the Senate records -
its most emphatic opposition to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam and the increased military commitment in that country,
The rest of the amendment refers to economic and political matters that were mentioned in the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on the Government’s policy. Over the years the Opposition has complained repeatedly that this Government has a military fixation in respect of the problem of Vietnam; that instead of looking for a real solution and trying to apply its mind to the great social and political reforms that ought to be carried out in that country, it has almost slavishly followed United States demands for military commitment. If we listen to Government speakers either in this chamber or in another place, we hear that the present commitment is justified on the basis of engaging in military activity against so called Communist aggression. They refer to the battleground of South Vietnam.
However much people may want to draw a parallel between the struggle in Vietnam and the struggle against Fascism in the Second World War and the struggles in Malaysia and South Korea, there is no such parallel or analogy. The situations are entirely different. During the Second World War, in all of the democratic countries there was a growing and popular reaction against Fascist aggression, and free peoples everywhere organised to defeat Fascism which was clearly based on military concepts. The position in Malaysia was never similar to that in South Vietnam today. Vietnam is one country, not two countries. The North and South are parts of the same country. The people are one people. The country was divided as a result of conferences in 1954. Under the Agreements certain obligations were imposed on both sides. The division was the aftermath of the great struggle against the French and of the Second World War. The people wanted self-determination. In South Vietnam a military dictatorship was established. It was a most tyrannical dictatorship and made no movement at all towards democratic processes. Those are the roots of the present problem. So we cannot draw any parallel between this so called struggle against terrorism - whether it be Communist or Fascist - and the Second World War. The people of South Vietnam and North Vietnam are one people. In fact, they can and will at some stage solve their problems with, we hope, the assistance of our Western bloc and probably with the assistance of Russia.
We members of the Labour Opposition have always claimed that this Government has followed slavishly the point of view of the United States. It has never taken the initiative. It has never developed its own voice on these great issues. We have also said - the people recognise this - that during the First World War and the Second World War our Prime Ministers and Governments spoke up for Australia. Yet this Government follows slavishly another power which says: “ This is the way to stop Communist aggression. This is the way to contain the great Communist country of China “. Our point was well expressed in. the editorial in the Adelaide “ News “ of 23rd February of this year. It said almost exactly what we said in debates in this chamber in 1964 and 1965. The editorial stated -
This is part of the process of national maturity. But the acceptance of graver responsibilities also carries the right for Australia to speak and act with a mind and a voice of its own.It must not become a slavish satellite of the white man’s world in Asia. That would be fatal.
Australia’s critical position today does not represent just an extension of our economic aid to South Vietnam in 1961 and 1962 and the provision of a small group of military advisers. When we provided those advisers they were not allowed to go into combat. They were accepted in good repute. They did a worthwhile job, as I said after I visited Vietnam in 1964. But we then went further. The then Prime Minister said that we had to increase the number of military advisers and the Government gave them the right to engage in combat. The next thing the Government decided to do was to send a battalion of troops to Vietnam. All along the line the people said: “That is our contribution, token though it might be. We hope that it ends there “. But the situation has developed.
Now the Government has decided to send national servicemen to Vietnam. This is the greatest tragedy of all. This represents a great change from the tradition of the Australian people in relation to conscription. Neither the Australian people nor the Australian soldiers have ever supported a policy of conscription. Wc should not pursue this policy. We should resent it. The Opposition does resent it. Today the people of Australia are protesting against’ the Government’s intention to send to Vietnam 1,500 national servicemen in a force of 4,500 soldiers. Of course, it happens outside the Parliament and not only in the United States of America. Reports have reached us that ever widening sections of the American community are objecting to the American Government’s excursion into a bottomless pit. People are realising that at some stage there has to be negotiation which will involve bringing to the conference table even the forces of the Vietcong from the North. A solution has to be found. Senator Kennedy of the United States Senate has made his contribution in his own country. In Australia the position is ripening and w-j are quite satisfied that before this year is over the Australian people will overwhelmingly support the stand of the Opposition. f wish now to refer to an article in “Nation” of 19th March 1966, which relates to Mr. Roy Morgan who conducts gallup polls. The article states -
Mr. Roy Morgan was tactful in describing one of the gallup poll findings he submitted the newspapers for publication last week end. As he put ii. “The public has yet to be convinced that national service trainees should go to Vietnam.” Mr. Morgan’s figures put the matter rather differently. The public sounds perfectly convinced on this mutter. Conscription for service in the Vietnam war is opposed by an outright majority of the J HOO people interviewed, and the majority has risen from 52 per cent, to 57 per cent, in two months. Meanwhile, those who favour sending conscripts to Vietnam have diminished from 37 per cent, to 32 per cent, and there is an unchanged small balance of the undecided. Moreover, this gallup sampling puts the “ Noes “ in a clear majority among the supporters of each of the political parties. Among D.L.P. voters inverviewed as much as 61 per cent, were in this category, even though nearly as many of them favoured an increase in Australia’s non-conscripted forces for Vietnam.
The Opposition has often pointed out in this chamber that the Government has taken what is clearly a military viewpoint on
Vietnam. It accepts the American notion that you have to contain China because it constitutes a Communist threat. The Government has been criticised by members of the Opposition and by other people for continuing to trade with Communist China and North Vietnam. What sort of situation are we in if we continue with this policy? In his statement the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said - lt is evident that the allies must put forward an increased effort if military successes are to be achieved and then followed effectively by the tasks of reconstruction.
I put it to the Senate that at no stage until quite recently did the Government ever speak of a social or political solution to the Vietnam war. Only belatedly has the Government recognised the need for social reconstruction, but never has it made clear the strongly held Australian viewpoint that if we are to support the Government of South Vietnam even by economic or financial aid, we should tell the Government of South Vietnam to institute the reforms which are necessary to fight subversion. Communism cannot be beaten by military might. Communism will not be beaten by the types of campaign that have been fought in Vietnam.
In 1964 we accepted the Government’s point of view which was then said to be: “ We do not want any extension of the present war. We want a limited war “. These were the words of President Johnson; at that time they sounded like commonsense to me because I was then visiting South East Asia. In Laos, for example, 1 found that there were links with the Pathet Lao - the Communist forces - which were accepted by the British Government as being reasonable because at some stage there might again be a composite government which might include the Communist Pathet Lao. That was the position in a peaceful country under a peaceful government. But what has happened since as a result of the bombing of North Vietnam? All we have accomplished is increased participation in combating military attacks, the leadership of which has come from North Vietnam. The Vietcong influence has become more active and its military participation has been actively growing. So we have not achieved anything. We have only sprung the trap and allowed to occur an extension of the military situation. This is reflected in the border countries like Laos. The Labour Party has said that such a situation requires special treatment. We have referred, for example, to the obligation as a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Article 1 1 1 states that the parties -
Undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operate with one another in the further development of economic measures. . . .
It seems to me that the United States Government has always been too timid in relation to the Vietnam situation. It has accepted the position that successive military cliques have controlled the South Vietnamese Government and have excluded other representatives. In Saigon the trade unions - the workers - are organising to restore civilian representation in the Government and to see that elections are held. At Da Nang and at Hue, almost on the border between North and South Vietnam, students and others are protesting against the military group in the Government.
If we are to give the South Vietnamese people any sort of aid we must encourage them to establish a proper Government. We cannot succeed in obtaining peace by negotiation unless we have a widely representative body as the Government of South Vietnam. In recent years as many as ten different changes have occurred in the South Vietnamese Government. Newspaper reports tell us that the situation there is no more stable now than it was under the Diem regime. The Labour Party has said that we should seek mediation by the United Nations for a permanent settlement, placing economic rehabilitation above fruitless war. A United Nations peace keeping force should be established in Vietnam. We have made our position clear on the question of the Government of South Vietnam. When the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) made his first report to the nation he scrubbed the idea of negotiation and said that in order to have negotiations you have to know what you are to talk about. He said -
It seems to us that it is not a valid policy to call for negotiation unless there is a clear idea of what is to be the outcome of negotiation. If negotiation is simply to mean an end of resistance to aggression and the success of aggression then a plainer word for it would be defeat for those resisting Asian Communism.
After that statement was made - almost the day after - President Johnson said that any negotiation would have to be unconditional. I am led to believe, as members of the Opposition said at that time, that this Government too slavishly follows the American line but does not even keep up to date with it. The military group controlling South Vietnam has demanded that North Vietnam should bc attacked in order to create a position from which negotiations might take place.
However much Senator Gorton states that there is no obligation for elections to be held, the position is clearly set out in an answer given by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, in an answer in May 1965. These questions were asked -
Did the Final Declaration of the 1954 Geneva Conference on the problem of restoring peace in Indo-China require that general elections be held in July 1956, under the supervision of an international commission? . . . What were the reasons given for the non-compliance with the requirements of the agreement in this regard?
The answer was as follows -
President Ngo Dinh Diem, in a declaration of 16th July, 1955, stated that elections would be meaningful only if they were “ absolutely free “ and that, faced with the Viet Minh’s totalitarian regime of oppression in the north, it was unlikely that the conditions for the holding of elections could be fulfilled. The Vietnamese Government said in a statement issued on 9th August, 1955: “ The Government considers the principle of essentially free elections as a democratic and peaceful institution, but believes that conditions of freedom of life and voting must be assured beforehand.
That was the attitude which the Diem Government adopted. This Government defended that kind of thing. It did nothing to advise or encourage the Vietnamese Government to change its attitude in relation to this matter.
The Diem regime has been criticised as being corrupt. I was mindful of this fact and I mentioned it in a debate last year. Let me quote what the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said in reply to the Leader of the Opposition in another place. I shall read the whole paragraph. He said -
Now, Sir, this is a matter which I venture to say, is unarguable, but the last point that the Leader of the Opposition undertook to make was that in South Vietnam there was a poor government - a corrupt government. This word “ corrupt “ comes trippingly to the tongue. Every government of this kind is “ corrupt “ or it is “ Fascist “. I know of no evidence that the Quat Government in South Vietnam is corrupt. I certainly have had no evidence that the government of Ngo Dinh Diem was corrupt. 1 thought he was a brave and honest little man, and a patriot.
That is what the former Prime Minister said. At the time he said that, a document, which was issued by the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Canberra, was circulated in the Parliament. It was entitled “The Revolution of November 1st 1963.” It stated.
On November 1st 1963 after a secret and swift movement of troops in Saigon, several units of the Vietnamese armed forces began an attack on the basic points of Ngo Dinh Diem’s defence system, and overcame all resistance within less than a day.
This is the important part -
For nine years the Ngo Dinh Diem Government had pursued a dictatorial and tyrannical policy. Power was concentrated in the hands of the Ngo family and those of a number of their close incompetent and interested collaborators whose main concern was to humiliate themselves in flattery before Diem, Nhu, Can and Le Xuan (Nhu’s wife).
That is the position which this Government took up. I do not think it has changed since. We said then and we say now that the Government is too slavish. It ought to be following an Australian pattern. It ought to be able to say that it speaks for Australia. We cannot have the situation where we accept the American notion that we have to contain Communist China by force and at the same time have the Government trading with Communist China and North Vietnam, and then suggest that we are going to defeat Communism by military action in South Vietnam.
I turn to the question of the type of war that is going on in Vietnam. I refer honorable senators to an article which was published in the January 1966 issue of “Life international “. It was written by the Associate Editor who went on a recent mission with American forces in Vietnam. I cannot read all of the article because time will not permit me to do so. It refers to a Major-General Lewis Walt, who was in charge of the forces in this particular area. Major-General Walt said -
No “ front “, no “ rear “ and it is absolutely impossible lo tell friend from enemy without a programme - even with one.
The editor then refers to an action which involved the blasting of a tunnel under a village. Civilians and Vietcong forces were involved in this situation. The ordinary people were going about their own affairs, but by accident a number of them were wounded. Major-General Walt, after this action had been reported to him, placed his hand on a friend’s shoulder and said -
Pete, it’s like everything else we do over here - we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
I suggest that honorable senators might care to read this important document. In its concluding paragraph it refers to the war claims which were made in the village where the action took place. Of course, the ordinary people are involved in Vietnam. Women and children are maimed and injured. They are victims in this sort of war. After the action took place and claims were made for war damage, a lieutenant said -
We’re not to blame. The U.S. allocated the money for the villagers to rebuild their houses, but there’s some kind of regulation that says war claims can only be settled through the government. So the money is turned over to the politicians in Saigon, who hate to let go of it and then it trickles down to the chiefs of the provinces who sit on it as long as they can and then it gets to the district chiefs. Eventually, some of it gels lo the people for whom it was meant all along. Politicians!
Most honorable senators are familiar with this series of articles. I did not refer to them because I am critical of all that is taking place in Vietnam. But the position, as we know it, is that the ordinary people are involved. We cannot win a war, such as this one, unless we convince the people that what we are doing will improve their standards. An Australian would not accept a situation where he did not have the right to get up and speak and argue his point of view. Why should not the people of Vietnam have the same rights as we enjoy?
When I was in Vietnam for a short time in 1964, Prime Minister Khanh was in power. I wish to refer to a statement that he made to a mass rally in Saigon. The source of the statement to which I am about to refer is a Vietnam news bulletin which was issued by the Embassy of Vietnam in Canberra. President Khanh is reported to have said -
Dear Fellow Countrymen,
Through the contacts with you during our visits for the last few months, we have often heard that the people have called for the war to be carried to the North.
This is not only an urgent appeal of a million refugees from the North, nourishing the dream to liberate their native land.
This is not only the ardent wish of thousands of families in the South which, having relatives who went to the North, long for the day where they can be reunited with their loved ones.
This is also the legitimate demand of the nationalist parties which have so many times fought for the independence and the reunification of our country . . .
The military Revolutionary Council and the Government cannot remain indifferent before the firm determination of all the people who are considering the push Northward as an appropriate means to fulfill our national history.
That is the answer to the notion that this is a divided country. It is one country and somebody has to solve this vexed question of the war.
As I indicated when I commenced my speech, the actions of this Government have always been fixed on purely military objectives. Only in a small way has it provided economic impetus and political knowhow to South Vietnam. This Government should have been getting up and saying that there was a need for a popular government in South Vetnam. If we are going to get rid of the Vietcong in the Mekong Delta where they have been established for 15 or 20 years, we have to get the people of that country to support a democratic government. These things have to be done. As Senator Davidson pointed out, it was not until very recently that we introduced anything like a social programme. We had the declaration at Honolulu.
Time does not allow me to advert to any further points. It seems to me that the Holt Government has made a vital mistake. I suggest that before the year is out, the mistake could mean the defeat of the Government. I hope that it does because no Australian Government should endorse a policy of sending national servicemen to Vietnam in the present situation. They will be expendable. Rather, we should be examining what Senator Kennedy, the brother of the great President Kennedy, said on this matter. He advocated that the Vietcong, the guerrilla fighters of skill and courage, should be given the chance to form part of a Vietnamese government. Then he went on to deal with the question of risk. Of course, there is some risk in every negotiation, whether it be a military or an industrial negotiation. There is the risk that something may not happen. There may be mistakes. There may be all sorts of things. Senator Kennedy is reported to have said -
In short: Each side should set objectives, which the other can accept without humiliation - Just as the United States allowed Russia to remove its missiles from Cuba without undue disgrace.
That was the key to the policy which was advanced by Senator Kennedy. We shall hear more of it.
I conclude by referring to one of the things about which I am worried. It is apart altogether from the policy of sending these boys to Vietnam. It is all right for people to go overseas because it is a sort of expedition or adventure, but we should not have untrained servicemen engaged in this sort of warfare. As I have mentioned, the military experts point to the confusion that exists in identification between enemy and friend. I refer to a report which was published in Perth on 17th March. It refers to a complaint by Mr. Tonkin, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Western Australian Parliament, that Darreel Mcllroy, 20, of Alfred Cove, was being sent to Vietnam after only nine months’ training and after being given only one week’s preembarkation leave. Is this the situation with which we will be confronted? I have noticed also a report from Saigon which states that the South Vietnam Defence Ministry had received an offer of at least 600 experienced ex-Congo mercenaries to help fight the Vietcong.
I conclude by saying that the Government has made a fatal mistake. The Labour Party said, from the inception of the controversy on this issue, that the Government should have sought the kind of final solutions which are available. No military expedition will defeat the kind of activity which confronts us in Vietnam. We should recognise this now and work towards a solution along the lines I have mentioned.
– We are debating tonight a statement by Prime Minister Holt covering a wide range of Australian policies and activities, and an Opposition amendment to the motion that the Senate take note of the statement. First, I should like to say to the Opposition: “ Please do not worry about us. We will be quite happy to fight an election on our policy. We will look after ourselves. We will be all right. Do not be upset on our behalf. The problem is not our-s, it is yours “.
The Prime Minister’s statement is important because it is so comprehensive. This is essentially a very good thing because, after all, this is a new government and this is a new Prime Minister. No member of the Opposition had the courtesy - if I may use that word - to comment upon the fact that the Prime Minister told the Australian people fully and thoroughly all the things that they should have been told. He tried to take the Australian people into his confidence which is, perhaps, something that we should always try to do. For my part, 1 was delighted with the whole statement.
– The honorable senator will get on.
– I am sure 1 will. 1 believe that the issues which had to be faced were faced. The Government did not try to run away. I hope it will never run away. Australia is growing up very quickly. We are growing up in the sunshine. In our earlier days we were growing up in fairly substantial shade. The United Kingdom was protecting us to a very substantial degree prior to the last war. All honorable senators know that. Since the last war we have been much more on our own and those honorable senators opposite who are realists - I believe there are some realists in the Labour Party - must understand that we are now much more on our own in this part of the world than we have ever been before. We are growing up and the world around us is changing. We have responsibilities, and it is our job to stand up and be seen to accept our responsibilities. We might not like many of them but accepting them is part of the burden any free people must carry.
If we want to be a people of consequence - I suggest that is all we really ought to want to be - we must bear the burden when it falls upon us. If we run away from the burden we will not be much of a people and no-one will be concerned to help us to become much of a people. So the Prime Minister’s statement on behalf of his Government filled me with pleasure and delight. I am very proud to be a member of a government which has sufficient courage to say what it thinks about the issues which confront the nation, and to face these issues.
– It sounds as though the honorable senator will get on very rapidly.
– I am delighted with the Opposition’s plans for my promotion. Nothing could make me happier. As 1 have said, there is an Opposition amendment to the motion before the Senate. As a rule such amendments are much more precise than the one which has been submitted on this occasion. Usually they devote themselves to one subject such as: “ The whole Government should be shot tomorrow morning “. This one, however is a broadside. It reminds me of the chap out duck shooting who fires both barrels of his shotgun into the whole flock and no ducks fall. In this case, no ducks will fall either.
I want to cover the territory a little more broadly than it has been covered. Whilst I agree that the whole subject of Vietnam is of tremendous and transcending importance, I thought the Prime Minister covered it most effectively, and I was very happy with the answers that were given to the questions involved. However the Prime Minister dealt with a number of other issues and I will try to cover them in the time that remains to me. First of all, the right honorable gentleman dealt with the general economic position in Australia. I can never understand people who keep looking for recessions, crying about calamities and saying that disaster is just around the corner. What a mean, miserable, weak dispirited kind of way to go on.
This is a great country showing tremendous growth which is something of which we should be very proud. If from time to time the rate of growth tends to slow down a little so that people can digest things in order to grow again, what is wrong with that? Anyone who has any experience of growing things will know very well that growth is not a constant straight line upwards. There are periods, as there should be, when growth is halted temporarily or slows down so that consolidation can take place. If we want to see real growth, I recommend that we look for periods of consolidation and stability.
The Australian people are not without wisdom. We have been growing at a very fast rate and resources in the community are very high. I think people have tended to slow down the purchasing process because they wish to digest the progress they have made. There are one or two facts bearing on this. Quite a lot of people write on financial matters. Some of them are a great deal wiser than, we are and some, I think, are not so wise. In the 9th March 1966 issue of “Incentive”, a journal published by a former financial writer, the following appears -
With civilian employment rising at a rate of about 3.5 oer cent, per annum in the last half of 1965, people wonder how anyone can possibly think anything more is actually happening than a slower rate of growth.
That is fair comment. A number of things are happening in Australia which are of great consequence to the people as a whole. A short time ago certain people predicted that the inflow of overseas capital would dry up. They said “ we are having a bad time. No-one will lend us any more money. They will all draw out ther money “. But that did not happen. Overseas capital is still flowing in at a very high rate. Some people seem to object to Australia having such a high reputation that overseas countries are willing to invest here. I cannot understand that argument, lt seems to me that the pessimists were looking forward to a disaster in their own country so that no-one would want to lend us any money. To me, that is rather backward thinking. I always thought that when people regarded you as a good business risk and were willing to lend you money and to invest in your country, you had cause to be rather proud.
– They are taking over Australian industry.
– That is nonsense.
– ft is not nonsense. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) would not say it is nonsense.
– It is nonsense. In his statement the Prime Minister said -
There is room, therefore, for some confidence that the capital inflow boom will continue for some time yet.
I hope so. I think when we examine the position we will find that to be the case. We do have some substantial areas of difficulty, and we will always have those. This will happen all the time. Life is not free of trouble for any of us. We still have difficulties with drought in parts of Australia. The Government has done something positive about this and it has done it wisely and sensibly, lt may need to do more. On the other hand, the drought may ease. 1 just want to offer one comment that I think is valid. We have had a run of good seasons quite without parallel and we ought to bear in mind that we may never have a run of seasons quite so good. We ought to prepare ourselves for seasons that are not so good as those we have had in the past. This will make the management of the economy more difficult but we will have to live with that problem.
There is a slight case at the present time for some people to feel that they have not had as much help as they need, in the way of drought relief, from the Commonwealth through the States. We must be fair to people living in drought affected areas - I know these areas because I have lived amongst them. We must try to let these people have the resources that they need at a reasonable price. We must see that interest rates are not excessive. But we must see that they are not encouraged or helped to attain stocking levels which it may noi be possible to support if the seasons are not as good as they have been in the past. That is just a slight note of warning. I should like to see restocking take place, but in the first stage, when the drought breaks, as it will, with money available, as it is for restocking, I hope that restocking will not take place immediately at the levels existing before the drought, because this could lead people into a second round of trouble.
There is a very good case for a study of the arid areas of Australia which are badly affected by drought. In these areas there will be sheep showing an exceptional capacity for survival. Genetic teams from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation ought to be encouraged to go round the properties to look at livestock which have demonstrated a capacity to survive under adverse conditions, because it should be possible to undertake some special selective breeding programmes with sheep types that have a high survival rate. Also at this point of time we should do everything we can to study the provision of new plants in Australia’s arid area. The plant ecology of the Australian inland has never been studied with the proper intensity. If we are to have more difficult seasons, there is a strong case for trying to develop the animals’ qualities to live with the problem and also to do something about the plant life of that part of the country, because it may be essential to develop better animals and a better capacity to feed them.
The Australian community is a community of high savings. We save a lot of money per head of population. We have great resources. I am not worried about the ownership of Australia passing into foreign hands. What we must say to ourselves is that we need resources to develop the country. We need our own savings and our people’s savings, and we also need the resources of other people, and we ought to accept these. This sort of thing made America great. I shall have no objection if Australia ends up having as high a population as America. That will not worry me a bit. I think that we can manage it.
On the question of Vietnam, I should like to read something which I think is of interest. Published in the Melbourne “Herald” of 27th December 1941 was a statement made by John Curtin, then Labour Prime Minister of Australia. With the permission of the Senate, I shall read his words -
The Australian Government therefore regards the Pacific struggle as primarily one in which the United States and Australia must have the fullest say in the direction of the democracies’ fighting plan . . . Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links of kinship with the United Kingdom. We know the problems that the United Kingdom faces. We know the constant threat of invasion. Wc know the dangers of dispersal of strength. But we know too, that Australia can go and Britain still hold on. We arc therefore determined that Australia shall not go, and we shall exert all our energies towards a shaping of a plan, with the United States as its keystone, which will give to our country some confidence of being able to hold out until the tide of battle swings against the enemy.
There we had a man who was a great Labour Prime Minister and a great Australian. He appealed to the United States to come to the aid of Australia and it came to our aid. In the process, this country was saved; let there be no doubt about that. We were saved by the United States. The war ended and we were proud people to join with the Americans in the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty for our protection. We were proud to join with them in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. I do not want to get involved with technicalities, with reading from “ Life “ magazine and other journals. All that I want to deal with are the essential issues. Do we stick by our friends, or do we not?
We appealed to these people in 1941, saying: “ We are in trouble. Please come to our aid “. They came to our aid and they saved us. After the war we joined with them in treaties and we were proud to be their partners. They seek to help to protect a small, fine, defenceless people who are attacked. Whether we like it or not, that is what has happened. Because one part of a country is doing better than the other part, the first part is attacked. This is called a war of liberation. What it means is the smuggling of 40,000 people over the border in dribs and drabs, attacking the people in the South, and calling this a freedom movement, or some other rubbish. The Communists could not stand the rising standard of living in the South. The comparison was too odious for them. The Americans, at the request of these oppressed people, came to their aid and we were asked to join. We are proud to be an Australian Government that stands by our allies as they stood by us at the request of a Labour Administration. We do not apologise for it and we do not intend to. All sorts of arguments can be made about this and all sorts of rude remarks can be passed. I want to read one or two things that have been said by people, far better I think, than any of us could say them.
On 19th February 1966, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey of the United States said -
What you see in Vietnam today is not a civil war, but you see the projection of a massive international Communist doctrine at work, And if there is any lesson in history that should have been drilled into our minds it is this - that you can never let the aggressor have his way. If ho has his way, then there is no way for free people except the way of despair and destruction . . . The first time that free nations lose a contest with militant Communist agression, the first time you retreat, the first time that you fold up your tents, the first time a people are sold out - on that day no-one will ever believe free men again.
Vice-President Humphrey was speaking for our allies, for the people from whom the Labour. Party in 1941 was proud to seek aid. We have all been proud ever since to be regarded by them as their freinds and allies.
In addition to sending troops to help the oppressed people of South Vietnam, this country has not been backward in doing what it could to provide economic aid. ] shall be the first to say that one of the things we must do is to be forebearing enough to provide more economic aid to this part of the world. The economic aid is of real value to these people only if they can be provided with some sort of stable community in which to take advantage of it. All that we are seeking to do is to let them get a stable community. When we have done this - and you can be sure it can be done - 1 hope we will all feel disposed to take up our part of the economic burden. Part of our duty in this part of the world is to be prepared to do that and to do it.
We have reached a point where we can say our defence forces are much stronger and more useful. The Navy has the manpower it requires and has acquired the necessary ships. The Air Force has the manpower it requires, lt has embarked on training programmes and has acquired or is acquiring the necessary planes and support aircraft. The Army, as we all know, is well equipped but has been deficient in men. This is not unusual when a country has full employment’ and a high level of prosperity. lt has been necessary - and we do not beg the question - to ask the young men of Australia to engage in national service. Honorable senators opposite seem to like to call them conscripts. That is an offensive word.
– It is factual.
– I prefer to refer to this training as national service. That is the kind of phrase I choose to use and I believe the national servicemen are not ashamed to be so called.
– What is a conscript if these men are not conscripts?
– Let me make my speech in my own way. In the process of time Senator Wheeldon can speak and explain what is his view of service to Australia. Does it mean, in his book, running away from a problem and turning your back on it? Does it mean denying your friends? Does it mean leaving an oppressed people to become further oppressed? Honorable senators on the Opposition side are living in the dark ages.
The other point about defence is that we have acquired a high level of industrial mobility and a fairly high level of industrial capacity. That in itself is an essential part of defence. We are probably a stronger people than one would expect for the population we have because of our concentration on manufacturing in a wide range of goods and because of our ability to develop an industrial mobility and quite a diversity of industry. Because of this we are a worthwhile ally and have always tried to be so.
I have not much time left so I shall conclude by making just one or two points. I suggest in Australia we are looking to two objectives: This country should grow and continue to grow and it should be able to do so in freedom. To help it to grow, we should not be behind in helping other people protect their freedom. I believe that is a duty and an obligation on any citizen in a free society. The Government must govern. I am happy to take the word of our allies that they want our help in South Vietnam and I am happy to take the word of this Government. I believe the members of the Government are better judges in the end of what the people want and the responsibilities of the nation than are many other people who claim to speak for the Australian people but are not all in the Parliament. We should be courageous for ourselves and our country. We should have belief in our destiny and in our ability to protect Australia and to stand by our friends. When we give our word, let us stand by it. 1 close with some words of Thomas Paine -
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
I support the motion and oppose the amendment.
– It would appear that two arguments are being used by the Government to justify sending Australian troops to Vietnam. One is that in South Vietnam we are engaged in a world wide struggle against Communism and it is essential that this country should take part in it. The second is that if we go to the assistance of the United States of America which is the biggest country in the Western world, and if at some future time Australia finds itself in difficulty with a foreign power, the United States will give the same assistance to us.
Senator Cotton has reminded us that in the Second World War when Australia had a Labour Government there was an alliance between Australia and the United States of America and the Americans gave valuable assistance to Australia. That is known to all of us. But, of course, the U.S.A. became involved in the Second World War after its base at Pearl Harbour was attacked by the Japanese. When Great Britain and Australia and the other Allies were at war with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the United States was not involved. It was only when the United States itself was attacked that it became involved in the war.
I am not criticising the U.S.A. for this and I am not deprecating its role in the Second World War; but the evidence of the Second World War shows that the United States will defend Australia just as any country will defend another country when it is in its interests to do so, and will not defend the other country when it is not in its interests. It is of no use putting the proposition that if we are good boys now and give some assistance to the United States, at some time in the future the United States will assist us. The United States will assist us if it is in the national interest of that country to do so, and it will not assist us if it is not in the national interests of the United States.
As an example, consider what happened in the case of West Irian only a few years ago when there was a dispute between the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia as to the legitimate ownership of West Irian. 1 do not want to canvass the merits of that situation but this dispute occurred at a time when the Netherlands was one of the most loyal allies of the U.S.A. The Netherlands was a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and it was a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. It was a country with the same economic system and substantially the same political system as the United States - a loyal and devoted ally of the United States which had repeatedly given all forms of assistance to America.
Indonesia was a country which was then under the rule of Sukarno which, it would appear, was stronger than at present. It was constantly hostile to the United States. It was showings appreciation of American aid given to Indonesia by throwing stones at and burning United States information service libraries and attacking the United States embassy in Indonesia. Yet ultimately when the vote was taken in the United Nations Organisation on the question of West Irian ownership, the United States supported the Indonesian claim and opposed the claim of the Netherlands. It mattered not one iota that assistance had been received by the United States from the Netherlands and it mattered not one iota that hostility had been shown to the United States by Indonesia. The United States supported the Indonesian claim because it believed that by doing so it was assisting its own national interests and if it supported the Netherlands it would have been damaging its own national interests. I submit that exactly the same situation will arise in the event of Australia becoming involved in any conflict. If it is to the benefit of the United States, the Americans will assist us; if it is not to the benefit of the United States, they will not assist us.
Earlier tonight the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) made a long canvass of European history. He referred in one dramatic and obscure passage to an incident that occurred at Berchtesgaden when the Prime Minister of Austria was dying while in discussion with Adolf Hitler. If by the Prime Minister of Austria the Minister meant the Chancellor of Austria, Herr von Schuschnigg, it should be pointed out that von Schuschnigg subsequently became a professor in an American university and died only two or three years ago. However, I gather that is what the Minister was referring to. The Minister spoke of a number of acts of aggression that have occurred in the past and he said because there were acts of aggression in the past and these were bad things it followed - and there was a strange jump of logic here - that there was an act of aggression in South Vietnam now. He said that Australia should be committed to take part in this conflict inside South Vietnam. It is rather curious. We are told that in South Vietnam we are defending the national interests of all the surrounding Asian countries. We are defending the national interests of India, Pakistan, Burma, Ceylon and Indonesia, all of whom are threatened by the Communist colossus. But it is interesting to note that not one of those countries has troops in Vietnam. In fact, everyone of those countries including Japan, that loyal capitalist ally of the
United States, is completely opposed to United States policy in Vietnam and is opposed to the policy followed by the Government of Australia.
– That is not true.
– Senator Sim tells me that is not true. Can he name any one of those countries which has troops in South Vietnam? Can he tell me which of those countries has declared support for the U.S.A. or Australia?
Deaths of the Honorable William James Scully and the Honorable John Francis Gaha.
– 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 wish to take a few minutes to refer to the recent deaths of two men who were very prominent in the Australian Labour Party. I mention first the Honorable William James Scully who died on Saturday, 19th March, in hospital in his home town of Tamworth at the age of 83 years. Mr. Scully was the member for Namoi in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales ft om September 1923 to 1932. He represented the electorate of Gwydir in the House of Representatives at Canberra from 8th May 1937 until December 1949. He was a member of the Curtin and Chifley Governments from 1941 until 1949, first as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and then as Vice-President of the Executive Council. He was a member of the Production Executive of the Cabinet from February 1942 to January 1946.
Mr. Scully had the vast responsibility of caring for Australia’s trade and agriculture during the worst years of the war and in the immediate postwar period. With his practical knowledge in these fields and his common sense he made a great success of his administration. Under the National Security Act, these notable advances were made: Organised marketing of farm products was established and prices were stabilised at payable levels; growers received representation on marketing authorities; long term agreements were made with the United Kingdom in regard to dairy products, meat, eggs and dried fruits; help was given to the apple and pear industry, which had lost its overseas markets; activities were undertaken in regard to the disposal of the wool surplus and the establishment of the wheat industry stabilisation scheme; and encouragement was given to the mechanisation of farm industry and primary industries.
I am happy to think that Bill Scully, as he was affectionately known, had 17 years of happy retirement with his wife and family. He …s deeply concerned with all aspects of rural activity. He was a kindly and considerate man, but he was quick and firm in decision. In every way he was an ornament to public life, to his Party and to the Parliament. I trust it will be a consolation to his wife, his children and other close relatives to know that his great contribution to Australia in this Parliament as a Minister, together with his fine personal qualities, won for him the respect and affection of his colleagues. To all of them we extend our condolences on his passing.
I refer now to the death late on Friday evening, 18th’ March, of Dr. John Francis Gaha. The late Dr. Gaha was one of the first persons I met when I went to Tasmania in 1929. Ever since, we have been associates, colleagues and intimate friends. That friendship extended beyond the Doctor to all members of his family, including his late father, his brothers and sister. Dr. Gaha was a highly qualified medical man. His qualifications included the following: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Obstetrics, Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians, and Diploma of Public Health. He began practice in Tasmania as a medical officer for the Hydro-electric Commission, but he will be remembered most for his tremendous service to the Royal Hobart Hospital in his capacity as a most outstanding surgeon. He gave almost a lifetime of honorary service to that hospital.
Dr. Gaha was a member of the Legislative Council of Tasmania from 1933 to 1943. He was the Minister for Health in the Ogilvie Administration from 1934 and was Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council until he resigned in 1943. He was responsible for establishing the Tasmanian Health Department, for pioneering new public hospitals in Hobart and Launceston, and for promoting many health reforms which included the establishment of free medical services in the remote areas of the State. He entered Federal politics as the member for Denison, which electorate he represented from 1943 to 1949. From 1950 he represented Denison in the Tasmanian House of Assembly. He was Chief Secretary and Minister for Police and for Transport from January 1959 until September 1961. He retired from politics altogether in 1964.
The late Dr. Gaha was a great-hearted man of boisterous good humour. Some of his many charitable acts to Tasmanian families during the depression years were discovered only by accident. He was widely read and was knowledgeable in every topic that affected humanity. He was well and favorably known throughout Tasmania and his passing will be mourned by countless thousands who have reason to be personally grateful to him. I number myself and all the members of my family among these. I wish to express on behalf of all members of my Party in the Senate our sincere condolences to Dr. Gaha’s widow in her great grief and loss. We extend our sympathy also to his brothers and sister who also are known to many of us. We trust that they all will be given the strength to bear their burden of sorrow.
.- Mr. President,I wish to associate myself with the sentiments that have been expressed by Senator McKenna at the sad passing of the Hon. Dr. Frank Gaha. His death has given to me a feeling of deep personal loss at losing a friend. Dr. Gaha was known to me for more than 30 years and I was always impressed by the manner in which he devoted his life to his fellow men. Senator McKenna has outlined his long and meritorious service in public life as a Minister in Tasmania and in the Commonwealth Parliament. I would just like to touch on some of his more notable activities in Tasmania which I believe should be recorded for posterity to read in the annals of this Parliament. As has been men tioned, Dr. Gaha was the first occupant of the Health portfolio in Tasmania. Until he became Minister, the Health Department in that State had been in a poor way, but he exercised his dynamic influence and revolutionised the Department to make it one of the most important in Tasmania. He and Albert Ogilvie, who was Premier at the time, joined together to lead the way and set a pattern for the other States to follow in health matters. Dr. Gaha gave more than 30 years of honorary service to the Royal Hobart Hospital and was its Honorary Superintendent in the early years of the war. He gave to all his patients a feeling of great confidence and they in turn reposed in him so much respect as to make him a legend in his own lifetime.
I came into contact with Dr. Gaha when I was first elected to this Parliament in 1946. When I came to Canberra, he immediately offered his assistance to me and made me feel at once as if I had become part of a most important body. He had a great respect for the parliamentary institution. He was a thoughtful and very colourful member of Parliament. Anyone meeting him could not fail to be impressed by his great drive, his singularity of purpose and his integrity. His outstanding quality in my view was his courtesy at all times, for he was an extremely courteous man. He had a happy personality and enjoyed a remarkable sense of humour. He was a completely kind man. I extend to Dr. Gaha’s sorrowing widow and his brothers and sister, as Senator McKenna has done, deep sympathy in the loss of one who was a great man in the true sense of the term.
I would also like to add a tribute to the late William James Scully, whom I met, as I said before, when I first came to this Parliament in 1946. We were associated during the following three years when he was a Minister and I was a relatively new member of this Parliament. I was able to observe his many fine qualities. I also would like to be associated with the sentiments expressed by Senator McKenna and extend my very deep sympathy to his sorrowing family.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 March 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660323_senate_25_s31/>.