25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the Senate that pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I notified the Governor of the State of Queensland of the vacancy in the representation of that State caused by the death of Senator R. D. Sherrington. I have now received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governor of the State of Queensland a certificate of the appointment of William Clarence Heatley as a senator to fill the vacancy.
Certificate laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
Senator William Clarence Heatley thereupon made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence confirm that the Army chartered an aircraft to transport Western Australian trainees to that State for the Easter holidays? Can he tell me what type of aircraft was used and whether the fare charged, namely £70, approximates the commercial airline tourist class fare? Can he tell me or find out how many trainees travelled on the flight and how many were unable to do so because of the expense? Has any consideration been given to establishing a training camp in Western Australia? If not, will the Government consider conscripting a small portion of wealth to enable Western Australian servicemen to travel to their homes on leave free of charge?
– I would like some of that question to be put on the notice paper so that I can obtain the relevant information from either the Department of Defence or the Department of the Army. I refer to the parts of the question about whether an aircraft was chartered, what type of aircraft it was, what fares were charged and whether the trainees were on ordinary leave or on a special trip which did not come within their ordinary leave entitlement. As to the establishment of an Army training camp in Western Australia - I think the honorable senator must have meant an Army training camp - I will find out whether that has been, is being or is likely to be considered. Of course, there is a Navy training camp in Western Australia already. I understand that people from other States who attend that camp do, on those occasions when they have normal leave, have opportunities to travel without significant expense. I will endeavour to obtain precise information on that matter, too.
– Has the Acting Minister for External Affairs seen statements in the Queensland Press in which it is alleged that Ken “Bluey” Bedford, a fisherman and boat owner who operates from Thursday Island, is in gaol in Merauke, West Irian, and that the Indonesian authorities refuse to supply any information about the matter? Will the Minister make urgent inquiries of the Indonesian authorities in order to ascertain whether Bedford is in custody in Merauke and what charges, if any, are pending against him?
– The first reports in relation to this affair were received by the Department of External Affairs on 14th April. The Department was informed by the Administration in Port Moresby that it had received from a source which it described as “ an uncertain source “ information that this man was being held in Merauke. The Department at once requested the Indonesian Embassy here in Canberra to make inquiries as to whether that was so and, if it was, as to what were the surrounding circumstances. At the same time the Department requested the Australian Embassy in Djakarta to make similar inquiries in that city, there being no direct Australian representative in West Irian. We have not yet received a reply to either of those requests. We are seeking to obtain replies as soon as possible, in order to find out whether the information is true and, if it is, what the surrounding circumstances are, so that we may do what may be required.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen an article written by Professor F. H. C. Kelly of the Department of Chemistry in the University of Tasmania, which appeared in the “ Journal of Science” and which stated that the strontium 90 intake of animals around Adelaide and Perth doubled between 1961 and 1963? Has there been any increase of strontium 90 in cattle in those areas since 1963? Is there any danger to health in the consumption of such cattle? Does the Department of Primary Industry see any dangers in this increase?
– No, I have not seen the article referred to by the honorable senator. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Primary Industry and see whether I can obtain an answer from him.
– I ask a question of you, Mr. President, if you care to answer it, but in the event that you feel you are not able to answer it, will you please refer it for answering to the Leader of the Government in the Senate? My question refers to this dubious area of concurrent powers which seems to exist between the Presiding Officers of the Parliament and the Executive element of the Government, and it relates to a new intrusion, it seems to me, into parliamentary powers, a new phenomenon since the major-generals began to run the Parliament. My question is: Have you noticed, Sir, that two junior Ministers, who are Ministers for Armed Services, now have suites in Parliament House to which there are doors that carry the significant title “Staff Officer to the Minister”? Will you consider whether or not this military intrusion into Parliament shall be banned, as it was in 1658?
– The disposition of rooms that are used by Ministers is a responsibility for the Cabinet and not for the Presiding Officers, although we have an overall responsibility for the disposition of rooms. Perhaps the Leader of the Government may care to add to that answer.
– As this is a matter, I understand, concerned with the House of Representatives wing, if the honorable senator will put the question on the notice paper I shall get the information for him. I am not personally aware of what has gone on so far as the House of Representatives wing is concerned.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs, ls it a fact that 75,000 copies of a new explanatory pamphlet on the Vietnam issue have been printed by the Department and await distribution? Is the new pamphlet of superior design and layout to the previously distributed pamphlet? Can the Minister give an indication of the date on which this pamphlet will be distributed?
– No such pamphlet has in fact at this stage been printed but it is in preparation for printing and, in fact, is being looked at at the present moment by me. It has not yet gone into the printer’s hands. The matter of artistic appreciation of layout and comparative excellence is one about which I think each individual senator would need to make up his own mind. The pamphlet will be distributed as soon as it has been further checked and has gone through the hands of the printer.
– Has the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research seen an article headed “ Plan for Coal Based Fertiliser Industry “ published in the Australian “Financial Review” of 14th April 1966, in which Indian research work to produce a cheap nitrogenous fertiliser was outlined? Has any similar research been done In Australia? If not, will the Government consider investigations into the practicability of utilising Australia’s low-grade coal deposits for production of nitrogenous fertilisers?
– Yes, I have seen the article referred to, which I think is concerned with the production of sulphate of ammonia, or equivalent nitrogenous fertiliser, from coal. I understand that some research work has in fact been done on this matter by the Coal Research Laboratories, which is not a Government institution but one financed jointly, if my memory is correct, by the Commonwealth Government, the State Government, and the industry in New South Wales. I do not know whether any conclusion which could be regarded as in any way sufficiently strong for consideration of further action has yet been reached, but from the content of the article itself it seems that research has been done up to a certain level on this matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In view of the tremendous success that has stemmed from the use of mobile X-ray units to detect tuberculosis, will the Government examine the possibility of extending aid to the States for the installation of facilities for cancer detection in country areas and, in particular, the creation in country areas of facilities for the use of the smear test, which is used to delect certain forms of cancer?
– 1 appreciate the tremendous value of the work which has been done by mobile X-ray units in the detection of tuberculosis. As honorable senators know, the Government’s record in fighting this dread disease in Australia is a very proud one. I am interested in the honorable senator’s suggestion concerning the early detection of cancer, which can lead to many cures of this disease. I shall have pleasure in discussing the points he has raised with the Minister for Health and will advise the honorable senator accordingly.
– Will the Acting Minister for External Affairs make clear to the Senate the current position relating to Australia’s promised gift of rice to Indonesia for disbursement to people in flood devastated areas? Has the rice been acquired and was it acquired within Australia? If the rice was acquired elsewhere, what was the cost per ton in comparison with the current Australian price? Will the Government follow up the receipt of the food by Indonesia and its final distribution? Does the Government know whether the Indonesian people are aware of the gift?
– The rice in question was acquired in Thailand. We knew it was available there when we decided to offer the gift. Shipping to move the rice to Indonesia has now been provided and the latest advice I have received is to the effect that the delivery of the rice in the ships should take place within a few days from now. I think I can give an indication as to whether the Indonesian people are aware of the gift by quoting from a letter that has come to me from an Australian business representative of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade at Kediri in Java. The relevant part of the letter reads -
Being Australian missionaries, people have purposely come to us in the streets and offices of this town, Kediri, to voice their sincere appreciation for this wonderful gift. Such people as leading police officials, businessmen and the common man in the street have all been so thankful, even though they shall not personally receive any of this gift. Never has such a spontaneous and sincere voice of appreciation been shown by such a general cross-section of our town’s population.
The business manager was thoughtful enough to send that letter to me and I hope it is some indication that the gift is widely appreciated in Java.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is the Postmaster-General aware that Queenstown, on the west coast of Tasmania, is still without a television translator station, despite the repeated representations by residents of the west coast and the assurance by the Australian Broadcasting Commission over the past two years that one would be installed? Is he aware also that commercial television translators have recently been installed at Gowrie Park and Stanley on the north-west coast of Tasmania and that the isolation of Queenstown should have warranted priority of installation? Will the Postmaster-General investigate the reason for the delay in obtaining the equipment for the Queenstown translator station and give instructions that it should be erected with the utmost expedition?
– The honorable senator’s questions clearly relate to matters of administrative function within the Postmaster-General’s Department. I will see that they are directed to the PostmasterGeneral without delay.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of a report that an Ansett-A.N.A. Viscount aircraft, when completing a flight at Brisbane on Monday of this week, had extreme difficulty in landing because ofits damaged condition? When the Department of Civil Aviation has investigated the cause of the trouble, will the Minister inform me of its findings?
– Naturally in all such cases there is an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. When a report is available in this case I shall ask that the information be made available, not only to the honorable senator, but as widely as possible.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. How many Vietcong prisoners are held by American and associated forces in Vietnam? Are any of the prisoners not of Vietnamese origin? If so, how many? Where do they come from?
– Obviously I do not know the number of Vietcong prisoners that are held by American forces in Vietnam nor can I be sure that I could acquire that knowledge from the Americans for the honorable senator. If he were to ask me how many prisoners were held or had been taken by the Australians, that would be a different matter. I do not think I can be responsible for giving the information that has been sought.
– I address my question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Are the present military operations of Australian forces in Vietnam being undertaken pursuant to any obligations under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty? If the answer is “ Yes “, which article or articles of the Treaty are said to apply? In view of the fact that there has been no resolution of the United Nations Security Council authorising any enforcement action by any of the parties to the S.E.A.T.O. pact, is not the Australian Government’s action inconsistent with the provisions of Article 53 of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, which was approved by this Parliament when it passed the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945?
– The Charter of the United Nations, under a chapter and article which I am not now able to quote but will later quote to the honorable senator, gives to any nation the right to request assistance if it is the subject of aggression and attack from any other nation and specifically permits such regional assistance. That appears to me to be the proper answer to the honorable senator’s question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact, as stated in the Press, that 618 of the 2,100 national service trainees in the February intake will go to infantry battalions and that the proportion is higher than for infantrymen in the Army as a whole. Does this mean that the Army already evaluates national service trainees as being experienced and expendable front line troops? Are future allocations within Army units likely to follow the current pattern?
– So far as I understand the question and its relation to national service trainees, I think the position is that those whose names were first drawn out, having done approximately 12 months training, are now about to go overseas. With regard to the second part of the question, it has been stated many times that the number of national service trainees who will be called upon for service overseas will represent approximately one-third of the total number to go overseas.
(Question No. 726.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister has furnished the following reply to the honorable senator’s question -
In October last, the United States authorities withheld import clearance of a number of meat shipments to the United States. The vessels concerned had called en route at ports in countries designated as having foot and mouth disease. The United States action, which involved a change in established practice, created uncertainty in relation to some meat shipments from Australia and temporarily affected shipping schedules, especially in Western Australia.
Following urgent high level representations by the Australian Government and the visit by senior veterinary officials of the Departments of Primary Industry and Health to Washington, the United States Government agreed to admit the shipments in question.
Since October there have been further exchanges between representatives of the two Governments in order to fully satisfy the United States quarantine requirements without unduly inconveniencing Australian shippers. Mutually acceptable arrangements have now been worked out with the appropriate United States authorities and no further difficulties are expected.
(Question No. 791.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 794.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answer -
(Question No. 798.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has replied as follows -
(Question No. 801.)
asked the Minis ter representingthe Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 813.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Has any Commonwealth department, other than the Department of the Army, a degree of control over the leave provisions of national servicemen?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Yes, but only in the case of leave without pay of over 14 days when the views of the Department of Labour and National Service are sought since that Department administers the Act under which the member is discharging his national service obligation. Any period of leave without pay granted is regarded as non-effective service and therefore the period must be served finally to make up the full period required by the Act.
(Question No. 814.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers -
The following trade missions, which have received full support or support in some measure from the Commonwealth, have visited overseas countries since 1949 -
The above lists do not include small private trade missions which have gone overseas without financial assistance from the Commonwealth.
(Question No. 829.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General acknowledge the hardship suffered by blind citizens by granting in the next Budget an application made for a 17 per cent, reduction in telephone rentals to blind people and thus make it easier for these unfortunate people, who, because of their disability, have difficulty in visiting others, to communicate with friends, relatives and business houses?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer -
Blind persons already enjoy a reduction of one-third in their telephone rental charges, as do war widows and certain other pensioners under the Social Services and Repatriation Acts. The grant of a further reduction to one of these groups would, without doubt, give rise to claims from the others on the grounds of equal justification. The question of the extent to which the Government could grant concessions in telephone rental was examined thoroughly at the time the existing arrangements were introduced, and a reduction of one-third was deemed to be the most equitable to all concerned.
(Question No. 833.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the unprecedented influx of workers to the north of Western Australia and the desirability of encouraging their permanent settlement when the construction workis over, will the Treasurer -
re-examine the taxation zone allowance with a view to restoring it to a figure which would give a real incentive to residents to remain in the area; and
re-examine the repeated requests of the Western Australian State School Teachers’ Union to adjust the anomaly inherent in section79a of the Income Tax Assessment Act which insists solely on the financial year as the criterion for qualification to receive the benefits of thezone allowance?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
The question of the amounts of the taxation zone allowances is one which needs to be looked at in a budgetary context; it has been listed for consideration by the Government during the preparation of the next Budget. A good deal of study has already been given to the question of the conditions which govern eligibility for the zone allowances. None of the alternative courses examined so far has proved altogether satisfactory, but the matter is being kept under review.
(Question No. 838.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Has the Department received an application from a newly registered company based in Victoria for a licence to operate an executive air passenger service throughout the Commonwealth?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer -
A newly formed company, Business Jets Pty. Ltd., has applied to the Director-General of Civil Aviation for a charter licence to authorise charter operations with a small twin-jet aircraft. I understand that the company sees a market in the special transportation on charter of top-level business executives, and I am advised that the application is being considered in the usual way.
(Question No. 841.)
– On 23rd March Senator Turnbull asked me a question as the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry in the following terms -
What was the total value of all goods exported by Australia to Hong Kong in each of the last five years?
The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer -
The total value of merchandise exports from Australia to Hong Kong in each of the last five years was as follows -
In addition, Hong Kong is a traditional market for large quantities of Australian gold. The value of Australia’s exports of gold to Hong Kong in each of the five years was -
– Mr. President, towards the end of this week my colleagues, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), and the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), and also myself, will leave for short visits overseas on government business. The Prime Minister will be away for about 10 days, including 3 sitting days, to carry out his stated intention of visiting Australian Forces serving in areas of South East Asia. He will leave for Singapore on Thursday, and will be absent from Australia for about 10 days. In his absence the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) will be Acting Prime Minister.
Honorable senators will recall from the Prime Minister’s previous statements that the primary purpose of his going to South East Asia at this time is to visit Australian servicemen in the field. He will, of course, make the most of the opportunity provided to meet with the leaders of governments in the respective countries. As indicated earlier, the Prime Minister will be visiting Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia - including Sarawak - and Vietnam. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sir John Wilton, who, as honorable senators know, is the Chairman-designate of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The party will also include senior representatives of the Prime Minister’s Department, the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Defence. It is the intention of the Prime
Minister to spend Anzac Day with Australian servicemen in operational areas. He looks forward to meeting and talking with the Australian servicemen who have been serving in difficult areas with courage and distinction, and will report to the Parliament on his visit upon his return.
The Attorney-General will represent Australia at the London Conference of Commonwealth Law Ministers which commences on 26th April. During his absence the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) will act as Attorney-General.
I am to lead the Australian delegation at the European Launcher Development Organisation conference in Paris, which takes place from 26th April to 29th April. I will remain in Paris for two days after the conference for talks relating primarily to the Mirage aircraft and then will visit London to meet my counterpart in the new British Cabinet. I plan to return on 7th May. During my absence the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) will act as Minister for Supply, and Senator Gorton will lead the Government in the Senate. Arrangements for representation in the Senate of Ministers in the House of Representatives will be as follows: Senator Gorton will represent in all matters concerning the Prime Minister and the Treasurer; Senator Anderson will represent the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Acting Minister for Supply; and Senator McKellar will represent the Minister for National Development.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Bill 1966.
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill 1966.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Prime Minister notifying me that in accordance with the terms of the resolution on the appointment of the Joint Select Committee on a New and Permanent Parliament House, he has appointed the Treasurer to attend committees when the Prime Minister is unable to be present.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Tangney on account of ill health.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Post and Telegraph Act to make certain changes in the conditions of issue of money orders and to introduce an improved service, similar to the postal note, to be known as the postal order. The Bill also formally converts existing money references to their decimal equivalents and brings Part 1 of the Act into line with (he form of recent legislation. The proposed new postal order is designed to overcome certain shortcomings in the present postal note service. Since 1954-55, the number of postal notes issued annually has fallen from 22 million to 15 million. Many factors have contributed to this decline, but a major cause has undoubtedly been a lack of public confidence in the postal note. In 1953, the Post Office discontinued the practice of recording postal notes, because of the high costs and administrative effort involved. This meant that it was no longer possible to determine whether or not a postal note had been paid, and consequently duplicates could not be issued for notes which were claimed to have been lost or destroyed.
The proposed introduction of the new postal order, which has a new and attractive format, should restore the standard of service formerly provided. The use of magnetic ink characters will enable the orders to be electronically sorted, so that ready access to records of payment will be possible. The order will have a counterfoil similar to bank cheques as part of the increased security available to the purchaser. The service will enable the public to have the postal orders negotiated through a bank account as has been possible with postal notes. The Bill proposes the removal of the restrictions imposed by Section 76 of the Act, which provides that after six months from the date of issue a postal note should be paid only at a General Post Office. In future, requests for payment after six months may be made at any office at which payment would normally have been made.
It is also proposed that the highest denomination for an individual postal order be set at $4, compared with the $2 upper limit for an individual postal note. The $2 limit has proved insufficient to meet a large number of demands from customers. To provide flexibility, provision is being sought for any future variations of the limit to be fixed by regulation rather than by the Act itself. The introduction of the proposed new postal order will overcome the disadvantages of the postal note. It will provide the public with a service much superior to, and far more convenient than, the one it replaces.
In the case of the money order, it is not proposed that any change be made in form or operation. The only alteration concerns the upper limit for which an individual money order may be issued. The Bill provides for the existing upper limit of $40 for an individual money order to be raised to $80. This should reduce the number of multiple issues required when large sums of money are being transmitted. It also provides that in future the limit be fixed by regulation as in the case of the proposed postal order. The new section 74 makes allowance for the fact that arrangements with other Governments and the authorities of Territories of the Commonwealth for the transmission and payment of money orders and postal notes are not in fact made by the Governor-General as stated in the current Act. The amendments to this section would bring the provisions of the principal Act, insofar as money orders and postal orders are concerned, into line with actual practice.
The remainder of the Bill deals with purely procedural matters. Clause 4 amends the form of Part 1 of the Act to bring it into line with current drafting practice. The First Schedule appended to the Bill replaces references to “ postal note “, as appropriate, with the words “ postal order “, while the Second Schedule formally converts all money references in the Post and Telegraph Act to decimal equivalents. I commend the Bill to the consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill completes the first full scale review of the law of bankruptcy since the original Federal Bankruptcy Act was enacted in 1924. The first stage of the review was undertaken by the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee, which was appointed by the then Attorney-General, now Sir John Spicer, on 23rd February 1956. The Committee met under the chairmanship of Sir Thomas Clyne, whose name has for many years been so prominently associated with bankruptcy law in Australia. The other members of the Committee were Mr. J. Q. Ewens, C.B.E., Parliamentary Draftsman, the late Mr. S. T. Jacques, Acting Inspector-General in Bankruptcy, Mr. C. A. Law, chartered accountant, Mr. D. L. Roberts, appointed on the nomination of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, Mr. H. N. Wardle, appointed on the nomination of the Law Council of Australia, and Mr. N. S. Young, chartered accountant. The Committee presented its report on 14th December 1962. Annexed to the report was a draft bill embodying the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee’s report was distributed to members of both Houses of the Parliament and to persons and organizations that had made representations to the Committee, and it was also made available to the public generally. Representations for alterations to the Committee’s draft bill were received from the Law Council of Australia and its constituent legal bodies, as well as from the chambers representing commerce and industry, and from banking and accountancy institutions. Points for amendment were put forward also by the bankruptcy judges, official receivers and bankruptcy registrars. In all, some hundreds of changes in the Bill recommended by the Committee were sought. Furthermore, since the Bill was first introduced in another place, many additional proposals for amendment have been received from interested persons and organizations. The Government has given all the requests the most careful consideration. In a number of instances, the members of the Committee were asked for their further advice. The result of this detailed consideration of the existing bankruptcy law is to be seen in the measure now before the Senate. Though a number of changes have been made, it is, for the most part, the bill as recommended by the Committee.
The law relating to bankruptcy has, of course, a great deal of importance both for the business community and for the public generally. It has long been accepted by the community that when a debtor has reached such a position that he is no longer able to pay his debts in full and there is little prospect of his being able to do so, his property should be made available, through a trustee, for distribution amongst his creditors on an equitable basis; and that, after all his property has been so made available, he should, if his financial difficulties have been brought about by misfortune rather than dishonesty or extravagance, be released from his liabilities and be given an opportunity to re-establish himself with as little delay as possible. Equally, it has been accepted that there is need to provide for the punishment of bankrupts who are dishonest, and to safeguard the community against the early release of such persons from their liabilities and from the close supervision provided by the bankruptcy law.
The Bill is a long one. It consists of some 315 clauses and 163 pages and I shall confine myself to describing the more important changes that are made to the existing law. Generally speaking, the work of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee was concerned with revision rather than with reform in the sense of proposing new and fundamental changes. With the exception of provisions relating to arrangements with creditors outside bankruptcy, to which I shall return later, the Committee’s proposals left the basic structure of law established by the present Act undisturbed. Nevertheless, it proposed a great number of detailed, and in many eases important, changes in the existing law. These changes were aimed at removing anomalies in the present law, clarifying points where there are doubts as to the meaning of provisions in the existing Bankruptcy Act and the inclusion of many new provisions. The changes were so extensive that, rather than attempt to make amendments to the existing Act, the Committee recommended the enactment of a completely new statute.
I turn now to a consideration of certain of the provisions of the Bill that I think merit special attention. Honorable senators will note from clause 44 that the amount of indebtedness necessary to found a bankruptcy petition by a creditor has been increased from $100 to $500. The present minimum of $100 has stood for a long time. It was taken over by the existing Bankruptcy Act from English legislation dating back to 1869. It is wrong, as the Committee has observed, that a man should be made bankrupt when he owes only a relatively small sum and his assets are negligible. The raising of the indebtedness will lessen the opportunity to use the bankruptcy procedures as mere debt collecting machinery.
The provisions of the existing law relating to arrangements between a debtor and his creditors outside bankruptcy are to be repealed and replaced by an entirely new code. The existing provisions are those in Parts XI and XII of the present Act. Historically, they are the result of the amalgamation of certain of the State bankruptcy laws in existence at the time the present Bankruptcy Act was enacted. The historical reasons for the form of the present law have been well described by the Committee in paragraphs 271 to 278 of its report. It is sufficient to note that the existing Act provides alternative codes of procedure which may be followed where it is not desired by the creditors to have a debtor’s affairs administered under the strict procedure of bankruptcy. The Committee took the view that it was unnecessary to have alternative codes of procedure. The new system is set out in Part X of the present Bill. This provides a scheme which is intended to be flexible enough to meet requirements for dealing with a debtor’s affairs outside bankruptcy, but which will, at the same time, be subject to the general supervision of the bankruptcy courts.
Under Part XI of the present Act, proceedings commence with the calling of a meeting of the debtor’s creditors. All creditors are consulted, and have a voice in the decisions made, and these decisions are binding on all creditors. The creditors may choose the particular form of administration of the debtor’s affairs appropriate to the case. By contrast, proceedings under Part XII of the present Act do not commence with a meeting of creditors. They are initiated by a debtor voluntarily executing a deed of arrangement in favour of a trustee, usually, but not necessarily, with the knowledge of his principal creditors. The deed is not binding on creditors who do not assent to it. Part XII is concerned primarily with providing machinery for the registration of deeds, and giving validity to the deed subject to compliance with prescribed formalities.
Under the new Part X, the proceedings will in all cases commence with the calling of a meeting of the debtor’s creditors and all creditors will be afforded an opportunity of taking part in decisions made at the meeting. The Bill ensures that appropriate publicity will be given to the calling of a meeting. It will be for the creditors to decide at the meeting whether the debtor’s affairs are to be administered outside strict bankruptcy and, if so, the form the administration is to take. The choices available to the creditors under the new Part will be, first, a deed of assignment not unlike a deed under existing Part XI; second, a deed of arrangement corresponding generally to a deed under existing Part XII; and, thirdly, a composition. The form the administration is to take will be determined by the creditors by special resolution; that is to say, by a majority in number and three-fourths in value of the creditors present at the meeting, either personally, by attorney or by proxy. A decision so taken will be binding forthwith and the individual assent of creditors will not be required as it is under the present Act. This will result in greater certainty and expedition.
In the interests of maintaining proper control over proceedings under the new Part, the Bill requires, whatever the form of administration decided upon, that a registered trustee shall be appointed to administer the debtor’s affairs under the deed or composition. In addition, in order to avoid the losses that often occur in the assets of a debtor between the nominal commencement of proceedings under existing Part XI or Part XII and the time when a trustee is in full and effective control of the debtor’s affairs, the property of the debtor is, under the new Part X, made subject to the control of a ‘ controlling trustee’ immediately upon the debtor giving authority for a meeting to be called. This concept of a ‘ controlling trustee ‘ is something entirely new in Australian bankruptcy law. I am sure that it will prove to be of considerable practical value. Perhaps I might summarise the intention of the Part X procedure by saying that it is intended to ensure -
I pass on to refer to the change that has been made in the existing offence provision relating to the obtaining of credit by an undischarged bankrupt. At present, this offence is committed by an undischarged bankrupt who obtains credit to the amount of $40 or upwards. Having regard to the changed value of money, clause 269 of the Bill proposes that this amount be increased to $200. At the same time, because this offence is a prevalent one, the Committee recommended, and the Bill adopts the recommendation, that the penalty should be increased from the present maximum of imprisonment for one year to a maximum of imprisonment for three years.
The Bill includes a number of changes which are designed to strengthen the provisions of the existing law aimed at the punishment of dishonest debtors. The Committee recommended a number of substantial changes in the offence provisions of the present Act, including changes to remove existing anomalies. At present, some offences do not apply in relation to arrangements outside bankruptcy. The Bill remedies this unsatisfactory position. In addition, it makes two important changes to the Committee’s recommendations. In the first place, the penalty for all offences which involve fraud or an intent to defraud has been increased to a maximum of imprisonment for three years. Secondly, provision has been made for a new offence. This is to be found in clause 265 (8.) of the Bill. It provides for the punishment of persons who before bankruptcy incur substantial debts without any reasonable chance of making repayment. There is a comparable provision in the uniform companies law under which, a penalty may be imposed upon an officer of a company who is party to contracting a debt in like circumstances.
On the other hand, some features of the Bill are intended to make it easier for debtors who have been the victims of misfortune to be rehabilitated. It is not in the public interest that there should be a large number of undischarged bankrupts, whose continued bankruptcy contributes nothing to the satisfaction of their creditors but may hinder them in re-establishing themselves in business. Under the existing law, a bankrupt must apply to the Court for a discharge. The Committee considered that bankrupts who are the victims of misfortune should receive a discharge with the minimum of trouble and expense. On the other hand, the dishonest bankrupt ought not to be discharged except under stringent conditions. It therefore recommended that a system of discharge by operation of law should be introduced subject to the necessary safeguards in the interests of creditors and the community. Provisions giving effect to this recommendation are contained in clauses 149 to 154 of the Bill.
The next important feature of the Bill to which I draw attention is the reassessment it makes of the balance of interests between the Crown and private creditors. Clause 8 of the Bill provides expressly that the provisions of the Bill are binding on the Crown. Moreover, the Bill makes important changes to the position of the Commissioner of Taxation as against a private creditor. Only certain provisions of the existing law are binding on the Crown. The Committee considered that the privileged position of the Crown under the existing law is unfair, having regard particularly to the expanding activities of the Crown in the modern community. The Committee recommended that the Crown ought to be in the same position as other creditors of a debtor. The Government has accepted the Committee’s view on this point.
The changes made by the Bill with regard to tax priority deserve special mention. When the existing Bankruptcy Act was passed in 1924 priority was given to the Crown in respect of outstanding income tax but the priority was limited to tax which had been assessed before the date of bankruptcy and, moreover, was limited to the amount of one year’s assessment. In 1942, when the uniform taxation scheme was introduced, the Crown’s position was considerably enhanced by giving priority to the Crown in respect of all outstanding income tax whether assessed before or after the date of sequestration. That priority has since been continued by section 221(l.)(b) of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. The Committee recommended a return to the position which formerly obtained under the Bankruptcy Act. After much consideration and a weighing of all the competing interests involved, the Government has decided to adopt the Committee’s recommendation. The result is in clause 109 of the Bill.
Clause 109, in addition, takes care of the position of creditors who have given an indemnity for costs of litigation in recovering assets of the bankrupt’s estate. It has been judicially decided that, under the present legislation, the claims of these creditors are over-ridden by the priority given to the Commissioner of Taxation under the Income Tax and Social Services
Contribution Assessment Act. Sub-clause (6.) of clause 109 enables the Court to make an order giving indemnifying creditors an advantage over all other creditors, including the Commissioner of taxation, lt has also been held by the Courts that the provision in the existing Act, which enables the trustees in bankruptcy to avoid payments and other dispositions of property having the effect of giving a preference to a creditor over other creditors, does not apply to the Crown. One result of making all of the provisions of the Bill binding upon the Crown is to put the Crown in the same position as a private creditor under the provisions relating to avoidance of preferences.
The Bill will make substantial changes to the existing law concerning the effect of bankruptcy upon transactions occurring before the date on which the debtor becomes a bankrupt. Particular points to which I would invite the attention of honorable senators are to be found in clauses 118, 119 and 124. The Committee took the view that a creditor should be discouraged from bringing about a sale of a debtor’s assets by the process of execution, since this would usually result in a diminution of the value of the estate available to the trustee in bankruptcy, even though the creditor were to refund the proceeds in full. It considered that the protection given to execution creditors under section 92 of the existing Act should be entirely removed. Effect is given to this view in clauses 118 and 119 of the Bill. A creditor who has issued execution against the property of a debtor within six months of the presentation of a petition or after the presentation of a petition against the debtor is required to refund the proceeds which he obtains from the sale of the property less the taxed costs of the execution. If, on receiving notice of the presentation of a creditor’s petition, the sheriff has in his hands property of a debtor, proceeds of the sale of the debtor’s property or moneys paid to him to avoid the sale, he is required to hold these for the benefit of the trustee in bankruptcy, and he must refrain from taking any further action to sell the property of the debtor in pursuance of a process of execution.
Under the existing law, special protection is given to bankers and others who hold money or property on behalf of persons who become bankrupt. Certain additional protection is given to banks, particularly in respect of transactions occurring after the making of the sequestration order where the bank acts without negligence. The Committee recommended that the existing special protection given to banks in respect of transactions occurring after the making of the sequestration order should be withdrawn but that, in other respects, the protection given to banks and other institutions holding money or property on behalf of others should be extended. In particular, the Committee proposed that notice of the commission of an act of bankruptcy or of the presentation of a creditor’s petition should not, of itself, be regarded as making a payment of money or delivery of property one made otherwise than in good faith and in the ordinary course of business. Except in one respect, these recommendations are embodied in clause 124 of the Bill. After considering representations made by the banks concerning the special difficulties faced by country branches, the Government decided that the protection given to transactions made without negligence after the making of the sequestration order should be continued, and that it should be extended, not only to banks, but to all others who would fall within the provisions of clause 124. The Bill will also make some important changes in the nature of the property of a bankrupt which would be protected from distribution amongst his creditors. It extends the existing protection given to life assurance policies and annuities. It also raises from $100 to $600 the value of tools of trade which may be retained by a bankrupt without reference to the creditors or the Court. The relevant provisions are to be found in sub-clause (2.) of clause 116 of the Bill.
The Bill also makes some adjustments between the competing interests of private creditors. These are to be found in clause 109 of the Bill which sets out the priorities for applying the assets of a bankrupt’s estate. I particularly invite the attention, of the Senate to the following changes. The amount afforded priority for salary and wages has been increased from $100 to $600 in the case of any one employee. For the first time, priority is given to amounts due in respect of long service leave or accrued annual leave. The amount afforded priority for an employee’s compensation is increased from $400 to $2,000. Having regard to the workers’ compensation laws, it will probably be rare for this priority to be applied, but the Bill will provide employees with an appropriate safeguard. Some changes have been made to the existing law relating to the appointment of trustees and to the powers and duties of trustees. These changes are intended to encourage private trustees to accept appointments as trustees of bankrupt estates and, consequently, to relieve the present work load on the Official Receivers. The provisions relating to trustees are to be found in Part VIII of the Bill.
Finally, I refer to clauses 273 and 274 of the Bill which relate to the prosecution of offences. The existing Act, as the Committee observed, appears in some instances to make the judge of the Court both the prosecutor and the judge. This arises under sections 216 and 217, under which prosecutions are instituted on the initiative of the Court. The Government agreed that the present system should not be retained, but decided to introduce a rather less complex system than that which the Committee had recommended. It is one that accords more closely wilh the pattern of the prosecution procedures under other Commonwealth laws. The main features of clauses 273 and 274 as they appear in the Bill before the Senate are these: (a) Offences carrying a penalty of imprisonment may be prosecuted either summarily or on indictment; (b) summary proceedings may be brought either in a court of summary jurisdiction or in a court exercising bankruptcy jurisdiction; (c) in each case, the penalty that may be imposed summarily is limited to imprisonment for one year, and there is a time limit on the bringing of summary proceedings; finally, in each case also, the Court has authority to commit for trial. It will be seen, therefore, that imprisonment exceeding one year can be imposed only after trial on indictment before a criminal court and, in addition, that the means are available for bringing a case before a jury even where the proceedings have been commenced summarily.
I have drawn the attention of honorable senators to some of the changes made to the existing law by this comprehensive Bill, which is indeed one of the lengthiest pieces of legislation ever introduced in the Commonwealth Parliament. I have given no more than a general description of the painstaking work that has been carried out by the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee. The members of that Committee have continued to make themselves available for consultation and I take this opportunity, therefore, of adding to what I have already said an expression of the Government’s appreciation of the valuable public service that the members of the Committee have performed. I believe that the passage of this Bill will make a significant contribution to the functioning of a law which is of concern to a wide section of the community. I commend the Bill to the consideration of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the following resolution in connection with the Foreign Affairs Committee -
That Mr. Hughes be appointed a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in the place of Mr. Malcolm Fraser, discharged from attendance.
Debate resumed from 31st March (vide page 408), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 22nd March 1966.
.- The Senate has been considering a statement made in the Parliament by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). Although that statement followed without a great interval a statement that dealt in part with foreign affairs made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), it remains true that the matter of outstanding present importance in Mr. Hasluck’s statement is that relating te Vietnam. We are indebted to the Minister for his references to other questions that have arisen in international affairs, but I propose to address my speech entirely to our involvement in Vietnam. I claim that in this Parliament we have a solemn duty to consider the war in Vietnam on a national basis, sensible of our obligations and our authority to control the destiny of this nation and to guard its security. That means, of course, guarding everything for which we live in this country. I do not believe that this issue should be considered on a basis of debating points or of party advantage. Such matters should be subordinated entirely to a firm and unwavering purpose to consider the nation and its security.
I am most indebted to the Minister for External Affairs for what he has put to us about Vietnam in his statement, coming as it did after he had recently consulted with representatives of the United Kingdom and United States Governments and his intimate contact with representatives of Asian countries. I believe that the Australian people, like myself, are continuously interested in any further light that can be thrown upon Australia’s concern and interest in this region. Our whole focus and attitude as a nation towards the integrity and security of South Vietnam have been entirely altered in the last 20 years. As we claim increasing maturity in international stature, we must recognise an obligation that that imposes on us in formulating our foreign policy and an obligation to ensure that forces not merely within our own country but also forces outside our coastline are consistent with the maintenance of our security. I say that because under the conditions of life in Australia it is altogether too easy to consider that, as we have been under the protective wing of the British fleet for most of the lives of most of us and as we have a powerful ally in the United States on the other side of the Pacific, we can lull ourselves into a sense of indifference to external affairs. I believe the true position is that our role in international affairs is at the very heart of the concern of this nation, not merely for its continued prosperity and the continued happiness of its people but for its existence.
It is well that we should remind ourselves that before 1954 the Communist forces of Ho Chi Minh had established their predominance over a large part of Vietnam. By the Geneva Agreement of 1954 we simply secured an armistice that restored Vietnam to a condition of peace, or absence of hostilities, after a terrible eight years of war. That Agreement enabled a regrouping of forces so thai the French and the South Vietnamese could go to the southern zone south of the 17th parallel and the Communist forces of North Vietnam could be rezoned in the area to the north of the 17th parallel. The Agreement also preserved for the South Vietnamese people, if they saw fit, an opportunity - it may be soon, it may be late although it was contemplated at the time that the opportunity would be exercised within two years - to determine for themselves the form of government under which they should live. The prevailing opinion at that time was that the majority of them abhorred the Communist atrocities and violence which they had experienced at the hands of the forces of North Vietnam. It was in those circumstances that the French withdrew entirely from South Vietnam and the South Vietnamese people, left to themselves, gradually showed an increasing dependence upon the protection of the United States in the determination of their own future free from Communist domination. For my part, I pay tribute to America’s acceptance of the obligation to protect that interest in no less measure than the tribute I pay to America for the debt that we owe her for her interest not only in Australia but also in Europe in the Second World War.
That being so, it is idle for anyone to say that the people who have exercised government in South Vietnam since 1954 have not been impeccable. It is idle to say that the governments which have been in office in South Vietnam since 1954 have been undemocratic, arbitrary, tyrannical add sectarian because all of these assertions probably are true and we abhor those things in any system of government, but the point is that neither the United States nor Australia stands for the maintenance of the present form of government in South Vietnam. The United States and Australia are in this region to preserve for the people there the opportunity to establish, by selfdetermination, a system of government free from Communist violence and domination. We have taken our stand in Vietnam for a cause, for a purpose. I do not claim that Australia has an obligation to defend any people who are threatened from outside, but I point out that the South Vietnamese people are situated upon the southern border of North Vietnam and that North Vietnam shares a common border with its neighbour, Communist China.
We must not forget that today Communism is a force in the world to be reckoned with. We must focus our attention upon Vietnam because she may fall to the Communist forces which in 1954 were given the advantage of extending their frontier from the southern border of China to the 17th parallel in Vietnam. Any acquiescence or indifference in 1966 would concede them the right to proceed to the southern border of South Vietnam. That being the position, as was so plainly stated in the Minister’s speech, Australia and America have a common disinterested purpose in preserving for the people of. South Vietnam the right of self-determination. Mr. Dean Rusk, America’s spokesman, is reported in this morning’s Press as having said that America will have no concern if South Vietnam, by proper methods, chooses a neutral course, a non-aligned course. If South Vietnam, undominated by Communism, when given the opportunity to establish its own government freely elects to become united with North Vietnam as a Communist State, that will be no concern of America or Australia because neither America nor Australia wishes to impose any form of government upon North Vietnam or South Vietnam.
It is idle for the critics of Australia’s present policy to say that America’s interest in Vietnam is to prevent the people accepting, by constitutional methods, the Communist form of government. Our presence in Vietnam and America’s presence in Vietnam is to prevent aggression from Communist States overpowering a bordering smaller State - South Vietnam in this case - and preventing that State freely constituting its own form of government. Who challenged that decision?
– The Leader of the Opposition challenged it.
– Yes, it was challenged by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and many of his supporters and there has been confusion and a babel of voices raised against it. I want to discuss this as calmly as I can because I, for my part, will not be finishing my study of this matter when I resume my seat. I shall listen to every speech that is made in this place and I shall read everything that I can about it because when the security of Australia is involved an objective judgment must be made. There are certain risks attending the course we have elected to follow.
Who challenges our attitude? The Vietcong. Whatever else has been said upon the subject, let me remind the Senate of what the responsible Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said in the statement we are now debating which was presented to the Parliament on 10th March this year. By virtue not only of the authority of his office but also of his integrity of person, I believe that Mr. Hasluck will command persuasion for the truth of any statement that he presents to the Parliament. He said - it becomes plainer than ever that this attack has been prepared in breadth and in depth and organised with professional skill over a period of years and that year by year more and more sophisticated weapons of foreign Communist manufacture have been fed into South Vietnam from the North.
I saw myself in Saigon a few days before Christmas photographs of one of the well prepared underground headquarters of the Vietcong and I have talked with Australian soldiers who cleared these redoubts. I saw in Saigon literally thousands of weapons captured from the Vietcong and alongside them other military and semi-military supplies from Communist China and Communist Europe. South Vietnam is not opposing a local band of dissident citizens but the deliberately created and well organised instrument of North Vietnamese aggression. In all, the Communists have at least 80,000 regular troops-
That is in South Vietnam - some 120,000 guerrillas and 18,000 men in administrative and support troops. As more and more of the enemy are captured or defect, unit identifications and interrogations help to give increasing precision to our knowledge of enemy strength. The Vietcong-
That is the Vietcong alone. have perhaps as many as fifteen regiments of their own which have been established and trained with the help of North Vietnamese cadres and increasingly armed on Chinese equipment. Among the Vietcong there is an ever growing proportion of men infiltrated from the North. In all, over 60,000 men have been infiltrated from the North since 1959. Included in this figure are 18,000 men in regular units of the North Vietnamese Army. There are now nine and probably more regiments of the North Vietnamese Army in South Vietnam. These regular units are being reinforced from other forces of the North Vietnamese Army illegally stationed in the eastern parts of Laos.
In view of that statement by a responsible Australian Minister about northern aggression in South Vietnam, I believe that any member of Parliament who says that the situation is not of direct concern, first to South Vietnam, then to South East Asia, and directly even if distantly to Australia, needs to reconsider his attitude in the light of the impelling demands of the security of Australia.
Some statements have emanated from critics which I think cheaply impute to the Americans an attitude of self interest. They cheaply disparage the generous distribution of wealth that America is prepared to give to South Vietnam for that country’s protection and, more importantly, for her political, economic and social growth. If I remember an article in today’s Press correctly I think that $US240,000 million has been devoted in the American Budget to this purpose. This is an enormous figure. If the Australian taxpayers yielded one-tenth of that sum it would be considered an act of altruism worthy of being extolled throughout history. I believe that America’s purpose in this matter is genuine. She is acting for the protection of free institutions in what we call the free world, in this instance localised in South Vietnam.
I do not need to rely upon outdated authorities to show that in South Vietnam we have a situation in which America <s resisting aggression. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives conceded within the last 18 months that it was undoubted that North Vietnam was persisting in aggression. I do not need to argue the genuineness of America’s interest. It is no answer to say that mistakes have been made in individual acts of administration by the Government of South Vietnam. The truth is that as responsibility to protect South Vietnam has increased, America has accepted the challenge and expanded her response. America now has something like 225,000 troops in South Vietnam. Can Australia, as a nation in the Pacific area, with any mind to security at all, be recreant to the dependence it places upon its alliances with America? Having regard to the S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. pacts, could Australia possibly stand by and leave America to fight this issue alone?
I am not here to say that American political judgment in this or in any other matter is infallible. I am here to affirm that in the two world wars America joined us, not in the spirit of warmongering but simply as an ally, to restore peace and to protect the institutions that we believe are essential to peace. We did criticise America for her delay in reaching a decision to enter those two world wars and it may be that she was finally precipitated into them by national self interest, that is, to safeguard her own security, but enter them she did. If we left America to fight this war alone could Australia ever feel that it could expect a response from America if our security were imperilled? Do not let any honorable senator think that I, simple though I may be, am so simple as to think that our engagement along with America in this campaign will necessarily guarantee that America will stand by us through thick and thin in other crises. That will depend upon human judgments, nationally and individually, subject to all their faults.
Respect between nations is engendered by national behaviour. Only an acceptance on Australia’s part of an obligation to fight alongside America will engender respect from that country and a willingness to help us in any future danger that may confront us. I abhor war and am disgusted that statesmen and mankind generally have not been able so to condition world opinion that war would be impossible in any circumstances. I have a disgust for humanity because we still find some people who will not work for a more effective United Nations. Nevertheless, when aggression threatens to deprive small states of their opportunity for self determination, it is in the spirit of Australia and of the British people to say that that aggression shall be halted as quickly as possible. As was so forcibly put before the Senate a few weeks ago by Senator Gorton, we involve ourselves at that time in a sacrifice that is repugnant to us all but it is only to prevent our being subdued and involved in a far larger sacrifice. If the aggression is not halted, it may extend into a major world war.
The Government of Australia has decided, in relation to this involvement, to engage national servicemen as a component part of its combat force. It has decided to incorporate in the defence legislation of this country provisions which make it obligatory upon our permanent forces to serve in the defence of this country, whether inside or outside Australia. It has placed the same obligation upon the components of our defence forces coming from compulsory national service. When we enacted that defence legislation in November 1964, I believe it is fair to say that most of our attention was concentrated upon the developing confrontation policy of Indonesia against Malaysia. Since the last War Britain and Australia have always been preoccupied with the need to preserve the security of Malaysia. I think that everybody in the Parliament of Australia would admit the validity of that policy now. We were then concerned about the fact that Indonesia, encouraged and assisted as she then was by Communist China, was developing a campaign that really imperilled the safety of Australia. But by one of the ironies of human experience, that situation for the time being has become less perilous. The situation in Vietnam has become more perilous.
These national servicemen are 20 year old men. By one of the saddest ironies of history, they will be found to be the first bom sons of the men who returned from overseas service in 1945. When we come to constitute, not a corps for national service training, but a force for international combat, in my view, although it might be proper to select the 20 years age group alone for national service training, a very compelling duty is imposed on us to consider broadening the base of selecting the men who will bear the obligation of involvement in battle. There is also an inescapable obligation imposed on us to put all men in the Australian defence forces on an equal basis. The members of the Regular Forces, being volunteers, should not be left to bear the burden of this campaign alone. The suggestion of the withdrawal of national servicemen, which has recently been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is, I think, one that anybody with a sense of obligation to the men who are left to continue the fight would not consider for one moment.
I remind the Senate that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has felt the force of the criticism that has been levelled at that suggestion. He has said that he would not withdraw the national servicemen but would give them an opportunity to elect to return. To show the confusion and ill considered superficiality in what has been put to the country by Mr. Calwell at the present time - I believe out of obsession and not from any genuine regard for the national security and interest - I refer the Senate to what the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) said on this subject as recently as 24th March last. He said -
– Your leader said: “Whilst they were there”. Is it his policy to withdraw them? That is the point.
– No. We have never suggested any such thing.
I believe that we have to accept the distasteful duty of supporting the policy whereby one composite army from Australia is engaged in combat alongside our American allies, but I believe that we have to reconsider some of the aspects of the conditions upon which these men are serving. If we are to preserve the security of the nation, we are compelled, I believe, to support the force that has been sent to Vietnam by every measure that will ensure the success and safety of that force.
– I am possibly one of the greatest admirers in this chamber of the eloquence of Senator Wright in debating various questions. I have not lost that admiration as a result of his contribution to the debate this afternoon. While we could expect perhaps someone with lesser capabilities than Senator Wright possesses to make a good speech when the going is easy, it is very difficult for the supporters of the Government to defend its policy on Vietnam when there are so few arguments that can be advanced in support of the policy. During this debate the Government’s attack has been levelled mainly at the policy of the Australian Labour Party. Some efforts have been made to criticise the Labour Party. But the Labour Party is not on trial on this question. The Government is on trial.
Our policy and our record in the protection of Australia will stand up to any scrutiny. Nevertheless, the Government has to answer alternative policies that are put up by other parties. The Government has to acknowledge the irate public expressions of opinion on its attitude to the sending of conscripts to Vietnam. Senator Wright in his usual capable way and despite all these difficulties put up quite a good case - possibly an outstanding case because of the Government’s present position. He told us that his interest would not cease after he sat down; that he would read and study everything on this matter, lt is very unfortunate that he did not do that before he spoke. His speech was far from the facts. Had he done before he spoke what he promised to do after he sat down, and if there is any sincerity in him, we would have heard a different speech today. His speech, with his usual eloquence, would have been very persuasive.
Senator Wright suggested that the Geneva Agreement represented a realisation that there was an opportunity for South Vietnam to determine its own form of government, and that it was under those conditions that the French withdrew. Of course, that is not true. As I stated in my speech on the policy statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), the Agreement, which was adopted by the Geneva powers and which partitioned Vietnam, was a military cease fire agreement and made provision for the holding of elections to unify Vietnam.
– Free elections.
– That Agreement made provision for elections under international supervision to unify Vietnam. Under the Agreement the Government of the North, or the people in control of the North, were responsible for preparations for and the conducting of elections for the area north of the 17th parallel, and the parties to the Agreement were responsible for elections for the area south of the 17th parallel. Ho Chi Minh’s Government was in power in the North.
– Did the North have free elections?
– If the honorable senator will wait, I will come to his question. The French military forces were in control of the South. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), in his address which has been referred to as a great address, said that in the cease fire agreement there was no provision for elections. That is wrong. Article 14 (a) of the Agreement states -
Fending the general elections which will bring about the unification of Vietnam, the conduct of civil administration in each regrouping zone shall be in the hands of the party whose forces are to be re-grouped there in virtue of the present agreement.
The Geneva powers, endorsed the agreement for the cessation of hostilities, and agreed to the holding of elections and set July 1956 as the date for them. They were to be held under international supervision.
The French forces were under an obligation to the people south of the 17th parallel. The Agreement included an undertaking by the French to leave Vietnam when requested to do so by the Government of Vietnam. The French left Vietnam in 1.956 after the North Vietnamese Government had written to the French Government asking it to engage in negotiations for the purpose of holding the elections in July 1956. As elections could not be held, the Diem Government requested the withdrawal of the French forces, who gladly withdrew. Whether or not the elections were to be free, their probable result was known. As I stated in my earlier speech, on 5th August 1954 the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said -
We must not overlook the possibility that a free election may be an election which establishes a Communist administration in the whole of Vietnam.
So the Prime Minister of Australia believed that, even if free elections were held, there might be a Communist administration not only in North Vietnam but in the whole of Vietnam. I was alleged to have misquoted what President Eisenhower said in “ Mandate for Change “.
– The honorable senator did misquote him.
– That is a matter of opinion. I agree with Senator Sim that it is wrong to misquote. Briefly, what I said was that President Eisenhower admitted that the forces of Ho Chi Minh would have won an election at that time.
– At what time?
– In 1954. What President Eisenhower actually said, if we accept Senator Sim’s statement as being correct-
– lt is correct.
– I am not doubting that; but I want to know where I misquoted President Eisenhower.
– The honorable senator misquoted President Eisenhower by taking a statement completely out of context.
– All right. I will put it in its context. I did not make a deliberate misquotation. According to Senator Sim, President Eisenhower, in his book “ Mandate for Change “, stated -
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.
So at that time there was a recognition that the Communist forces, as they were termed, would have won an election had it been held in accordance with the Geneva Agreement. But we were not permitted to hold such an election, and the power that was in control of the South-
– Who are “ we “? Is the honorable senator one of them?
– An election was not allowed to be held at that time. The power which, under treaty, had an obligation to hold the election was asked to withdraw its forces and did so. Then the United States of America, which was not under treaty obligations, came in and occupied the position previously occupied by the French.
Senator Wright said that the Americans have no interest in this area. I thought I put this matter in perspective in my speech on 23rd March. The United States has admitted that its strategic interest in South Vietnam and in the protection of South East Asia is great. It has an interest in South East Asia at the present time. A peculiar aspect of this whole question is that, now that public opinion is pressing very hard on the Australian Government, the United States is coming to its assistance by providing an abundance of propaganda from the United States Information Service. Yesterday we received copies of remarks made by Senator George Murphy of California in the United
States Senate. In the same post we received copies of a little booklet called “ Conversation on Vietnam “, which has been published by the United States Information Service. We also received a White House publication called “ Why Vietnam “, which is also distributed by the United States Information Service.
The United States seeks to rectify the Government’s position here by putting out information, but its information on the history of the war and the reasons why America is in Vietnam does not entirely tally with what Australia’s Ministers have said, and we must look at both sets of documents when we are quoting from them, rather than presenting something as factual merely because the Australian Minister for External Affairs has said that it is. Generally, looking at these documents, we come to the conclusion that America is not talking about Chinese expansion. America says that she is in the war for one reason and one reason only: To stop the expansion of the North Vietnamese to the South. But we find an alarming position when we read extracts from the writings of President Eisenhower in “Mandate for Change”. In a letter that he sent to Prime Minister Churchill on 4th April 1954, he wrote -
I am sure . . . you are following with the deepest interest and anxiety the daily reports of the gallant fight being put up by the French at Dien Bien Phu. Today, the situation there does not seem hopeless.
But regardless of the outcome of this particular battle, I fear that the French cannot alone see the thing through, this despite the very substantial assistance in money and material that we are giving them. It is no solution simply to urge the French to intensify their efforts. And if they do not see it through and Indo-China passes into the hands of the Communists the ultimate effect on our and your global strategic position with the consequent shift in the power ratios throughout Asia and the Pacific could be disastrous and, I know, unacceptable to you and me . . . This has led us to the hard conclusion that the situation in South East Asia requires us urgently to take serious and farreaching decisions.
– That is only saying that he wanted - as Winston Churchill wanted the nuclear bomb - something to check the Communist expansion.
– Here we see that in 1954, when French forces were still in control and the battle was still proceeding, Eisenhower was making an appeal for support to defeat the forces that were opposed to the French in Vietnam. No-one ever suggested at that time that they were Chinese Communists or that they were anything else but a liberation army. No-one suggested at that time that this was an invasion from the North upon the South. It was a question of the whole of Vietnam.
– The suggestion was that there was a Communist army dominating the whole of Vietnam. That was the whole issue at the Geneva Conference.
– It was resistance by a nationalist force or an independent force - whatever its politics were - against interference by outside powers. America recognised this at the time and said that we should go into it because the French could not succeed, and that we could not let this area go to Communism - not Communism by invasion but Communism by desire. We are talking about 1954. How can Senator Wright now say: “ America is disinterested, and it is not preventing the use of constitutional methods to elect a government, which may be a Communist government”? How can we accept this as a statement of fact, when the historical facts issued by the United States are so glaring? President Eisenhower went on in his letter to state -
Somehow we must contrive to bring about the second alternative. The preliminary lines of our thinking were sketched out by John Foster (Dulles) in his speech last Monday night when he said that under the conditions of today the imposition on South East Asia of the political system of Communist Russia and its Chinese Communist ally, by whatever means, would be a grave threat to the whole free community, and that in our view this possibility should now be mct by united action and not passively accepted.
Now, if Vietnam accepted the ideology of Russia or China it would be a grave threat to the “ whole free community “. We can see from the President’s words that this term free means an alternative community from a Communist community. Senator Wright says there is nothing to prevent a free election in South Vietnam, but the meaning that we must put to the term “ free government “, in the phraseology of the former President of the United States, is that this is a government that is not a Communist government. I am not advocating a Communist government, and reports indicate that South Vietnam would not achieve it today, but let us be factual. The whole position is that America’s interest in
South Vietnam is that South Vietnam shall not be permitted to obtain a Communist government, whether this is achieved by the forces that are rising against the Ky Government at the present time or by any other forces in the country. It is not to be permitted. That is the reason for our presence in Vietnam at the present time. An alarming portion of President Eisenhower’s letter to Prime Minister Churchill reads - 1 have in mind, in addition to our two countries, France, the associated States, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines. The United States Government would expect to play its full part in such a coalition. . . .
So we were committed to that at the period when the French were still in power.
We are fold today that we are in Vietnam in accordance with agreements and in accordance with the South East Asia Treaty Organisation arrangements. Here was a proposal, before the cease fire agreement, before the Geneva Agreement, and before the S.E.A.T.O. agreement, that we go into Vietnam. S.E.A.T.O. was formed for the very reason that the Communist forces, or the liberation forces, had succeeded over the French forces. So I would not be accused of misquoting, I looked up the record of the speech that Sir Robert Menzies made in the House of Representatives on 5th August 1954. There was an acceptance that we had lost Vietnam and we were forming S.E.A.T.O. for the purpose of protection throughout South East Asia. That was the whole purpose of S.E.A.T.O. President Eisenhower went on to state -
The important thing is that the coalition must be strong and it must be willing to join the fight if necessary. I do not envisage the need of any appreciable ground forces on your or our part “ Your “ part was Great Britain’s part. “ Our part “ was America’s part. I am generous enough to think that he included the other parties to the coalition, but if not he was certainly hoping for the supply of forces by Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the other countries.
I had intended to refer Senator Wright to a lot of the history. I say that my admiration for him still exists. I think he is honest. If he studies the question he must acknowledge, if the honesty is there, that it is at least very doubtful whether we have any right m Vietnam at the present time. If we have no right to be in Vietnam, our presence there will not be justified by the withdrawal of our conscripts or giving them a choice as to whether or not they serve in that area. Senator Wright said today that the Australian Labour Party seemed to speak with two voices on this question and that it would be disastrous if Australia were to pull its troops out of Vietnam immediately. There has never been a suggestion that on the day after the next election - when our new Prime Minister is in office - he will send an order to Vietnam for the boys to come home.
– He would have to. He said so in Launceston.
– He did not say that. It is the policy of the Australian Labour Party that it opposes Australian participation in Vietnam. We are even more opposed to the sending of 20 year old conscripts to Vietnam. I regard the present leader of the Australian Labour Party as the best interpreter of the party’s policy. When we become a government - as we will as soon as the people have an opportunity to vote on this issue - we will consider Australia’s commitment in Vietnam and what it would mean if there were an immediate withdrawal of our troops from that area.
Australia has only a token force in Vietnam, in comparison with the other forces there, and we think that there could be an orderly withdrawal of our forces. But Australia is loyal to its obligations, and so long as this Government has not so fully committed Australia to defending certain positions that it would be disastrous if our troops were withdrawn immediately, I think honorable senators can rest assured that when Labour comes into office there will be a change in Australia’s policy on Vietnam. The question of holding free elections in Vietnam is prominent at present and in the Press tonight it is reported that America is willing to consider the holding of peace talks, including discussions with the Vietcong. Such a proposal appears to be more acceptable to the United States of America now than it was previously.
– That suggestion was made months ago.
– It was not made months ago and it is not definite yet. There is only a suggestion that all those forces which could contribute to peace in Vietnam should be invited to a conference. The United States has agreed to this and it is seen as a change in America’s policy, because the United States is now prepared to discuss peace with the Vietcong. At the outset America went into Vietnam and established the Diem Government. David Halberstam, a reporter of the “ New York Times “, pointed out in his book, “ Making of a Quagmire “, that America paid Colonel Tung $250,000 a month for two years for the upkeep of six battalions as a security force for the Diem Government. Those troops never saw or fought the Vietcong, but they were responsible for the slaughter of Buddhists attending peaceful demonstrations at a pagoda and the publication of this report by Halberstam saw the end of American support for that Government. There followed a series of coups and the situation is unsettled even now.
I conclude by saying that indications are that public opinion in Australia believes the Government’s policy on Vietnam is wrong. In every State in the Commonwealth meetings and demonstrations on this question are bigger than any that have been held on any other question since the depression years. Although this may not be a true indication of public opinion, it would appear to justify those on this side of the chamber feeling joyful at the support that the Labour Party is getting on this issue.
We have had two meetings in Adelaide recently on the war in Vietnam. At one the Olympic Hall was filled to capacity, with all standing space occupied, and with an attendance of about 1,400 people. Last Saturday over 1,000 people participated in a march along the main streets of Adelaide. On Sunday night a public meeting in Adelaide organised by the Labour Party was attended by from 2,000 to 3,000 people, with an overflow standing out in the street to hear Labour’s policy on this issue. Surely this is a sign to the Government that although it may give conscripts a choice of whether or not they will go to Vietnam, even that concession is not acceptable to the people. It seems that the Government hopes that after some period in the Army, the national servicemen will bc so conditioned that they will consent to go there.
Senator Wright said it would be shameful if we did not back up our troops in Vietnam. If we are to preserve Australia as a democracy, the right thing for the Government to do is either to obey the dictates of majority opinion in Australia or else become an active Opposition and not the Government. I believe that what the people want is right for Australia. The demonstrations that are taking place indicate that the Government is acting contrary to the wishes of the people. However, if the demonstrations are not accepted as a true indication of public opinion, 1 respectfully submit that a referendum on this question should be held.
The Government is so panicky over the Vietnam crisis that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) was reported in the Queensland Press as saying that if we withdrew from Vietnam, we would have an invasion of Australia within six weeks. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) who was sitting on top of the world, did an unpardonable thing yesterday by trying to justify his answer to a question in the House on Vietnam by quoting an anonymous letter. These are all indications of the panic in the Government forces over this issue. Let us divorce this matter from politics. Let us see what the people of Australia want and act accordingly even at the risk of destroying the advantage that the Australian Labour Party holds at present.
– The statement that is being debated by the Senate covers a very wide field but, like other speakers, I feel that the Australian people, and the Parliament, are more interested in the subject of Vietnam than anything else. I will deal with that question fully later, but first I remind Senator Cavanagh that he said that Labour would fight the next election on this issue and win. There are some honorable senators in this place with very short memories, because only a couple of weeks ago they said they would fight the Kooyong by-election on this issue. If you compare the result of the 1965 Senate election with the voting at the Kooyong by-election, ii. is evident that the Australian Labour Party increased its vote by an insignificant percentage while the Democratic Labour Party, which is a much smaller party numerically, increased its vote by about the same percentage. So I wish the Labour Party luck in its challenge to the Government. We have accepted the challenge wholeheartedly. Being united, we do not speak with four different voices as does the Labour Party and I will quote those four voices.
When I asked Senator McKenna, by way of interjection, whether he would lake our troops out of Vietnam he turned to me and, in his calm way, said: “ No “; but Mr. Calwell is reported to have said in Launceston: “ 1, if elected to Government, would immediately withdraw the national servicemen from overseas “. He did not confine that statement to Vietnam. Senator Murphy said that the Australian Labour Party would not send any troops to Vietnam. Mr. Whitlam, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, expressed another opinion. He said: “ We will give them the opportunity to opt out.” There we have four different opinions from four different Labour men.
– Senator Cavanagh and Senator Wheeldon, during the course of the speech by Senator McManus, both said that they would withdraw all troops from Vietnam.
– That is right. If honorable senators opposite wishfully think that the Australian people will follow them on this issue, they must first become united. The people of Australia will not follow those who do not know where they are going collectively.
– Go to the people and see what they will do.
– We will be going to the people, and the honorable senator knows it. We are prepared to fight the Labour Party on this issue. As I see the situation, two issues are involved. The first is this: Should Australians be in Vietnam? Secondly, should we be sending national servicemen there? I personally believe that we should be doing both, but let me qualify what I have said. I believe that we should be in Vietnam because I believe that Communism is a threat to Australia. I believe that it is the only threat to Australia; I do not know of any other threats to us. If we accept the fact that we should be in Vietnam, should we be sending national servicemen there? This Government did practically everything a government could do to make Army service attractive. We gave to those who join the Services the right to repatriation benefits and entitlement to war service homes. Moreover, we increased the pay. As I said, we did everything a government could do, but we were getting an effective intake of only 750 men a year whereas we need 8,500. Unfortunately, the people of Australia are now having to rely upon conscription. I intend to conclude my speech with a quotation about what conscription is.
Let us see how many people support what I have said. In a vote taken only quite recently both sides of the American Congress supported the view that I have expressed. In Britain both major political parties support it, and in New Zealand both parties support it. I remind honorable senators opposite that there is a Labour Opposition in New Zealand. This view is supported also in Korea, and in the Australian Parliament the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labour Party support it. In other words, 103 members of this Parliament unitedly believe that what we are doing is right. On the other hand, the Australian Labour Party and the Communists of Australia say that we are wrong. Are America, Britain, New Zealand, Korea and three political parties in this Parliament all out of step? Is the Labour Party the only one in step? This is the issue on which the Australian people will be voting in the election that honorable senators opposite are so eagerly seeking.
– It is a decision that must be made by the Parliament.
– We cannot run away from our responsibility on this. This
Government has faced up to its responsibility.
– The Government has not a mandate to send conscripts to Vietnam.
– The Labour Party is criticising the other parties in this Parliament and is criticising other countries, but it has not put forward an alternative.
– The Government is adopting backdoor methods on the cheap.
– When Opposition senators come here and, instead of mouthing platitudes about taking the matter to the United Nations, offer us an alternative, then perhaps we will listen to them. Senator Murphy said: “We would take the matter to the United Nations “. Goodness me, what about India, Tibet and Hungary? What did the United Nations do there? Its reaction was of cold comfort to those countries. An appeal has been made to the United Nations. But what did U Thant say? He said that it was impossible for him to act. Let us assume that we were successful in taking the matter to the United Nations. What would happen in Vietnam while we were waiting for some action? Honorable senators opposite know as well as 1 do what would happen. The Communists would achieve their purpose while we were waiting.
– The Security Council refused to have anything to do with it.
– That is correct. I maintain that Vietnam would go while we were waiting for effective action from the United Nations. I still believe in the domino theory, despite the fact that other people say it will not work, lt has worked, and it will work. If Vietnam were to be overrun, we could not count on Laos or Cambodia. To my way of thinking, they have already gone. Once Vietnam was overrun, the Communists would move on Thailand, Singapore, Malaya, Borneo, and then it would be our turn. That is my belief.
– Why have not all those countries got men in Vietnam? They have not got troops there.
– That is a puerile interjection. Senator Murphy has put forward, as an alternative, the suggestion that we should be making appeals for peace. Seventeen appeals have been made. 1 shall not bore the Senate by enumerating them. I repeat that 17 appeals for a peace conference have been made. Who has said: “ No “? The Communists have said: “ No, we will not negotiate “. Thank God that there are still some patriots left in Australia who are prepared to do something to defend the country and who would not sell out as cheaply as would some of the people 1 have heard here over the last few weeks. I have in my hand a copy of a letter written by a young man who has been called up for national service. I shall mention his name, because it will then be easier to verify what I am saying. This young man, Robert P. Briggs, of Fremantle, wrote -
People say they do not understand the Vietnam war and why Mr. Holt is sending troops to fight it, but it only takes a small amount of open minded reading to understand these problems.
Our contribution to the military requirements of the war, though mainly moral support for America, must be of a reasonable size. Without national servicemen our armed forces are too small to fill the requirements.
Some people say the problem can be overcome by asking for volunteers as was done in previous years. This may solve the problem but there is a good chance that it may not.
I would not object to being sent to Vietnam under the national service scheme because under this scheme my job is kept for me and I may continue my normal life, God willing, two years later. I would not, however, volunteer at this stage because 1 have chosen a career.
Is not that an honest statement from a young man?
– In other words, let the other fellow go.
– A Mr. Hamilton of Nollamara has written -
There are many letters against sending national servicemen to Vietnam but I had a letter this week from my 20 year old son who is in the Army of his own accord and will be off to Vietnam next month.
He says there are 105 national service boys going with him’ and only two don’t want to go. I am not very happy about my boy going but he says he is proud to be able to do his bit for something he believes in.
Senator O’Byrne has been interjecting. As a young man he was one of the first who went away to do their bit to make this country safe. Many of us did that. Thank goodness there are still fellows like Senator O’Byrne in Australia who are prepared to do their bit.
– We knew whom we were fighting.
– In those days we were fighting the oppressive forces of Nazism and Fascism. Today we are fighting Communism. We have been challenged to fight an election on this issue. One of the finest appreciations of whether we are right in doing as we are did not come from inside the Parliament or from a Minister but from a leading article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of Wednesday, 30th March. It stated -
One of the troubles is that, in a great many people’s minds, the matter of conscription for overseas service has become mixed up with the whole question of the rights and wrongs of the Vietnam war.
That is true. The use of young men and the committing of young men’s lives has become an emotional issue. It has overclouded the issue as to whether we are right or wrong in what we are doing in Vietnam. The article continued -
With those who have honest doubts about American and Australian policy in Vietnam there can be a good deal of sympathy.
Of course there is sympathy, because this is an emotional issue. Then the article stated -
With those who argue from this that national servicemen should not be sent overseas, or that there should be no national service at all, there can be no sympathy.
For there is a basic fact which cannot be argued away or shouted down or ignored.
Australia would lack adequate defence forces without national service training. That has been proved, because when we needed 8,400 volunteers, only 750 came forward. I was most upset by Mr. Calwell’s statement that Australian troops are in Vietnam because we would be selling some armaments there. It is a most despicable thing to say that you or I or anybody would commit young men, your sons or mine, to a war because we were to sell armaments. Nevertheless, it was said.
I promised Senator Murphy that I would quote him. At page 373 of the “ Hansard “ report of 20th March Senator Murphy is reported as saying -
Members of the Australian Labour Party are unanimously opposed to the sending of troops to Vietnam. We say that the way in which a country such as ours should discharge its international obligations is . . .to put the matter before th, United Nations.
That would mean we would have no treaties. We would simply say: “ No, we will stay out. We will not help the protocol States. We will not stand by our allies. We will ask the United Nations to find a solution.” I am told that if there is a change in the leadership of the Opposition quite conceivably Senator Murphy could become the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate That would mean that if there were a change of government he would probably be a Minister. His attitude is that we should not send troops to Vietnam. The consequence would be that we would walk out on our obligations as a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and walk out on our friends to whom we have an obligation under A.N.Z.U.S. That would not be inconsistent with what has been happening lately in the Labour Party.
In 1963 the Labour Party included in its platform a provision in relation to defence that it would honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances. That is a very laudable attitude and, I believe, a correct one. However, at the 26th Annual Conference of the Australian Labour Party in 1965 held in Sydney, that provision was removed from Labour’s platform. When challenged, Mr. Calwell admitted that the words were dropped, but he said that they appeared in something like the same form in the foreign affairs section of Labour’s platform. These words appeared -
Australia must periodically review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances ns they arise.
Could anybody by the wildest stretch of his imagination say that Labour’s previous attitude - to honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances - means the same as the present attitude to periodically review our defence treaties and alliances to meet new circumstances as they arise? lt is comparable to saying to a friend: “I will support you through thick and thin, because we have agreed to support each other.” But later on. I say: “Look. O.K. You have to do what we said we would do, but I will periodically have a look at my position and, if the circumstances change and new circumstances arise, I will get out.”
The Australian public should know that the Australian Labour Party has completely deleted from its platform the words stating that it would honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances. I was interested in Senator Cavanagh’s reference to an election. He said that Labour would be returned to office. I ask: Which Labour? Will it be Calwell Labour or Whitlam Labour?
– Or Cairns Labour?
– It could be. I ask honorable senators opposite - and the Federal President of the Australian Labour Party is present - whether anyone can tell me with any degree of accuracy who will lead the Australian Labour Party at the polls. I am interested to learn because it is nice to know who is one’s opponent.
– That is our worry, not the honorable senator’s.
– It is the Australian public’s worry, because the leader of the A.L.P. would be the next Prime Minister if Labour won the election.
– The honorable senator is not even sure that Mr. Holt will be leading the Government Parties in the Budget sessional period.
– I am a darned sight surer that he will be leading us than the honorable senator is sure about who will be the leader of the Australian Labour Party. As Senator Keeffe has now come into the debate-
– The honorable senator started it.
– I admit that. After the last A.L.P. special conference, Mr. Hawke, a man who is not unknown in the history of the Australian Labour Party in Western Australia, wrote in his column -
The recent special federal A.L.P. conference created a new spirit of unity and optimism within the ranks of the Labour Party. This development was desperately needed and long overdue.
However, within 24 hours the Federal Opposition Leader, Mr. Calwell, accused his Deputy, Mr. Whitlam, of treachery and of stabbing him in the back. I am saying this only so that the Australian public can make an assessment of the alternative government. One Labour man said that unity was obtained and the Leader of the Party said that his Deputy had stabbed him in the back. I will not proceed to tell what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. I have a great personal regard for Mr. Calwell. I like him immensely, but he reminds me of the famous character in history who said: “ Where is the mob, because I am their leader.” I wonder whether he will be the leader, or whether the leader will be Mr. Whitlam, who was so very aptly characterised in the “ Bulletin “.
– The honorable senator might get on and deal with external affairs in a little while.
– The Australian public will certainly know that whoever leads the Australian Labour Party will represent only 50.1 per cent, of its members, because the Party’s ranks are so divided. I ask the Australian public to contrast that position with the complete unity of the 101 members of the Government Parties on the issue of Vietnam.
– Says you.
– I have attended party meetings here for a number of years. Always there have been 1, 2 or up to 20 members who might say: “ We disagree, but the majority rules. We will go along.” On this occasion I have not heard one voice raised against the policy of the Government in Vietnam from amongst our 101 members.
– But some have sought modifications.
– They have not voiced such opinions in the party room. We have a far more cogent expression of opinion than has come from Labour.
– Mr. McEwen raised a differing voice at Bendigo.
– I did not hear that. The Australian people want unity and resolution at this difficult time.
– And they want to be told why we are fighting in Vietnam.
– I have told the Senate why I believe we are fighting in Vietnam - because Communism is a threat. I believe it to be a threat, and if it is a threat, I want to fight it as far away from home as I can, at the same time trying to fight it within our own country. I think quite a lot of agitation is directly Communist inspired. In times of trouble people want resolute leadership. They want a resolute leader to come to the fore to lead us in time of trouble. They certainly do not want indecision and civil war as it exists today within Labour’s ranks. Labour is offering to govern, but it is just not in a position to do so. It cannot govern itself. It has two contenders for leadership, each saying that he has been stabbed in the back. It is a terrible position to which the A.L.P. has sunk. I ask the Australian people whether the 30 countries which are assisting Vietnam, including Korea, New Zealand, and England, are wrong, or whether the Australian Labour Party and the Australian Communist Party are the only ones who are right.
I am sickened by the peddling of propaganda by some people in Australia today. In my opinion, such propaganda assists and gives solace to our enemies. In some cases propaganda is being used blatantly for political purposes to hide the schism that exists within the A.L.P.
I turn now to another factor which I think is of interest. I have referred to the removal from Labour’s platform of the words -
Labour will honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances.
It is significant that the removal of those words coincided with a change in the membership of the Labour Party’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. People whom I considered to be moderates - I may be wrong, but I have always thought Mr. Allan Fraser, Mr. Dunstan, the South Australian Attorney-General and Mr. R. W. Holt from Victoria were moderates - were removed from the Committee and replaced by Dr. Cairns, Mr. Uren, Senator Cavanagh and Senator Cohen, men who hold very definite left wing opinions. Although I respect their opinions I do not agree with them. I wonder how much more militant will be the statements emanating from the Committee. I think they will be very militant and against everything that we as an honorable nation are doing in partnership with our allies.
I ask again: What is the alternative? Do we withdraw completely from A.N.Z.U.S.? Do we withdraw completely from S.E.A.T.O.? Do we in our imagination build a wall around Australia and say: “ The Communist enemy can come as far as this wall but no further”? Can we expect America to send her conscripts 6,000 miles to defend Australia in that event? I do not think we can. I do not think any decent Australian could hold up his head. I think every decent Australian would bow his head in shame if we walked out on our allies in A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O.
I said earlier that I would give a definition of conscription. After I have cited the definition I will tell the Senate the author of it. It is in these terms -
Volunteerism is the unprincipled dodge of cowardly politicians. It grinds up the choicest corn seed of the nation; it consumes the brave and the generous, and wastes the best moral, social and political elements of the country and leaves the shirkers and money makers to stay at home and procreate their kind.
That statement was made by no less a person than Abraham Lincoln, a man who had very firm opinions about whether the job of defending the country for others should always be left to the willing.
– Why leave the job to the 20 year olds? Why not conscript everyone?
– It is not left to the 20 year olds as the honorable senator well knows, because there is a volunteer element in our overseas force.
Although there are only three representatives of the Press in the chamber at present I appeal, beg and beseech the Press, which has a vital part to play in solving Australia’s problems today, not to try to drive a wedge between our volunteers and our national servicemen who will be leaving shortly for service overseas. If the Press perpetuates the division between national servicemen and volunteers it will be doing Australia the greatest disservice. It is bad enough for the Government to have to put up with that kind of thing from our opponents. That is politics and they perhaps can be excused on political grounds, but there can be no excuse for the Press. Its responsibility is to report events truthfully. It should not try to drive a wedge between the elements of our forces overseas. The present Army system is working well in Australia. It will work well overseas because our young Australians will do the job they are expected to do.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
. - I think the moment is opportune for me to comment on some of Senator Branson’s statements. He set himself up as an expert on the organisation of the Australian Labour Party. I say quite frankly that there were so many errors in his interpretation of the organisation that his contribution was quite humorous. He said that the
Labour Party was speaking with four different voices on the subject of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. But the Liberal Party and the Country Party have spoken with many more voices. It is not so very long since Senator Wright, by inference, claimed in this chamber that his section of the Party wanted an extension of the call-up for national service so that it would cover the age range of 18 to 35 years. Only quite recently the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said that the national service system was under review in an effort to provide some relief for the sons of farmers.
– The Deputy Prime Minister did not say that.
– The Deputy Prime Minister used words that had exactly the same meaning.
– That is not the right construction.
– I can put my own interpretation on his remarks in the same way as you put your interpretation on my remarks. Not so many months ago the then Minister for the Army, Dr. Forbes, said that to introduce conscription would be against the advice of the Government’s military advisers. Almost immediately, the Prime Minister of the day said that conscription would be introduced, and it was introduced.
It is significant, Mr. President, that supporters of the Government have been extremely busy apologising for the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and senior members of the Cabinet for their altitude to conscription in the first place. In the statement on foreign affairs that we are now debating, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said -
We do not want simply to stand in the shade of any nation. As a small, independent and resolute people we have chosen whom and what we will support and whom and what we will resist. We rely on others and trust they can rely on us.
If Australia is not standing in the shade of another nation then I ask that somebody explain to me what we are doing. Further on in his speech the Minister said -
Our foreign policy is based on a proper concern for the security of our own nation. . . .
Is it in the interests of the security of our nation to send the cream of our fighting people and the best of our equipment into a region many miles from Australia? Are we looking after the security of our own nation when we do not know when we will get the first of our Fill aircraft? Last week I asked a responsible Minister in this chamber a question about the completion date of the Mirage fighters and I was told that delivery was up to time. When the Minister was challenged to give me the completion date for these aircraft he could not tell me.
The same sort of attitude was adopted by the predecessors of this Government in the period prior to World War II. There were people who returned from overseas at that time and said that Japan would not fight Australia and would not enter the war. They also said this of other countries. When war broke out on 3rd September 1939, we did not have even enough training equipment to go round the servicemen in Australia. Do not tell me that this is not true because I was in the armed forces at that time. We had ancient Lewis machine guns-
– All but certain reserves of ammunition and weapons were shipped to Great Britain after the fall of France.
– The honorable senator can say that in his contribution to the debate. At that time in our history we had obsolete Lewis guns. The Vickers guns were in disrepair. We used Wirraways in our Air Force and they were no match for the enemy aircraft, particularly when Japan attacked in 1941. We lost valuable men and equipment because of the inefficiency of the Government in power at that time - a government of the same political persuasion as that in power today. After the Labour Party came to power it rectified most of these matters in the shortest possible time.
I come now to a further statement in the Minister’s speech. He said -
We are not engaged in the rearguard struggle of a doomed colonialism.
However, in a magazine article, Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, who is, I understand, a prominent member of the Liberal Party, said -
Has the Australian Government given any thought to the Indian Ocean in relation to both our defence and trade routes, or are we so immersed in our day-to-day problems that we are giving insufficient attention to the future?
Are the boycotters and the sanctoineers to bo allowed to wreck the economy and ruin the standards of living of the Africans as well as the Europeans?
Sir Wilfrid was referring to the Rhodesian situation. He continued -
Surely, if the Rhodesian government is prepared to negotiate, Mr. Wilson should agree. If he does not, Australia should refuse to continue with economic sanctions.
So while Mr. Hasluck says that we are not engaged in the rearguard struggle of a doomed colonialism, Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, in the publication “ News Review “, which is apparently the official organisation of both the John Birch Society and the Liberal Party, claims exactly the opposite.
– Do not be stupid.
– Is the honorable senator denying that his Party supports this magazine and that the magazine supports his Party?
– I deny it completely. Tell the truth for a change.
– Everybody else accepts that I am telling the truth. Senator Sim may make his own contribution to the debate. I atn quoting something from this magazine. If the magazine is not recognised by the Liberal Party then why does Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes contribute to it?
– We are free people, which is more than can be said of members of the Labour Party.
– There are some people who would really laugh at that statement. The next point I want to make is about the secrecy associated with the campaign in Vietnam? There was a debate in this chamber quite recently and it was perfectly obvious at that time, as a result of questions asked and various other approaches, that the Labour Party would not get any information at all about Australia’s increased commitment and involvement in Vietnam. It was obvious from the manoeuvres that were taking place at the time that there was to be an increased commitment. But the Government was secretive about it. Every time a member of the Labour Party asked in this chamber: “ Are we at war in Vietnam?”, the question was evaded. Why was it evaded? Why are we in this conflict in Vietnam? Is there any association with overseas capital and loans that this Government hopes to receive?
Honorable senators opposite will criticise that statement but there are people other than those associated with the Labour Party who have very strong suspicions in that regard. When we sought details of units already involved in or about to be committed to the Vietnam struggle again there was evasion. Therefore it is significant that the “ Bulletin “, in its issue of 19th March 1966, was able to set out in detail all units involved or likely to be involved in the immediate future in Vietnam. If this sort of information is available - and apparently readily available - to a journal of this nature why is it not available when honorable senators on this side of the chamber and members of the Opposition in another place ask pertinent questions?
A question that has been asked on many occasions by my colleagues and myself is: Why is the Government evading a referendum on this question? It. is perfectly obvious that it does not have the support of the Australian people. I know that yesterday in another place the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) referred to an anonymous letter, but I again refer to these figures so that they may be incorporated in the “ Hansard “ report of the Senate debate. A Brisbane newspaper conducted a poll over a fairly short period of time. It asked the people this question: “ Are you in favour of sending national service conscripts to fight in Vietnam?” The poll coincided with the mail strike but. nevertheless, more than 10,000 signed ballot papers were received. Those who were in favour of sending conscripts to Vietnam numbered 1,142 and those who were opposed to sending conscripts to Vietnam numbered 9,241.
– Did they say anything about the wheelbarrow in that?
– I shall treat that interjection with contempt. These young people are still voteless although a half hearted suggestion has been made that they will be given a vote. They are 20 year olds. The first contingent of them left Sydney last night. It is significant that these young people are going out to fight a battle on behalf of Australia. It does not matter one iota to the Government whether or not their careers are wrecked. Honorable senators opposite do not want to interject on this matter because there are some very funny things associated with it
– Did the honorable senator say that only national servicemen were going?
– The statement that these young men are national servicemen is so much poppycock. They are conscripts wholely and solely. We hear this nice respectable statement about national servicemen. Last night the first conscripts left for Vietnam.
– Are they the only ones who are going?
– No. There will be many more conscripts going, too.
– The honorable senator said that they were the only ones.
– I did not say that. The honorable senator is misconstruing my statement. He should listen more carefully to what I say. We talk about propping up democracy in South Vietnam, but there has been in South Vietnam a succession of governments that have been completely corrupt. Nobody knows whether Air ViceMarshal Ky will be there for another week or another day or whether he is in the process of disappearing at the present time. Uncontrolled inflation is wrecking the country. We must remember that we are upholding democracy in South Vietnam. The cost of living in Saigon has risen in the past year by 61 per cent, because of the uncontrolled inflation.
I feel very sorry for these young kids who are forced to put on demonstrations in their efforts to show their protest at this type of call up. It has been adequately described as the lottery of death because of the fact that the Government is selecting the national servicemen from only one age group. Since the first ballot was held, the circumstances surrounding the ballots have been so secret that nobody knows even when the ballots are being held. They are conducted in exactly the same way ns the Golden Casket or Tattersalls Lottery. If one’s marble comes up, one does not win a prize but one might win a funeral in some overseas country.
Government supporters criticise the youngsters who carry out draft card burning demonstrations. What other way have these youngsters of protesting except by carrying out placard marches? We must remember that these kids are well behaved when they show their protests. There is no hooliganism or bodgieism about them. Now the Government is going to overcome their only form of protest by imposing upon them additional penalties which will be beyond the financial capacity of the kids or their parents. The Government has no right to decide whether other men’s sons should go. This position does not apply to many honorable senators in this chamber because there are very few who would have children of call-up age. There may be one, or there may be three or four. It is very easy for people in our age group to make decisions about what we should do with somebody else’s sons.
– Did not the Labour Party conscript them at a younger age than 20 years?
– This fallacy has been raised as a form of defence ever since the conscription issue was introduced on this occasion. The Labour Party introduced this type of service during the war years in the face of dire national peril. But we did not send troops into regions in which this Government intends to send them at the present time. Certain areas were allotted in which these people could serve, and under the Labour Government they did not even go to the outside limits of those areas. This fallacy about the Labour Party conscripting youths is raised in defence of the Government’s own sick idea of introducing conscription in time of peace. A number of people, bodies and organisations have decided to jump on the band wagon. Foremost amongst these are some sections of the Returned Services League.
I want to remind my friend from South Australia and other honorable senators in this chamber that there are sections of the R.S.L. which are bitterly opposed to conscription for overseas service in peace time. Not only the particular body to which I have referred, but a number of employers’ organisations are very happy about the position, though I notice that the farming community is not particularly interested, as is evidenced by the recent statement of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen).
Another significant body of people who are very vocal indeed in relation to support for conscription for overseas service are the members of the Young Liberals organisation. We must remember that the members of this organisation come into the category of those who could easily volunteer, but they are not volunteering in the large numbers that one would expect if they are so dedicated to this cause. If they are not volunteering in large numbers, obviously they do not believe in it. But they are quite happy about sending some of the kids who have not got a say.
– Did the honorable senator think he was a kid when he was 20 years old?
– I was as immature as Senator Branson was when he was 20 years old.
– I was in the Services when I was 20 years old.
– So was I. Senator Branson is still immature.
– What an expression to use about young men going to war - kids.
– What else are they? They have not properly grown up. They have not had a chance to embark on their careers. They have not had a chance to complete their education. This sort of thing does not concern Senator Branson.
– Do not insult me.
– I am not insulting the honorable senator. The other point that I want to make before Senator Branson gets me excited is that there are a number of other people and organisations who are opposed to this involvement in Vietnam. A number of leaders both Republican and Democrat in America, want an end to the bombings in North Vietnam and want the parties to get around the conference table and negotiate in order to secure a just and lasting peace without further sacrifice of life. The Canadian Prime Minister, Lester Pearson - and Heaven forbid that anybody should describe him as a radical, a left winger or a pro-Communist - recently told a cheering House of Commons that there would be no aid for Vietnam.
The Japanese Prime Minister recently said that all countries involved in the dispute must be brought to the conference table. He called for a re-opening of the 1954 Geneva Conference in an effort to bring peace to Vietnam. Quite recently an influential section of the Catholic Press published, by way of a leader, a condemnation of the Liberal Party Government for its attitude to conscription. I shall quote only a few paragraphs because I am sure that all honorable senators have read it closely. It bears out what I said a few minutes ago. The leading article states -
The Liberal Party right now is swelling with young men seeking Parliamentary careers.
A glance through its lists of prospective Parliamentary candidates gives an impressive endorsement of the party’s self-projected image as the party of the youthful go-ahead set.
But, since this party endorses the view that Australia’s security is at stake in Vietnam, it is fair to ask why these young men are seeking Parliamentary careers at a time when, by their own convictions they ought to be defending their country in Vietnam.
Further on it states -
Conscription does not involve moral issues for a totalitarian State. For a democratic State, it does.
How very true that is. There seems to be a conflict between some of the statements that Mr. Hasluck made in his speech and statements that have been published in pamphlets on international affairs. I propose to quote a few passages in order to show the Senate that somebody somewhere is bungling badly in quoting figures. Mr. Hasluck said -
In all, the Communists have at least 80,000 regular troops, some 120,000 guerrillas and some 18,000 mcn in administrative and support troops. . . In all, over 60,000 men have been infiltrated from the North since 1959. Included in this figure are 18,000 men in regular units of the North Vietnamese Army.
On page 37 of the pamphlet “ Select Documents on International Affairs, No. 7, Viet Nam, June 1965 to February 1966”, the following extract from a television interview of the United States Secretary of Defence, Mr. McNamara, appears) -
Mr. McNamara: I think the hulk of them are, but that isn’t the important point. The important point is that the leaders, political and military, the cadre men, if you will - some 50,000 of them - have been sent down from the North, trained in the North. . . .
Mr. McNamara went on to quote additional figures. These figures do not tally. So some people are slipping up badly in doing their homework. In their anxiety to popularise Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, they are quoting figures from everywhere and plucking figures out of the air when they have to. I wish to refer to a number of other points and I have only a limited time. I was surprised at Senator Wright’s contribution to this debate. Usually he addresses the Senate in a quiet academic manner. Today he seemed to lack material for his speech. He had to fill it out by quoting almost word for word from Mr. Hasluck’s speech.
I wish to make one more criticism before I leave this document on international affairs. It is significant that the only speeches that are quoted in it are ones in favour of involvement in Vietnam. I understand from fairly reliable sources that, if there continues to be opposition to Australian participation in this theatre, the Government intends to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money in publicising and popularising Australian involvement in Vietnam. I believe that that is most unfair. If we are to be democratic, the obvious thing to do is to publicise not only the Government’s arguments on this matter but also the arguments of the people who are opposed to involvement in Vietnam.
It is also significant that, as I understand the position, every member of the Parliament has received a document called “ Why Vietnam “ from the United States Embassy. I have no criticism of people who want to publish propaganda. But, for heaven’s sake, let us be fair and let us look at both sides of the question. In both of these documents only one side of the story is told. What is wrong with stating the other side? What is wrong with our side? Is not Australia supposed to be a democracy? Are we not able to have our own views? Yet because we have our own views the Government claims glibly that we are associating with seditious people.
Summing up, 1 say that at the moment all the available evidence obviously points to the fact that there is no justification for Australia’s involvement in the war in Vietnam. Nobody - least of all the conscripts that the Government is sending there - will win it. It is equally obvious that the Government desires to reduce the sitting time of the Parliament because it is afraid of the attitude of the public, not only on this issue but also on economic issues and a few other issues. Lt is very significant that in an election year the Government does not intend to have long sessions of the Parliament during which somebody might take a shot at it. Before the Federal election is held this year - if it is held at about the normal time and if the Government does not panic and have an early election - between 20 and 40 conscripts will have died in the jungles of Vietnam. The blood of those lads will be on the hands of this Government. That will be the human sacrifice in the cause of the upholding of democracy, as members of the Government parties like to put it. They are not even fair dinkum in their attitude.
– Will the Labour Party bring home the conscripts if it becomes the government?
– Yes. I make no apologies. I support my leader.
– Would the Labour Party like to bring our troops home now?
– We are opposed to sending conscripts to Vietnam. If we could stop them going tomorrow we would stop them. They have no right to be there. Why does not the Government put both sides of the story before the Australian people? Why does it not put this matter to a referendum? Is it afraid of the result of such a referendum? Does it feel that it would lose the referendum and that subsequently the Government itself would be defeated? It does not have the moral courage that is required for that sort of thing; so it continues. It is not prepared to face up to this issue; but it is prepared to send to Vietnam voteless kids of 20 who have not even had time to form a proper judgment on this issue.
– I believe that some of the accusations made by Senator Keeffe will be answered in my contribution to this debate.
– The honorable senator always says that.
– I hope that I am always truthful in that respect. My only immediate and passing reference to Senator Keeffe is that we recall the time when the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party was discussing foreign affairs and it was reported that .be, as the. Federal
President of the Party, wanted an adjournment because, as he put it, “ We are getting tangled up as we so often do when we discuss . foreign affairs “. Judging by his speech tonight, perhaps the tangling came from the chair of the Federal Conference.
I am fully mindful of my responsibility as a senator in this debate. I trust that what I say and the opinions that 1 express without equivocation will be shed of all emotionalism. There has been too much emotionalism - some of it in high places in Australia - in debates on international affairs. I propose to ask three questions and to provide what I believe to be the answers. The first is: Is our Government sincere; can we trust it; and is it carrying out Australia’s accepted international policies? The second question that I will pose and answer to the best of my ability is: Should there be an Australian force in Vietnam? Finally, I will address myself to this question: Is the structure of our force in Vietnam correct? 1 will answer “ Yes “ to all three questions.
I am mindful of the fact that in recent months, in respect of this important question, many people have been saying and doing things which have brought and will continue to bring harm to Australia. Some people have said things that are doing harm to themselves as politicians or as academics and also to other people in our community. We and the public feel bound to pay particular attention to the opinions of these people because of their dedication and training.
In discussing international affairs and the policy of a government, I believe that party politics should be kept out of the discussion to a very large extent. We have been openly, and in recent weeks consistently, challenged by the Australian Labour Party to face it in a referendum or in an election on the question of our policy in relation to South East Asia and Vietnam. But members of the Australian LabourParty are Australia’s only alternative government. Therefore, the thinking and the vacillation of the Australian Labour Party on this subject, I believe, must be brought out into the open. The answer to my first question concerning this Government is that it was first elected to power in Australia in 1949 and it has been re-elected at every election since then, lt came into power with a mandate to govern Australia internally and internationally, and with a mandate to fight Communism, particularly within Australia. It has been challenged time and again throughout its career in office on such questions as social services, its fiscal policy, its policy in respect of development, and its policy on defence.
The Government has been judged by the people and it has remained in power. It was judged by the people in 1963 at a Senate election on its attitude and decisions in respect of Vietnam as at that time, and it came back into power. It was judged not so long ago - this year - in Kooyong, and again it got the people’s authority to continue to govern. It got that authority despite the dirty propaganda and participation of the Australian Labour Party in that by-election. I know full well, for I myself was in the campaign in Kooyong and I, together with many residents of Kooyong, was disgusted to see this poster thrown onto the lawns of homes in Melbourne. It reads: “ This is no job for Australian youth “, and it shows a photograph of an American G.I. in uniform, helping a little boy, obviously a Vietnamese - be he Vietcong or South Vietnamese I do not know, nor does the poster say. But the poster implies that the American G.I. is maltreating this boy and is capturing him. The same photograph was used by Communists in Western Australia in their propaganda. When I spoke to one lady, of her own free will she said: “ It is yellow, like the Party that distributes it. It is a very suitable size to put the garbage in and throw into the dirt can, in which it belongs.” That is one of the reasons why the Labour Party did not make any noticeable gain. People should be ashamed to be members of a party which will use this type of propaganda to try to win the votes of Australian people. In my belief, the Australian Labour Party has misjudged the Australian people.
I believe that an Opposition has every right to criticise the Executive Government. It has the right also, if it so desires - but not actually the responsibility - to suggest alternatives. But I believe that it has a responsibility not to do anything by public debate or statements through any news medium that will harm the main good or welfare of Australia and its people. No Opposition should do anything to undermine the moral fibre or the strength of a nation set on an important task in world affairs and in affairs of great importance to the people of the day and those who will follow them. I believe that the Labour Party has to make up its mind finally and absolutely where it is going in this matter. It has to enunciate a foreign policy if it expects ever to have the responsibility of forming the alternative government in Australia.
As has been said earlier in the debate, we have had statements from spokesmen for the party in respect of our forces in Vietnam. I believe that the Labour Party is sincere in saying that if it had been in government it would not have sent troops to Vietnam, but I doubt the wisdom of some of its spokesmen who say that if it comes to power it will not send reinforcements or replacements to those who are on service in Vietnam and that it will withdraw some who will be serving in Vietnam at that time. I believe that in this important respect it is showing a complete lack of responsibility.
My second question was: Should Australia have forces in Vietnam at the present time? My considered reply is: “Yes.” We, as a nation - an important one in this part of the world - have to enter into treaties with allies. We make these treaties to safeguard ourselves, to carry out our national policy and to uphold principles which are inborn in the Australian way of life. We have to make and sustain friends for our mutual life and for the progress and development of this country. We are a nation concerned to fight the growth and spread of world Communism. I believe that because of that we have a moral right to be in Vietnam at the behest of the South Vietnamese Government.
We have a duty to fulfil our treaty obligations. We have established a reputation held in very high esteem throughout the Western world. I am glad to say that this Government is doing all it can to show to its friends, its allies and its neighbours that we stand fast to our plighted word. We are not in Vietnam, nor is the United States or any of our other allies, for aggression. We do not want land or goods. We do not even want to train the minds of the people there. We want them to have their freedom and freedom from indoctrination by Communism of the Chinese variety. I trust that so long as the requirement to which we are committed lasts we shall uphold our duty, which is, in my belief, to contain Communism for the sake of those people who are being overrun by it, or being threatened by it, and for our own sake and security.
The great Western power of today is the United States of America, lt saw the need and the moral duty to go into South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese Government asked for other help. Australia answered, New Zealand answered, and South Korea answered, wilh men and arms and equipment. Nearly 30 other nations are helping and have helped in kind - money, food and arms. So we ar» not alone; we are not starting a new fashion. We are carrying on a policy that is honoured in the Western world today. Mr. Michael Stewart, the Foreign Secretary of the British Labour Government was asked whether Britain would send troops into Vietnam, as America and Australia were doing. His reply was: “ If we were in their position, yes.” That is a Labour Party conscious of the fact that it has the responsibility of government, and how different it is from a Labour Party which not only lacks the responsibility of government but which I hope, for Australia’s sake, is a long way from getting that responsibility. Responsible Labour in the Western world supports our activities and our actions in Vietnam. That cannot be denied.
Britain is not in a position to help in Vietnam. I do not believe that she is financially able to help at present. The British Labour Government has its commitments and carries them out, realising its responsibility, in the true British tradition. Unfortunately our commitment in Vietnam has had to be increased. That is not because the Allies are not making headway in South Vietnam; it is solely because, as we make headway in South Vietnam, help for the Vietcong is pouring in from Communist sources in the north and we, the Allies, have to keep up our commitment in order to bear our responsibility.
I want to digress from this theme for a moment, but only to answer a question which I believe is in the hearts and minds of many sincere Australians when we are faced by our increased commitment in Vietnam and the increased flow of help for the Vietcong from the Communists in the north. At page 19 of a document called “ Conversation on Vietnam “, issued by the United States Embassy, answers are provided by a spokesman well known and honoured in the United States of America, to certain questions that the average Australian is asking and to which he has the right to have an answer. The publication reads as follows -
Question: It has been said that the Vietnamese war is “ open-ended “ - that the more you pour into it, the more the North Vietnamese (backed by the Communist Chinese) will increase their efforts. Won’t this process lead to a U.S. war with Communist China, which in turn would rapidly develop into World War III? Answer: Neither the RVN nor the U.S. has sought to “ escalate “ the Vietnamese war. Only as Hanoi has increased the number of its infiltrators, and the intensity of the war, has the U.S. been forced to respond. Time and again, the U.S. has stated its readiness to consider mutual reductions in the level of hostilities, as a first step toward a peaceful settlement.
On the subject of “ escalation,” President Johnson said in a speech on February 23, 1966: “ Some ask if we are caught in a blind escalation of force that is pulling us headlong toward a wider war that no one wants. The answer is “ No!” We are using that force - and only that force - necessary to stop the aggression. Our fighting men are in Vietnam because tens of thousands of invaders came south before them. Our numbers have increased - because the aggression of others has increased. The high hopes of the aggressor have been dimmed, and the tide of the battle has turned. Our measured use of force must be continued. But this is prudent firmness under careful control. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation.”
I feel confident that those views are fully supported by the Australian Government. The third question I posed at the commencement of my speech was: “ Do I believe that the structure of our force in Vietnam is correct?” To that I say “Yes”, although 1 am not offering any opinion as to its size, its logistic support, the composition of its units or the provision of equipment for those units. I believe that all of us have to let it be known where we stand. I am very happy for it to be recorded that I believe in the use of national servicemen in Vietnam. I believe in this because it is essential. We are committed to the< task; we have a force in Vietnam and it must be maintained, reinforced and, from time to time, replaced. We have a great and large bland continent blessed with boundless resources. I am quite happy to go along with our experts because we have some dedicated men in our Defence Department and in our Services. They do not advise us mischievously. They advise us honestly of our overall requirements for home defence, for training and for meeting our treaty obligations. Our modern Army, Air Force and Navy require fit and well trained specialists. In New Guinea in 1942, 1943 and 1944, we saw enough of untrained men being sent to war. None of us wants to see that repeated by any Australian government. The Government’s policy is to meet our obligations. But in addition to meeting those obligations we will continue to develop the resources of this country and to maintain the standard of living of the people of Australia so far as we are able. We are not knocking off everything else because of our commitment in Vietnam. We are playing our part there and are carrying on with the job of developing this nation.
There is practically full employment in Australia today. Certainly there is full employment of the fit - the only type of people suitable to serve in our armed forces. And because we have full employment the Government realised that our defence forces could not be raised by voluntary enlistment to the numerical strength required. So a form of compulsory national service was decided upon. It then became obvious that to maintain our forces and fulfil our responsibilities there would have to be additional troops in Vietnam and that their reinforcement in the months to come had to be guaranteed. So the Government fearlessly came out with its policy of compulsory national service. I believe that in deciding on 20 years as the call up age, the Government and the Services acted only after solidly based inquiries which took all factors into consideration. I believe that group has been chosen because for those students going to higher education two years lost at that age are least likely seriously to interrupt their academic careers. I believe that it has been agreed in industry and commerce that young men of that age can best be spared, both in respect of their own careers and the conduct of industry. The experts have decided that it is the 20 years old group whose careers will be affected least and that they are sufficiently mature and fit for active service. My support of this aspect of the Government’s defence policy is therefore clear cut.
Like many honorable senators, I have received letters from people protesting about national service training. After consideration I have replied to those letters. One letter I received was from a church group in Hobart. In my reply I granted that group its right to protest to me as its representative in Federal Parliament. I told the group that it was my pleasure and duty to send on its letter of protest to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall). As I informed the group I would do, I told the Minister for Defence that in forwarding the letter of protest I emphasised that I was at present in favour of all aspects of the Government’s defence policy. The Minister for Defence has sent me a copy of his reply to the church group in Hobart. Part of it is personal and I shall not quote it. The final paragraph reads -
I assure you the Government finds no pleasure in the necessity to adopt such a course. . . .
The Minister is referring to compulsory military service - but our experience of voluntary recruiting indicates that without national service it is impossible to maintain the military manpower required to fulfil our treaty and moral obligations to our allies in South East Asia which, I also point out, is in direct defence of this country’s future interests.
The passage I have quoted sums up in a straightforward and unequivocal way the reasons for the introduction by the Government of national service training. There is provision for exemption. Not all of the young men who are called up will be sent for service overseas. I believe that man has not yet devised a fairer means of selecting young men to help serve the problem of our military involvement.
We have been accused by members of the alternative government of splitting the nation on this issue. I agree that there are divided opinions throughout the nation, but a blatant effort to widen the split and make the objections more vocal, more intense and more emotional is aided and abetted first by the Communists in Australia, and secondly, by spokesmen for the Australian Labour Party. We have been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He has said that he will risk his political life on this issue. In other words, he would be prepared to go to a Federal election on it and, if the present Government were returned by the Australian people, it seems that he would be prepared to resign. That offer might be a rather cunning way of staying in office as Leader of the Australian Labour Party until the next election. Perhaps he thought he was going out at a Caucus meeting this week, and that he may have been able to say: “ Boys, you can’t remove me from leadership now because I have promised the people that I will go for election as leader and T will win or lose, and live or die politically, on the Vietnam issue “.
The Labour Party predominates in causing the split in opinions to widen in Australia. One moves around, listens and reads. I believe that thinking Australians are gradually realising that in power in Canberra is a government that can be trusted and has been tried. The Government has made a decision knowing that it could be and would bc unpopular in some places, and in the belief that it is carrying out its authority for the good of most of the people. I cannot understand why such an anti-American attitude emanates from Labour Party spokesmen on the Vietnam question. If memory serves me rightly, Mr: C. T. Oliver, President of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party, told his people at a post mortem after the last Federal election that ohe reason for Labour’s defeat was the projection by the Party of an anti-American image. At question time in this Parliament and in debates, whenever a Labour spokesman has an opportunity to imply that the United States is doing ill, that opportunity is taken. Honorable senators opposite talk about Americans, American help and American capital for development as they talk about the capitalists they appear to disown. I will bet that when they invest or lend their money, they ask for high rates of interest. It could be asked of the members of the Labour Party: Where have all their brains gone, a long time ago?
Protests will continue, but I trust that emotionalism on the Vietnam issue will be avoided throughout Australia. It does not help the morale of our troops to hear and read some of the things that are being said. The only joy the protests bring is to Hanoi and Peking. Many statements made by socalled leaders of the Australian Labour Party arc used as propaganda, just as members of the A.L.P. and the Australian Communist Party use statements made by Hanoi and Peking for propaganda purposes in their efforts to discredit this Government. 1. congratulate the Government on the straightforward course it has taken, but like all Australians I hope that the need to maintain our force in Vietnam will continue for a shorter period than we could at this moment hope for.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) [8.59..The speech we have just heard from Senator Marriott was a tirade of abuse directed at the Australian Labour Party rather than an attempt to bring factual information to the people of Australia on a subject that is so much in the forefront of their minds. The honorable senator displayed the poverty of his case and his inability to justify the intolerable situation in which this nation has been placed in its involvement in hostilities in Vietnam. I should have thought that Senator Marriott and. his colleagues on that side of the chamber would have told the Parliament and the people in straight out terms what was the current situation. Instead of doing that, from Senator Branson and Senator Marriott right along the line they have been bringing in issues that are completely outside the scope of the’ debate. With no authority other than Press reports, honorable senators opposite haveintroduced aspects of the domestic policy of the Australian Labour Party into a debate which should be on the highest national, level and which concerns not only the lives: of Australian soldiers but the future of the country itself.
Today Senator Cavanagh referred to the letter that was sent by President Eisenhower to Winston Churchill in which he said that the Western world should get behind the French in their fight against the Vietnamese.’ President Eisenhower said that the tide was running against the French and that in the interests of global strategy the Western world should do its best to support tb«
French. History proved that this support was not forthcoming. Evidently Buddhists, Catholics and Communists were fighting the French. Whatever the combination of forces was in Indo-China, those forces were able to overthrow what in their minds was the oppression of a European power that had been in control of their country for more than 100 years and had tolerated poverty and ignorance. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) drew attention to that very situation in the first paragraph of his speech on 10th March. He said - . . there are two things we cannot da We cannot change Australia’s geographical situation and we cannot cancel out the great forces that are bringing massive changes in the world today and particularly in the southern half of Asia. We in Australia are living on the edge of a great upheaval both in human relations and in the ideas which influence the conduct of mankind. We cannot withdraw from this region and we cannot do anything to prevent the upheaval.
When Mr. Hasluck said that we cannot withdraw from this region, did he mean that we cannot withdraw from our involvement in this upheaval in South East Asia or that we cannot withdraw geographically? What did he mean when he said: “ We cannot do anything to prevent the upheaval “?
This statement was made by the Minister, as I said, on 10th March. In the five weeks that have elapsed since then we have been provided with a further illustration of the upheaval which is influencing the conduct of mankind. Members of the Government would give us the line that we are fighting to uphold in South Vietnam a popular government which wishes to maintain freedom and democracy in that country. The unrest that has occurred within South Vietnam under Air Vice Marshal Ky within the last few weeks is of such a nature that the world must be realising that the South Vietnamese themselves do not favour and do not support the military regime that is being propped up by the United States of America and Australia. The Minister for External Affairs referred to this when he said: “We cannot do anything to prevent the upheaval “. The Government is making an attempt to prevent the upheaval by sending our conscripted youths to the field of battle. It is assisting the major power, the United States of America, to sustain the claim that it is not taking unilateral action. We are sending token forces, New Zealand is sending token forces, and so is South Korea. Senator Marriott spoke about 30 nations giving support to the South Vietnamese Government. I should like to ask whether at a time like this the transfer of credit from one country to another or from one government account to another is of anything like the same value as skimming off the cream of our 20 year old youths and sending them to fight and perhaps die on the battlefields or in the jungles of this part of South East Asia.
In the recent upheavals in Da Nang and Hue the Buddhists demonstrated against Air Vice Marshal Ky. His immediate reaction was on the same lines as that of Government supporters. He said: “They are a bunch of Communists. I will go up and shoot the mayor, because he is a Communist. I will take my elite forces up there and will wipe them out”. If the Government is able to support that kind of action, then it will become part of an international police force and will be prepared to take up arms against anyone who opposes the political persuasion of the Australian Government and the United States Government of this day.
– Has it not been stated repeatedly that the Government is not supporting any existing government in South Vietnam but is supporting the right of the people to have an opportunity to determine their own government?
– This showdown, this denouement, having occurred in South Vietnam, there is a possibility that world opinion will try to persuade the military authorities in that country that there is no chance of winning this war by force. The Sydney “Sun” of Tuesday, 19th April, contains a report of a statement made by J. K. Galbraith, a former United States ambassador to India and adviser to the late President Kennedy. It states - “A Saigon Government that works with us and fights the war will not have the support of the people,” Mr. Galbraith declared.
He addressed a symposium at the University of North Carolina.
He urged the U.S. to begin a defensive holding action in Vietnam and cease bombing North Vietnam.
I think it is reasonable to assume that if our Australian troops are fighting there to bring about a form of government that is suitable to us and the United States - that appears to be our main objective - we are wasting our time. The only way it can be done is by an election. There were no elections in South Vietnam in 1956, as provided for in the Geneva Agreement, because Ngo Dinh Diem did not think he could win an election at that time. He felt that the Communist influence was so strong that an election would go against him and would possibly favour the Ho Chi Minh philosophy in the North. That was the excuse given for the failure to carry out the terms of the Geneva Agreement.
If the South Vietnamese people are ever to have peace there must be elections. Has the Minister for External Affairs or any Government member ever stated unequivocally that Australia would be prepared to accept whatever government was elected to office in South Vietnam? I have heard the proposition advanced that elections should be held in favorable areas and that it would be no good going into areas which are occupied by the Vietcong. I have heard it said that if the Buddhists were to elect the kind of government they wanted the Catholic section would be violently opposed to it because the Buddhists would be more inclined to compromise and co-exist with the Vietcong. These are some of the great internal problems in South Vietnam.
– But there are all sections of opinion in any country, are there not?
– There are differences of opinion. We had a difference of opinion in this Senate some time ago - the honorable senator will recall this very well - when the Government decided that the Communists in Australia were a threat to our security and were undermining the Australian economy and the Australian way of life, so it introduced legislation to ban the Communist Party. Eventually a referendum was taken-
– First of all, the High Court declared the legislation invalid.
– That is right. The High Court declared it invalid and the referendum was taken but the Government’s point of view was not upheld.
– The Government’s legislation was rejected by the people.
– That is true, but the propaganda at the time was lo the effect that the Communists in a democratic country such as ours were entitled to their point of view and if we were to maintain and sustain the philosophy of democracy we had to counter the Communist philosophy by providing a better alternative way of life. The Communists in Australia have the right to put up candidates at elections. Invariably the candidates lose their sinker, but the Communists possibly are doing the work they want to do. Their influence in Australia is insignificant but a lot of people here would have us believe that they are running the country. In Indonesia, for instance, the influence of the Communists was very strong. They had influenced Sukarno but there came a showdown. In the coup d’etat which followed a number of generals were assassinated and the military took over control.
– Would the honorable senator permit an interjection?
– I want to develop this thought because it comes back to my main point about an election in South Vietnam. Our newspapers said that 100,000, 200,000 and even as many as 300,000 Indonesians were killed. This is in line with the Australian Government’s thinking that there will finally be peace when all the Communists are killed. In addition, the Australian Government believes that it is illegal to kill any person except a Communist. If you kill someone who agrees wim, you, you are committing an atrocity but if you kill someone who does not agree with you, that is in order. That is evidence of the immorality of present day thinking. It all depends on whether the man concerned sides with you. I would go so far as to say that if this Government continues along this line of thinking the time could come when it would regard the views of the Australian Labour Party as subversive and anti-government, and people on the reactionary side of politics - the Government’s side - would want to take suppressive action. That is the natural sequence of events when we adopt the thinking of reactionaries, the people who want to maintain the status quo. But the Minister has had two bob each way because in his statement he admitted that we are living on the edge of a great upheaval in human relations and in the ideas which influence the conduct of mankind.
Now let me return to South Vietnam. I am putting forward the proposition that unless we admit that a proportion of the South Vietnamese people are Vietcong and entitled to vote in any election, we will get nowhere. We must also admit that if the proportional system of voting were adopted they would obtain a proportion of the seats in the Government. If they were to win the election would they be recognised? Would the military authorities in Vietnam allow them to take office and to develop South Vietnam in the way they thought fit? These are some of the great problems that confront us when we look for a solution in South Vietnam.
– There is no improbability about that. There is a considerable number of Communist members in the French Assembly.
– I admit that. There is also a considerable number in the Italian Parliament and in the Parliaments of other countries but we do not see those countries sending troops to South Vietnam to participate in the conflict.
– We do not object to Communists winning by votes but we do object to Communist aggression and violence.
– In 1956, I remind the honorable senator, when the elections were due to be held Ngo Dinh Diem said he knew very well that he could not win an election at that time and that was the reason for the failure to abide by the provisions of the Geneva Agreement. However, this unrest in South Vietnam actually brings us back to this vital point: Are we in South Vietnam to ensure that there will be no organised opposition, political or ideological, to the views of Australia and the United States? it appears that Air ViceMarshal Ky will certainly be overthrown. Once the religious people in South Vietnam decide to take action - after all, they comprise 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, of the population of South Vietnam - it is obvious and inevitable that the Government will be overthrown. We have seen what has happened since the fall of Ngo Dinh Diem. As the people have gone into the streets in demonstrations of protest, the Governments have been overthrown.
In South Vietnam they have never had a government that has appealed to the people as an honest government. I have a report from a newspaper published in the United Kingdom, the “ Scotsman “ of 22nd February. It stated that South Vietnam Government officials and merchants were accused by United States bankers of transferring large sums of United States dollars to banks in Europe. The newspaper stated that these dollars came from rakeoffs from United States aid deals and local spending by United States forces and other soldiers on leave in Saigon and other towns. It was estimated that $200 million were invested in Europe in 1965. The “ Scotsman “ reported that the transfer of funds was said to have meant a continuing demand for United States gold bars in Europe and that they used dollars to acquire United States gold. The newspaper also reported that the Vietnamese officials and merchants were making fortunes out of American spending. An important reason why the Saigon regime opposed any alteration of the present situation was that any such action would cut off a lucrative source of income.
People like this are seeking their own advantage. They are trying to feather their own nests at the expense of the soldiers of America, Australia and New Zealand who are all facing similar dangers. How would they feel about the end of this conflict if they knew the truth?
– The troops themselves.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that we are so isolated in Australia that we have to depend for information on what is printed in a British newspaper?
– I am saying that these statements have appeared in a responsible British newspaper.
– Earlier, the honorable senator said he did not believe what was published in the Press.
– You can disbelieve some of it, but every government tha: has taken power in Vietnam since Bao Dai has accused the previous government of corruption.
– In Vietnam, they made an example of one profiteer by publicly executing him.
– That is true. They publicly executed a man with full publicity and a fanfare in the presence of the man’s wife and children. That was done to stop this sort of corruption. This does not get us away from the fact that to explain our involvement in the hostilities, the Government is telling our troops that we are trying to maintain in power in Vietnam a Government which will bring freedom and democracy to the South Vietnamese whereas in fact they not only have no intention of bringing freedom and democracy to the people but are perpetuating a system which is traditionally corrupt.
– Not necessarily. The honorable senator has not proved that.
– We have to accept that this is correct because it has been stated by successive Governments in Vietnam and by the Buddhists themselves.
– Give me an example of this corruption.
– I have just mentioned one and the honorable senator does not believe me. I cannot bring him a bag full of corruption and show it to him.
– The honorable senator said the South Vietnam Government was corrupt. What has it done corruptly?
– It is stashing away United States funds. That is corruption. That has happened in many SOuth East Asian countries. They are using aid funds and diverting the aid to ends for which it was not intended. In President Kennedy’s time, the United States system of military and technical advice was at pains to show that the war was a Vietnam affair first and foremost. Now the South Vietnamese and the United States are hardly in contact. The Vietnamese are practically ignored. It has become a war between the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand which has a token force, and the South Koreans plus Senator Marriott’s 30 nations and the Vietcong. Incidentally, we have never heard of these 30 nations participating. In addition, there are the domino people who are saying: “ Once one collapses, the others will go “. You never hear of the domino countries going in to do anything about the war.
– Who are the Dominoes?
– Thailand, Malaysia, Ceylon, India, Pakistan and Burma. They are all Dominoes. Where are they? What are they doing? We are at the tail end of the table with the Dominoes. These are the people who are immediately threatened.
– What sort of government would the Vietcong give the people?
– What I have stressed is that the original reasons for the Vietnam war are being lost to sight. They are being ignored. The war is becoming less a Vietnam affair and we really do not know now what the end objective is. We hope and pray sincerely that it will not escalate into a global war or a thermonuclear war with China; but this conflict has all the hallmarks of a global war while bombs are falling on suburban areas in North Vietnam. We have not decided what sort of society we want to see in Vietnam when the shooting is over, if and when it does finish.
In my opinion, the time is ripe for intervention by the United Nations. Although a little hand-book has been circulated today by the United States Information Service in which reference is made to reasons why the United Nations Organisation has not been called in, the United Nations Assembly has never discussed this matter, lt has never considered what could be done to stop the hostilities.
If an election is to be held in South Vietnam, it will have to be held, I believe under the auspices of the United Nations. The warring factions will have to agree to the decision, whichever way it goes. There is no doubt that in this world of black and white, of “Yes” and “No” and “Our side “ and “ Their side “, there will be a certain measure of disagreement. But 1 believe that if an election is held, it must be conducted by people selected from the United Nations and, if necessary, these people should be assisted by quite a strong peace force. When the result of the election is known, the South Vietnamese people will have to decide that they are going to coexist with their own people in South Vietnam and with the North Vietnamese, in the same way as so many people in Europe are co-existing with people in countries behind the Gibe River.
As I see the position today, we have never clearly defined what we are fighting for in Vietnam. The overall strategy is global, but if we think that without escalating it into a world war and without the popular support of the people we can continue to support regimes in South Vietnam as a means lo an end, our cause is considerably weakened. The statement by the Prime Minister, to me, follows along the line that has been presented to us over the years. 1 believe that our foreign affairs policy, as it has been carried out on behalf of this country by a succession of Ministers for External Affairs, has been a tag-along policy. They have removed themselves from the position of co-operating with the United Kingdom Government. They have gone in with the strength, as people are being asked to do in relation to the Commonwealth Bank. They have gone in with the United States. But even the United States Government has been sucked in by circumstances until a situation has been reached that could be disastrous for the whole world.
At this stage we fully realise that the people of South East Asia hope to be able to work out their own destinies and attain the fundamental right of being able to run their countries without domination by systems either of the right or of the left. If the people are able to do these things, then we will have a chance of settling this great conflict. We will not face the prospect of engulfing ourselves and the youth of . this country - for that matter, by default, the whole of this country - in a situation from which we cannot retrieve ourselves.
– Mr. President, may 1 commence by expressing my regret that my entry into the Senate was brought about by the death of that very distinguished Australian from our western coast, the late Sir Shane Paltridge. I hope that, following his good example, I may in due time become a competent member of this chamber. I would Also like to express to you, Mr. President, And to honorable senators on both sides of the chamber my very deep gratitude for the help and assistance which I have received.
I intervene in this debate, not because I believe that 1 can contribute anything new to what has been said over the last three or four weeks, but because I believe that at this time both the Senate and the Australian electorate should be in no doubt as to where I stand on the grave issues at present under debate. This is a debate on.; international affairs following upon the ministerial statement made by Senator Gorton. I emphasise that it was a statement on international affairs and the basis of the Government’s foreign policy, and not just a statement on the current conflict in South Vietnam. I say this because a lot of the debate has been concerned with Vietnam. We should not regard this as the beginning and the end of the Government’s policy. Rather, we should regard our policy and our activities in Vietnam as an extension and an example of the Government’s foreign policy.
I believe that our policy is based, and correctly based, on two considerations which are stated shortly in the ministerial statement. The first is -
We rely on others and trust that they can rely on us.
The second is -
Our foreign policy is based on a proper concern for the security of our own nation, on a belief that certain principles of international conduct must be observed in order to have fair and honorable dealings between nations and peoples and in order that peace may be achieved in the world’ . .
The first statement should not be treated lightly because I believe it to be in the best Australian tradition. In Australia we have always been very proud of what is commonly termed mateship. This concept of mateship is usually summed up on 25th April each year on Anzac Day, as reaching its highest expression in the tradition of Anzac. In addition, mateship was without doubt the most potent force in the development of the Australian trade union movement, certainly in this century. If those who support trade unionism still believe in the concept of one out all out, surely the corollary to this is one in all in.
It is in keeping with our national character that the Minister should rightly say: “ We rely on others and trust that they can rely on us.” At no time should we, as a nation, be prepared to exchange mateship for what is commonly termed the Jack system. This, I submit, is what we have been invited to do. I believe that we must at all times without equivocation and without qualification be prepared to honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances. If we are not prepared to offer mateship but instead offer the Jack system, what right have we to expect that when we are in peril others will come to our assistance? If we should adopt the cynical view that Australia is only in Vietnam on the basis that if we help America now then at some time in the future America will help us, we would be completely overlooking the fact that if we desire peace in the world there is a responsibility on us, as peace loving people, to be prepared to enforce peace. Peace, like anything else in life, will not come about merely by wishing for it. lt will come only to those who are prepared both to work and to fight for it. The only way in which a small nation like Australia can expect to play its part in achieving peace is to “ rely on others and trust that they can rely on us.” Otherwise, if I may paraphrase Hobbes, the life of Australia as a nation will be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
I now turn to some matters which have been raised in the debate. I refer specifically to two charges which are usually made by opponents of our present involvement in South Vietnam and our attempt to enforce peace in South East Asia. They are, first, that we are supporting a corrupt South Vietnamese Government, and, secondly, that this is a dirty war. In respect of the allegation of corruption, one would imagine that anti-Communist governments in South East Asia had a monopoly of corruption. But what interests me is that the charge of corruption is always made in respect of material things which, whilst they are bad enough in themselves, are nothing when compared with the corruption of human rights and the dignity of man that occurs under Communist governments.
Whilst one can never condone corruption in material things, we should not forget that in the last year or so two interesting anniversaries with regard to parliamentary democracy have been celebrated in Eng land. The first was the 700th anniversary of the calling of the first parliament by Simon de Montfort. The second, which I am afraid was largely overlooked, was the centenary of the passing of the acts of parliament that finally abolished various corrupt practices both in the purchase of Service commissions and in appointments and promotions to and within the Civil Service. If it took England about 600 years to reach a state of incorruptibility in parliamentary government, I believe that it is more than unreasonable to expect the newly emerging nations in South East Asia to attain the same degree of public responsibility in less than two decades.
Someone said that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If that be true, which is the really corrupt government - the North Vietnamese Government with its absolute power or the South Vietnamese Government under which at least there are signs that public opinion can force a change from a military type of government to a form of civilian government? One may well ask: What chance has public opinion in North Vietnam of expressing itself when the Communist Government there wields absolute power? I respectfully submit that before opponents of Australian involvement in South Vietnam prate too much of corruption they would do well to examine where the real corruption exists.
As to the Vietnamese war being a dirty one, I would like to know what war has not been a dirty one. After all, the genocide practised by Nazi Germany surely made the Second World War dirty enough. Examples of human misery caused by war can be found in any period since men learned to kill each other. What I object to in the use of this term “ dirty war “ is the innuendo that it is Australian soldiers who are engaging in the dirt. Of course, that is never said outright. There would be an explosion of Australian public opinion if it were. But, basically, what meaning can “ dirty war “ have other than a description of the activities of the Vietcong who, as we all know, have indulged in systematic murder of village leaders and school teachers and generally have terrorised the villagers? If the term “ dirty war “ is used to describe these Vietcong tactics, then I have no objection to it. That means, of course, that we must cease talking about Australian troops being involved in a dirty war and in the future we must say that Australian soldiers are engaged in suppressing a dirty war. That in truth is what they are engaged in.
I support the ministerial statement without reservation. The Government’s policy is clear. It is peace with security, but not peace at any price and certainly not a socalled peace at the expense of small nations. We are very fortunate to have a government that has sufficient resolution and determination to play its part in enforcing peace so that the nations of the world will learn that we must live together in peace or destroy each other.
– Right at the outset, let me offer very sincere and hearty congratulations to Senator Withers on his maiden speech. I am sure that we all appreciated the sentiments that he expressed. We appreciated his support of the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck); but more particularly we appreciated and valued the theme which ran through the honorable senator’s speech and which put his interpretation of the Minister’s statement on a very high plane. Several times in this debate honorable senators have expressed their regret that the debate had not reached the high plane that all of us would like it to reach. I believe that the Senate should be grateful to Senator Withers for, on the occasion of his maiden speech, making this infusion into this important and complicated debate.
We have come a long way since the Minister for External Affairs made his statement in another place and it was read in this chamber. The debate on it has ranged over the whole sphere of international affairs and Australian foreign policy. In the period during which this statement has been before the Senate events have occurred in Australia and other parts of the world which have thrown certain parts of the statement into relief. This debate has given us the opportunity to examine not only our relations with the rest of the world but also our attitudes to certain things. As Senator Withers said a few minutes ago, the foreign policy of the Australian Government makes for not only Australia’s security but also service to the rest of the world. This ministerial statement reflects something of the character of the man who prepared it. He is a man not only of integrity but also of very great skill in international affairs. I believe that the Government and the country are indebted to him for this presentation.
He began his statement with the obvious but very necessary observation that before we start to discuss some of these matters we ought to consider what we as a nation can do and might want to do. As we do that, we should also have a quick look at the things which, because of circumstances, we are unable to do. lt is important to remember that, however much we might want to be somewhere else at this time, we are here in this part of the world. Some of us may want to have closer relations with the United Kingdom or the United States because of our historical and other connections. But geography places us here. In another set of circumstances we might want to be near South America or Europe because of the marketing opportunities that would open up. But we are here in this part of the world. We are connected with the Pacific area, South East Asia and the other related territories.
The Minister has drawn attention to the fact that we cannot dispose of certain things that are happening. I think he called them the massive movements in this part of the world. We cannot ignore the incredible changes. We cannot ignore the whole atmosphere of change or the capacity of things to change again. As the Minister said, we cannot dispose of the great upheaval both in human relations and in the ideas which influence mankind. I do not think it hurts to repeat these things when they represent the background to the Minister’s statement and the debate on international affairs in which the Senate has been engaged in recent weeks.
There is reflected in the Minister’s statement the foreign policy of the Government which is, first, to safeguard Australia’s interests and to promote its welfare and, secondly, to contribute to the interests of the area in which Australia is placed - and, as I said earlier, placed for all time. So the broad outline is painted. In the opening paragraphs we are exhorted to learn to be good allies, to help and be available, not to stand in the shadow of any nation, to accept the view that while we may rely on others we must understand that they can rely on us also. I know that the debate has centred on one major item, but I wish there were time to discuss all of the things which are mentioned in this ministerial speech on international affairs. They include Vietnam, our policy in Asia, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the various forms of development and assistance, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Pakistan and Africa.
In the first instance, the Minister referred to Australia’s policy in Asia. He spoke in terms of a policy that had a respect for the sovereignty and independence of Asian powers. I think that this is terribly important to assert, because we have been criticised during this debate with the statement that we have not had sufficient respect for other people’s sovereignty. But there has never been a higher plane in this Government’s programme than its respect for the sovereignty and independence of Asian powers, and we express our desire to see Asia free from fear and insecurity and free from the domination of any single power.
Now, perhaps, it might be opportune to make a quick review of some of the facts relating to the main item that we have been discussing in this debate, which concerns Vietnam. I think that everybody knows the early background of this country, which was part of the former French Indo-China and was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Afterwards, when the French tried to regain control, there was conflict with the Communist movement, and a bitter struggle for eight years. In 1954, Britain and Russia were co-chairmen of the peace conference at Geneva. The 17th parallel was established as a border line, and the northern area was to come under the control of the Communist regime. There was at that time a great movement of people who were refugees. About one million people from the North moved to the South, but not nearly so many moved from the South to the North. When the Communist regime was established in the North, isolated groups of its own people were deliberately left in the South, together wi.th isolated deposits of arms. These people had one object, namely, to organise revolutionary movements.
I remind the Senate that this was in the face of the Geneva Agreement. Amongst the terms of the Agreement was a provision that neither zone was to be used for the resumption of hostilities or for the promotion of an aggressive policy. These people - the Vietcong - became increasingly dangerous in the early 1960’s. Their record of terror has already been referred to. We know of the burning of crops, their record of murder, the kidnapping of children in order that their parents might be blackmailed. All of this has been recounted many, many times, but it needs to be said again so that people are well aware that this is the policy of this kind of regime.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority?
– I have discovered any number of authorities but I shall not outline them now.
– Give us one. I want to look it up.
– One has only to read the report of the International Control Commission to know that these things are so. We have had the record of President Eisenhower’s getting in touch with the British Prime Minister in April 1954 and pointing out that if this part of the territory fell into the hands of Communism - this phrase has been recounted in many journals, including one we have seen today - the ultimate effect upon global strategy and the subsequent shift in the power ratios in Asia and the Pacific could be disastrous. He suggested a grouping or a coalition of nations, and thus the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty was, signed. The South East Asia Treaty Organisation Council of Ministers has affirmed and reaffirmed that the defeat of Communist aggression in South Vietnam is very necessary for the welfare not only of South East Asia but of the entire world. Indeed the United States Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, has said: “Our commitment in South Vietnam began with S.E.A.T.O.” Today there are some 240,000 United States troops in Vietnam and Australia is represented by some 1,500, soon to be 4,500.
This country has responded under our membership of S.E.A.T.O. The Australian Prime Minister of the day said -
We must honour our international obligations and make an effective contribution to the common defence of Communist aggression.
In 1964, President Kennedy said -
If the Communist authorities in North Vietnam stop their campaign to destroy this country, the measures that we are taking to assist your efforts will no longer be necessary.
President Johnson has said a great number of things, but it is important that one of his fairly recent statements be recorded here. He said -
We do not seek the destruction of any Government, nor do we covet a foot of any territory. But we insist, and we will always insist, that the people of South Vietnam shall have the right of choice, the right to shape their own destiny in free elections in the South, or throughout all Vietnam under international supervision.
At this point, for contrast, when we are asked what are the American aims and our own aims in Vietnam, let us look to see what the Communist aims might be. I think I would get some support if I put it that the Communist aims are to get a Communist or Communist dominated government in South Vietnam and, indeed, to try to spread Communist rule throughout the area. In spite of what has been said, everybody knows that there has been a great deal of suffering in this area. A great many claims have been made that there should be peace talks, that there should be moves for peace and a settlement of this bitter dispute. Various details have been mentioned as to the number of occasions on which these efforts have been made. It might not hurt just to refer to some of them.
On 20th February of last year Britain proposed to Russia that they, as cochairmen of the 1954 Geneva conference, should invite the parties to come together. In reply, Russia made certain demands concerning a withdrawal of United States forces. This was a fairly convenient way of getting out of it altogether. In the same year a group of 17 countries, known as non-aligned countries, appealed to the parties to start negotiations. They did not set down any conditions. In April, President Johnson welcomed the efforts of these people and said that the United States would welcome any initiative aimed at bringing peace. Honorable senators know how far that one got. It was described by North Vietnam as “ inappropriate “. Efforts by the Secretary-General of the United Nations failed to find a basis for conversations. Indeed, at one stage there were efforts by a group from the Commonwealth. As somebody once observed, they did not even get in by the back door.
This is not an easy situation to resolve. It involves many nations and many people. It involves the area of the world in which we find ourselves, an area which, as the Minister said in the early part of his speech, we are in and here to stay. So we have to face up to it, because we cannot cancel out the great forces that are bringing these changes and creating these conditions in this part of the world today. Indeed, President Eisenhower, in the letter referred to a few moments ago, said -
If I may refer again to history; we failed to halt Hirohito, Mussolini and Hitler by not acting in unity and in time. That marked the beginning of many years of stark tragedy and desperate peril. May it not be that our nations have learned something from that lesson?
What we have seen developing in Vietnam over the years is part of a similar pattern. I have been reading some of the instructions issued to Communist guerrilla schools in South America. The guerrillas were told that they should have constant push and drive and no hesitation; that they should indulge in armed insurrection, strikes, demonstrations, sabotage and street violence, leading to general subversion. This same pattern has been followed all the way through. Are we to sit by idly and watch this kind of thing come to within a few hours travel of our shores, when we know perfectly well that if it is not contained now there will be greater problems not only for the people of Vietnam, but also for us? Is there, in the face of all that has been stated, a group of people who would try to have us cancel all these things out and be blind io the inevitable truth of what is happening in South East Asia?
Vietnam is not isolated. Everybody knows - the Labour Party knows - what the Vietcong are; that they are trained in the mould of guerrillas and insurrectionists. Everyone knows that the Vietcong is not just a spontaneous popular force, but is well trained in the world vide pattern. Surely the people who would oppose Australia’s intervention in Vietnam can read the lessons of history - quite a number of them in our own time. We know the lessons of the Baltic States and of central Europe and Tibet. They have already been quoted tonight. Will the Communists stop in Vietnam? I do not think so. If they axe not stopped there they will move into Laos, Cambodia, India, Singapore and West Irian, which is close enough to Australia. The Labour Party knows as well as anybody else that this movement will go further if it is not checked in Vietnam. Does the Labour Party believe that Communism has never been a threat to Australia? This has been said by members of the Labour Party. Do they really believe that Communism is not a threat to Australia? Do they really believe that China has no territorial ambitions? The great majority of Australians have opinions about this. They believe that Communism is a threat to Australia and that China, given half a chance, would certainly have territorial ambitions.
If the Australian forces were withdrawn from Vietnam how would the Labour Party and others who want them withdrawn face up to the United States of America in any future crises? Does the Labour Party claim that the United States would not honour agreements and treaties unless to do so was in the interests of America? Some members of the Labour Party do and surely the reference in the Labour Party’s platform to treaties and alliances is evidence of this. What sort of an organisation is it that takes out of its defence platform the straight forward proposition that “ Labour will honour and support Australian treaties and defence alliances “, paraphrases it and puts it in somewhere else so that at a convenient time it can be diffused and forgotten? I want to place what I have just said, together with the references to Vietnam, against the opening paragraphs of the Minister’s speech. The Minister drew attention to the fact that our foreign policy was based on a proper concern for the security of our nation. He said that the danger to Australia’s security is twofold. First there is the danger of global war and, secondly, the more direct danger presented to us by the active and beleigerant acts of Asian Communist imperialism. For the sake of our own security we will need to continue to support the United States and its allies in maintaining the restraints of power.
The Government has, very practically, taken steps to meet the situation, and those steps have meant our involvement in Vietnam. Senator O’Byrne said earlier that we seemed to be propping up certain kinds of governments in Vietnam. Would he have us leave these unfortunate people to be propped up by anybody who might come into their country? Of course we must be there. We cannot withdraw and, what is more, we have the great bulk of responsible Australian opinion behind us. In 1964, the then Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, in speaking about the introduction of conscription, said -
This is not just a politician’s whim. This is not just a politician’s judgment. We do it on the close and detailed advice of our military advisers, the Military Board and the Chief of the General Staff, and if you want the Army in the time you want, these are the steps which must be taken.
We are familiar with the steps that have been taken and the Senate should reflect on the endorsements of those steps that the people have given. The first was at the Senate election and the second in the Kooyong by-election. I, along with others, did some visiting during the Kooyong byelection and was interested to have frank opinions from the people. Not everyone I spoke to - and I spoke to a good many - agreed, but everybody with whom I had an honest, sincere and straightforward conversation was aware of the fact that, unpleasant though it may be, this was the kind of programme that Australia must follow. No government does this sort of thing to gain political popularity. It has been done with the courage and realism which have characterised the actions of the Government and which characterise the Minister’s statement.
The Minister’s statement was not concerned only with Vietnam. As I said at the beginning, it dealt with a number of other matters also and before concluding I want to highlight two things. I want first to highlight again the practical approach of the Government in intervening in and dealing with the Vietnam situation as it has. We are in this part of the world, we have to take our place in it and we must accept responsibility for what we are now doing.
Have our opponents in this debate produced an alternative? I do not think they have. In fact, I am certain they have not. One section of the Labour Party says “ We will withdraw “. Another says “ We will not have troops there”, and yet others say “ We will not withdraw “. Where do we go from there? What sort of opinion would the United States or any international authority have of Australia if this were the kind of thing that came from an Australian government? What reliance could be placed on Australia?
There are no beg pardons on our side. Our policy goes out positively, clearly and realistically and I think we must emphasise it over and over again. But this is not the only kind of approach that the Australian Government has to world affairs. Already the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) while abroad has attended E.C.A.F.E. conferences and has made some contribution to the establishment of the Asian Bank. While Australia goes to the aid of the people in Vietnam and helps to stem the tide of Communism it is also spending great amounts on external aid. In 1964 Australia spent .062 of its total national income in this way and we were not far behind the United States of America, with an expenditure of .069 per cent., the United Kingdom with .067 per cent, and one or two other countries. This is good evidence that we are one of the major donors in this programme.
The world has far too many people who are in need and in contributing to the needy areas we must bear in mind that it is not just a question of passing out money or making a contribution of grain or milk. The question is rather that our contribution to the needy areas of the world should be of a kind that the people can use and develop. Not only is a lot of research called for, but also needed is great understanding. In the world there are wide varieties of cultures, organisations and religious faiths, especially in the needy countries. Therefore our contribution should differ in kind from a contribution that might go from this country to a country like ours. We must place on record our sense of appreciation that assistance is being given with sympathy and understanding. I endorse the statement of the Minister and support the Government’s policy. It is not without its difficul ties, as I have said., but I am sure that the Government has grasped the nettle boldly and fearlessly. As it moves forward, it gives a clear indication that it is on the side of right and is prepared to help a nation like Vietnam find its feet so that it can be a stable centre within South East Asia. At the beginning of his statement the Minister referred to things that cannot be changed. Australia will be helping and playing a leading part that will give us a place in the world’s history.
– The subject we are discussing at present is a statement that was made some time ago by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). I have listened to the debate. The subjects discussed have varied, as have the opinions expressed. The matter of conscription was referred to by several previous speakers. Some speakers expressed their opinions as to what should be the duties of the young fellows who are conscripted into the Services. Some held the opinion that the young men should be sent overseas to carry out their service, while other honorable senators held strong contrary opinions. They said it would be an entirely wrong departure from Australian practice to conscript young fellows and send them into a war in South Vietnam.
Very often when a matter has been debated for some time, honorable senators lose sight of the motion. Many honorable senators forget the subject under discussion. Perhaps it is as well for us to take the hard basic facts and again form our opinions so that we can see whether the problems that have arisen in the last year or two can be solved. We should also scan the world, as it were, to see that the problem confronting Australia and other countries in South East Asia will not arise in other parts of the world. Let us have a look at North Vietnam and South Vietnam and state the facts plainly so that those people who are listening can understand them. North Vietnam is a country of 63,000 square miles and maintains a population of 23 million people. It produces tobacco and cotton; it is a fertile country. The Red River delta is a very fertile area where crops are grown. The density of the population is about 1,000 persons to a square mile. As in many other Asian countries, rice is the staple diet. South Vietnam covers an area of 66,000 square miles and has a population of 17,000,000 people. The Mekong Valley runs through South Vietnam and the South Vietnamese do not know what a famine is. The food supply has always been fairly good. It, too, is a country where rice is the staple diet.
A niggling war has been proceeding between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. We have been told that it is the fault of the North Vietnamese, and that they are trying to absorb South Vietnam in order to control and govern the South Vietnamese. Evidence to the contrary has been placed before us. It has been said that the South Vietnamese have not taken all the action that they could have taken in the past to resist the endeavours of the North Vietnamese people. South Vietnam has been the subject of a treaty. Australia justifies her presence in the war in South Vietnam by that treaty. We must look further afield to study the location and condition of the other Asian countries. As I said a while ago, the conditions existing in South Vietnam could also exist in other parts of Asia within the next few years. I wish to state another simple fact. European imperialism commenced with the discovery of sea routes from Europe to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope. That is a fact. In 1500 most of the world was under European control. That is indisputable, but, of course, the situation has changed since 1500.
In the 18th century British colonies in North America revolted against British colonisation. Today the United States of America is the hope of the Western world. Also in the 18th century colonies of Spain and Portugal broke away and established their independence. It is an historical fact that in 1919 President Woodrow Wilson at a conference at Versailles advocated self determination. Those who heard him thought that he was goofy, that he did not have all his wits. But what has happened since then? I am relating these facts because they have to be absorbed in dealing with a world problem. The United Nations organisation was established after the last world war. Its agencies and most of its authorities were launched a year or two after its formation. I refer to such agencies as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
In 1945, at about the lime of the end of the last world war, approximately 800 million people were living in dependent countries. The chief countries were India, Thailand, Borneo, Java - and Indonesia if you wish - Pakistan, Burma, Israel and Africa. Within 12 months no fewer than 600 million people were granted, not complete self-government, but independent rights.
Let us look at the general picture which confronts us and relate it to the state of affairs that exists in South Vietnam. There is in existence an organisation known as G.A.T.T. - the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - which is controlled by the United Nations. Many member countries of G.A.T.T. are interested in the progress of the world and in world peace. But when one makes a survey of what (hose countries have done to help the struggling countries of the world with their industrialisation and in their development and trade efforts, one sees how futile their assistance has been. When one makes a deep survey of what has been done by the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America and other highly industrialised countries to help developing countries which have been granted a measure of independence, one is amazed at what little has been done.
How did Australia develop over the last 100 years? Is she not able today to use her own resources for the benefit of her own people? Commencing as a child, as it were, she has struggled to do something and has achieved a lot. Australia is not a fully developed country; she is not a fully industrialised country. There is a group of countries that are ahead of Australia. We come in the second category. Unfortunately, there are countries which fall into the third category behind Australia. What confronts them in their efforts to develop? Where are they to get the necessary funds? The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development cannot take the risk of making loans available to them. It might be said they can export certain commodities such as tea, cocoa, coffee, bananas, other fruit and coconuts that are used by the developed and developing countries. But they are in a hopeless situation when it comes to industrialisation and to using their basic resources for the benefit of their own people and increasing their living standards. It is quite
Impossible for them to purchase equipment to develop their own industries, because they cannot use the resources of the International Monetary Fund.
What is being done about this problem? Nothing whatever is being done by G.A.T.T. The greatest achievement of this organisation has been to adopt a common nomenclature for commodities. We have been told that at a G.A.T.T. conference held in Europe last year certain concessions were made to some developing countries. But when one ascertains what those concessions were and what they meant to the developing countries, one arrives at the conclusion that they were not worth a snap of the finger. Some countries are in poorer circumstances than are South Vietnam and North Vietnam. Those two countries at least can sustain their people well; they can provide them with three meals a day. They are rice eating countries, rice being their staple diet. South Vietnam is a very fertile country. As I said a while ago, the Mekong River flows through it. North Vietnam is fertile also.
It is not a trade war that is being fought in South Vietnam. We say that Australia is confronted with a real war. We say the same of the United States of America. We have been told that it is an unwinnable war. It may not be the only war that will involve an Asian country. Let me say, Mr. Deputy President, that the highly developed and industrialised countries have done very little indeed to sustain the countries that have been granted independence in the last 15 or 20 years. I have referred to the countries of Africa. I have referred to 63 countries that have been clamouring for selfgovernment in order to develop for the benefit of their own people. The highly developed countries have not done what they should have done. They must do more not only in the immediate future but in the long term. What needs to be done cannot be achieved overnight, in a week or in a month. But it must be done in order to solve the main problems that confront the world, including the problem that exists in Vietnam.
– The Senate is discussing a statement on international affairs that was delivered by the Honorable Paul Hasluck on 10th March last. Within the last few years no subject has attracted so much discussion in both Houses of the Parliament as has the one now before us. Because of the importance that the Government attaches to the protection of Australia and because the Opposition believes that in this particular year there is a political point to be won the subject of international affairs has assumed large proportions.
The Minister’s statement was a very wide one. The Minister expressed my own attitude to various areas of external policy. He discussed Australia’s policy in relation to Asia. We all agree that the most important matters of external interest relate to the teeming millions of Asia. As an Australian citizen I am very proud of the action this Government has taken to assist less developed countries, countries which have a low standard of living, countries which have striven desperately for peace so that they can expand, stabilise their economy and raise their standard of living. With great pride I have seen the Australian Government bend over backwards, to use a common term, to assist countries which have not the ability or the resources to progress as we would like to see them progress.
The main thing behind our actions in this direction is, as Mr. Hasluck stated, a proper concern for the security of our own nation. To me, this is particularly important having regard to the areas to our near north. There are many areas from which Australia in the future could be subjected to invasion or at least aggression. During question time today I asked about a gift of food that was made to Indonesia. Here is a nation which over the last few years has stated quite clearly that it wishes to adopt an aggressive attitude towards its neighbour Malaysia - something which we Australians and many other people abhor. It is reasonable enough for simple thinking folk to say: “Let us get right away from Indonesia. Let us have nothing to do with such an aggressive country.” But no. The Government’s attitude to Indonesia has been proved to be correct. We are one of the few countries whose diplomatic representatives are accepted in Indonesia at the present time because we have adopted towards Indonesia a Christian attitude which is typical of Australia and the Australian people.
– Which countries are not recognised by Indonesia?
– There is a number.
– Name them.
– The honorable senator should be well aware that the representatives of a number of countries have been chased out of Indonesia. He should know what is happening to China’s representatives there at the present time. The fact remains that Australia, because of its attitude and the policies which it is following in relation to its near Asian neighbours, is retaining a position of particularly high standing in their eyes. I fully support and congratulate the Government upon its policies.
– I think honorable senators opposite might be fooling themselves.
– I do not think we are fooling ourselves. Senator Cavanagh is now one of the Labour members who formulate the Party’s policy on foreign affairs, so he should be able to define clearly his Party’s policy, but from what we have heard from various members of the Opposition there appear to be three or four different attitudes towards policy on external affairs. Suffice to say that I believe that Australia with its present excellent Government is adopting a Christian attitude towards our neighbours in the near north. As I was saying before I was interrupted by Senator Wheeldon, it is most important that we continue to adopt this attitude.
The world today is politically unstable and the future for the countries to our near north is most difficult to predict. In terms of population, we are one of the smaller countries of the world. The population of South Vietnam is some 20 per cent, larger than our own. We are a small country but we are stable and have been able to retain our position of high standing in the eyes of the less developed countries by our Christian attitude towards them. We have demonstrated our wish to help them and it is in this context that I read the policy enunciated by the Minister for External Affairs in his excellent statement.
Amongst other things he referred to our interest in the Asian Development Bank. Here again is evidence of our desire to help less developed countries financially. We are entering into an agreement to provide funds which, on a population basis, are far in excess of the funds being supplied by many other countries which are perhaps more able to make them available than we are, but we are taking this step to demonstrate our interest in securing stability in the areas to our near north.
We have also demonstrated our interest in India, as was mentioned by the Minister. We have made a special contribution of some $8 million to India for the relief of what is expected to be a unique food shortage in that country in 1966. There are many who would say that this aid could be better spread and that India could perhaps adopt policies which would relieve her internal situation. I believe there is much that India could do to help herself because she has adopted internal policies which to us appear to be useless and futile, but we are supporting a country which stated some years ago that it wished to remain neutral, a country which aimed at peace, a country which as a democracy aimed to use her own economic facilities to expand and develop and to raise the standard of living of her people. But her borders were crossed and she was subjected to aggression like many other countries to our near north. Surely the people of Australia must realise that our Government has foreseen this aggression as a danger to the security of our own country. India endeavoured to remain neutral but today she has to divert millions of dollars to provide armed forces to oppose aggression on her borders, something she would not wish to do. Australia feels that she has an obligation to support India in this particularly difficult time.
Probably the most important matter discussed by nearly every member of the other place and of this Senate has been Vietnam. I do not know anyone associated with this Parliament who would want us to be in Vietnam. It would be much better for us to concentrate our resources and efforts on the development of Australia. T believe that our future security is bound up with our ability to develop this young vast country which has been settled for only some 180 years, a very short time in terms of the life of other countries. But in 180 years we have built up a population of Hi million people who control a wonderful country with a terrific future. We should be able to devote our resources entirely to developing our country.
Before the Second World War traditionally we looked to Great Britain for help. We felt secure in the knowledge that Great Britain would help to defend us. Great Britain was supposed to have won a victory in that war but she probably lost more heavily than any other nation. Today we cannot look to Great Britain for help. Russia and the United States of America are now the strongest countries in the world. Naturally, we are allied with the United States, partly because of our political and trade affiliations and also by a mutual need to retain stability in this area. We have entered into various agreements and pacts with our own kind. We have seen that we must ally ourselves with the United States of America and I fully agree with such an arrangement. The Opposition has opposed the intervention of the United States of America and its readiness to come to the support of Australia.
– The United States will own Australia soon and must support us.
– America will not own Australia. The United States has a great interest in Australia which we should encourage. The United States has great economic influence. It’ is prepared to invest in Australia and we should do all we can to encourage such investment. It will give America a much greater stake in Australia. If we should be brought into a quarrel with our near neighbours, the United States will be anxious to assist Australia because of the arrangements it has with us for bases, radio communication systems and other establishments. Australia will not be capable of protecting itself. We can feel secure against aggression only if we maintain good relationships with countries such as those in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and adhere strictly to our obligations. In the past, the influence of Great Britain has been of benefit to Australia but we must now look to the U.S.A. as the strongest democratic force in the world today.
In relation to Vietnam, Australia first had to decide whether there had been aggression in that country. There is no doubt that there has been aggression. I doubt whether the arguments of the Opposition in that connection can be considered truthful. The Opposition has said time and time again that the conflict in Vietnam is an internal revolution. The Opposition has referred to the withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam. Heaven knows where the Opposition would lead Australia. It would be shameful if Australia followed the various policies put forward by the leaders of the Australian Labour Party. The Legal Committee of the International Control Commission came to this conclusion in relation to Vietnam -
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.
So there was aggression. Would the Opposition say that it will take no action when there is aggression? It cannot be denied that the Commission stated simply that there was aggression by North Vietnam in South Vietnam, yet the Opposition claims that the conflict there is an internal revolution.
– Why not read the rest of the report and you will see that the United States was also in breach.
- Senator Cavanagh read excerpts which supported his case. I cited the report to show that it stated definitely that there was aggression in Vietnam. We take the stand that we have to honour our obligations under a pact. The Opposition is quiet when it comes to discussing its attitude to the S.E.A.T.O. pact. Article IV of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty states -
Each Party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate,- and South Vietnam and North Vietnam are designated areas - would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
The Australian Government has stated that there is aggression in South Vietnam and a danger to our peace and safety. The people of Australia need to realise the possibility of this threat. Article VI states also -
Measures taken under this paragraph shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.
Paragraph 2 of Article VI states -
If, in the opinion of any of the Parties, the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or political independence of any Party in the treaty area or of any other State or territory to which the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article from time to time apply is threatened in any way other than by armed attack or is affected or threatened by any fact or situation which might endanger the peace of the area, the Parties shall consult immediately in order to agree on the measures which should be taken for the common defence.
This has been done. We have established the fact that there is aggression and this has been established by the United Nations. We have established that we, as members of S.E.A.T.O., will go to the aid of a country that is threatened. There may be other partners who will not become involved in the matter. That is their decision. We know that a British leader has stated that if Britain was in Australia’s position, it would be involved in this matter.
– Who said that?
– That was stated by a British representative.
– The honorable senator can read for himself. The fact is that if other parties were confronted with the problems that we face today, they would be involved in the matter at the present time. There is no doubt that they are well aware of the situation. We have the situation where Australia, which wishes to maintain its position and to hold up its head in the community, says: “ We, with the Americans, will go to the aid of South Vietnam “. This is not a new affair. Indeed, I shall quote a letter that was written by the late President Kennedy. He was a man whom the Labour Party believed held great views on this matter. This letter was written by President Kennedy to President Diem on 1 4th December 1961. It is a very telling statement. It states - Dear Mr. President:
I have received your recent letter in which you describe so cogently the dangerous condition caused by North Vietnam’s efforts to lake over your country. The situation in your embattled country is well known to me and to the American people. We have been deeply disturbed by the assault on your country. Our indignation has mounted as the deliberate savagery of the Communist programme of assassination, kidnapping and wanton violence became clear.
Your letter underlines what our own information has convincingly shown - that the campaign of force and terror now being waged against your people and your Government is supported and directed from the outside by the authorities at Hanoi.
This is not a current letter, lt was written in 1961. It continues -
They have thus violated the provisions of tha Geneva Accords designed to ensure peace in Vietnam and to which they bound themselves in 19S4.
At that time, the United States, although not a party to the Accords, declared that it “ would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of the agreements with grave concern and as seriously threatening international peace and security “. We rontinue to maintain that view.
In accordance with that declaration, and in response to your request, we are prepared to help the Republic of Vietnam to protect its people and to preserve its independence. We shall promptly increase our assistance to your defence effort as well as help relieve the destruction of the floods which you describe. I have already given the orders to get these programmes under way.
The United States, like the Republic of Vietnam, remains devoted to the cause of peace and our primary purpose is to help your people maintain their independence. If the Communist authorities in North Vietnam will, stop their campaign to. destroy the Republic of Vietnam, the measures we are taking to assist your defence efforts will no longer be necessary. We shall seek to persuade the Communists to give up their attempts at force and subversion. In any case, we are confident that the Vietnamese people will preserve their independence and gain the peace and prosperity for which they have sought so hard and so long.
This is a Christian attitude which was stated by John Kennedy and which should be well considered by all Australians. We are well aware of the fact that if America had adopted a different attitude, or if it had said: “We will go into this war with our full force “, the war could have been over much more quickly. Over the years America has endeavoured to adopt the atttiude that is expressed in the letter to which I have just referred. It has endeavoured to discuss the possibilities of peace. It has endeavoured, by all measures possible, to bring about a situation in which the war could be stopped and in which both the North and South Vietnamese could at least direct their policies towards development instead of wasting their finances on war and the protection of their own boundaries.
Australia has played a part with America. Is it wise for us to say, as we hear it said from the Opposition, that we should not be in Vietnam, that we should let the Americans be there and let them protect the Vietnamese people?
– Let them get out.
– “ Let them get out “ says Senator Cavanagh, who is one of the leaders and one of those who form the external policies of the Labour Party. Various policies flow from the leaders of the Labour Party. I am pointing out that this is their attitude, although I do not believe that any one of them would wish to say to America: “ We wish to leave you on your own.” I do not believe that they wish to say: “ We are going to take conscripts away from Vietnam.” I know that some of them have stated that but, indeed, others have been very silent. But some of those who form the foreign affairs policies of the Australian Labour Party have said: “ We will pull conscripts out of Vietnam “. What a policy. Perhaps they hold the view that if Australia is attacked, America will at that time say to Australia: “ We will come to your assistance, but first let us look at our policies. We cannot send conscripts overseas to defend you. By bad luck, the whole of our army is based on conscription.” It would be a great sorrow, as far as Australia is concerned, to see this happen, but this is the policy which is being laid down by the Labour Party today. I do not know how anybody in the community could accept that as being a policy which has been sincerely formed by those members of the Labour Party who sit before me tonight. I cannot imagine that they are being truthful when they say that. I do not believe that they have adopted this policy. I think they would say that Australia needs to be protected overseas. New Guinea is overseas to us. Does the Labour Party say that it would not send people overseas to protect New Guinea?
– The honorable senator knows that that is not so.
– The Labour Party would send people overseas to protect New Guinea. If the boundaries of New Guinea were to be attacked, the Labour Party would be . quite happy to send conscripts overseas to protect New Guinea.
– Of course we would. We would protect any place where injustice was done.
– I believe that Senator Cavanagh is being more truthful now than he was previously. He admits that in certain instances the Labour Party would send conscripts overseas. It can be laid down that this is a more truthful attitude of the Labour Party than was the case previously. Although Australia is playing a minor part in the defence and the maintenance of the independence of South Vietnam, it is a major contribution so far as Australians are concerned. Today we find that the policy of the Government is: “ We will support our allies. We will honour our treaties. We will do all we can to demonstrate that we are a respectable nation which, in time of need, will deserve the very best support of other nations.”
I am afraid that the Labour Party has badly let down its own supporters. I am sorry that it has put forward a policy which is indeed a varied one. Its leaders have put forward proposals on foreign policy which would leave Australia absolutely bereft of defence, as far as support from any of the great nations is concerned. This will be a continuing argument for some years.
– 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 regret that I have to rise to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate tonight. However, I believe that there is a matter of some urgency which I should bring to the notice of the Parliament and particularly to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr.
McEwen) as the export and Import of materials from and to Australia lies within his portfolio. I also invite the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) to my remarks.
On 8th April it was announced that the Western Mining Corporation had made a find of very high grade nickel 30 miles south of Kalgoorlie at a place called Kambalda. The deposit has been estimated to return between 1.79 and 8.3 per cent, of nickel. On world standards a mine producing 1 per cent, of nickel is a profitable proposition. Australia has not any nickel deposits other than this find. 1 quote the following from the Bureau of Mineral Resources publication “Australian Mineral Industry: The Mineral Deposits “ -
Nickel is one of the most widely used alloying elements in ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy. To metals with which it is alloyed, it imparts toughness, strength, and resistance to corrosion, as well as certain electrical, magnetic, and thermal properties; a copper-nickel alloy is widely used in coinage. Nickel is used in electroplating and electronic valves. In addition, nickel . compounds have a wide variety of uses ranging from the manufacture of alkaline storage batteries to ceramic coatings.
Australia is entirely dependent on imported supplies of nickel. Small quantities of pyrrhotitic nickel-copper sulphide ore were obtained intermittently from the Five-mile district of Zeehan, Tasmania, during the years 1913-1938, but no production is recorded since then. Total output was about 5,400 tons of ore containing an estimated 576 tons of nickel.
If the exploration of this deposit of nickel turns out as the mining company thinks it will, Australia could become self-supporting in this mineral. There is still some exploration to do. But the company has stated that it hopes that underground development will begin in three months time.
An amazing point is that a report of the find appeared on 8th April and on 11th April the following report of a statement by the Managing Director of the Western Mining Corporation was published under the heading “ Nickel Ore to go Overseas for Treatment “ -
The Western Mining Corporation’s managing director, Mr. W. M. Morgan, said today that nickel sulphide from the recently discovered deposits at Kambalda, 30 miles south of Kalgoorlie, would have to be processed overseas initially.
The samples of ore that had been taken were very rich.
It is true that we may not have the knowhow to refine this ore. The ore will be crushed and the concentrates will be extracted from it. It would be the concentrates that would be shipped overseas for refining. On many occasions I have sat in this chamber and listened to honorable senators opposite talking about the great development of the United States as a result of having know-how. But that country never bought know-how; it bought men with know-how. That is the way it developed. If we have not the know-how to refine this material, surely we can buy a man who has it and so bring the know-how into this country instead of continually purchasing licensed processes.
I suggest to the Minister for Trade and Industry that if the Western Mining Corporation wants to export this nickel an embargo should be placed on the export so that Australia’s requirements will be satisfied first. If there is such a shortage of this important mineral in Australia, it should be stockpiled. The Government should buy it in and stockpile it for future use. Nickel is highly valuable in the manufacture of armaments. I do not want to intrude on the debate that has been taking place today; but, whatever the Government might say, we are in a warlike situation today.
I recall that during the 1939-45 war we were unable to make satisfactory bullets for use by our servicemen overseas, particularly in New Guinea, because we had no nickel to alloy with copper. I worked in this industry, so I know a little about this matter. The bullets were not balanced. The material was too soft to be drawn properly. The bullets exploded immediately they left the rifle barrel. At that time, because the shipping lanes were closed, we were unable to import nickel to make the copper-nickel alloy for the production of armaments. So this material is very important to Australia. It is one of the metals that are in very short supply here. If this find south of Kalgoorlie will make us independent of overseas supplies, then we should not let this mineral go overseas at this time.
I recall that prior to the 1939-45 war we had gold mines operating in Australia. The gold was contained in a mineral called antimony. We did not have in Australia the means of extracting the gold from the antimony. So we shipped the antimony to Germany to be refined for the value of the gold that was in it, and Germany received the antimony for nothing. This helped Germany to build up its armaments and commence the war. Will we be in a similar position now if we start to export this nickel and allow some other country to build up supplies of strategic material for its own use? I believe that the Government should take serious notice of this matter. The Minister for Defence should have a look at the value of this mineral to the Defence Services and the Minister for Trade and Industry should consider whether the Western Mining Corporation should be given a licence to export it. I urge the Government to take some action.
.- I enter into this debate, which has been initiated by Senator Cant, because, although I do not claim to have his vast knowledge of what has been happening in Western Australia, to the best of my information the field to which he referred has not even been proved. The ore body has been discovered near Kalgoorlie by drilling, but the extent of it has not been disclosed in any way whatsoever simply because the company has not been able to get around to proving the extent of it. So, I cannot see why Senator Cant is suddenly beginning to get excited about this matter, when what is supposed to be in the ground has not been demonstrated to be in the ground.
In addition, I understand that there are some indications of further nickel deposits in Western Australia over towards the border with South Australia.
– They are not workable.
– Whether or not they are workable, the point that I want to make in relation to Senator Cant’s observations is that the statement issued by the Western Mining Corporation said that initially the ore would have to be sent overseas for treatment. It is quite clear what that means. It means that the company will have to send specimens of the proved ore body - when it does prove the ore body - overseas in order to have them refined and to see what is the value of the deposit in terms of its assay and its size, lt is manifestly impossible for a mining company of any sort to spend the money that >s involved in terms of capital expenditure in order to deal with an ore body which may not assay at the level that is required, when the extent of it has not been proved. I believe that the clue to this matter lies in the statement that initially the ore will have to be sent overseas for refining.
Having said that, I now go on to express a personal opinion in relation to nickel. There may be some point in Senator Cant’s concern in relation to this industry, if there is to be an Australian industry, from another set of circumstances altogether. There are two vast nickel cartels - the Canadian Nickel Corporation, which sets the price of nickel for the world, and the French organisation which operates in Noumea. I suggest that the trade should be interested to see that the native industry of Australia is not priced out of the market by the manipulations of the international nickel cartels. I think that that is the point that should be made by Senator Cant, not whether the product should or should not be refined in Australia.
– I should like to say a few words about this amazing discovery. The extent of these deposits has not yet been proved. We in Western Australia frequently hear of very, very rich strikes of various minerals, including gold and tin. The news hits the headlines, everybody goes berserk and rushes out to have a look, and that is about the end of it. I am not saying that this will be the case in relation to the nickel deposits. There are great possibilities, but I would like to say to Senator Cant that no mining company in the world could afford to mine nickel and send it in bulk to be treated overseas.
– I did not say in bulk. I said “ in concentrate form “.
– I am sorry. I thought that was what the honorable senator said. What the mining company will do, of course, is to send a parcel of the bulk from the deposit to overseas companies to find out the type of flow sheet that is necessary to extract the concentrates. When the company knows how to extract the concentrates, if the deposit is proved, it will erect its own treatment plant, produce concentrates, and sell them to the Australian or overseas markets. This procedure has been adopted by mining companies throughout the world. We all know the great value of nickel. Today it is one of the most important minerals in the world. If this is a large workable deposit that can be handled economically, Western Australia will have another great mining industry for the benefit of the State and Australia.
– I certainly shall bring the subject of the debate, which has been very interesting, to the attention of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). I appreciate the fact that two of my colleagues on this side of the Senate are so knowledgeable in relation to this particular mineral.I know that when I was in the Pacific last we got our nickel from Noumea. As I understand it, exports from Australia were balanced by the amount of nickel which we purchased from Noumea. We purchased nickel and New Caledonia, in turn, purchased goods to about the same value. There was not much exchange left above that amount for purchasing any further goods from Australia, but that is by the way.
I do not think that Senator Cant need worry that the Government will not fully understand the value of this deposit, if it is proved, and its importance to Australia’s balance of trade. It could be a tremendous help. At the present time we are purchasing overseas everything that we need in this field, and this discovery could make us selfsufficient, if it is as good as is suggested. I think we have a long way to go yet. The honorable senator is a little early in his protestations, but I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 April 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660420_senate_25_s31/>.