25th Parliament · 1st Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senior HENDRICKSON. - Has the
Minister for Repatriation seen a letter circulated to all members of the Parliament by the State President of the Victorian branch of the Returned Services League of 65.000 members in which the State President protests against the repatriation provisions of the Budget and requests a supplementary budget to correct the position; points out that pension values in comparison with the Commonwealth basic wage are now at an all time low; draws attention to the unreasonableness of expecting totally and permanently incapacitated men returning from Vietnam to exist for the rest of their lives on compensation that is less than the basic wage; and expresses the League’s disappointment that the Government has not acceded to the request for repatriation hospitalisation for men of the First World War and Boer War? If so, will the Minister comment on the matters raised? If not, will he comment at a later stage if I let him have a copy of the letter?
– I have not seen the letter referred to by the honorable senator. From what I know of it. it is in keeping with a similar letter that was written by the National Executive of the Returned Services League to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister himself will be sending a letter in reply to the letter that was sent to him. Regarding the other aspects that the honorable senator raised, I point out to him, first of all, that during the discussions on a bill in respect of which I gave notice today that I will introduce tomorrow, these matters were considered, and he wilt see that some valuable additions have been made with respect to repatriation not only in relation to pensions but also in relation to repatriation services in Australia for the next 12 months. The honorable senator mentioned totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. These pensioners will receive an increase amounting to $2 per week. The other matters that the honorable senator mentioned will coma up during the course of the debate on tha bill that I will introduce tomorrow.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister. Is the Minister aware that in Adelaide on the evening of Friday, 9th September, two students who were engaged in an anti-Vietnam demonstration in front of the United States Consulate set fire to and destroyed a copy of the American flag? Does the Minister know whether the South Australian State Government has made or intends to make an apology to the American Consul on behalf of the Australian community? Is it not a fact that the accepted custom in such circumstances is for the national Government to make an apology also? Does the Australian Government intend to make an apology to the United States Consul on behalf of the great majority of Australians who have been disturbed by this irresponsible and discourteous action directed against an official representative of a friendly country? Have the two students concerned in the flag burning incident been charged by the South Australian police or do the Commonwealth police intend to instigate charges?
– I am sure that all honorable senators will agree that this was a most regrettable and irresponsible act on the part of the students concerned. I think the rest of the question is of such importance that I should ask the honorable senator to place it on the notice paper. If he does that I will ask the Prime Minister to reply to it.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Is it true that Spanish fleas are to be imported for the purpose of providing a more effective spreading of myxomatosis among rabbits? If it is, what safeguards are to be provided to ensure that these fleas do not assume plague proportions?
– I am afraid that offhand I am not quite au fait with whether or not any fleas are to be imported or what the nationality of such fleas might be. I certainly will make inquiries so that I can tell the honorable senator whether they will be imported and, if so, of what kind they will be. However, I would be sure that in studying this perhaps elusive problem the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation would do as it always does and take plenty of steps and make plenty of tests to ensure that anything brought into this country was not liable to spread and, in turn, become a pest. I think I had better obtain from the C.S.I.R.O. a written answer to the question. I will do as f have done before in respect of questions asked by the honorable senator.
– Is the Acting Minister for External Affairs in a position to inform the Senate of the result of the elections in South Vietnam? Can he also tell us what percentage cf the eligible voters actually cast their votes; whether the poll was compulsory; and whether the Communist Vietcong attempted to interfere with voters exercising their democratic rights?
– 1 could not give the honorable senator any precise details of the number of South Vietnamese who cast their votes in the election. The figure would be between 75 and 85 per cent. I would need to do more checking before I could give the figure exactly. I believe that that is a pretty extraordinary result and a pretty extraordinary turnout of voters, considering, as the honorable senator knows, that every effort was made, by terrorism and murder, to prevent South Vietnamese going to the polls to cast their votes for an assembly to draft a constitution. I was asked whether the Vietcong attempted to interfere with voters. Not only did they attempt to interfere with voters and to sabotage the election before it took place, but on the day on which it took place they killed about 30 South Vietnamese who desired to cast . their votes, and wounded 167 South Vietnamese. The fact that such a high proportion of South Vietnamese did go to the polls in spite of this risk of death is a pretty strong indication of their feelings and their wish to express those feelings in a free ballot in their country.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that coal exports to Japan, which are worth $40 million a year to Australia, are threatened by proposed freight increases by the New South Wales Government? Is it true, as stated by the Premier of that State, that the increases in freight charges, which could adversely affect all Australians, are necessary because of injustices to New South Wales in the Budget introduced by the Commonwealth Government? Can the Minister tell us the facts of this case? Who is the responsible or guilty party - the Commonwealth Government or the New South Wales Government?
– I read that the New South Wales Government was to go into conference with the coal exporters on this matter. The exporters had stated that they felt that an increase in rail freights would prejudice the opportunities for the export of coal to Japan. I believe that this conference, if it has not taken place, is about to take place. I understand that the increase in the basic wage, which has a great effect upon the costs of the railways, was largely responsible for the increase in freight rates, and that that was one of the main reasons why the New South Wales Government increased its rail freights.
– They appeared also in the Sydney Press.
– I do not know when the booklet will be available, but I shall certainly inquire from the Minister for Health and advise the honorable senator.
– I asked why the promise had been broken.
– Civil aid comprehensively.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Senator HENTY.- The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
Senator ANDERSON- I have the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions -
Details of imports of mushrooms cleared for home consumption in the years960-61 to 1965-66 and the countries from which they were imported ; are contained in Appendix “ A ‘’. These figures have been supplied by the ‘Commonwealth Statistician.
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
Senator ANDERSON. -I have the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions - 1 and 2. Details of exports to China (Mainland) for the years 1960-61 to 1965-66 are contained in Appendix “ A “. 3 and 4. Details of imports from China (Mainland) are contained in Appendix “ B “ for the years 1960-61 to 1964-65 and in Appendix “C” for the year 1965-66.
– On 25th August 1966, Senator Laught asked me the following question -
The Postmaster-General announced on 15th August that a new microwave trunk system was brought into operation between Adelaide and Melbourne on that day and that he expected to introduce limited subscriber trunk dialling over the route in November. Will the Minister ascertain from his colleague, first, what section of Adelaide subscribers will constitute the initial group and, secondly, in what order subsequent groups will be granted this excellent facility?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
.- On 25th August, Senator Webster asked me the following question, without notice -
Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral inform the Senate of the time that is allotted by commercial broadcasting stations in Australia to the broadcasting of music which is the work of Australian composers as required by section 114 (2) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1965?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
Section 114 (2) of the Act provides -
Not less than five per centum of the time occupied by the programmes of the Commission, and not less than five per centum of the time occupied by the programmes of a commercial broadcasting station, in the broadcasting of music shall be devoted to the broadcasting of works of composers who are Australians.
Figures received from the Australasian Performing Right Association show that the average use of Australian compositions by the commercial stations during the year ended 30th June, 1966, was 6.52 per cent. of the total time devoted to music. For the previous twelve months the figure was 6.40 per cent.
– On 24th August 1966, Senator Laught asked me the following question -
By way of preface I point out that the Postmaster-General’ recently gave details of a new trunk line system by carrier wave being developed between Adelaide and Perth at a cost of approximately$8 million. He stressed the great facilities that this new trunk line service would afford to those taking part in interstate telephone conversations. Will the Minister ascertain from the PostmasterGeneral what improvement will result to the trunk line services within South Australia en route to Western Australia, including the middle and upper north areas and the Eyre Peninsula area?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
The Adelaide-Perth trunk line project will afford improvements to some services within South Australia - in particular, Adelaide-Port Pirie and Adelaide-Ceduna. However, a new broadband microwave system to be completed by next December between Adelaide and Port Augusta will enable all the necessary facilities to be provided to Whyalla and Port Lincoln, and new lines between Port Augusta and Alice Springs will provide additional circuits to the north over the next three to four years.
– On 30th August, Senator Benn asked me the following question, without notice -
Will the Postmaster-General inform me what the cost was of transporting television equipment and several technicians in their motor vehicles from Sydney to Canberra and from Canberra back to Sydney on or about the 16th or 17th instant to televise the Treasurer for ten minutes after he had delivered his Budget speech?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply -
The cost of transporting Australian Broadcasting Commission television equipment and technicians, to Canberra and back, included the travelling allowance for the technicians, to provide a television news coverage of the Treasurer’s Budget statement, was $310.
-(Victoria; Minister for Works and Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research). - by leave - .1 can now provide a table giving information as to which schools in which States and in what years of the present triennium 1965-1968 are to receive assistance for the provision of science teaching facilities. The lists which J have circulated give ‘details about individual assisted schools as at 3 1st August 1966. 1 last provided honorable senators with information about the progress of the scheme on 28th April 1966.
The amount available to States for expenditure on State schools during the two years from 1st July .1964 to 30th June 1966 amounted to $14,475,600. Of this amount the States spent $14,205,200. The remaining $270,400 is available for expenditure during this, and the next, financial year. A further $14,475,600 has been appropriated for the States for this purpose for the financial years 1966-67 and 1967-68. Since the beginning of this financial year the States have requested, and received, out of the $7,237,800 appropriated to them during 1966-67 plus the $270,400 carried forward from 1965-66, advances totalling $800,000. During the period from 1st July 1964 to 31st August 1966 expenditure under the programme has resulted in the construction of science laboratories, including multi-laboratory science blocks, in 228 State secondary schools throughout Australia.
In the case of independent schools in the States $5,336,000 was available during the two years from 1st July 1964 to 30th June 1966, and of this amount the State Governments were authorised to pay $5,177,924 to independent schools. The remaining $30,668 is available for expenditure during this and the next financial year. The amount of $5,177,924, together with money added by the independent schools themselves, resulted in 328 independent secondary schools either building or equipping laboratories, or both building and equipping laboratories during the two year period.
In addition, a further $5,336,000 has been appropriated for the use of independent secondary schools in the States during 1966-67 and 1967-68. As at 31st August 1966, independent schools have received, out of the $2,668,000 appropriated for 1966- 67, plus the $30,668 carried forward from 1965-66, payments totalling $1,762,110. In addition, a further seven independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have received assistance for science laboratories and equipment. In the period from 1st July 1964 to 31st August 1966, they had received $349,936 against a total approved programme amounting to $563,216.
In total, therefore, 563 secondary schools benefited from the scheme up to 30th June 1966; the degree of benefit varying from the building of multi-laboratory science blocks to the provision of apparatus for one laboratory. As well, practically every State secondary school in Australia in which science is taught is receiving some science teaching equipment, including items for new curricula and other important items of apparatus which would not otherwise be available to such schools.
During the two year period 1966-67 and 1967- 68 a further 179 independent schools will receive assistance. The number of State schools to be assisted during 1966-67 and 1967-68 will be determined by the States in the course of developing their overall works programmes.
– How long did that campaign last?
– Offhand, 1 cannot say how long it lasted. But the length of time it lasted has nothing to tlo with the question as to whether Communist aggression should be resisted in one place and not in another. The honorable senator might well ask the same question about the Hungarian campaign. That did not last very long. There, for the first time in history, the yoke of Communism was thrown off for a brief time. But we did not see anybody rushing in to help the Hungarians when they were attacked. We did not hear it slated at the time that that was an area in which we should seek to throw off the yoke of Communism or resist aggression.
– I am talking about Hungary, which is a vastly different place.
– I did refer to Tibet.
– 1 wish Senator Gair would keep up with me. I referred to Tibet, then replied to a question that was asked by Senator Wright, and then dealt with the Hungarian situation. Senator Gair referred to the Indian Government. I remind him that Tibet had a government of its own. Honorable senators opposite say: “ We must wait until these people ask for assistance “. That is what the Government is saying in regard to the shortage of food on Lombok Island in Indonesia. However, I must not be drawn too far away from the few points that I want to make.
I want honorable senators opposite to look at the problems with which we are faced now, and with which we will be faced in the future, in South East Asia. I suggest that this Government is taking a far too narrow approach to the problems of Asia. When the Government says that it will carry a sword with which to resist aggression and that when somebody calls for help or there is an attack we will be there, it is saying that it will move only when aggression finally occurs. Such an attitude suggests to my mind that the Government is not willing to do very much about the problem or will not even admit the possibility that conditions in Asia, particularly in South East Asia, are a breeding ground for Communism. I know that some supporters of the Government argue that conditions which exist in some of these countries do not open the way for Communism to advance but that Communism advances only when Communist forces apply pressure at certain points. There is some truth in all such arguments, but nobody in his right senses would deny that conditions of poverty and injustice, particularly in the emergent countries, provide a breeding ground for Communism and so help the Communist cause. In spite of that, the Government says: “ We will move in when aggression occurs “. That is a head in the sand attitude to adopt. It is one which everybody should try to persuade the Government to abandon.
– The Government is saying that all the time and in all its actions.
.- It is quite a fair statement. If the honorable senator will wait for a few moments, I shall deal with the matter further. He might even end up agreeing with me. The Government has been pushed into Vietnam at a very late stage. It has given half a dozen different reasons for its action. I was hoping that during this debate it would come clean and tell us the real reason. Senator Webster, as a new member of the Parliament, should take account of all the circumstances. However, I do not want to go into all these things today. I do not want to speak forever about the things we have mentioned in this place over the years. The way in which the Prime Minister of the day announced the Government’s intentions in regard to Vietnam gave rise to grave suspicion. We cannot even be certain that the Cabinet made the decision to send troops to Vietnam, because two hours before the Prime Minister made his announcement nobody in the Parliament knew that the announcement was to be’ made. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the ‘Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) were not informed.
I refer now to the domino theory. That is the term that President Eisenhower used. It is a difficult term to understand, but it implies that if one country falls then another country will fall and so on. I give honorable senators opposite this much credit: None of them has ever said that Australia would be the next country to fall after Vietnam. They refer to the domino theory and say that we are in the queue “ and that finally our turn will come. If this theory has some relevance, why do not countries like Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and India accept it wilh the same passion as do honorable senators opposite? Surely honorable senators opposite are not suggesting that Australia is higher on the priority list of Communist aggression than are these countries. But with the exception of the Philippines, whose forces are there in a limited sense, these countries have not forces in Vietnam. If the Government believes that Australia is in imminent danger and that ours is the next country, or even the second or third next in line, to be attacked’, why is our effort so small? Why has the Government sent only a few soldiers to Vietnam, some of whom have been sent compulsorily, others having volunteered for service in the Australian Army? Why does the Government not make a greater effort? If a government really believes that its country is in danger, it is entitled to use its forces. Indeed, it has a responsibility to call upon all the resources of the nation - its resources of manpower, defence and everything else. But the Government is not doing this and it should not think that it can go on in this way. The people who are sitting complacently behind the Government are not questioning for one moment what their Government and Cabinet are doing. At the moment, it is a very comfortable existence for them. They have the burden being carried by a few 20 years old lads, plus the rest of the permanent army forces who are fighting in Vietnam.
The Government does not have to risk any electoral unpopularity by increasing taxation or by saying that certain things have to be given up. For instance, it does not say that transport will have to be disrupted to’ send extra aircraft to Vietnam, or anything like that. But when the Government commits its next battalion to Vietnam - and that is what it will have to do - it will find that the inflationary pressures on the economy will demand that the Government do unpopular things. So Government supporters should not think that they can sit in this comfortable position, making a few young, lads carry the whole burden of the work,, and not. charging anybody else in Australia a cent to contribute to the effort. It is a very comfortable position, particularly on the eve of an election, but that situation cannot go on. Nobody who thinks for a moment about the Government’s policy believes that the Government will not be forwarding another battalion to Vietnam. It started off with a few advisers, then it moved on to provide a fighting force, and then it moved on to provide a battalion which contained conscripts.
– That is the very point I am making. The Government will not be able to sit in this comfortable position for ever. It should not think that it will get away with this. It will certainly be able to do so until after the election and that is its main consideration at this time. Anybody who gives five minutes thought to this matter does not think that the Government can go on in this comfortable position for ever, ff every one of the Government’s reasons for sending soldiers to Vietnam were valid, if every one of the excuses that it has given were valid, there would still be no reason to introduce conscription in Australia for the first time. The Government introduced conscription although this is a nation which has a reputation, established in two world wars and in Korea, that whenever it hears a call to arms - whatever the government of the day might be - the answer is overwhelming. In fact, we put up a greater performance per head of population, I think, than any other country in the world. If the Government were confident about its cause, there was never any need to conscript .to get the soldiers required. The Government stands condemned on this point, even if we concede the validity of every one of the reasons and excuses that it has given.
– 1 do not quite get the significance of the interjection. The honorable senator said that we had volunteers in France. This is the very point I am making. We have had volunteers for expeditionary forces on every occasion when wc have asked for them, and there was no need for conscription on this occasion. There would have been no need if the Government had wished to clean up its army establishments to get the numbers required from the permanent armed forces. There was certainly never any need, in a country with the history that Australia has, to conscript people to go overseas.
Before I get off this question, let me recall that in previous debates we have heard it said: “ Yes, but a Labour Government had conscription. That terrible fellow, Curtin, conscripted people during the war.” Of course, he did. But to compare that situation with the situation existing today is just completely dishonest. The Labour Government called for conscription in the Second World War, when Australians on Australian soil had been killed by bombing, when New Guinea was occupied by the Japanese, when we were surrounded by the enemy. In that situation, we called for conscripts, when the people at home were paying taxation at the rate of 18s. 6d. in the £1 and when nobody on the Australian mainland was allowed to have anything if it was required by the fighting servicemen in New Guinea. There is no comparison at all. Today, I repeat, nobody is putting in an extra shilling. Australia is not under the threat of immediate or imminent attack. Therefore it is dishonest to throw this up at the Australian Labour Party and say that because we did this under the pressures of war a Liberal Government can do it today.
The Minister, in presenting this statement, had something to say about the general situation. I wish that he had had a lot more to say about it. As I said a little while ago, this Government has tremendously myopic vision when it comes to dealing with the problems of Asia. It gets very hot and emotional over Vietnam. It has played quite a stupid role in our relationships with Indonesia, which I shall deal with in a few moments. It has completely ignored the whole Asian revolution which has been going on for the last 25 years. If the Government keeps running true to form, it will make error after error. 1. understand that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has intimated that more and more soldiers will have to be sent to various parts of South East Asia. The Labour Party says that this is a completely wrong approach, that war should bc the last resort and not the first resort. All the money that the Government is spending in putting young people into Vietnam today could better be spent in making sure that other Vietnams do not break out in the future. If Government supporters do not recognise the fact that a revolution is going on over the whole of Asia, they are just not Australians. They are not looking at the position. T know that the revolution is not confined to Asia. We are seeing it particularly on the African continent, but as this debate deals with the Asian situation I confine my remarks to that.
Historians may paint a very interesting picture of how Asian areas were settled, how their cultures, languages and dialects came about. They may tell us about the migratory pattern, how the races mixed and how we have various types of Asians. All of this makes very fascinating reading but to a politician and a government which have to face up to the immediate prospects, I suggest, the focal point of history in this area was the Japanese invasion in 1941. Prior to that time, the area did not impinge very greatly on Australia. I do not think that many Australians were very interested in it, unless they were trading in the area, and there was not a lot of that. This was an area that was thoroughly colonised. We saw the British in the area that is India and Pakistan today, and in Ceylon, Burma and what are now Malaysia and Singapore. We saw the Dutch in Indonesia. We saw the Americans - unusual colonists - in the Philippines. We saw the French in Indo-China, the area that is now Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Japanese invasion did two things. With all of the ruthlessness, bloodshed and violence that armed invasion always brings, it. started the revolution and the bloodshed that are still going on today and it also ended colonialism in the area. The colonialism ended in various ways. The bloodshed, which 1 am afraid we shall have to be examining and trying to avoid in the future, has been going on now for a quarter of a century, whether it has been in the Indian-Pakistani subcontinent, in Indonesia or Vietnam, or in the form of insurrection in Burma or the Huk revolution in the Philippines. The social and political changes that it brought were acceptable but bloodshed and violence are always unfortunate. Woven into the pattern have been threads of the cold war. When Europe was able to gel. its war relatively cold, in this area we have had a hot section of the cold war, if this is not too much of a contradiction in terms for Government supporters. We have had this situation in existence for 25 years. Vietnam has been the hottest section of all. Except for a few years when the conflict was not quite s.o hot, this has been the saddest place of all. There the legitimate aspirations have been confused. It is no new problem that the Government is facing because this situation has been observed now for a quarter of a century. Unless the Government makes a genuine approach to the problem and interests itself more in these areas it will face much more trouble than it faces at the moment.
There is no set pattern in South East Asia. It is a constantly changing pattern, with reversals of attitudes such as has occurred in regard to Indonesian confrontation. This is why it is so tremendously important that instead of Australians roaming around Asia in uniform they should be roaming around in the garb of engineers and diplomats. We can do far more for Asia on those levels than on a military level. This approach would not lead to dogmatism. I can never look at world affairs - particularly Asian affairs - and see the picture drawn clearly in black and white. To me it is always drawn in many shades of grey. If the Government becomes over dogmatic in its approach to Asia it might have to eat its words within a short space of time. My plea is not that the Governmment should set its eyes on part of this area but that it should look at the whole question. If we are fighting for the minds and hearts of men - this is what the cold war is all about - the fight will not be limited by geographical boundaries. Geographical boundaries alter from time to time. We seem to live in an age of partitions. It is interesting to recall that U Thant once said: “ In times of war and hostility the first casualty is truth “.
Both the Government and the Press of Australia would do well to read Sir James Plimsoll’s recent A. N. Smith Memorial Lecture, during which he dealt with the question of newspaper reporting throughout Asia. In a nutshell - if I may be so bold as to condense a great speech into a nutshell - he said: “ It is nearly time that Australian reporters were reporting for Australian newspapers, with an Australian slant, for Australians to read “. If the Government and the Press of Australia took notice of that we might not have the division that we are now getting over Vietnam and in an approach to South East Asia in general.
The Minister made passing reference to India and in making that passing reference and not an analysis of the situation he again fell into the trap of not looking at the broad picture of Asia. I do not want to dwell long on this, but here is a very interesting situation. We see India and China, two great countries, in geographic juxtaposition. China adheres to the Communist form of government, with less adulteration of those principles than we have seen in any other Communist country since the beginning of Communism in 1917. India adheres to democracy and has a parliamentary system which many parliaments in the world, including our own, could well look at. India clings to the democratic form of government at a time when most of the emergent nations have moved away from democracy. With these two great nations - the two most highly populated countries in the world - side by side, India is already suffering aggression from China. There was a short war between the two countries but it was broken off and although many people are wondering why that happened, nobody is prepared to say with any certainty why the fighting ceased.
At this moment Chinese are occupying Indian soil across the passes that have always been the traditional gateways into India from the north. There is a military road in an area fairly close to East Pakistan. This could exacerbate relations between Pakistan and India at any time. The problem is that if - there are always a lot of “ ifs “ in these matters - Communist China intends moving its borders outwards to control the whole of Asia, it could well be that not Vietnam but India is the chief prize. India is a democratic country and if democracy succeds in India, that will point the finger at the whole of the Communist movement throughout the world. The cold war is pinpointed in these two great countries. I remind honorable senators that during the last war India defied Japan and provided the allies with bases.
India’s troubles do not cease with China, because she has to live with the dreadful situation caused by Kashmir. Here two members of the Commonwealth of Nations, Pakistan and India, have been unable to resolve their differences. The trouble between them flared up into fighting a little while ago. The peoples of these countries have a history of racial conflict. The open warfare between Pakistan and India was finally ended by the efforts of two men of entirely different types. One of them was Ayub Khan, and one has only to look at him to see the military bearing of people of his race. The other was the late Mr. Shastri, whose manner was almost a replica of that of Gandhi. He was a humble, quiet and non violent man.
When Pakistan and India resolved their differences at Tashkent under the auspices of Russia, it seemed to be one of the great events of the day. But we would be fooling ourselves, as I am afraid the Government is doing continually in regard to Asia, if we thought that the spirit of Tashkent had fructified, because it has not. It has had some results, such as the respective High Commissioners returning to their posts in these two countries, but almost everything that has been done since Tashkent has proved to be stillborn. We would be making a very narrow approach to the question if we thought we could wash our hands of the matter and not worry much about what is occurring in Asia. The Government says that our security cannot be isolated from relations between the great powers. Of course it cannot, but neither can it be improved by adopting a narrow approach to any one part of the spectrum whilst ignoring the spectrum as a whole.
I would like now to say something about Indonesia because the Minister made reference to that country. He said that he had been there recently and had found a spirit of goodwill towards Australia. I am glad to hear that because that spirit was first fostered by an Australian Labour Party Government which took a great interest in Indonesia’s affairs at the time when that country was striving for independence. The Australian Government and people should look at Indonesia every hour of the day. Indonesians now living need not be very old to look back over a kaleidoscope of history which is nothing short of amazing. They can remember living under the Dutch and under the Japanese. They can remember the declaration of independence of 1945, the fighting with the Dutch and the final signing of the independence agreement. There was then a short period of parliamentary government followed by a period of guided democracy, during which Dutch and other foreign ownership of business was eliminated.
These have been important stepping stones in Indonesia’s history. There has also been the taking over of West Irian. All these periods have been sprinkled with sporadic fighting. There was a Communist uprising in 1948 when Mr. Adit was a young man. It was defeated. The Indonesians saw the almost Messiah-like rise of Dr. Sukarno, and the beginning of confrontation. They saw their country leave the United Nations Organisation. They saw the dramatic murder of the six generals and the thousands of other murders which arose out of that action. Now they have seen the ending of confrontation and the decision to rejoin the United Nations. I think we can hope that when Indonesians look back over this brief period of history - if 20 years is a brief period in these fast moving times - they will realise that their greatest progress was made between 1950 and 1957 when they had parliamentary government. In that period education advanced at a great rate. Illiteracy was tackled. The trade union movement was coming into the picture. All these were problems that every decent person in the world wanted to see Indonesia tackle. I think the Bandung conference in 1955 was, as I said at that time, unjustly criticised.
It would not hurt to try to do something about the emerging problems. Indonesia should realise that this period of parliamentary democracy had its benefits for all its faults and its slowness. Naturally they would consider it slow moving because they had been through an era of revolution. They have to realise that they will not get better eggs by killing the goose. For our part, it is time the nations of the world, and particularly Australia, con-r sidered what assistance can ,be given to Indonesia.
Regionalism will always be a problem’ with Indonesia. It is a problem in Australia. We have only 12 million people* with one land mass and the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has not grappled with the problem very effectively. What’ a problem” it must be in a country like Indonesia where they have 100 million people, with 70 million of them on one island and 3,000 islands to administer. Naturally they have a problem and Australia should consider what advice it can give them in dealing with it. If it is understood that democracy in the Indonesian style - and it must be Indonesian in style - has benefited the country in the past, it might be realised thai: democracy will benefit Indonesia greatly in the future.
The Australian Government must realise that Indonesia is not some little backward country which will mean nothing in international affairs. Indonesia is going to be a great nation. Nothing can stop it. It is the third most densely populated nation in the world and it is the fifth country in the* world for the richness of its potential. This applies not only to minerals and resources of that sort but also to its soil, its space and its potentiality for the generation of hydro-electricity. The only island in Indonesia that is over-populated is Java. The rest of the islands are hopelessly under populated. Indonesia must become a great power in the Pacific area. The Opposition has tried to get this message over to the Australian Government for nearly .17 years. If the Government can grasp this important fact, we will be going places in the Pacific. The problem with
Indonesia is not the lack of natural resources. Nature has been bountiful to Indonesia but because of chopping and changing over the period of its recent history, Indonesia’s economy has run down to an alarmingly low point. At the same time, it lacks persons trained to grapple with the basic problems. *
– I shall deal with, that point now. Indonesia has been a; lonely and isolated country. This has been a tragedy not only for Indonesia but also’ for Australia and indeed for the’ whole Pacific area. I do not excuse Indonesia for” some’ of its foolishness although some of it has been understandable. If you study the question of West Irian or Dutch New Guinea from Indonesia’s point of view - and this brings me to the point raised by Senator Cormack - you find that the whole question of Dutch New Guinea was misread by the Australian Government from the outset. When they took over from the Dutch, all that was said by the Indonesians was: “ Wc want what the Dutch have had This expression was used repeatedly by ‘the Indonesian leaders. When they took over Indonesia, and whether you agree that they acted validly or otherwise, they did not expect that some part of the country would be withheld from them. The Australian Government encouraged the Dutch to stay in Dutch New Guinea when every other country in the world knew that they would not be staying on there.
.- That is so. The Dutch wanted to get out and the Indonesians wanted to get in, but the Australian Government could only say that this was not a genuine desire on the part of the Indonesians. The Government claimed that this claim of the Indonesian Government to Dutch New Guinea was merely a cry to turn the minds of the Indonesians away from problems at home. Nothing could be further from the truth although it might have had such an effect to some small degree.
Anybody who visited Indonesia in those days realised that the claim to West Irian was in the hearts of every Indonesian. I visited Indonesia in 1956 to meet the leaders of the trade union movement. They hastened to assure me that they were industrialists and did not want anything to do with politics. But everyone of their executives whom I interviewed came back to the question of Dutch New Guinea. When I said this was a political question and had nothing to do with the trade unions they said: “ This is different; it is written in our hearts. We want what the Dutch had “. This transcended even the industrial questions. The Australian Government, however, had its own ideas and nobody will ever know to what degree its foolishness encouraged the development of a persecution complex in Indonesia. The Australian Government actually helped Indonesia to spend more money on arms than was necessary for Indonesia’s protection. More of Indonesia’s general revenue than was wise was diverted to arms instead of the more basic things.
– I ask Senator Sim: Why does not this Government face up to its responsibilities? This Government has never stood up to a decision on foreign policy. Its standard diversion is to ask what Mr. Calwell or Senator O’Byrne or Senator Ridley is doing about a problem. I am asking the Government to stand up to the results of its foolish decisions throughout South East Asia. This Government has been in office for some time. I did not intend to raise this matter but the fact is that the greatest tragedy for Indonesia was the defeat of the Labour Government in 1949. Government supporters can try to laugh that off if they like. They need not think that I have never had disagreements with my own side. Probably I will always have disagreements within the Labour movement on some things while I have breath in my body. But when the Labour Government was in office we had for the first time an Australian Government which took an interest in Indonesia. In the Senate, we had Senator McKenna who was Acting Minister for External Affairs when Dutch action took place in Indonesia. Senator McKenna urged that the machinery of the newly formed United Nations Organisation should be used immediately. This Government has never been anxious to use that» machinery in international affairs. To his eternal credit, Senator McKenna urged that the United Nations Organisation should move in as a comity of nations and action was taken accordingly.
The present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said in his statement that there was goodwill towards Australia in Indonesia. You can thank Senator McKenna and the Labour Government for that feeling in the first place. The action taken by Senator McKenna was followed up by the Minister for External Affairs and we were able to represent Indonesia on all sorts of organisations before the Indonesians were in a position to act for themselves.
Let me say in all fairness that when the Australian Government looked upon the West Irian situation as a problem for cold, storage it had legitimate grounds to support such a proposition. But when that attitude proved false, the Government should not have sat back without taking any action for the next 12 years. It encouraged the Dutch’ to stay in West Irian and then did not see the problem through. This Government turned its back on the Dutch and then did the most stupid and unpardonable thing: When a decision was made it sat on its high horse and allowed an American, Ellsworth Bunker, finally to assist at the settlement. The Australian Government should have taken the lead at that stage and offered its assistance as a nation educated in diplomacy. Australia should have admitted then that while it had made mistakes in the past, it was prepared to try to ensure that a settlement brought benefit not only to the countries directly concerned but also to the people of West Irian. The Government cannot, escape from the fact that it helped to build up a persecution complex in Indonesia. We will never know to what degree the Government contributed to Indonesia adopting a policy which led to more expenditure than was necessary on arms.
The Australian Labour Party has a clear stand on this matter. We believe that every nation must share in the skills of mankind and the resources of the world according to its needs and must contribute to those skills and resources according to its capacity. We cannot isolate ourselves from the struggles of the peoples of the world for economic development and security. Australia should take the initiative towards the maintenance of good relations between us and our Asian neighbours. We must remember that Indonesia is our nearest neighbour. Australia will not be doing anything radical if it moves into this area of help to other nations. At the end of the Second World War, the Chifley Labour Government, without fuss or bother, gave £50 million to help rehabilitate Great Britain. That £50 million was provided before the Liberal-Country Party Government decided to put value back into the £1 . 1 wish to refer to one sentence in the Ministers speech which I think was the key sentence in all that he said although I do not think that the Minister gave enough thought to it. He said -
Our own security cannot be isolated from relations between the great powers.
This is a statement which, if analysed against the background of the whole Asian revolution, challenges at many points the actions and altitudes of his own Government, lt challenges the Government’s unprecedented conscription of the few for an undeclared war, its lethargy in not recognising the problem until the shooting started, and its ignoring of the whole picture. We are committed to the one type of war that we always dreaded - a war of attrition where the slow haemorrhage can be maintained by sheer weight of numbers. If this type of war ever flares to an atomic war, the Minister’s sentence could be rendered then, as: We will be mere pawns in the game. I do not think that we will have any special immunity or be regarded as having any more value than other countries in the event of an atomic war. We will be measured and we will have no more value than 12 million Taiwanese, 2 million Singaporeans or 100 million Indonesians. Just because we are Australians, do not think that we will have any greater immunity or will receive any greater consideration.
Our basic contributions today can flow from an educated people possessing skills in inverse proportion to our numbers and a diplomatic ability to render greater good to the area than any other country. The nation is ready to make these contributions if only the Australian Government will take the mote from its eye and give the leader ship that will make our contribution to peace commensurate with our ability and our opportunity.
– The Australian Labour Party has about eight voices on that issue.
– I will not comment on that at the moment. Senator Willesee said that the threat of Communism in South East Asia was rather heavily overemphasised. That is not the general view shared by most people. With your permission, Madam Acting Deputy President, I wish to refer to a radio interview that bears on this subject and which was held on 5th September at Station 5DN in Adelaide between Mrs. Nancy Buttfield and a certain Captain Benson. I will not read out all of the interview; it is too long. However, this part honorable senators might find interesting. Mrs. Buttfield asked this question -
Now this to me is significant. It shows you are a responsible person, a person who believes in the defence of Australia. And haven’t you just recently been in South Vietnam or South East Asia?
Captain Benson: Yes, I was in South East Asia 12 months ago. I went there with five of my colleagues from the Labour Party as the official guests of Mr. Lee Kwan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore. He asked members of the Labour Party to go, and we found out when we got up there just why he asked us up.
Mrs. Buttfield: Yes, I was going to ask you why, why he picked on Labour people to go and not Liberals.
Captain Benson: Well, he was very concerned because he thought we had the wrong outlook on South East Asia and he felt that we didn’t understand exactly what was happening. Many have asked about this and he made it quite clear. He said a lot of Labour people seemed to think that the war in South East Asia, particularly the one in South Vietnam, was wrong and it should be stopped. But he pointed out that if South Vietnam fell to the Communists then it would only be a matter of time before Singapore fell. And as far as he was concerned, it was most important that the Communists had to be stopped. When I returned to Australia, I reported to my branches and to anyone who was interested, what he said. Looking back, I’m the only one, I think that has passed this information on.
I might suggest that Captain Benson is slightly better informed than Senator Willesee.
– I have not that interview. Perhaps the honorable senator might let me have it when he gets it. A further point made by Senator Willesee concerned equality of sacrifice. There are a number of points that can always be made in this regard. I wish to say one or two things on the subject. A huge increase has taken place in the Australian defence vote. All Australians will bear their share of this increase in the defence vote and will contribute towards the provision of services and supplies by way of the general taxation burden. The South Vietnam effort, both military and civil, is part of this increased vote. I think that we have equality of sacrifice in real terms as it is required at this moment.
I wish to make one or two observations of my own. One thing that 1 found fascinating was the tremendous complexity and diversity of the South East Asian region that we visited. Far from being one great land mass, it is a great complex of different countries, different nationalities and ancient cultures, all with the impact of history upon them and all at different stages of growth, different stages of development and different stages of prosperity. Some of the countries are more prosperous than others. That is the product of security. Some of them are less prosperous than others. That can be a product of mismanagement. One thing that I might say to Senator Willesee is that it is hardly fair to lay on the shoulders of the Australian Government and the Australian people the total burden of Indonesian economic mismanagement. That seems to me to be carrying things to an absurd stage.
One good point which he made and which I want to make myself is that violence has been a part of life in South East Asia ever since 1941 when the Japanese armies moved south. For the people of South East Asia violence has been their daily lot. We ought to be doing something in an effort to see that it does not become a permanent part of their daily lot. We have to look at these matters in real terms. It is not good enough to make pious statements and to give people a long sermon from a very small corner of the world on how to run the whole world. That just is not real.
In South East Asia certain fundamental problems arise out of the aggression from Communist China. Whether people like the word “ aggression “ or not, that is what is really happening. This aggression has been taking various forms; but in general it comes down from the high protected country and seeks to dominate the flat, fertile areas where the people live. This occurred, first of all, in Malaysia, where it was stopped. 1 remind members of the Labour Party of their great attempt to see that we did nothing about that aggression. But in Malaysia the aggression was stopped. As a result security was achieved, Malaysia today is a prosperous and growing country with a chance for the people who live there. The next attack has been made in South Vietnam. Exactly the same thing will happen there. The aggression will be stopped. In due course the people will achieve security. In due course they will achieve prosperity. This will not happen overnight. All these countries want their chance to develop, their chance to be prosperous and their chance to be independent. I support all of those endeavours, and 1 believe that all Australian people do.
The potential for development in all of the areas that 1 was able to visit was quite remarkable. I felt no threat to Australia front these countries, in the sense that we had resources and they did not have resources. They have plenty of resources of land, opportunity and people. What they want is security and peaceful conditions to enable them to get on with the job of developing their own country and their own standards. That is what they need. They do not need preaching. The menace of Communist China hangs over all these countries. Anybody who has been to them understands that more clearly. Anybody who reads a wide range of information may make his own fair judgment; but when one goes there it is very apparent that this is the thing that they all fear.
– To South East Asia; :o Malaysia, Thailand, Laos. Cambodia, South Vietnam, and even to North Borneo and South Borneo. One finds this fear in all the people one talks to.
Complaints are made that Australia is not declaring official war on certain people. I do not want to develop a long argument on this matter. But I suggest that, in the interests of our own country and in the interests of trying to restrict the war in Vietnam, the people who put forward this proposition should think it out a little more clearly. What is happening in South East Asia is that the Communist Chinese have pressed south and are continuing to press south. 1 do not think this menace will come to rest for a long time. 1 believe that it will continue for years. I hope that it can be stopped. I also believe that the technique that is being adopted at present is the only one that can be adopted. Indeed, this menace has to be stopped.
– Why should we not trade with China? Our job in this country is to recognise our size and to sell goods that are not strategic materials to people who can’ pay for them. Does the honorable senator recommend ‘that we Stop ‘selling food to China so that the Chinese ‘people may starve?
– Senator Cotton said that. ,
– I did not say anything of the kind. Sometimes we on (his side of the chamber are told by people on the other side, and also by people in the community, that we cannot ignore Communist China. Nobody is trying to do that. Communist China is ignoring the aspirations and hopes of the rest of the world, and particularly of its neighbours.
– That is quite right. If China were admitted to the United Nations it would change its whole attitude.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
- Senator O’Byrne will have the opportunity to make his speech in due course. Another thing that we are told is that Australia is part of Asia. Australia is not part of Asia. We have selfinterest in what is happening in the part of Asia that is closest to us. We will always have this self-interest because we always will be here. In my view, our interest is a growing one and a permanent one. This is something that we ought to bear in mind. At the present time we are welcome among these Asian people for a variety of reasons. We have a good reputation which has been earned for us very largely by the people who have represented us in so many ways. We are a small country, which is not to be feared. We will always be a small country. We have no colonial past and we are not a part of the colonial past. We are accepted as people who live in this part of the world.
Therefore, we have a very special place and a very special responsibility. I believe that that responsibility ought to be a real one. We ought to stop preaching to people. We ought to stop saying that Australia is part of Asia when it is not. We ought to admit our position, which is that we have a sell-interest’ in this area. We ought-to try to play a> useful and effective part. 1 believe that we have -done that. We have a great trading position in this part of the world. We have seen a tremendous change in our trade pattern. Our trade with Europe and the United Kingdom has diminished greatly and we have an increasing trade with the Asian area. This is very much in our own interests.
An interesting situation is developing in the Labour Party in this respect. I suggest to members of the Labour Party that they stop preaching to the Government and the Australian people and look at their own position. They are in a very confused and changing situation. This is what I believe has happened to them fundamentally: Some years ago many of them took the view that Communist China must win; that it was so big and so powerful that it had to win. Therefore, they took the view that they should make an accommodation in their own minds with that circumstance. I do not think that needs to happen. I do not think it will happen. The people of South East Asia do not want it to happen. They do not want the kind of situation that some members of the Labour Party think the people of South East Asia will have anyway. The people of South East Asia do not want to be fobbed off wilh some proposition that they can have a country like Yugoslavia, which will be a nice halfway house. They want their own country, their own boundaries, their own aspirations and their own type of government decided by them. What we are trying to do is to give them an opportunity to achieve those things, recognising the defects of the past and the great problems of the present.
Any Labour man who has been to these countries and looked at the problem has found himself able to modify his view. Many of them have spoken accordingly, after they have seen the leaders of these countries, talked to the people and become better informed. As I was able to become better informed, I was able to feel that the Australian people and the Australian Government had done the right thing. I was proud that we had done what we had. 1 suggest that members of the Labour Party are in a difficult position. They are confronted with a philosophical breakdown in their thinking. They will have to resolve that in their own minds. That is their problem, not ours. We do not have that problem. We are justified in doing what we are doing. We believe that what we are doing is right, and it is being proved to be so.
Mr Hasluck, in his statement, makes various comments on various countries, including Indonesia, South Vietnam and China. Referring very briefly to Indonesia, I suggest that the stand taken by the South Vietnamese and their allies in South Vietnam made it possible for Indonesia to replace the fairly ineffective militaristic government that it had with a better form of government for which we all have great hopes. But Indonesia has immense problems which will not be resolved by a lecturing posture being adopted in this far flung chamber. Indonesia’s economic problems are quite immense. A bulletin on this subject - No. 4 of the Indonesian Economic Studies produced by the Research School of Pacific Studies of the Australian National University - quotes the Sultan of Jogjakarta as saying that in 1965 prices in general in Indonesia rose by 500 per cent. The problems of economic management in that country will be immense. We will be asked in due course. I am sure, to do what we can to help. Within our ability to do this, I am sure that as in the past we will do so. But Australia on its own, close as it is to this area and with the stake that is certainly has in the area, is in no position to take over Indonesia’s economic management problems. Indeed, very few countries are. That will be a job for a consortium, and it will be quite a job before it is all finished. But I do not underestimate Indonesia’s importance to us. Indonesia is important to us and we, I suggest, are important to it.
Our job is to ensure that we are respected by Indonesia. I believe we are. We also have to ensure that we are friendly to Indonesia. 1 see no evidence to suggest that we are other than friendly to it. We have to ensure that we are welcome there, and I think we are. Australians who have been to Indonesia have been most welcome and have done a useful job there. I do not feel that we have any great problem in our relationships with Indonesia as long as we do not suffer from misguided enthusiasts who do not know enough about the job. They give advice that is not wanted and, in the process, it is uninformed advice. We must let the Indonesians judge what they want. Let us help them when we are asked to do so.
In regard to China, we cannot in a moment deal with the problem of a country like China, but some things should be said. They are facts which we can find out for ourselves. If we want to examine the potential menace of China to all of its close neighbours, we should obtain a map that shows the tremendous build up of roads and rail communicationss through the whole of China, to the borders of all the southern countries and estimate the strategic importance of those roads and railways from a military point of view. I did not hear the broadcast, but it has been reported to me that only a few days ago Radio Peking broadcast a statement to the effect that in due course the Communists in China will take over Australia and give it to the Asians to whom it rightly belongs.
– No. lt was only reported to me. China has its own internal problems, which are being reported daily in the Press. Unfortunately, we do not know the extent of them, but we may be sure that China is having its difficulties in resolving its own problems. China is quarrelling with Russia. What we ought to do it to withstand China’s aggression, hold a strong line against it and hope that in due course, as happened with the Russians when we had to hold Berlin, one day a better relationship will emerge and that the Communist Chinese will discover, as the Russians have discovered, that there are limits to how far one can push free people.
At the same time, we do not want to underestimate, in calculating the importance of China, the equal importance of Japan and, as Senator Willesee mentioned, the equal importance of India. We cannot ignore any of these countries, and none of us try to do so. China has one very great problem. There is not much margin between its resources, immense as they are, and the demands on those resources by its people, to enable it to go on very many expensive international excursions It would be better for the whole world, for us and for China, if we all could devote ourselves to the peaceful development of our countries. But we did not start the trouble in that area.
As was mentioned by the Minister in his speech, there are certain issues in Vietnam. Since the speech was made, some of them have been brought more up to date. The election resulted in an 80 per cent, vote, which was a quite remarkable result in view of the predictions made by so many people that it would be a failure, and in view of the attempts by various people from the North to make it a failure. The election was not a failure. It was an overwhelming success. We should be greatly pleased with the result. At times people have complained that the South Vietnam Government is a military junta. I want to refer to the make up of the constituent assembly which was elected recently to draft a constitution. The assembly consists of 22 teachers, 20 military men, 18 civil servants, 17 provincial councillors, 15 professional people, including doctors and dentists, 8 farmers, 3 judges and 4 other people. This is the constituent assembly which has been elected to draft a constitution. Eighty per cent, of the people voted in the election of the assembly. In my view, what Air ViceMarshal Ky says regarding the election is correct. It has set the conditions for final victory. It is a notable advance on the path towards the final hope that the hearts and minds of the people will be set on rebuilding and restoring their country.
I would be the last person to underestimate the effect on the people of continuous wars waged against them by people from the North who do not want to leave the South Vietnamese alone. People can make their comments about Ky and make their rude remarks about the leaders of South Vietnam, but all I want to say about them is that I have met some of them and 1 found them to be a group of dedicated men. I was extremely impressed by them. If my opinion is worth anything at all, there it is. 1 think they are outstanding fellows. I was proud to have met them.
– I will express them tomorrow if I am allowed. I think that 12 months ago it could have been said that the situation in Vietnam was a very difficult and extremely dangerous one. I am no military man, but from the information that I have been able to obtain and from moving about and talking to people, I have the clear impression that the tide has turned and that victory in the military sense is in sight. What form it will take, I do not know; when it will happen, I could not say; but I am sure that the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong will be beaten. I believe that in due course they will be forced back into the jungles and we will find that it will all end. But I am not saying that when that happens, all of the problems of Communist China will be over. I think that we will continue to have pressure from the Communist Chinese until they see that there is no profit in it.
We have to remember that there are more South Vietnamese fighting for their country than there are people fighting with them. There is, and there has been, a lot of talk to the effect that what we should do is to pull everybody out of South Vietnam, have no more fighting there and concentrate upon civil aid. This presupposes a military victory. We have to achieve that first. If we pull everybody out of South Vietnam, there will be a complete take over by the Communists before we know where we are. So civil aid will not matter then. I turn to the present methods by which we are trying to handle things in South Vietnam. By means of army operations, both the South Vietnamese and their allies, working together under their treaty obligations, are endeavouring to achieve a military solution. They are endeavouring to clear an area and to keep it safe from attack.
When this happens the area is handed over to what is called a police field force. Australians have played an active part in training these people. They produce a situation of security and commence reconstruction within the area that has been cleared by the military operations. When that has been achieved, the civil aid people move in with their assistance programmes, and following that normal life can be resumed. This is what is happening in South Vietnam today. There are military operations, followed by the work of the police field force which is aided by the revolutionary development training cadres. These cadres are being trained in the Vung Tau province. Groups of people are going into the provinces. The groups consist of 59 or 60 people who are thoroughly trained. They have an understanding of weapons and defence. They also are trained in sanitation, public health, civic work, education and agricultural techniques. When they go into the various provinces they help with the reconstruction programmes. Similar work is being done in the hill tribes with the Montagnards.
All in all, what the South Vietnam Government is trying to do, with the aid of its various allies, is to see to it that the minute there is a military solution, the people of South Vietnam will be given a chance, under protection, to rebuild their country and to enjoy a better way of life. People speak about the need for increased aid without understanding, in my view, that increased aid is, in effect flowing into South Vietnam in a most massive form. In 1962, the value of aid supplied by the United States of America was SI 49 million. In 1966 it is estimated to be $600 million. There is a most massive build up in the aid programme in South Vietnam at the present time. The organisational structure which ensures that the aid is effectively administered is most impressive. There is a great number of men from the United States working in all sorts of voluntary capacities to administer the aid and to see that it is effectively used. In simple terms, it seems to me that the people who are trying to achieve a military victory are determined to ensure that the people of South Vietnam will, until a military victory is achieved, get a fair go and be given a proper way of life.
Australia is playing its own part in the civil aid programme in South Vietnam. To the end of 1965 we had provided $94 million in civil aid under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the Colombo Plan. We have doubled our aid programme in the last 12 months. The Government of Air Vice-Marshal Ky has embarked on a very solid programme of land reform. These very fine and decent people of South Vietnam are doing as much as any people can do to rebuild their country amidst the bloodshed, the battles and the immense horror that are being inflicted upon them by the people from the North. But without security you cannot achieve any kind of position. You can talk your head off in that part of the world to any of those people. If you ask them what they want, they say: “ First of all we want security. Give us security and we will have a decent country in the end.”
I have a few general things to say in finishing my speech. There has been a notable change of attitude in the hearts of the people of South East Asia. Two or three years ago they felt that they were about to be abandoned - to be pushed around and taken over. From the time that the Americans and the allies of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation decided to stand up firmly against aggression, those people have taken new heart and new courage. It can be seen and felt in talking to them. The aid and assistance they have been given was welcomed by the people in the smaller countries we were able to visit.
There is no doubt that the Communist Chinese are imposing a threat to north east Thailand which, if not watched, could grow to the proportions presently being faced in South East Asia and Vietnam. The Thai people are very conscious of the threat and there is no doubt about the pressures that are being placed upon them. Radio Peking broadcasts continuously throughout South East Asia and it is said to the people of Thailand: “ You are next. You are after this.” They are always under threat. Not long ago village headmen and doctors were being murdered in northern Thailand by intruders across the Mekong River. So honorable senators should not imagine that it is a light matter or something which is not happening. It is happening, and the threat is from the north.
I may be oversimplifying, but I think it is fair to say that in South East Asia ideologies will not win. I believe that, in the end, nationalism will win. Each of those countries wants its own national identity. They want their own cultures preserved and their own boundaries secured. They do not want the ideologies of anybody else. For my part. I emerge from this discussion and earlier debates with my own philosophy quite intact and believing that ideologies imposed on those people from outside will not win, providing their friends will stand with them on a given day to help them.
Australia is a small country with a very important place, historically and geographically, able to do certain things in its own right, but having to measure its capacities in real and sensible terms. We have three choices: First, we can follow the line laid down by some people that the Communist Chinese are so powerful that they must win. Therefore, it is said, let us have an accommodation with them. Therefore, in effect, let us follow the line. Secondly, we can say to ourselves: “ This is all too hard, all too difficult, lt is very nasty. It is a dirty business. Let us turn our back on it and stay home and let it sort itself out.” This approach ignores our own self-interest, trade, treaty obligations and ordinary human decency. Thirdly, we can stand up in defence of the freedoms of those people and, in the end, of our own freedom. We can help to provide them with opportunities and to safeguard them. That is the choice of the Government and my choice. I suggest to honorable senators that it is the choice of any free and honorable people in support of a properly signed and contracted obligation. I commend the Minister’s statement to the Senate.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) 1.5.14].- I support the contribution to this debate made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee). 1 want to say at the outset that I will be fairly critical. I believe that I should enlighten honorable senators in. relation to a number of things that were said by Senator Cotton. If I heard him correctly, he said that he was no military expert. Normally I listen with a great deal of respect to Senator Cotton’s contributions to debates in this chamber, but today I believe he was completely out of his depth. Apart from two or three comments, it appeared that the honorable senator certainly had done no homework at all. His speech was somewhat confused and although he endeavoured to criticise the Australian Labour Party and its policies in respect of foreign affairs, I believe that he actually finished by supporting us.
Senator Cotton said that tremendous sacrifices had been made by the people of South Vietnam. As I develop my argument, 1 hope to be able to show honorable senators that in fact that is not so. He said that all Australians were playing their part. There is a group - admittedly it is a minority - in Australia at this moment which is waxing fat on profits made out of our involvement in Vietnam. The honorable senator referred to the menace of mainland China. To me, this is a statement of hypocrisy. Government supporters frequently criticise Communist China in no uncertain terms, yet they are developing one of our greatest trades with that nation. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to say that we are not trading in strategic materials, but strategic materials are going to Communist China.
Let there be no mistake about the policy of the Labour Party. Our policy does not prevent our trading with any nation. If there Is one thing that the average Australian dislikes intensely it is hypocrisy. Why criticise Communist China on the one hand, and allow a section of the community to grow fat by trading with that nation, on the other hand? Senator Cotton said, in effect, that we ought to keep Communist China down. They may not have been his actual words, but it is his implication. I assume that there will come a time when the Liberal Party will strongly support the admission of Communist China to the United Nations, but not before L.B.J, says so. The honorable senator denied Australia’s geographic right in the southern hemisphere and said that we do not belong to the Asian sphere. Whom are we kidding? Is it the thinking of the honorable senator or of his Party that because Australia is a predominantly white nation we should deny all the coloured people around us? Is this approach racial in origin? If so, it is not only unjust but also uncharitable and completely unfair.
– Of course we are involved, and we are part of South East Asia. It must be admitted by honorable senators opposite, unless they are frightened of the racial implications. The Government is losing friends. Senator Cotton referred to so called confusion in the Labour Party. Only the other day I referred in a question to a recent telecast in which a member of the Liberal Party said that shortly we will be fighting a shooting war in two other spheres in this area. If such statements do not lose us more friends in the Asian sphere. I do not know what will. So much for Senator Cotton’s remarks. I now want to refer to a part of the Minister’s statement under the heading of “ Vietnam “. He said-
The military situation in South Vietnam has improved greatly during the past year, although it is difficult at present to see it as being other than a lengthy struggle. The Communists are continuing their build up, and their total strength, both guerrilla and regular troops, is now believed to be more than 250,000.
Then he said -
According to figures that have been supplied by representatives of the Government from time to time, there ought to be about 340,000 troops there. What has happened to the other 15,000 or 20,000 troops? Has the Government been hoodwinking this Parliament and the Australian people, if those troops are not actually there? It may be a good psychological build up in order to gain public sympathy for our involvement in Vietnam.
I wish now to refer to some of the dirtier aspects of our involvement. I refer to the awards that were granted by the South Vietnamese Government recently to 21 Australians who distinguished themselves in the epic battle of Long Tan on 18th August. Those words have been taken from a Press statement. They are not my words. The awards took the form of gifts. The commander of the Australian Task Force, Brigadier Jackson, received a commemorative plaque and a personal gift. Other officers received cigar cases, and the soldiers received cigarette cases and dolls in Vietnamese national dress. What happened to the people who were wounded in this battle? What happened to the relatives of those who lost their lives? I pay tribute to the individual soldiers for their acts of bravery. But these youngsters should not have been there in the first place.I have here a list of the names of 17 soldiers who were reported as killed in action. I ask for leave to incorporate the list in “ Hansard “.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood). - Is leave granted?
– That points up the hypocrisy of the Government.
– Honorable senators opposite are ashamed to have the names incorporated in the way I suggested. I shall read them. Honorable senators opposite are not fair dinkum even in their attitude to this war.
– They should be heard. They were brave men.
– I am ashamed of the attitude of honorable senators today. These are the names -
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that the Commonwealth prohibited its sale in Victoria?
Senator KEEFFE. -I did not suggest that but I suggest that the Commonwealth was in sympathy with the prohibition. The Government spent thousands of dollars of the taxpayers’ money on publicity for its case for Australia’s involvement in Vietnam but it did not spend a single 10c piece on the Opposition’s case. The Government wants the public to know only one side of the case. In other words, it says that it will stick with the Vietnam war as long as it possibly can.
– I do not have to. Is not this supposed to be a free country? Or have you, Senator Prowse, taken charge and turned it into a dictatorship? If this is your idea of running Australia, the sooner you leave this Parliament the better off we all will be.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I ask Senator Keeffe to address the Chair.
– I will do so, Madam Acting Deputy President, but will you please tell the interjectors to keep their remarks to a decent level. I refer now to Senator Cotton’s statement that the people of South Vietnam were giving everything they had to this war. According to recent reports - the Government has not contradicted these - there are 705,000 South Vietnamese in the armed forces. The per capita ratio to total population is only one half or less than one half of the ratio in Australia in the Second World War. If it is a total war, why is not every able bodied man in South Vietnam in some section of the Services? What are the others doing? Are they, as a colleague of mine in another place said recently, moving about the streets enjoying themselves and selling to the Vietcong materials that have been made available for the war? In other words, to use an Australian colloquialism, are they making a quick quid? In 1965 the number of desertions allegedly was113,000. The Government has not contradicted that figure. Up to 30th June this year another 67,000 Vietnamese left the South Vietnamese Army and disappeared. They cannot be found. If this rate continues, by the end of this year there will be 21,000 more desertions than there were last year. I believe that if this country were invaded the average Australian would not want to desert but would fight for his country. The Government tells us that these people are involved in a fair dinkum war, but they are leaving the Army at the rate of well over 100,000 a year and cannot be found. Now that Marshal Ky has threatened the death penalty if they look sideways, perhaps they will be persuaded to stay in the Army longer.
I wish to place on permanent record a paragraph which appeared in the “ Catholic Worker “ of August 1966. If anybody wants to check its authenticity, he will find it at page 9. It states -
Remember the deathless words of the White Queen in “ Alice in Wonderland “? “ Take a big breath and you can believe anything. I frequently believe six impossible things before breakfast.”
This Government believes in this implicity. The paragraph continues -
These words have had a profound effect upon our civilisation. Every day we front up to the breakfast table, pick up the paper, take a big breath and proceed to believe a number of impossible things - e.g., “ We can preserve peace by having an armaments race”. Just get guns and bombs enough, and America on our side, and no one will dare fight us. That is what the Original Cave Man. said as he fondled his five-foot stone club. ‘.’ This is the biggest. No one will dare attack me.” (Those were his last ‘words, for just then he was beaned from behind.) The sheer impossibility of maintaining the balance of terror on our side ought to make us laugh at the, advocates of “ peace by violence “. But oven Christians who should be repelled by the’ atmosphere ‘of hate,- fear and suspicion, and horrified at the prospects of universal suicide, and appalled at the terrible plight of the victims of this not-so-cold..war, have done little or nothing to urge the-*governments pf , the world to look for a better way qf keeping -the peace than by violence. We take a deep, breath, pick up the paper and believe that impossible nonsense: “ If you want peace, prepare for war.’”
That is the attitude of the present Government. I shall -now quote a passage on the capitalist altitude. If somebody wants to check ,it, he will find it at page 1 1 of the same issue of the “ Catholic Worker “. It reads -
The “ Capitalist altitude “ (not by any means confined,, to America) usually disguises itself with slogans of peace and ‘freedom. . . . Capitalist peace, when analysed, is really a maintenance ‘of the” status ‘quo hi which’ markets and sources of raw materials are kept open for exploitation. It is peace without justice - and that is hypocrisy.
That was the theme I developed earlier in - my contribution to this debate. The passage continues -
Capitalist freedom is the freedom of one individual to exploit another.
That is what the Government is doing in China and other places: it is even doing it in Australia - . . a freedom for (he few to be very wealthy and the many to be very poor. This is certainly what capitalist “ peace and freedom “ mean to South America, Africa and Asia, lt is little wonder that the peasants of these countries prefer Communist violence to Capitalist peace. The Capitalist system has held sway in Russia and China for centuries and it has dominated Africa, Asia and South ‘ America for almost as long, lt has had time’ and opportunity to establish peace and stability based on justice. It has passed up its opportunities and shirked its obligations, and judgment, in the form of Communist revolution, has come.
Ministers have told us that this is not a war, but they did remember somewhere along the line, in answer to a question in this chamber, to say that one or other of ‘the numerous Presidents of South Vietnam had asked for help, but they could not tell us who he was. Amongst the unfortunate victims of this conflict are 17.000 orphans. They are orphans because of the conflict. No-one knows how- many of these there really are in Vietnam. The figures .for six provinces are” unknown. If we look at the general approach that the Liberal- Party adopts to this conflict and to other conflicts, we see that the attitude generally of its members is that they love war. It is safer for them. I want to cite another short statement from the’ newspaper known as “Fact’”. It. reads-
The war is a happy enough circumstance as far as the Liberal Party is concerned, lt is good for business and it helps the country’s financial standing with the United States. The system of selection and deferment is so corrupt that there is little danger involving 20 year old sons of the backbones-‘ of private business and the Liberal Party itself.
– Twenty-ninth July. It continues -
The most comfortable assurance of all is that young parliamentary members of the Liberal Party do nor have to “go themselves.
I “want to make reference only briefly to conscription before returning again to my previous theme. It appears that in the thinking of the Government all men are created equal except the 20 year old kids of this country. The Government is making decisions on their behalf. It is losing their lives in a war which it will not win and which, probably, nobody else will win, but this does not matter to the Government one iota.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity to make his contribution later. Why is the Government involved? ls it doing this because of the benefits to be obtained from trade? Is it supplying Australian troops to encourage the investment of American capital in Australian industry or to gain trade balances for the purchase of war material for use in Vietnam? lt is obvious that someone must stand to gain. I want to read from a statement made by the Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Labour Party in the Parliament on 10th May. He directed attention to a statement made earlier this year on the possible availability of war contracts for Australian manufacturers. Mr. Calwell said -
Early this year, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall), who was then Minister for Supply, went to the United States to ask that Australian manufacturers be given a share of the orders the American Government was placing with armament manufacturers for American servicemen in Vietnam, lt was a very successful mission and those Australian manufacturers who have been enabled to muscle in on this great war racket are, understandably enough, very happy and very, very grateful to a considerate government.
There arc some further points that I should like to make, but my time is insufficient. Mr. Calwell referred in the same speech to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). Mr. Calwell said-
On 23rd May 1965, three weeks after the decision to send the First Battalion of the Australian Regular Army to Vietnam, the Prime Minister, who was then the Treasurer, said in Washington: “The cumulative effect of American overseas investment restrictions, if not relaxed, could have a serious effect on Australia’s external capital reserves. However, I do not think America would want to do anything to weaken Australia’s capacity to honour its obligations in defence and economic aid to other countries.” Suffice it to say, the restrictions were relaxed.
Then we have other examples of how the making of .war and the profits of war are closely inter-related, in brief extracts from the “ Financial Review “, which is a financial paper of some standing in the community. One of these reads -
With Vietnam war orders pouring in and the economic boom continuing, U.S. companies expect their 1966 profits before taxes to rise at least 6 per cent over last year.
Maybe this is one of the reasons why the Government is getting so deeply involved in this issue believing it will help to keep people happy on the eve of an election.
– I shall be delighted. We have the clearest policy of all. I should like to refer to another extract which shows that woolgrowers are doing well out of the conflict. It reads -
Though the Vietnamese conflict may be characterised as a cotton war, it has nonetheless resulted in a substantial increase in the need for wool and wool man-made fibre blend material. The United States military contracts for the first half of the 1967 fiscal year, which were announced recently, included approximately 4,800,000 linear yards of worsted and worsted man-made fibre blend fabrics.
The report goes on to say that United Stales imports of raw wool in the first four months of the year were up 27 per cent, on imports for the same period last year. If there had not been a war in Vietnam, the picture would not have been so rosy.
Government supporters say that the Australian Labour Party stands alone in its opposition to the conflict in Vietnam. I want to say that officialdom subservient to the Government and subscribers to the Government’s policy in this country are not as aware as their counterparts in America, where the rights of that country to be involved are starting to be questioned. I want to read very briefly three passages from a statement made by Mr. W. White, a Sydney teacher and conscientious objector, whom this Government is hounding at the present time because he refuses to register for national service, or conscription, as it should be more correctly termed. These are his statements -
Firstly, I am standing against killing - the taking of human life. To me the ultimate purpose of life is to live. All men have the unalterable desire for self preservation and in a civilised society; as we recognise our own right and desire for self preservation, so we must recognise the rights of self preservation of others.
– We were involved in war then. At the moment the honorable senator is not involved. He is making sure that 20 years old kids get shot down on his behalf.
– I should like you, Mr. Deputy President, to tell Senator Branson to modify his statements a little.
We are not involved in a war. I will be there if we are but Senator Branson will not be, because he will be making a quid on the side.
– Mr White went on to say-
It is not a concession given by a government, a society or a nation, and as such this respect for life - the sanctity of life- is not something which the Government has the right to take away from a person, for example, by forcing him to take part in compulsory destruction of human life. Morality, lo me, is based on the respect for life. I respect people, I respect their feelings, 1 respect their property and I respect their equality, on the basic conscientious assumption that they have, as 1 have, the unquestionable right to live. Secondly, 1 am standing against war itself as a national and international policy. As war, by definition, has always incorporated killing, I would have been opposed to any war on this basis.
On the third front I am opposed to a State’s right to conscript a person. I believe very strongly in democracy and democratic ideals - and I believe that it is in the area of a State’s right over the life of the individual that the difference lies between totalitarian and democratic government. My opposition to conscription, of course, is intensified greatly when the conscription is for military purposes.
In fact the National Service Act is the embodiment of what I consider to be morally wrong and, no matter what the consequences, I will never fulfil the terms of the Act.
There are a lot of people in Australia today who would like to voice exactly the same sentiments, because of the illegal and immoral action of the Government in involving this country in the Vietnam dispute. If, as I said a little while ago, the Government has sold this country in order to help improve its overseas balances, other people are probably involved also. There are plenty of reports of material that is being made available, particularly by America, being used by the so-called enemy in Vietnam. Are some of the things that we are sending to Vietnam also going the same way? Is this a racket in which governments can get involved at the expense of human lives? We are told that Australia will go “ all the way with L.B.J. “. The moment that he cracks the whip this Government obeys. Why are we, as Australians, not permitted to make some of our own decisions? Why must we always go along holding somebody else’s coat tails?
The Australian Labour Party’s policy in this matter was challenged a little while ago. There is discussion of various opinions inside our Party and we are proud of that. Members of the Government Parties are not allowed to express opinions. The Government’s policy is not their decision; the decision is made elsewhere and they follow the leader. The Australian Labour Party opposes the sending of Australian troops to Vietnam and is especially opposed to the sending of conscript troops. An Australian Labour Government would direct the Army to bring home without delay the conscripted men who are already there, acting with full regard to the safety and security of the Australian forces. This action would be taken in recognition of the fact that the conscripted men are in a special category. Our only regret is that we could not have become the Government six months sooner, in order to save lives. With regard to all other Australian forces in Vietnam the Labour Government would consider the situation in Vietnam as it exists at the time and the importance of maintaining future co-operation with the United States. Whilst we would take no action without consultation with the United States we would work for, and insist upon, the return of all Australian Forces from Vietnam as soon as practicable.
The Australian Labour Party’s view is as follows, and a Labour Government would act accordingly: The United States Government should cease the bombing of North Vietnam and the Vietnam operation should be converted into a holding operation. The Australian Government should itself take the initiative in further attempts at attaining a ceasefire and in negotiations for peace in Vietnam. The present Government does not want a ceasefire, because this would not be in keeping with its policy. The ceasefire should be on the basis of the military realities in Vietnam at the time and should involve recognition of the National Liberation Front as a party principal to the negotiations. The Australian Government should support the Geneva Accords for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and nonintervention in the affairs of the area as a basis for peace. Upon a cessation of hostilities, the Australian Labour Government would stand ready to provide forces for peace keeping operations in South Vietnam, under the auspices of the United
Nations or such other agency as was established for that purpose. The Australian Government would strive continually for a position in which the people of Vietnam could have a government of their own free choice. An Australian Labour Government would be prepared to co-operate in the development of the area to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom, and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, and to promote economic wellbeing and development.
When this Government can come out with a clear cut statement like that this country will go places. I intended to refer briefly to that part of the Minister’s speech which dealt with Indonesia, but as my time is running out I will reserve those remarks until 1 make my contribution to the Budget debate. I support the policy of the Australian Labour Party. I strongly criticise the Government’s action in involving Australia in Vietnam in the first place because this has meant a costly waste of young Australian lives. Our men are losing their lives in a war which cannot be won; a war in which there is no cause or purpose and, worst of all, they have no say in whether they will be called up or whether, having been called up. they will go to Vietnam.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– At Ingleburn.
– Yes, he is at Ingleburn. So much for the untruth and irresponsibility of Senator Keeffe’s statement. He accused Senator Cotton of being out of his depth. If Senator Cotton was out of his depth, Senator Keeffe was drowning. He also charged the Government with not wanting a ceasefire in Vietnam. That is a despicable statement. The British Foreign Secretary - a member of a Labour Government - at a meeting of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation Council in Canberra on 27th June referred to the efforts of the British Government to obtain a ceasefire in Vietnam and he said -
Unfortunately, all these efforts like those of other nations and men of goodwill have failed in the farce of North Vietnamese intransigence.
This is the plain truth from the British Labour Foreign Secretary. So much, therefore, for the statements of Senator Keeffe. I do not wish to waste any more time on him. 1 think I have been very charitable in dealing with him. I come back to the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on 24th August. The Minister again outlined the objectives of Australian foreign policy and with these objectives there can be little dispute. The Minister rightly acknowledged the fact that we cannot live alone and we cannot live in isolation; our lives are affected by the policies and actions of other governments. The world today is a close unit and we cannot divorce ourselves from the happenings in other countries. The Minister made this point very clear when he said -
Australia is concerned with the sort of world in which we live, because only in a world that is free, prosperous and secure can we ourselves be free, prosperous and secure. We are an aligned nation because that sort of world is a matter of contest at present. Our objective is not the contest itself but to help build a world in which we can live.
I do not think there can be any disagreement with this statement; but here we are in conflict with at least a powerful section of the Labour Party. It still treasures the impossible belief that even if all South East Asia fell to Communist aggression, we would be permitted, to live our own lives without interference. This is a fallacy and dangerous, and certainly Professor Arndt, who has been a life long member of the Labour Party, doubts its validity. Let me quote what Professor Arndt wrote in the “ Canberra Times “ on 28th April last-
But so long as there is a reasonable hope that even (he less successful ones, like’ India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, may yet learn to deal with, their economic and social problems within a, democratic or at least a relatively open society, we should do everything we can to help them escape the Communist embrace. ‘
These, rather than fear of any imminent Communist threat to Australia are my main reasons for supporting the present American policy. At the same time, I find it difficult to deny that our position as a democratic western society in this part of the world would become much more difficult if all of South and South East Asia became Communist.
To this extent at least, countering further advances of Communism in South East Asia . is certainly in our national interest.
I believe the truth of that statement is evident or should be evident to us all except a section of the Labour Party which still does not believe we would be interfered with if Communism took over South East Asia. I have become convinced that there is an even more insidious motive behind the tactics of left wing members of .the Labour Party. They seek deliberately to destroy the confidence of the Australian people in’ the justice of our cause in Vietnam and they seek also to destroy the will to ‘resist- Communist aggression. In this Senate we hear question after question aimed at destroying the image of the armed forces of the United States of America and South Vietnam. Every report, however flimsy, disparaging the United States armed forces is seized upon and given credence.
– I shall give one. The notice paper of the Senate today has a question based upon some report from the sailors of the “ Boonaroo “. That is the type of question to which I am referring.
– All I wish to say is that in this question Senator Cavanagh makes reference to reports by sailors on the “ Boonaroo “ who spent some time unloading in the port of Vung Tau.
– I refer you, Madam Acting Deputy President, to Standing Order 414 which specifically states what may be quoted and what shall not be quoted in a debate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Standing Order 414 refers to matters that come up for discussion. Senator Sim is in order in referring to the matter, but he should not debate it.
– Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. All 1 wish lo say is-
– I rise to order. Senator O’Byrne has no right to take a point of order in this regard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Senator O’Byrne is correct in stating that Senator Sim should not debate the matter, but he can refer to it.
– Thank you. I will not refer to the question any longer because it is only wasting my time and obviously it embarrasses the Opposition. I leave that question. But we all recall many questions asked with the sole aim of discrediting the image of the United States armed forces. Questions regarding atrocities and so on have been asked in this chamber. Unsupported charges of corruption are .made ‘against the South Vietnamese Government. Unfortunately for the Opposition, a Labour member who has been to Vietnam, Mr. Cross, recently said in another place -
I gained the impression that it was an honest Government.
So much for the type of charge that is continually being made by honorable senators opposite. J believe that there is a reason for this. The Commander in Chief of the North Vietnamese, General Giap, has referred to the “ psychological and political shortcomings of the democratic system when faced with an inconclusive military operation “. General Giap went on to say - (
In all likelihood, public opinion in the democracy will demand an end to the “ useless bloodshed “- and so it goes on. I believe that this is the aim of some members of the Opposition in continually trying to destroy the image of the Government of South Vietnam and of the United States Government, in pursuance of the aim of the North Vietnamese. Indeed, this statement is supported by Professor Arndt. Now, no-one could accuse Professor Arndt of being a reactionary.
– No doubt he would have been. This is what he has had to say -
The majority of the politically active opponents of the present Australian policy are in two other categories: They are either convinced Communists or they believe that, while Communism is not desirable for Australia, it is desirable for Asia, or at least the lesser evil as compared with American capitalism or with the regimes that the United States are prepared to support.
I have already explained why I disagree with this view. The point 1 now want to stress is that it is primarily, if not wholly because, on balance, they want Communism to win in Vietnam so that the Government’s most active critics, and in particular the leaders of the A.L.P. Left like Calwell and Cairns oppose the present policy. 1 am emphatically not saying these people are Communists or would support Communism in Australia.
– I atn quoting it although the honorable senator does not like to hear it. This is the view of Professor Arndt who has been a life long member of the Australian Labour Party. The Labour Party is using these tactics of trying to discredit the Governments of the United States and South Vietnam because some members of the A.L.P. believe that Communism is desirable in Asia. I say to Senator Cavanagh: Do not make me read out some more of what Professor Arndt said because it will only embarrass the honorable senator further. Wittingly or unwittingly, the Communist line is being taken.
I refer now > to another treasured argument of the Opposition: That there is no evidence of China’s being involved in Vietnam or seeking to subjugate Asia. Let me say this to begin with: This is not the view of Asians either in South Asia or in South East Asia. As Senator Cotton so rightly said, these people live in fear of Communist aggression. Like Senator Cotton, I had the opportunity recently of visiting countries in South Asia and some countries in South East Asia. There I was able to discuss with members of those Governments - politicians and individuals - the problems of Asia. The Indian Government is very conscious of the Chinese Communist threat to India and to Asia. Leading Ministers of the Indian Government said that to subjugate Asia, which they accept is the Communist Chinese objective, the Chinese Communists first must subjugate India. This is the reason for the two Chinese acts of flagrant aggression against India and the continual pressure that China has been putting on India. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee) very rightly mentioned the fact that the Chinese at present occupy some Indian territory. Having already suffered aggression, the Indian Government cannot afford to live in the luxury of false illusions.
In Pakistan, although the Government, for reasons of internal policy, but mainly because of its conflict with India, is officially supporting the North Vietnamese, many Pakistan politicians and officials expressed to us their complete support for Australia’s policy and their fears of Communist Chinese aggression. In Ceylon, we found the same situation. Coming to Malaysia, let me say that the Malaysians are fearful of Communist aggression.
– That is a completely unsupported and irresponsible statement. General fears of Communist aggression exist in Thailand. Only yesterday, the President of the Philippines expressed his strong support for the actions in Vietnam and said the fact was that the Philippines would have to send more troops in defence of South East Asia. One prominent Indian said to me: “ Be under no illusion: If you are not fighting in Vietnam you will be fighting in India. The Communists have to be stopped somewhere. Let us stop them where they are now.” This is the view of the countries of South Asia and South East Asia. They live in fear of Communist aggression. They do not suffer those comfortable illusions. If evidence of this is required, let me quote to honorable senators none other than Lee Kuan Yew. He is quoted in the “ Kabul Times” of 14ih July 1966. The report reads -
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew told the Socialist Club there recently that whatever their ideologies, the “ little fishes “ in Asia would be swallowed one by one if the United States allowed South Vietnam to fall to the Vietcong. Countries like India, Pakistan and Burma all know, Lee said, that “ the Communist attack on South Vietnam must not be allowed to be repeated if there is to be any safety left in Asia.”
That is the view of an important and influential Asian leader.
– Yes. We heard what Captain Benson said after speaking to Lee Kuan Yew. I noticed the other day that Senator Cavanagh challenged Senator Gair to name one Chinese Communist authority who has ever said that the Chinese objective was to take over Asia.
– I will oblige Senator Cavanagh with the greatest of pleasure by quoting two authorities whom he will regard as impeccable. The first authority is Mao Tse Tung who, in 1953, prepared the manifesto on Chinese Communist aims in Asia and the rest of the world. I quote the following from his manifesto-
– Yes, it is. This is what he said -
It appears that the time has come when we have to look upon Asia as the immediate goal. Under the present circumstances any vigorous action in Europe, such as internal revolution, effective infiltration or intimidation into inaction or submission is now impossible.
Then he obligingly went on to detail the objectives of China. The first country mentioned after Formosa was Indo-China. I believe that what he had to say is worth quoting in part. I ask the Senate to remember that this was said when the French were still engaged in Indo-China. He said -
The mil iia ry operations in Indo-China should be carried out to such an extent as to make the war extremely unpopular among the Indo-Chinese people.
I ask the Senate to note those words because they are significant. He continued -
The object is to make the French back OUt of Indo-China, preferably through the face saving means of an armistice.
– In 1953. He went on to say -
Once foreign intervention is out of the picture, vigorous propaganda, infiltration, the forming of united fronts wilh progressive elements in and outside the reactionary regimes will accelerate the process of liberation. A final stroke of force will accomplish the task. Two years may be needed for this work.
Then he went on to deal with Burma, Thailand and the Malay Peninsula, Japan and India, the Arab countries and Africa and finally the United States of America. In order to bring us up to date. I will now quote the words of another authority - none other than Marshal Lin Piao - as reported in the “ Peking Review “ of 3rd September last year. First of all, he dealt with how the Chinese Communists had conquered the countryside and encircled the cities, which then fell. The report was as follows -
Now he comes to his central point. The “ rural areas of the world “ today, he asserts, are Asia, Africa and Latin America. The “ cities of the world” are North America and Western Europe.
Just as Communism in China, says Lin Piao, succeeded in capturing the countryside and then encircled the cities, so the global Communist movement will ultimately succeed first by capturing Asia, Africa and Latin America - thereby encircling North America and Western Europe - and then by finally and decisively defeating the United States and its Western allies.
I ask the Senate to note this paragraph -
Win Asia, Africa and Latin America through “ wars of national liberation “, says Lin Piao, and the United States and its Western allies will be surrounded, will be encircled, will be overwhelmed.
And where is all this to begin, he asks.
It has already begun, he replies, and the place in which it has begun is Vietnam.
Who will doubt the words of Marshal Lin Piao? Senator Cavanagh may laugh, but the intent of those words is clear. The Communist aim is to subjugate Asia. If Senator Cavanagh has any doubt about that, I suggest that he argue the point with Mao Tsetung and Lin Piao.
What is a war of national liberation? In 1961 Khrushchev described a war of national liberation as “ aggression directed and supplied from outside a nation, but disguised in nationalistic trappings, so that it might pass as an indigenous insurrection “. General Giap, Commander in Chief of the North Vietnamese forces, said: “ If this socalled war of liberation technique succeeds, we will be able to apply it anywhere else in the world.” If those statements do not indicate an intent on the part of the Communist Chinese to capture all of Asia, then what do they indicate?
– Yes, a Chinese “ Mein Kampf “. People ignored “ Mein Kampf “ and the world suffered because they ignored it. The Communist Chinese are using the very potent technique of waging war by proxy. I turn now to another view expressed by some members of the Labour Party. We have heard Senator Wheeldon expound it in this chamber from time to time. It is that we are alienating Asian opinion.
– I will not bring that up now. That was long ago. Mr. Calwell, as reported in the Melbourne “ Sun NewsPictorial “, when speaking in Darwin had this to say about the Government -
They are sowing a harvest of hatred in Asia that future generations of Australians will reap.
Today Senator Keeffe made a comment that was equally as irresponsible. As reported in the same newspaper on the same date, Dr. Cairns disagreed with Mr. Calwell on this point. He said that before he went to Asia he thought that Australia’s commitment of troops to Vietnam was arousing deep hostilityinAsia, but now he thought that most Asians regarded it as “ Australia’s own business “.
If we are going to argue about Asian opinion, I want to know what Asian opinion Australia is alienating. Recently I visited eight countries in South East Asia. In all those countries we were met with nothing but friendship and goodwill. There were expressions of friendship and goodwillfor Australia on all sides. Are the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Formosa and Thailand opposed to Australia’s commitment in Vietnam? No. The only countries that are opposed to it are Communist China, North Vietnam and North Korea. If they are the ones that Mr. Calwell is worried about, let me say here and now that we on this side of the chamber are not concerned about what they think. So the claim that we are alienating Asian opinion is false. Nowhere in the free countries of South East Asia are we arousing hatred or hostility. The countries of South East Asia fear Communism and welcome the action that we and the United States are taking in Vietnam. I challenge the Opposition to name a country or a section of a country in which we are arousing a deep hatred.
– In a statement by a Minister today we have been told of the great friendship towards Australia that he found in Indonesia. As a matter of fact, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has mentioned that Indonesia would be changing its policies on the commitment in Vietnam now that the Communists have been overthrown. Mr. Calwell went on to say that the war in Vietnam was a civil war. This is a very comfortable thought. But there is confusion in Mr. Calwell’s mind because he is quoted in “ Hansard “ as having said this earlier this year -
That there has been and still is aggression from the. North and subversion inspired from the North, I do not for one moment deny. I agree that North Vietnamese aggression - and that is the only word for it - has increased.
So here again we have this obvious contradiction within the Labour Party in respect of its policy on Vietnam. One day it says that the war is a civil war and the next day it says that the war is not a civil war. Another objective of the Labour Party is that the Vietcong be recognised as a negotiating force. Mr. Beazley, a prominent and respected member of the Labour Party, recently wrote in an article-
– I will quote from the report that appeared in the “West Australian “ of 9th September and which has not been contradicted by Mr. Beazley or anyone else.
– Well, I have the article here. This is what he said -
Acceptance of the Vietcong as negotiators was the seal of approval on the strategy of war by subversion.
– I am afraid that my time has almost expired. I am very sorry if T have stood on sensitive toes.
– Wait until next Wednesday.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Cant will allow me to finish. An arrangement has been made between the parties that when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast senators may speak for half ian hour.
– I will not go on to deal with Indonesia or India. I appreciated the comments which Senator Willesee made regarding India. In the main, I agree with what he said about the importance of India, but time does not allow me to deal with that subject tonight. All I want to say in conclusion is that I am convinced that we cannot remain aloof from events in Asia or be immune to their effects. I repeat that on my recent tour two impressions stood out. First, we are accepted as living in the Asian region, and secondly wc possess a considerable amount of goodwill in Asia and friendship is extended towards us. I believe that we in Australia face a real challenge. We have to bear a greater share of the burden of leadership in Asia where we are trusted and liked. The responsibilities and obligations of leadership will call for steadfastness and resolution from us.
– I was referring to tha Chinese invasion of India.
– Reference was made to Tibet. When we consider the duration of the struggle in Vietnam, the fact is that a lot of the platitudes that are spoken about a new dawn in relation to reforms have been repeated for seven years. Unfortunately, unless some of the haves are dispossessed in favour of some of the have nots, we will find that this ideological battle will not get us very far.
Senator Sim and other honorable senators have gone to great lengths to quote various authorities in an attempt to indicate that some doubt exists in the minds of the members of the Opposition. I shall quote from a very respectable journal in the United States of America. I refer to “Newsweek” of 12th September, in which appear such pertinent comments as “ South Vietnamese rank and file indifference “ and “ Lack of peasant support “. Honorable senators opposite may say that that is only another journalistic opinion. But the fact is that Mr. Martin was the news editor of that journal in Saigon. What is much more important is the fact that that particular issue of the journal was banned in Saigon by the administration that we are trying to develop. We have troops and advisers in South Vietnam. We are trying to create a new society. But when these very pertinent criticisms were stated in “ Newsweek “, they were too unpalatable for the Government of South Vietnam to take.
I shall go a little further. A number of honorable senators have been probing in an effort to discover the number of desertions from the South Vietnamese Army. Let us be clear about it. We are not gloating over the situation, but we are entitled to know whether our allies are meeting their commitments. When one studies articles in journals such as “ Newsweek “ one finds that a private soldier in the South Vietnamese Army is receiving less pay than a housemaid in Saigon, that a private soldier is charged for his field rations, that promotions are delayed, and that transport home on leave is very hard to find. All of these things are virtually a mockery. I do not think that any Australian should simply say that this is an internal matter for the South Vietnamese Army. Whether it be our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) or our field commanders, they should indicate very clearly what the position is in South Vietnam.
But this goes a little further. In areas in which anti-government forces have been more or less weeded out, there is acute centralisation. The village chiefs have more or less to be approved by the central government. Instead of the chiefs maintaining a grass roots democracy, when they are elected by the people they have an eye cocked on the local military commander to see how he feels about them. In such a brittle society it is quite obvious that we are not going to advance affairs and give the people the stomach to fight.
As I have observed in questions and in various speeches on foreign policy, a host of young people can always be found staging demonstrations around Saigon. I do not object to the demonstrations be’cause there are internal troubles, but I cannot be told that there is a total war effort. Obviously there is considerable graft in South Vietnam. Merchants’ sons are paying the appropriate officers so that they will be excluded from army callups. The fact is that we are reluctant to dispossess some of these people in favour of others. Approximately three or four months ago an attempt was made to overcome this problem. One or two food racketeers were executed but nothing has happened since. No half measures are required. It is a matter of saying that if we are going to eradicate all of these evils very definite action must be taken. I hold the view, which I think is shared by Opposition members generally, that unless the United States and Australian Governments, which have troops in Vietnam, insist on seeing a fresh chapter of social improvement each month, it is obvious that the improved social conditions which people say they aim to create will be mythical.
I know that last week an election was held to form a constituent assemply. Of course, this is a positive step forward. But if we look at the London “ Economist “ we find a telling criticism in relation to the election of this particular body. It is that there are virtually no peasants in it. If we are to consider South Vietnamese society as a whole it is obvious that the peasants are a major factor. But when we look at the people who are aspiring to the positions on the constituent assembly, we find that there are virtually no peasants at all. I am not one of those with an inverted class altitude. Obviously legal men and medical men have a role to play in the South Vietnamese society. But on the question of numbers and mass support, the South Vietnamese have not been able to produce in seven years one man who has come through the ranks of the calibre of Lee in Singapore, to whom Senator Sim referred earlier, or the people in the Philippines in the 1950’s who provided leadership at a time when the Huks were on the verge of taking over portion of that country. By superior administration, without fear or favour, they were able to stop that movement in its tracks. Reference has been made to visits to Vietnam by Senator Fitzgerald and one or two of my colleagues in the House of Representatives. They were very caustic about the inability of the present Government in South Vietnam to eradicate these various cancers of society. Drawing a parallel again with Prime Minister Lee. he does not say that he wants Chinese domination. He has created a society that the people feel is worth fighting for. J ask honorable senators to make this comparison: What did Lee do when he took over in Singapore? He quickly got rid of the people who were living off the proceeds of brothels. He got rid of the merchants who were profiteering. There is no doubt about that.
– Of course they were. He did not waste any time worrying whether he would offend anybody in high places. What was the second thing he did? Every member of the Lee Cabinet has to indicate to Lee every quarter the extent of his investments and savings. It is of no use for anybody in public life, whether here or in Asia or in Europe, trying to hide those things because the question arises about domination from the left.
In all the discourses about ideological conflicts there is one salient point that nobody can dispute. In talking about domination of the Communist movement, whether in Asia or Europe, the results of the excesses of capitalism should not be forgotten. I refer to Fascism and the emergence of Mussolini and Hitler who rode to power opposing Communism. As a counterbalance to the oscillations to the far right there came the emergence of the Soviet Union. In the war years the Soviet Union was allied with the United States and Great Britain for the successful conclusion of World War II. I do not think that anybody in his right mind would question that alliance, lt must be considered in the context of that time. Australia has recovered from the post-war McCarthyist era. The experience has been in the United States that on many occasions objection is not made to radical objectives. Instead it has been said: “ If you go that far. you will create a vacuum and the Communist Party will fill it.”
I turn now to the situation in some of the African countries. Nobody had a more vigorous career or a more bloody advent to power than did Kenyatta in Kenya. But what has happened in that country? Of course, there was resistence to change by some of the colonial minded people and of course there were atrocities. But what has been the aftermath? Has Kenyatta become a satellite of Peking when it has indulged in a gigantic effort to indoctrinate all the African nations? Of course not. He has sent the representatives of Peking over his borders quick smart. A fear seems to exist. In a moment, I shall quote a passage to the Senate. If 1 were its author. I could imagine that some honorable senators would label me as a minion of Moscow. The passage states -
Our determination to stop Communist revolution in the hemisphere must not be construed as opposition to popular uprisings against injustice and oppression just because the targets of such popular uprisings say they are Communist inspired or Communist led, or even because known Communists take part in them.
The author of that passage is United States Senator Robert Kennedy of New York. Admittedly, he is referring to South America, but I think it applies equally to Asia. I suppose we could get so involved in current affairs in. Asia that we would not be likely to look at what may happen in 10 years’ time. Earlier today, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee) referred to a sudden somersault by the Department of External Affairs when the United States decided that the Bunker plan was the only solution for portion of New Guinea. Nobody here knew it was happening. Our Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs of that time were saying: “ No, we will stand firm. Nothing will happen until a plebiscite has been conducted.” A plebiscite has not been conducted and Indonesia now has control of that part of New Guinea.
If United States policy changes, a sudden somersault will occur here. 1 will develop in what form United States policy could change, but before 1 do, I would like to point out that Australia’s foreign policy can lead us into situations where overnight we must perform a somersault. History shows that when even the conservative sections of the British people were clamouring for Chamberlain to be replaced by another leader, a big segment of the Government of this country said: “ No. You backed Chamberlain. He is the British Prime Minister, right or wrong.” With the advent of a coalition government composed of Churchill and senior members of the Labour movement in Britain, these sins of omission and commission came out in the open. Of course, that has happened in the postwar period.
Sudden shifts have occurred in United States policy. 1 do not object to that for one moment, because those periods occur in any democracy. There are times of persuasion when a grudging admission is made that the other side is not completely wrong. I do not say it in a defensive spirit, but I think it is inevitable that when the Mansfields’ and the Kennedys’ views gradually permeate into high circles of the United States Government, there must be a certain reorientation.
One or two Opposition senators who will follow me in this debate will agree that the Labour Party’s policies visualise within the next five to 10 years that the virtual ideological thaw that has developed in Eastern Europe over the last five or six years can be brought about in Asia. There will be risks, but what is the situation at the moment? After the celebrated Honolulu conference between President Johnson and South Vietnamese leaders we were told that within six months all sorts of things would happen, but we are repeatedly hearing authoritative statements about gross corruption. No major attempt has been made to offset corruption in South Vietnam. “ Newsweek “ and other magazines refer to indifference among the peasants. The ordinary South Vietnamese private soldier feels: “ Well, if the Americans are going to dominate us more and more, we are just extras, as it were, in the production.” That is bad.
I wish to refer again to Australia’s obligations. Honorable senators cannot help but make a comparison with United Nations troops keeping peace between the United Arab Republic and Israel. There live two clearcut societies - the Moslem society and the Jewish society. Provided that each goes its own way a certain amount of stability is maintained in the world. In the history of South Vietnam, Cambodia and the adjacent countries I do not think anybody has imagined in his wildest dreams that peace could be gained overnight. The Labour Party has felt that a scaling down of activities is the first step. Secondly, it is quite obvious that United Nations peace keeping forces will be needed there. However, if in the southern sector gigantic reforms are instituted that will be of benefit.
I am not referring to the writing of constitutions, as the newly elected Assembly is to do. Vietnam has had six or seven constitutions since 1945. It is desirable to emulate Lee and forcibly dispossess some of the merchant groups and the feudal landlords, to intensify the very modest hamlet programmes and avoid past errors. In that event, a resurgence of the people’s feeling that they have something worth while may occur. That is one of the things we are aiming at. Obviously we have no illusions about minorities. Despite all the distortions of Labour Party policy, it is clear that the Parliamentary Labour Party’s declaration has specifically laid down that particular point about minorities.
Great reforms came about through a British Labour Government in Pakistan and India. Unavoidable incidents occurred when people were crossing the borders, but will anybody deny that if partition had been deferred for another couple of years a bloodbath would have developed? So we do not go into Vietnam with our eyes wide open and say that the achievement of a solution will be just a piece of cake. Of course it will be difficult; but we want to know that at the end there will be a degree of success.
I wish to refer to the role of the Chinese. I have mentioned what the United States Press and the British Press have said. The
Yugoslav newspaper “ Janjug “, which represents one of the left wing revisionist groups, has said that the Chinese are trying to take up the role of an exclusive protector of Vietnamese interests. That statement does not make the Tito Government an ally of the United States, but I think it is a realistic appraisement of the soft line that is being followed by the Soviet Union in Europe. Probably the role of Russia and Britain, as co-chairmen of the 19S4 Geneva Conference, could be followed with a little more strength. If within the next six months there were a ruthless campaign of economic reform in South Vietnam in which certain people were hurt, it is quite obvious that there would be a decline in the morale of some of the people in the North. I have no doubt that there are genuine nationalists in South Vietnam.
The wedge that exists between Peking and the Soviet Union needs to be driven in further, but in doing so we must follow a policy of genuine reform. Such a policy is not being followed to the extent that it should be. 1 remind honorable senators of the policies that have been followed over the last three to five years in Bucharest, Warsaw and Belgrade. If a similar attitude could be fostered gradually in Asia, then we would be much closer to achieving a reasonable period of stability. I do not think that any of us in his wildest dreams imagines that we will succeed in establishing in Asia democracy as we know it. Even in the society in which we live we would be very foolish to argue that if we did not have regulations and decrees we would not have anarchy. If the policy I have enunciated were followed in Asia, we would be a lot closer to achieving stability. Unfortunately, dozens of promises have been given to these people over the last ten years, but nothing worth while has happened.
When our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) returns from an Asian trip he should be a little more frank with us. The Australian people, whether they be parents of soldiers who are in Vietnam or taxpayers generally, are entitled to know what has happened, in clear language without all the double talk that often forms part of communiques from the Department of External Affairs. Our Minister for External Affairs ought to come back and say: “ I saw Air Vice-Marshal Ky and I said to hint ‘ Since I was here last I have not seen any reduction in black marketing in Saigon. The Australian Government is satisfied that you are not attempting to create the sort of society that is worth fighting for.’ “ If Australia’s representative spoke in this way to these countries, he might tread on the corns of people in high places, but that should not affect Australia’s high reputation, gained for example when Indonesia was born as a nation. Such an attitude would pay dividends. I think we all agree that virtually every Australian who has been to Indonesia in the last 10 years discovered that the moment he referred to the birth of that Republic he became aware of the warmth of feeling that existed towards this country.
The present Chief Justice of the International Court, Sir Percy Spender, in his days in this Parliament, was one of the hawks who did not believe in the reduction or elimination of colonialism. Unfortunately, Senator McManus and Senator Gair are not in the chamber. If they were, I would remind them that “ Newsweek “, a publication that purports to speak with authority on foreign policy, said, between 1948 and 1952: “ Wouldn’t it be lovely if the French, the British and the Dutch were able to hold all their possessions?” Of course, if that had happened our defence vote would be smaller. We believe in democracy and have some concept of Christianity. Do we not want to lift these people up? I think we all do. That is why we assisted Indonesia. If we can pursue that policy in Asia, well and good. It is not a question of having a fixation about Vietnam. Whether or not the hopes and aspirations of the Government or the fears of the Opposition are realised, the greatest menace to world peace and to Australia would be an increase in the number of nations that have nuclear weapons. France and China, which are not signatories to the nuclear test ban treaty, have atomic weapons. The Australian Labour Party has been very consistent in its attitude to this matter. It has condemned both of these powers for their failure to measure up to their responsibility in the cause of peace. Many efforts are being made to achieve nuclear disarmament. For instance, Lord Chalfont has been appointed as Minister for Disarmament in the Wilson Government. Let us hope that the efforts to which I have referred will prove to be successful.
If we want to be rational, let us not merely say that the future of Australia depends completely upon the outcome of events in South Vietnam. Of course we want to see a better society established there. Even if mere were a Dunkirk in South Vietnam - I am not suggesting there will be - I believe that the big test within the next five years will come, not so much in France and China, but in some of the smaller countries. If any of the slap happy military dictators in South America were to gain possession of explosive nuclear devices, we know what sort of carnage could occur. This is one of the problems that we must look at. Recently Senator Gruning, who represents Alaska in the United States Senate, pointed out that some of America’s allies have to wait in the queue for the modern fighter aircraft that are being manufactured but that some of these tinpot dictators are able to get 10 or 12 of these aircraft, they being enough to enable them to intimidate their political opponents.
Earlier today Senator McClelland directed a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) in relation to our trade with China. Before I deal further with that question, let me mention that it has been implied that, if the Australian Labour Party believes in the admission of China to the United Nations, that is not a responsible attitude to adopt and really we are playing the role of Benedict Arnold. If this is to be a total war, if there is to be equality of sacrifice, and if we are not to adopt the slogan “ Business as usual “, then we ought to consider our attitude to trade with China. The figures made available show that there has been a massive increase in exports of wheat and wool to China. I am not suggesting that the Government should create distress in our important internal industries. But if the Government goes on the hustings and says: “ We have a booming economy; look at the trade we are doing”, it cannot then accuse the Labour Party of being soft in relation to the admission of China to the United Nations. If honorable senators opposite eulogise Wilson - I suggest that he is a very fine Prime Minister - and take extracts from his comments about Vietnam at some great conference, they should take the whole chapter and say that Wilson argues that in the universal cause of peace, irrespective of which government is in
F.l 1141/66.- S.- 1191 office, we must get all these countries into the United Nations. Perhaps it is true that Peking is not as amenable as is Russia.
Let us not forget that as various eras develop new age groups and different types take over. There are different managerial classes. These risks have to be taken. I feel that in this discourse on foreign policy there is a sort of double standard. There have been extensive quotations from the utterances of Mr. Lee in Singapore, of Harold Wilson in Great Britain, and of some of my colleagues on this side of the chamber. We cannot have it both ways. If people come back from abroad and differ about minor details, that is democracy. At one moment Government supporters say that we are like a team of performing seals - everyone jumps through the hoops at the same pace. I could make a minute search of the records of statements of one or two honorable senators opposite and find differences on questions of detail about certain aspects of the war. The present attitude of the Press and the people at large may be due to the society or the apparatus that the Government has created.
A rank and file Labour man in a democracy is absolutely entitled to raise certain points within the recognised channels of his own Party, but it is magnified as though something is wrong, when to me it is healthy discussion. On the Government side there are dissenters but they are never regarded as future pretenders to the throne. There is nothing like that at all. I have nothing but admiration for members who express those views, but there is never a distortion as though a palace revolution is coming. The attitude to the Labour Party does a singular disservice to democracy. After all, at times one hears admissions that the Curtin Government was not a bad government and that it is a pity that the carry on is not quite the same. I am sure that in another 10 years honorable senators opposite will say that there was a lot in what was said by Senator Willesee, Senator O’Byrne or somebody else. But the years go by. On questions of foreign policy the Labour Party is still the party that developed the Curtins and the Evatts, and it will be the party to have views parallel with those of Robert Kennedy and other leading people in the United States, and of many leaders of the United Kingdom Labour Party.
– At what page does he say that?
– The honorable senator can look it up in “ Hansard “. Dr. Cairns says that Red China would adopt a hard line and that it would be worse for the free world if our forces and those of the United States of America and other countries were successful in South Vietnam. What a miserable admission of weakness - to say that we must stop this evil thing because if we do so it will become more and more evil. This has since been disproved. Irrespective of whether Australia is under threat, the free world cannot allow one small nation after another to be taken over by force of arms in this horrible fashion. Under this system a country is infiltrated. Its public officials and school teachers are assassinated. Its health services are not allowed to function. This is all done so that tyranny can take over. Is the rest of the free world to stand by and allow this to go on?
These are the tactics that the Communists say they will follow until the United States and its Western allies are isolated. I think there is good and sufficient humane reason why the enlightened peoples of the world should make an effort, horrible though the implications may be, to see that this aggression ceases. The world must be able to live in peace. The people of the smaller countries must be able to work out their own destinies. That is what the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia are fighting for in South Vietnam. Only the blind could fail to see that. It is useless to argue with those who are so biased and prejudiced that they will ignore the overwhelming evidence confronting them. It is plain and clear for all to see except to those who are wilfully blind to it. If the majority of Australians fail to see that, we will be left without friends in our day of tribulation.
Reference has been made to the attitude of Canada and the United Kingdom. I wasnever so disgusted as when the Wilson Government in the United Kingdom condemned the bombing of the oil installations south of Hanoi. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, went along theoretically and morally with the U.S.A. He agreed it was proper to bomb the trucks and other transport carrying the means of aggression in South Vietnam; but according to Mr. Wilson, it is not right to bomb the oil installations that supply the same trucks wilh their motive power. What a miserable; paltry attitude, lt was adopted to appease about 100 left wingers within the ranks of the . British Labour Party and one can understand, it and to some extent excuse the British Prime Minister. I support the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). The. position is so serious that I am amazed, at those who refuse to realise its seriousness. Sometimes one almost believes there must be some motive behind that attitude. It is obvious that we must go along with our allies who are helping to protect us. Otherwise when the same aggression is directed towards us, we will stand alone.
– By sending wheat to China.
– Our friend refers to the sale of wheat to China. I am one of the few people in this chamber whom the honorable senator cannot attack on this question because I have opposed the sale of wheat to China, and I have been prepared to say so. Members of the Labour Party get up and attack the Government for selling wheat lo China but when they are challenged on their own views they say that they agree to selling it, too. I think that we in this country eventually will regret the extension of this wheat trade to China. I would not like to be a parent with a son in Vietnam knowing that we are making money from these pople. I conclude by saying that when we consider this kind of trade, I feel that there is a good deal of truth in a statement of Lenin in regard to this sort of thing. Referring to the efforts of the capitalists to trade with the Communists, he said: “ When the day comes for us to bang the capitalists they will compete for the right to sell us the rope “.
– You started that.
- Mr. Calwell chose to tell the people of Australia that these would be the issues on which he would fight the election.
– My colleague has prompted me to say sooner than I had intended, that I have some doubts whether the Labour Party really will fight the election on these issues. I think that when polling day comes around the Labour Party will run away from these issues and will choose something else. 1 am sure that honorable senators opposite have a lot of brains and political nous. They will realise that the Australian people agree with the Government’s policy on these matters. They will see that they have backed a losing horse in choosing these issues to attempt to overthrow the Government.
The Minister for External Affairs in the closing stages of his speech posed some very pertinent questions and then went ahead and answered them. I will not canvass his answers, but I shall pose some of the questions that confront me and every thinking person in Australia today. What is it that so many nations are seeking? I think that individuals value freedom today more than anything else. You have only to lose your freedom to know what it means. I am sorry that Senator O’Byrne is not in the chamber because, although we are on different sides of the Senate, both of us lost our freedom for two years and ten months. I can put up with anything else in the world - indignity, hunger or anything else - but not with the loss of freedom. The preservation of freedom is the most important factor in the world today. Threats of aggression and of domination menace the freedom of some nations. The things we are aiming for are advances socially and economically and for peace and welfare.
I believe that Opposition senators have the same beliefs and aims as I have. I do not think there is any area of disagreement about that. Unfortunately, those hopes and dreams are not shared by the only enemy that Australia has today, and that is Communism. Surely nobody would disagree that our only enemy is Communism. A study should be made of what the Communists have done since the end of World War II to judge whether their aims are not completely contrary to what I have stated are our hopes and aims.
At the cessation of hostilities in 1945, close to Australia, a bitter and vicious terrorist campaign was fought in Malaya. Australia sent troops there and 1 remind the Senate that this move was bitterly opposed by the Labour Party. I shall refer to that opposition specifically and quote dates later in my speech. In 1948 China was taken over by Communist forces from within. In 1950 South Korea was invaded by Communist North Korea, supported by Russia and Communist China. Incidentally, the situation between North Korea and South Korea remains unresolved. An uneasy peace exists there. In 1952, without any provocation whatsoever, Communist China invaded and conquered Tibet. Honorable senators will recall that at about that time the Russians used tanks in Hungary to crush an uprising against Communism.
In 1954, the French were virtually chased out of Indo China, as we knew it then, by the Communist Viet Minh. Vietnam was divided into South Vietnam and the Communist North Vietnam. Immediately the Northern Vietnamese Communists began to infiltrate into South Vietnam. By 1960 the National Liberation Front was set up to pursue a full scale guerrilla war against the South Vietnamese Government.
In .1961 Laos was invaded by Communist forces of the local Pathet Lao, who were supported by Communists from North Vietnam. In 1962 the Communist Chinese, again without any provocation, invaded India. I think honorable senators should be reminded that on 9th December 1964, Dr. Subandrio, who is now on trial in Indonesia, disclosed in a speech a secret plot with Chou En-lai of Communist China whereby after the conquest of Malaysia Indonesia would have Singapore and China would have bases in Malaya. On 5th February 1965 Peking announced the setting up of a National Liberation Front in Thailand, the purpose of which was to overthrow the Thai Government. In October 1965 Communist China’s Chen Yi said: “ By the end of 1965 we will have guerrilla war in Thailand.” Probably that would have been true had it not been for the presence of the allied forces in Vietnam, so that the guerrilla warfare in Thailand has not reached the proportions that Chen Yi hoped it would reach.
On 30th October 1965 - almost a year ago - a Communist attempt to take over our northern neighbour, Indonesia, occurred. Thank God for Australia that the attempt failed, because the Indonesians are only 300 miles from Australia’s shores, and we share a common border with them in New Guinea. That is a brief history of the aggressive activities of the Communists since the end of World War II. The Communists are the only people who completely disagree with the principles I outlined when I commenced my speech. Because of the history I have recited. Government supporters and a large majority of the Austraiian people believe that as the one western country in Asia our salvation and freedom can be maintained only by living up to our obligations as a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and a signatory of the A.N.Z.U.S. treaty. The Opposition disagrees with that view. 1 remind honorable senators that Senator Keeffe, the Federal President of the Australian Labour Party, is on record as replying to an interjection that the Australian Labour Party would, if it came to power, recall the Australian forces from overseas. On a number of occasions, Mr. Calwell has said that he would withdraw all national service trainees from overseas. He made that categorical statement in Tasmania, but a few hours later he refuted it. Because he has realised that public opinion is against that philosophy he has made some rather ineffectual additions by saying that he would withdraw national service trainees when they are no longer needed, and in consultation wilh our allies. For goodness sake, does any honorable senator not think that is exactly what this Government would do? When our troops are no longer needed there, in consultation wilh our allies we would withdraw them.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Whitlam) has other views, as Senator McManus said, because he was prepared to give national service trainees the right to opt out of service in Vietnam if they wished. But after he had been up there and had had a look at the situation at close quarters, he changed his mind. I believe he did so because he saw that the Government was right when it said that we could not withdraw the national service trainee component from our units without completely disrupting the Task Force and making it ineffective.
It was most interesting lo read the comments of Captain Benson, a rather distinguished ex-serviceman who is no longer a member of the Australian Labour Party. The words of Captain Benson have some authority, because not only has he a distinguished war record but also he has been to Vietnam. To reinforce his argument and his beliefs about Australia’s commitments under ,he A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. pacts he quoted from the words of Mr. Chifley and Dr. Evatt. He quoted the following words uttered by Dr. Evatt in another place -
I believe that regional pacts have come to stay.
Of course they have come to stay. We cannot make a pact and go along with it when the going is easy but walk away from it when the going is tough. Captain Benson went on to say -
We are caught in the cross currents of South East Asia, whether we like it or not-
Nobody can refute that statement. I agree with it entirely. I could not disagree with those words, and 1 doubt whether any other member of the Senate could do so. Captain Benson said also -
The responsibility for the protection of this area is the obligation of all- 1 emphasise the word “ all “ -
– The defence of Australia is still the responsibility of all Australians. How silly we would be if we mobilised every able bodied Australian for a war of this type. I am sure that Senator Ormonde did not really mean that. Captain Benson went to the very core of Australia’s responsibility when he said -
I believe that she would. Having said that, it is reasonable to ask this question, to quote Captain Benson’s words -
Can any government afford to loosen the ties that keep us together? Surely it is not a matter of loosening ties but rather a matter of putting out more lines so that there is no doubt about the security of this country.
Captain Benson continued -
No member of this House can afford to throw away the insurance policy which we have with America. On the contrary, the premiums must bc paid, and paid gladly. Australia has always honoured its obligations.
Does anybody on the other side of the chamber disagree with that statement? Of course we have always honoured our obligations, and we will continue to do so as long as this Government is in power. We believe that we have a responsibility under the A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. pacts.
Captain Benson referred to Mr. Lee Kwan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. Members of the Opposition have often referred to Mr. Lee Kwan Yew in glowing terms. In Bombay on 6th May 1965 he made this statement -
We know that if the Communists are able to advance their frontiers to envelop South Vietnam, it will be only a matter of time before the same process of emasculation by military and political techniques will overtake the neighbouring countries.
He made it quite clear that if South Vietnam went down to the Communists, Singapore would go also, and that the fight for
South Vietnam was the fight for Singapore. Anybody who has been to Singapore knows tha*, in terms of today’s distance, it is not far from Australia.
I find myself in agreement with Captain Benson when he says that little scraps of paper mean something to Australians. I think he had in mind a treaty that was signed with Belgium. Australia honours her signature once it is put on a piece of paper. I and, I am sure, members of the Government believe that we do honour our commitments under S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. How different are these utterances from the Labour Party’s statement that it would withdraw componen’s of our forces in Vietnam and would be quite happy to leave it to the Americans, the Koreans and the New Zealanders to fight for our protection.
Having referred to some of the statements made by Captain Benson, it is interesting to look now at what some of his colleagues have said. I was most upset to hear what was said by Mr. Pollard. He is a person for whom I have had quite a deal of respect. It was not very good to hear him say over the Australian national stations: “If 1 were a young man and received a draft card, I would burn it.” That was said by an ex-Minister of the Crown. I think that is a direct incitement to young men to break the law and is an encouragement to civil disobedience. I have told honorable senators what Captain Benson said and what Mr. Pollard has said.
.- Yes. Isn’t it interesting to note this difference of opinion?
.- Yes. The Labour Party has been consistent-
– It has been terribly inconsistent in regard to its external affairs policy. At the Brisbane conference in 1957, it said -
The Australian Labour Party is satisfied that the use of Australian troops in Malaya is unnecessary and must gravely injure Australia’s relations with its Asian neighbours. We therefore continue to oppose the use of armed force in Malaya.
Looking back, would honorable senators opposite not agree that they were entirely wrong in 1957 in opposing the Government’s sending of troops to Malaya? Surely history has proved that the forces that were opposed to Communism in Malaya were successful and that that country has gone on from strength to strength. But Malaya could quite easily have been overrun by Communist forces if we had not supported other forces in opposing Communism. In 1963 - to bring it more up to date - the President of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party had this to say -
For years, too, the Menzies administration has squandered a substantial portion of the defence vote to keep Australian troops in Malaya. The decent Malays do not want our troops in Malaya and the Australian Labour Party does not want to keep them there.
Surely history has proved who was right and who was wrong. Mr. Haylen went on to say in 1961 that our troops ought to get out of Malaya -
What has Malaya got to do with us? Our troops arethere only because of old fashioned thinking.
It is rather interesting that Mr. Haylen should have said that, because on page128 of “ Australian Outlook “, Mr. Beazley had this to say -
Mr. Leslie Haylen’s book on the China visit he made with other Labour Ms.P. is the most systematic effort by any Labour man to describe an on the spot investigation of China. Events very quickly refuted him and showed that touring a country does not necessarily give a picture of its policy. The book accepts the thesis that China wants peace, whereas the Chinese Government and the Chinese army leadership have since gone to great lengths to explain that Communism can be advanced by war.
So at least Mr. Haylen was consistent in his mistakes. There is a lot more that I would like to talk about in respect of Mr. Beazley’s opinion of Mr. Haylen. I ask members of the Opposition: Where would Australia be today if we had not sent troops to Malaya and had not squashed the Communist attempted takeover of the country? It is getting close to home. I think it is a very good thing to know that the Australian people - not my colleagues on that side or my colleagues on this side - will have a chance to register their opinion about the policies in Vietnam. Thank goodness that in a democracy they will have this chance on 26th November.
– I would not mind having a bet with Senator Cavanagh. I know we are not allowed to do this here but I will see him outside and talk to him privately.
.- If I thought it might contribute to getting the senator out of here, yes. We on this side are quite prepared to fight the election on these issues chosen by Mr. Calwell - national service, foreign affairs and Vietnam, but I still have my doubts as to whether the Opposition will front up to this. When we come near election time, when the heat is on and the television programmes have begun, they will run away from it. They are not fools. They have picked the wrong horse, but 1 think they will see this and run for it. I assure them that it will be our task to keep reminding the Australian people of what has been Labour’s policy in respect of Vietnam and the defence of this country. Of course, there is a division in the ranks of the Opposition. That is their problem, admittedly. One man has already been expelled. I venture to say that another fellow is looking down the barrel right at this moment and when honorable senators opposite read this very interesting article, this thought provoking article called “ Labour and Foreign Policy “ in “ Australian Outlook “ some very interesting things will emerge.
– No, it is not, but with the expenditure of very great energy I managed to obtain a copy and 1 have some photostat copies of that. If Senator Ormonde would like to have one tabled, 1 will table it, or I will give one to him. In giving the history of Labour policies, Mr. Beazley cites Frank Brennan, a brilliant speaker and a member of the House of Representatives for nearly 40 years, who argued that Hitler’s seizure of Austria and Sudetenland were merely very beautiful examples of self determination of the peoples. Is this not a little bit of history? Is not what the Labour Party is saying today about Vietnam the same sort of thing as Labour men were saying about Hitler? How wrong they were.
Mr. Eddie Ward said the same sort of thing. Mr. Beazley wrote -
Both men, and in some respects the Party, with Curtin as an exception-
These are pretty strong words - held up to the country the cheap and false vision that the rise of the most aggressive forces in history was no business of Australia’s.
Are not honorable senators opposite saying the selfsame thing, that what is happening in Vietnam is no business of Australia’s? Of course they are. They are saying that we should withdraw the troops, let someone else fight the war, and send someone to patch it upafterwards.
– Is not that the same thing as Mr. Beazley referred to - the suggestion that it is no responsibility of Australia’s? He went on to state -
John Curtin at the A.L.P. Federal Conference in Canberra in 1939 openly despaired of persuading the Party to change plank 24(e) of the party platform, which provided for a referendum before troops were sent overseas.
– No, I have never been in. your Party. Mr. Beazley said this. He went on to say -
Arthur Calwell passionately defended the plank. When Japan started her thrust in the Pacific in December 1941, Curtin moved troops to Portuguese Timor within 9 days, without a referendum. The Japanese would have been there faster than any referendum and the plank, in all its admired stupidity, disappeared.
– After reading this, I think that this man is to be greatly admired, because he looks at things clearly. This may interest honorable senators opposite. Mr. Beazley stated -
It is cheap and easy for the Australian Left to denounce Chiang Kai-shek. . . .
I have heard them do this - . . South Africa, Rhodesia, or the United States. You can be sure they won’t attack you. But to praise Chinese genocide in Tibet as the elimination of feudalism, to attend peace congresses in China, to see wallpictures advocating hate of the outside world, and to come home and hold up China as the paragon of peace, as some members of the Party have done, extends this form of blindness a degree further. It looks like rationalised cowardice.
Those are strong words.
– I only hope that when the Party deals with him it deals with him kindly. He went on to say -
How do you explain a strong defence policy while abolishing national service? How do you explain respect for an alliance while withdrawing troops from the side of your allies?
These are very pertinent questions.
As a supporter of the Government, I feel a degree of pride that it has had the courage to face up to an unpopular decision. It is not a popular thing to spend $1,000 million on defence and to conscript the sons of men and women to go overseas, but the Government faced up to this responsibility. It is probably one of the greatest decisions that a peacetime governmenthas ever had to face up to, but we did it and we are prepared to be judged on it. We are prepared to fight this election on it. I. hope, for the sake of the Labour Party that the decimation that can happen - not in this place but in the House of Representatives - will not completely eliminate that Party from the political scene.
– It is not a civil war?
– It is a means to an end. The civil war in Vietnam is the door through which confrontation between China and the United States of America can take place and through which they can come to grips. I challenge any senator on the Government side to deny the truth of that statement.
– The honorable senator cannot deny that it is true, because the whole of the propaganda about the war in Vietnam is leading up to confrontation and an eventual clash with China. We hear speakers on the Government side talking about the domino theory. The dominoes start wilh Thailand, Cambodia and Laos and then proceed through Malaysia and so on. But what about the other dominoes, Burma, Pakistan and India? Why are not the people of those countries as concerned over this issue as we in Australia are? Do not honorable senators opposite believe that if the threat of the yellow perils exists and that if the danger of China rushing down the corridor is so imminent here it is also imminent for these other countries?
.- What is he doing about sending troops to fight in Vietnam, and what are India and other parties to the S.E.A.T.O. pact doing? We are being brain washed by this nauseating propaganda which tells us that if we do not stick with L.B.J, all the way, we will be left without a friend in this part of Asia. I want to quote something that was said by the late President Kennedy in his speech on world peace. The quotation is taken from the official text of the United States Information Service. The late President spoke in 1963 and his words are just as true today as when he uttered them because he was viewing this whole matter objectively. We had not then become heated by all sorts of false patriotisms, flag waving and other things which are the refuge of opportunists and cowards. Such heat can only result in putting people at one another’s throats Senator Mattner should be the last to participate in this sort of argument. He has served in two wars in his lifetime yet does not seem to have learnt the lesson that nothing is gained from war. No country gains anything from a war. Everybody loses.
Senator Branson referred to his experiences as a prisoner of war. lt shows how stupid the whole thing is. Twenty five years ago our propaganda machines were oozing propaganda about the Japanese and the yellow peril. Now the Japanese are feted when they come into Sydney Harbour. The bands play “ Waltzing Matilda “ and the Japanese walk down the streets of Sydney with their chests out. As a matter of fact, the Japanese are again the strongest military power in the Pacific. They are the strongest of any Asian country and the best able to attack if we exclude the United States of America. They have reached that position in a short period and now they are our gallant allies. The same thing happened with Germany, Italy and other European countries. Twenty five years is only a flicker of time but those who were our enemies are now our friends and out former friends are our enemies.
How blind can a Parliament be when it discusses going through the whole stupidity again. The Government is hell bent on it. There seems to be a vested interest in war. Apparently if you have war, you can divert the minds of the people from their domestic troubles. It has been a traditional Labour viewpoint for the best part of a century that war gives the great armaments firms their best opportunity for profits. They are the merchants of death, and now the whole thing is to be repeated again. In the First World War the Krupp empire made fortunes out of the war. After the Second World War, the Krupp industries were sup posed to be dismantled and dispersed but again they are on the crest of the wave in Germany. The same thing has happened in Japan. The steel manufacturers and the like are back to full strength again. When will civilised people learn that you never get anywhere with war? It is on this point that I wanted to quote the late President Kennedy who said -
First: Let us re-examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable - that mankind is doomed - that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.
We need not accept that view. Our problems arc man-made - therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.
I might add here that some people can be as small as they want to be if it suits their particular line. President Kennedy continued -
No problem of human destiny is beyond the reach of human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly insolvable - and we believe they can do it again.
I might interpolate here that this Government is doing nothing to try to solve this problem other than to oil the wheels of the machines of war. Thus the Government is trying to solve the problem by a method it knows must fail
– I support the protest made by Senator Cormack. I spy a stranger on the floor of the Senate. This is something we cannot tolerate.
– That was rather an unusual interruption, Madam Acting Deputy President. On other occasions it would have given me great pleasure to see a Minister put out of the Senate. On thi? occasion it has served only to interrupt a comment I was making on a most important matter. I want to put it on record that the late President Kennedy made this one of the focal points of his speech. He said -
Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace - based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions - on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace - no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers.
Genuine peace must be the product of - many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each generation. For peace is a process - a way of solving problems.
One of the basic contradictions in the line that the Government is taking is that a peaceful and prosperous South East Asia, Asia, Africa, South America or Indonesia for that matter, must adjust its economy and its way of life to the free enterprise system. With this in view, the Government is adopting the attitude that there can be no alteration to the status quo. The position of the elite, the already established regimes in the various parts of South East Asia, or wherever else they may be, must be maintained. If these regimes can be maintained by diplomacy, well and good. If they can be maintained by propaganda, well and good. If they have to be maintained by war itself in the extreme so be it; but whatever comes, or goes, the status quo must be maintained.
The great problem that exists and must be confronted is that the people of Asia have been subjected over the past century or more to various forms of European colonial rule. As was mentioned earlier by Senator Sim and Senator Cotton, the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies, which became Indonesia, exploited the country and left the people illiterate and impoverished when they withdrew.
– Then it must have been Senator Sim. Senator Cotton should have said it because we were debating Indonesia. It shows how worthless his speech was. The fact is that the Dutch left the Indonesian people flat as a viable society of human beings. Their economy is run down. So also is the economy of Great Britain. If the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Harold Wilson, had not the courage to do what he has done there would have been runaway inflation and bankruptcy in the mother of the Commonwealth of Nations which is one of the cradles of democracy. If Harold Wilson were not prepared to adopt these stringent measures today in Great Britain inflation of a similar nature to that which faces Indonesia would come to Britain as a consequence. So, we have the
Indonesian people left fiat by their previous colonial rulers. So the situation goes right the way along.
The British are to blame for the division and the rule of India. Britain is to blame for the lack of opportunity and the poverty that exists in India today. The French exploited the people of Indo China for such a long period of time and created a very small elite who are still in South Vietnam. These people include the remnants of the Vietminh and the supporters of the French. They are in charge of the military area and I would be prepared to say that these people are amongst those who have been elected in the election held just recently in South Vietnam. These are selected people to put another face on the Government but the overlordship inherited from the French is still retained.
All the way along the line we find these problems that have to be faced in all these countries in the light of the past 100 years or so of the operation of the free enterprise system. All of these countries are poor. They are hungry. They are disillusioned and frustrated. They are on the move to reject the free enterprise system. We are trying to reimpose it by supporting wherever we can all these reactionary governments. Our Ministers for External Affairs - whether the Minister be Mr. Casey, now Lord Casey, Sir Garfield Barwick, Sir Percy Spender or any other holder of the office of Minister for External Affairs - have assiduously cultivated those people who are trying to perpetuate the process of keeping in power the various elites who believe that they can exploit their fellow men. A tremendous explosion lies under the surface of these countries which are trying to find the daylight of freedom, as the Minister mentioned, and the way to a better life. They are being deprived of it.
.- They are being deprived of it by the policy of the Australian Government aiding and abetting other people throughout the world. These people who are being deprived of this, way of life believe traditionally that Australians are decent and democratic people. But we are two faced in the matter. I like to believe that the general run of Australian is a decent and open minded person. But our foreign policy has followed a line that has been as reactionary, as rightist, and as conservative as that of any country in the world including the United States of America. We have missed a magnificent opportunity at this stage of history, not only with respect to Indonesia, but also with respect to these other areas of South East Asia, to maintain the image that existed of Australia before the advent of this Government. We were regarded as the traditional supporters of people striving for self expression and self determination. Under this Government, we have given that image away. We have sold that away because we have aligned ourselves with the greatest military power that the world has ever known - the United States of America. When I refer to the “ greatest military power that the world has ever known “ 1 do not overlook Hitler’s Germany, Russia, China or any of the other great powers. We have said: “ Right. We are on the bandwagon. We are all the way with L.B.J .”. Morally, I believe that we have sold our birthright for a mess of pottage.
– To the extent that the United States of America can dominate the world by possession of that power, yes. lt comes back to this point: Not all the people of the United States believe in this policy. I quoted the words of the late President Kennedy. He did not believe in this policy. President Johnson does. He is losing popularity every week because of it. He will bring about his defeat at the next election because he is following this line.
.- President Kennedy at the time of his death saw the situation in Vietnam where America had a few advisers. No troops had come down from North Vietnam at that time. It was when America, under President Johnson, started to build its forces up that equal and opposite action took place with troops coming down from North Vietnam. This conflict will continue to escalate until it reaches that stage that I mentioned before which is the main purpose of this exercise - a straightout power confrontation between the United States of America and China. This conflict is more or less a stepping stone to that confrontation.
As I see it, all of the excuses that are being put out by the Government and all the propaganda that the propaganda machine is churning out in an endeavour to inform the Australian people is only confusing them. Honorable senators will find that the man in the street is not as au fait with the situation as many members on the Government side think he is. The man in the street does not like to discuss the Vietnam war. The subject is practically taboo to him. As I said at the outset, when previously Australia had her honour and dignity and all her traditions involved in those past wars, the people were behind her to a man.
– Yes. The people were prepared in the First World War to fight to the last man and the last shilling. With respect to the Second World War, we have been twigged by Government members who say that we conscripted people for service in that war. But a different issue is involved altogether in that regard because the people knew what was involved.
– Yes. We were at war. The Government will not admit that we are at war now. The Government cannot tell the people that we are justified in being involved in this affair in Vietnam because of the devious way in which it has become involved in the conflict. The Government has never been forthright with the people of Australia regarding this war. The most important thing is that we are faced with this matter at a stage when we have so much to do in Australia. We want more people to come and settle here. We are selling our natural resources to overseas concerns when new migrants could come here and help us develop those resources. Their development could be financed by our OWn economy and our banking system if we needed it. In this way, we could build up a population which could advance Australia without any outside help. These are matters to which no consideration has been given because of the state of mind that the Government has got into with its involvement in the Vietnam conflict.
The Minister, during the course of his speech, referred also to Indonesia. I would like to make this point: Here is our nearest neighbour with a population of approximately 100 million people. The Indonesian people are blessed with a wonderfully fertile land. They have untapped resources in oil.
– Well, they have mineral resources, tapped and untapped. There are great resources there. Not only are there mineral resources, but the fertility of the country itself has to be seen to be believed. During the time that I was travelling through Indonesia, I was most im pressed by the beauty of the country. The people have everything to live for there. These people have the same outlook as has the average Australian.
Debate resumed from 24th August (vide page 58), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 24th August, 1966.
– Without underrating the complex problem of Vietnam, it is very obvious that the Government’s handling of the question has left Australia divided and is open to the gravest criticism. If the Government’s approach to the Vietnam war had been based solely on what it considered the Australian interest, even allowing for honest differences of opinion, at least sincerity of purpose could have been conceded to it. But a government whose every decision has been taken with a view to political consequences has taken these political considerations into the field of a country at war, the last area where they should ever emerge.
The Government has created history in Australia by committing the nation to war, first, without a declaration of war-indeed without a formal statement that war exists. Secondly, it has gone to war with a divided nation behind it. Thirdly, it has used conscripts whilst denying to Australians the opportunity to serve for the duration of the war. Fourthly, it has thrown the entire burden of the war on front line troops while ref using to back them adequately or to call on every Australian to contribute even one cent or to forgo one moment’s comfort. The last point stands out as the most obnoxious facet of the whole sorry business.
From the moment conscription was first introduced, the injustices against these young Australians have been compounded. First, it is bad enough to take a boy at the age of 20 years and interrupt his career in the two vital years when he is establishing himself in it. It is discrimination unworthy of any government to take some of our young men, without giving them the opportunity to volunteer, and send them to an undeclared war for the first time in our history, when their country is not under immediate attack. Discrimination is not being practised merely in one way against national servicemen. There are several degrees of discrimination. First, by a system of roulette, national ser- vicemen are chosen for military service; the next stage of discrimination is to send some of them on overseas service, lt is becoming as plain as a pikestaff that those national servicemen already in Vietnam will have to stay there for a full 1 2 months while the rest of their colleagues are in Australia. It is obvious that this is being done because once again politics has come first with the Government. The Government is not sending other national servicemen to relieve those already in the front line, because it would involve anxiety and worry to more Australian families - and Australian families are votes.
All this has happened while not one person in Australia - no honorable senator and nobody listening this afternoon - has been required to contribute one extra cent or to forgo one moment of comfort while a few lads are in the front line, not even old enough to vote but already carrying the scars of battle. Already some national servicemen have been killed in action.
The rehabilitation proposals referred to this afternoon by Senator Hendrickson are not adequate to meet the requirements of servicemen in a war of the type being fought in Vietnam because, whatever the moral and legal deficiencies of that war, they do not lessen the intensity and heat of the fighting. Continual long hours of fighting and modern fire power make the war in Vietnam the most dangerous and nerve wracking commitment in which Australian soldiers have ever been involved. Senator Hendrickson .pointed out in a question today that the Returned Services League has brought to the attention of the Government that totally and permanently incapacitated lads coming back from Vietnam will be asked to live on less than the basic wage. I am not satisfied that the Government is doing all that the Labour Party did in the way of retraining returned soldiers from World War II. That World War II was a declared war in which our defence effort was backed by the whole of the nation surely is not an argument or reason for saying that the injuries and the upsetting of human life and careers caused by the Vietnam war should not be looked after just as was done after World War II. Because the Labour Party is completely opposed to conscripts fighting in Vietnam, we will insist that as long as the Government keeps them there, it will back them to the hilt. It is unthinkable that any government would do less.
I come now to the reasons why the Government has committed Australian Regular Army troops to the war in Vietnam and backed them by conscripts, or national servicemen as the Government prefers to call them. The first reason stated is that we were invited by the Government of South Vietnam. This appears to be the official reason on which the Government stands. But woven into this reason, we have a further reason - that it is to help the United States of America. The suggestion is also made that it is because of an obligation as a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Then it is said that we are in Vietnam to stem the tide of Communism up there. Further, we are told of the domino theory, that our turn will be next. What is the real reason amongst the plethora given by the Government?
The Vietnamese Government which invited us in the first place is, of course, no longer the government of the country. If it did invite us at that stage, presumably it invited other nations. Surely it did not just pick out Australia. The answer to that is, of course, that today Australian troops are in Vietnam beside the South Vietnamese and the Americans. South Korea and New Zealand have full complements of troops there and the Philippines has a limited force fighting in the area. No other response has been made to the invitation by South Vietnam to the other nations of the world.
Government supporters refer to an American alliance. As basically important as that is to Australia, the answer in this context given by Government supporters I think leaves a lot of doubts and is thoroughly unconvincing. Surely it is obvious that the shadows of Asia in general - and of South East Asia and Vietnam in particular - fall quite differently across the Canberra stage from the way in which they fall across the Washington stage. One is not advancing a very strong argument if one says that the answer that is given by 1-65 million people who are not in the Asian area should be the same as that given by 1 2 million people who are right in that area. Because of the geographical factor alone, our relationship with Asia must be vastly different from that of any other country, with the possible exception of New Zealand. Speaking generally about South East Asia - I hope to deal with this area in greater detail in a few moments - we must never allow our power of diplomacy to be impaired. Our power of diplomacy is the one thing that we can contribute in this area, which contains millions of people.
Australian troops are fighting in South Vietnam under the umbrella of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Because South Vietnam was a designated country under the S.E.A.T.O. pact, it had the power to invoke the help of S.E.A.T.O. countries, but it has never exercised that power. I concede that S.E.A.T.O. has some value, but whatever its value is nobody in his wildest dreams would say that it has been effective as a defence force. It has been completely discredited as a defence force. Let us think of all the crises that have occurred on the borders of Thailand. I mention Thailand only because the headquarters of S.E.A.T.O. are situated in that country. The member countries have never moved in there as an organisation. No action was taken by them in 1961. In 1962, when the Americans, the British, the Australians, the New Zealanders and the Filipinos sent their air forces into North East Thailand, they did so separately and outside the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. We have seen the pressures that have been brought to bear on S’.E.A.T.O. It is not hard to understand why the Organisation has not acted. The weakness of some of these international pacts stems from the need to secure unanimity before the member countries can move. Incidents that have occurred between China and India and the pressures that have existed between Pakistan and India have not led to S.E.A.T.O. providing assistance. The claim that Australian soldiers are in Vietnam under the terms of the S.E.A.T.O. pact does not stand up to examination.
We have heard the rather lofty sentiment expressed that S.E.A.T.O. exists to stem the tide of Communism wherever it may flow, and today it happens to be flowing into Vietnam. Such a claim hardly bears analysis. It suggests that we will be perpetually walking around and carrying a sword against Communist aggression wherever it might occur. If this were so, we would have committed Australian troops in Asia long before this. Everybody conveniently likes to forget the successful attack by Communist China on Tibet. This is an area in which genocide is now being practised and where Communist aggression has been successful. There can be no argument about that. But when China marched into Tibet I did not hear the Government of the day say: “ Here is an area to which we should be sending troops “.
– The Tibet and Indian Governments did not seek assistance from Australia.
– The honorable senator was talking about Tibet.
– That is not in Hungary.
– Who says that?
– That is not a fair statement.
– Then it will be guns before butter.
– We needed volunteers in 1916, 1917 and 1918 in France.
– How could we have helped Indonesia during this period of running down in the economy?
– Including the United States of America.
– What is Mr. Calwell’s attitude?
– Madam Acting Deputy President, we are here today to discuss a statement on foreign affairs made in this Senate on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on 24th August last by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton). The statement concerned South East Asia in general but Indonesia, China and South Vietnam in particular. I have been fortunate enough, due to the courtesy of the Senate and the Government, to visit South East Asia recently as a member of a joint delegation from the Commonwealth Parliament. I must say that my visit was a fascinating experience. I realise just how little 1 know about the area. I commend that thought to many other people - -some who have spoken earlier and some who will speak later. The problems of this area are by no means an easy matter. They are not to be taken lightly and solutions to them cannot be given lightly. 1 confess to you, Madam Acting Deputy President my great attempt :o come to an understanding of the problems and my feeling that 1 have a long way to go before 1 understand the very complex forces that motivate people and events in that part of the world. I suggest tha’, at least from my point of view, 1 approach the problem with some humility and some attempt to try to understand it.
First, 1 wish to thank very much my colleagues in the Senate both from my own side of the chamber and from the Australian Labour Party side who were members of the delegation with me. We worked well together. We were a happy group. It was a very useful exercise. We were well led. The Australian staff abroad of the Department of External Affairs was most helpful and very competent. This staff was very well informed. Our visit as an exercise was, I thought, something that the Australian people would have useful results from. In no case did we find the people who received us overseas holding back information. They always had an answer and were ready to give it. They were always ready to tell the story. I never received the impression at any stage that these people did not want to tell the truth or did not want to be quite frank about the problems. And there are problems. There have been problems in the past and there will be problems in the future. These will be great problems. 1 wish to say something also about the Australians overseas. There are many Australians throughout South East Asia. There are doctors, nurses, soldiers, airmen and sailors. There are engineers from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority with their wives and children. Australian teachers are in South East Asia. All kinds of advisers are there. Many Australians from all walks of life are in the area. Now, in all cases, I want to say to the Senate that the Australian people can be very proud indeed of the Australians who represent them in so many ways and in so many fields in that part of the world. These are the people who have made Australia’s name respected and liked and who have led to other Australians feeling welcome when they go to these areas.
I rather thought that it would be a good exercise if perhaps some of the people who are naturally very critical about what the Government is doing and what the Government ought to do visited these areas. I do not want to be rude, but I feel that in many cases these people are not informed. They do not know what is happening. The Australian people and the Australian Government are taking a most active part in a number of countries in very many ways in trying to help with the great problems and difficulties facing so many of these countries. We have no cause to be ashamed of what the Australian people have done and are doing. I agree that we could all look towards doing more. But we must bear in mind that we are still a very small country and the problems facing the people of South East Asia are immense.
I will not have time to reply to all of the comments made by Senator Willesee. But I will endeavour to reply to one or two of them that seemed to me to bear on the problem generally. Senator Willesee has said that the Australian people are divided on the issue of Vietnam. It is fair enough for him to say that. At the end of this year, we will be taking that issue to the Australian people. As we have said on many occasions, we will be happy to do that. We will see then who is divided - the Australian people or the Australian Labour Party.
– Has the honorable senator the transcript of the interview between Mrs. Buttfield and Senator Hannaford?
– When one goes where?
– Then why do we trade with China?
– No, I did nol say that at all.
– The Government is doing the same thing in respect of China as it did in respect of Indonesia. It is giving China an inferiority complex.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– Does the honorable senator know who said that?
– The honorable senator is expressing his own words today.
– The question is whether we are involved in South East Asia, not whether we are part of South East Asia.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Leave is not granted.
– Read them out.
– Let the public hear their names.
Private Richard Alfred Aldersea, 20 of Subiaco, Western Australia.
Private Glenn Alfred Drobble, 21 of Zillmere, Queensland.
Private Kenneth Howard Gant, 21 of Belmont, Queensland.
Private Ernest Francis Grant, 20 of Thurgoona, New South Wales
Private Victor Roy Grice, 21 of Geebung, Queensland.
Private James Michael Houston, 23 of Chermside, Queensland.
Lance Corporal Jack Jewry, 21 of St. Marys, New South Wales.
Private Paul Andrew Large, 21 of Coolah, New South Wales.
Private Albert Frederick McCormack, 21, of Launceston, Tasmania.
Private Dennis James McCormack, 21 of Stafford, Queensland.
Private Warren David Mitchell, 21 of Fairfield, Queensland.
Lieutenant Gordon Cameron Sharp.. 21 of Tamworth, New South Wales.
Private Douglas Javing Salveron, 21 of Coorparoo, Queensland.
Private David John Thomas, 21 of Bendigo, Victoria.
Private Francis Brett Topp, 19 of Helidon, Queensland.
Private Maxwell Ray Wales, 22 of Moree, New South Wales.
Private Colin Joseph Whiston, 21 of Crib Point, Victoria.
Those names should be in “ Hansard “ so that we can remember the actions of these brave young men. 1 have read them because the Government did not see lit to agree to my suggestion that they be incorporated without being read.
Let us now look at our involvement in conscription and some of the problems that I have raised. The fact that the Government is not prepared to waste votes on the Vietnam issue shows that it is quite afraid. Only a few weeks ago the Michael Charlton film on Vietnam was held up for a lenthy period while the Government decided whether or not it was fit for Australians to sec. Of course, that was not the real reason. The Government knows that that film was a condemnation of some of the cruel things that have happened in this sphere of activity and it was afraid that it would lose votes if the film were shown on television. Only a few days ago a pamphlet entitled “ American Atrocities in Vietnam “ was made available for sale in Victoria, but its sale was prohibited. If it would not have caused a political upheaval, you would have blocked the sale of this pamphlet in every other State of Australia.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to guarantee the accuracy and the genuineness of the photographs in the pamphlet?
– What was the dale of that newspaper? ,
– Mr. Whitlam says that the war will be won in two years.
– Will the honorable senator tell us his policy?
– It was a good job that we did not think that way in 1939.
– I am prepared to join up tomorrow if the honorable senator will come with me.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honorable senator will please address his remarks to the Chair.
– I will join up when you do.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– I am sorry Senator Keeffe is not in the chamber because I intend to make a few comments on the speech he delivered before the sitting was suspended. Perhaps the most charitable thing I can say about it is that it was irresponsible. He is a trader in half truths and not a clever trader but a clumsy one. I shall refer to several points of his speech to prove this. First, Senator Keeffe said the Government had wanted to have a ban on a pamphlet on Vietnam which was seized by the Victorian police. This at its best is a half truth and at its worst an untruth because the fact is the responsible Commonwealth Minister had already cleared the pamphlets for distribution.
Senator Keeffe also referred to the Michael Charlton televised commentary on the war in Vietnam and charged the Government with wanting to hide the truth from the Australian people. Again, the Michael Charlton programme was referred to a Minister by the Chief Censor. There was no Government decision involved in this and as soon as the Minister had seen the film, he cleared it. These are just two points mentioned by Senator Keeffe which did not have any ring of truth about them. He also read a statement, and by reading it gave it validity in his view, relating to frauds in the ballot for national service. This was an irresponsible and untrue statement and is not supported by the slightest evidence. Senator Keeffe alleged that this was done to protect prominent Liberals. Might I say that the son of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) was called up and is in the Army now undergoing training.
– Give us a couple of quotations.
– I rise to a point of order. Surely the honorable senator is out of order in referring to the contents of a question on the notice paper.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood). - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I rise to a point of order. I refer you, Madam Acting Deputy President, to Standing Order 419 - which states -
No Senator shall digress from the subject matter of any question under discussion; nor anticipate the discussion of any subject which appears on the Notice Paper.
– I rise to order. Madam Acting Deputy President, you have not given a ruling on my point of order. You have given a ruling on another point of order which was taken when 1 was on my feet. No ruling has been given on my point of order which related to Standing Order 419.
– But he has been disciplined by the local branch of the A.L.P.
– Why quote it?
– Some of the racketeers there are.
– Always championed by the Labour Party.
– He could not name one.
– This is one of his great thoughts.
– In what year was this said?
– They are a Chinese “ Mein Kampf “.
– The young Lib.
– Indonesia has expressed it.
– 1 raise a point of order. I ask that the honorable senator quote from the article written by Mr. Beazley and not from a newspaper report of it.
– lt has been contradicted.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, Senator Cant has asked for your ruling on a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! There was no substance in the point of order raised by Senator Cant. A point of order must refer to a contravention of the Standing Orders, and there was no such contravention.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, for how long is Senator Sim allowed to speak?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Under the Standing Orders a senator may speak for one hour.
– When I read the statement which was presented to the Senate by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) I was particularly struck by the following paragraph -
The present leaders of South Vietnam are realistic and purposeful men, nationalist in outlook, who have expressed an awareness of the need for reform and development.
Unfortunately, these sentiments have been expressed for six or seven years. Earlier today when my leader, Senator Willesee, was speaking, some reference was made - I think it was by Senator Gair - to the duration of the struggle between Pakistan and India and to the question of countries having to make up their minds quickly or be invaded. The essence of his reference was that it was a flash reaction and unlike a prolonged struggle.
– Capitalist parasites.
.- I listened with a lot of interest to Senator Mulvihill. He covered a very, very wide field indeed. In fact, he seemed to go almost all over the world. At least while 1 was listening, he did not get down to the basic issue of how the struggle in Vietnam affects this country and its future and what constitutes the threat to the future integrity of Australia. He may have done that, but while I was listening he certainly did not. While it is easy to bring out a lot of generalities, as many people do about any issue, tending to cover that issue with those generalities and with side issues that do not, at first glance, appear to be just as they should be, the important thing to do is to get down to the really basic issue, which in my opinion in this case is Australia’s participation in the struggle in Vietnam. 1 shall have a word or two to say about that before 1 conclude.
I listened with interest, too, to the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Willesee. He had, rightly, a good deal to say in regard to Indonesia, lt is true that Indonesia is passing through a time of great economic travail. In my opinion, that travail is due to the fact that Indonesia has been governed over the past decade or more by a man whom I regard as probably the greatest charlatan of modern times. Whether deliberately or unconsciously, he seemed to do all of those things that could be calculated to disrupt and destroy the economy of Indonesia, and the 100-odd million people of that country are reaping the harvest of the economic disregard of the Government that has held office over the past decade or more. It takes some catching up. To put the economy of a country so widely dispersed into some kind of coherent order is not an easy task at all. I was amazed to hear blame put on this country for what happened in regard to West Irian, because I remember so well, when West Irian was taken over by Indonesia, Mr. Calwell’s saying that the Indonesians had no claim whatsoever, either racially or in history, to West Irian. He was entirely condemnatory of the Indonesian action in taking it over. To suggest that if the Australian Government had stepped in and used its influence something might have been achieved so far as that takeover was concerned seems to me to be futile. At this moment there is little use in rehashing history. The scene is changing in Indonesia and it is to be sincerely hoped that it changes for the better.
The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), in his factual statement on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), covered a number of spheres that are important to Australia and had a good deal to say about India, Indonesia and Vietnam. I go along entirely with Captain Benson, who said that our participation in the conflict there was the best insurance policy that this country could take for its future defence. If for some diabolical reason I wanted to make certain that this country in its hour of need - if the time ever arises, as I hope it does not - when it is under threat, is without friends or allies, I would withdraw the Australian forces from Vietnam. I could be reasonably certain then that I had gone a fairly long way along the road towards achieving that purpose. It is not a laughing matter. Can one not imagine the talking point that an element in the United States - such people are always present in every country - would have if and when the threat reached our shores? They would say: “ Look at these people. What did they do when we tried to stop this thing at its source, when it was far away from their own shores? They pulled out and left us in the lurch.”
Surely they would have a wonderful talking point with which to bring pressure to bear on the Government of the United States, by saying: “ Look at that. Are they worth making any contribution for? “ I think that point of view is unassailable and that is why it is such an insurance policy. To go back further, if I had wanted to bring about a like result I would not have had Australia participate in Vietnam at all. Only a week ago the Leader of the Opposition in another place said, in effect, that a Labour Government would withdraw our forces from South Vietnam as the position became amenable to such action, or words to that effect.
This is a horrible war and it is being waged in a horrible fashion. South Vietnam is being invaded in a horrible fashion; by murder, by the spreading of terror, by assassination and by an attempt to so disorganise the country and its economy as to make a Communist takeover easy. That is all that is behind this war. What can we and the rest of the world which values freedom do about it? One penchant of left wing politicians has been most noticeable during the whole of this discussion on Vietnam. They argue that the threat in Vietnam does not exist. The worst feature of that argument is that it does not make any difference to the threat. The threat remains and the facts speak for themselves. This man, Mao, who is the object of absurd hero worship and veneration in China today, says in his profound writings, which are so often quoted and which are supposed to help a man catch fish and help nurses cure burns and all the rest of it: “ War is the highest form of struggle; the bridge over which mankind shall pass into a new era of history.” That is his dictum, and one could quote dozens of other statements along the same lines - aggression; always aggression, until there is a Communist South East Asia.
The very cause of the division between Moscow and Peking today is Peking’s claim that the Soviet’s moves towards peaceful co-existence with the rest of the world, limited as they may be. are a betrayal of Communist principles. China says that Communism must and shall by force of arms go forth and keep on going forth until it has subverted the whole world. That is why there is such a division between the two great Communist powers in the world today.
The record of Labour speakers in regard to Vietnam is bewildering. On every occasion they say, woodenly and in parrot fashion, that Australia is interfering in a civil war and in the internal affairs of another country. Another left wing politician, Dr. J. F. Cairns, set out to prove this in his book “ Vietnam - Is it Truth we Want? “ He is very vague and most of his booklet is in the form of questions; but he does arrive at a few conclusions. He asks: “ Is it truth we want? “ If what he says is the truth, the truth changes quite a lot as the months go by. Regarding the trouble in Vietnam he says -
It is not the result of aggression from the North. The war in Vietnam is fundamentally a civil war which is the result of the National movement that has existed there for nearly 70 years.
A further quotation is -
Communists do not rely upon war, aggression or terror.
That is precisely what they have been relying on in South Vietnam. A few months after that was written Dr. Cairns was reported in the Press as having said that the South Vietnamese Government believed it could not hope to hold out against the North without massive foreign assistance. This is the war which for months was paraded all over the Commonwealth by a succession of Labour speakers as a civil war. Dr. Cairns went further than that and said that if the Communists did not succeed in South Vietnam then Red China would hit out in all directions. He mentioned Thailand and two or three other places. He said that Red China would adopt a hard line.
.- Two of the major objects of foreign policy are to defend one’s national interests and to ensure one’s security. Until not so many years ago, we in Australia appeared to have no need of a foreign policy. We thought that our national interests were advancing in association with the greatest Empire in the world and we felt that our security was safe in the protection of that Empire and the greatest Navy in the world. That, of course, is the case no longer. Today, we are a small Europeanised country of 1 1 million people face to face with the rest of the world and face to face in particular with Asia. For years, until not so long ago, we had between us and Asia British forces in India and Burma, the British in Malaya, the French in Indo-China, the Dutch in Indonesia and the Americans in the Philippines. Today that screen has gone and we have to fight for our own security.
No-one can say there are not factors in the world today which threaten seriously the security of Australia. We may be involved in the crisis which is going to affect Asia in particular and the world in general within the next 20 years and that is the crisis of food. We are an overfed country. There are people in the world today who are dying of hunger. The estimates are that the numbers of those . who .will, die of starvation will be doubled, trebled and quadrupled within the. next 20 years. Giving evidence before a committee of the United States Senate: the United States Secretary for Agriculture, ,Mr. Orville Freeman, said that by 1985, the.. U.S.A. would no longer be able to save millions from starvation in 66 developing countries. The emergency measures being taken were too late. Wheat stocks in America were already below the level needed for home domestic reserves and she would have to cut wheat shipments in foreign aid programmes by 25 per cent. Acreages were being increased by 30 per cent, but the bigger yields needed would not be ready in time. The Secretary for Agriculture concluded his evidence by saying that within five years, the world population would increase by millions of people, most of whom would be in countries already ravaged by famine and this would accelerate the world food crisis.
I ask the question that was asked of me by one interested in this matter only the other day. He said: “If (he famine in Asia becomes severe, what will be our answer if we are asked to receive into this country where we produce more food than we require many thousands of the people now starving in Asia? What will be our answer if the United Nations demands that we do that? “ These are questions that we might have to consider in the near future, and which our children will certainly have to consider within the next 25 years.
Another matter which threatens danger is the question of colour antagonisms. I disagree entirely with people who suggest that Australia is free from criticism on this question. I pointed out not so long ago that the Australian trade union leaders at the International Labour Organisation were told by the African and Asian delegates that when they had dealt with South Africa Australia was next. In this kind of world where the Europeans and the whites are already outnumbered, and because of the practice of birth control will be inevitably more outnumbered in the years to come, this question, the possibility of colour antagonism, presents dangers for us. We have seen already in the new emerging countries of Asia nationalism in the case of Indonesia merging into imperialism. Overall, using all of these factors, and prepared to use them, we have the threat of Communism. I believe in the statement of Mao Tse Tung that Communist China does threaten South East Asia and Australia rather than the statement of those on this side of the chamber who deny that this is so.
Pacing such a serious situation, what should be the bases of our foreign policy? We should endeavour to be on terms of association and friendship with those countries of South East Asia which are prepared to remain outside the Communist orbit. That, it appears to me, involves first, being prepared to join with them in a system of collective defence of which our activity in Vietnam is an obvious example. Secondly, we should do our best to retain Great Britain in this area. Most important of all, because of the economic and other difficulties Britain faces with regard to remaining here, it is vital that we should retain the United States within our area. Whether we like it or not, in the years to come with 11 million people, 15 million people, or 18 million people, we will be unable to rely on ensuring our own security.
I do not suggest that that means that we rely on others and do nothing ourselves. The Democratic Labour Party to which I belong has insisted always that Australia must make a significant contribution to its own defence. We have had it pointed out to us that our country this year will be spending $1,000 million on defence. I am not over impressed by the sum. I am informed that a sizable amount of that fund is being paid in prepayments on equipment being delivered over future years - equipment which , is not available now. I realise that that fund is made up of money that has lost value considerably in recent years, and the increase, therefore, is not as significant as it might seem at first sight. I am told that that huge expenditure will ensure for Australia at the present time only 10,000 combat troops and that those combat troops, even the men in Vietnam, cannot be aided sufficiently by
Australian helicopters and aircraft. We have to rely considerably on America for this assistance.
It is pointed out to me that although we are an island continent, and the experience in Vietnam has shown the important part played by aircraft carriers, our Navy has no aircraft carriers and is very considerably deficient in ships. The utility of the FI IIA is being seriously questioned. The utility of the Mirage fighter is being questioned. I feel that it is open to doubt that we are making the contribution to our own defences that we should be making. When we consider for example that Belgium, a country of a smaller population than Australia, has an army five times or six times as large as ours, and Sweden has an army three times as large as ours, 1 believe that, apart from the military contribution to our own defence, we have an obligation to try to promote better relations with those countries in Asia which are outside the Communist orbit.
I have always been a supporter of Australia making a considerable contribution in aid. After hearing so much of the good that could be done by considerable assistance to the have-not countries in aid, I must express my disappointment that in the recent Budget we have reduced rather than increased our aid. I say again that it would be a contribution to our security in the way of promoting friendship if we allocated 1 per cent, of our national income for aid to other countries as an instalment towards an eventual 2 per cent, of our national income for such aid.
The third thing that we have been doing to promote our security - and I appreciate what the Government has done - is to associate ourselves with gatherings of friendly Asian nations, with economic committees promoted by the United Nations and with other organisations such as that recently formed in Korea. I believe anything of that sort is valuable because it promotes the impression that we are friends of the people of Asia and not just interlopers. But despite all that we can do for our own defence and with regard to aid, associations and friendship, the fact remains that in a crisis we must depend upon allies. With Great Britain economically compelled to get out of Asia, with rumours that the visit of the British Colonial Secretary the other day was associated with suggestions that Britain might even get out of the Pacific, with all that happening, it becomes more and more essential for this country that we should retain and strengthen the American alliance.
I believe in the American alliance just as firmly as John Curtin did in the war years when he said that it was vital for Australia’s security. I agree entirely that when we went into Vietnam we went in as a contribution to the collective defence of an area in which we must be interested. We went in as insurance. We went in as a contribution towards retaining and strengthening this Amerncan alliance without which the security of this country can never be guaranteed. To those who say that there is nothing to be feared in South East Asia, I reply that I accept the opinions of Mao Tsetung and the people in Communist China who, within the last few days, have insisted that they are not gentlemenly and kindly agrarian reformists, but who have insisted that they are Communists determined on the domination of Asia. Is not the proof of that in their intervention of the affairs of South East Asia?
We have had suggestions that instead of Australian troops being in South East Asia, Australians should be there in peace corps uniforms. I agree entirely. I want many Australians there in peace corps uniforms. But I am realistic enough to know that, if they are there, there will have to be men in military uniforms to protect them from the Communists who will regard them as imperialist lackeys whose design is to subvert the revolution in Asia and who will shoot them down without any compunction.
What is the use of talking about aid to develop Asia, or to lift its standard of living? When India tried to show that, as a democratic country, she could lift her standard of living, what happened? She was attacked by Communist China. The situation in respect of India is that millions of rupees, which could have been used to raise her standard of living, to industrialise her economy and to feed her people, must now be spent uselessly on tanks, aeroplanes and guns. The same applies in South Vietnam. What is the use of talking glibly about raising the standard of living of these people and giving them a better life, when the Communists in Asia are determined to prove to them by the lesson of Vietnam that they will not be permitted to have a better life, except under a Communist government?
In the present situation, when we seek to play our part in South East Asia in this system of collective security, what are we doing? We are endeavouring to bring about, first of all, peace in that area. That is the essential requirement and the essential foundation on which alone we can build progress and a better standard of living for the people of Asia. To those people who ask why we are there, I say that we are there in the interests of world freedom; we are there in the interests of the people of Asia; and we are there in accordance with treaties into which we have entered and by which we must stand firm if we ourselves expect to receive assistance from our allies in the years to come [ wonder at the arguments that are sometimes put forward by Australia’s Lord Haw Haws - men who do not even have the decency that Lord Haw Haw had when purveying this kind of propaganda, namely, to go and live in the enemy country. These men tell us that they believe that Australia should be neutralist. Who was the greatest neutralist of them all? President Nehru was. He died a disillusioned and disappointed man because he above all was taught the lesson that in this world of today you cannot withdraw yourself into an ivory tower; that the world around you will not let you do that. We are told that isolationism is the attitude that we should adopt. It will be a bad day for us if the propaganda that is being peddled in this country by the isolationists has the effect that America determines to become isolationist and leaves us to our fate. I believe, with John Curtin, that the defence of this country does not lie just within the country; it lies in the areas to the north of this country. I repudiate the suggestion that is made so often, namely, that we have the choice between fighting in Vietnam and not fighting at all. The choice is between helping the Americans, the Koreans, the Filipinos and the others who are in Vietnam to stop aggressive Communism there with allies and trying to stop it inside Australia without allies.
I know that in this country there has been controversy - understandable controversy - on the question whether conscripts should go to Vietnam and on the question whether those who fight there should be confined to men in certain age groups. But I believe that behind this issue was a decision which, if we had not made it now, would have had to be made within the next few years. A decision had to be made on whether Australia was to have one army or two armies. The question was: Could we go along with a system under which one section of our Army could fight only inside Australia and another section of it would be available to fight outside Australia? If we read the history of Australia in World War II, under the Labour Government, we know the decision that was forced upon that Government then. I believe that the decision on this issue of conscription has merely anticipated a decision that would have had to be made within the next few years so that Australia would have one Army available for the defence of this country in the areas where we would have to be defended.
This issue will be determined largely by the people within the next few months. I think that is good. But one thing that is essential is that the issue should be presented before the Australian people clearly and with definiteness. I regret to say that, whilst I am able to understand clearly the attitude of the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labour Party and I can understand easily even the attitude of the Communist Party, I find difficulty in understanding clearly and definitely the attitude of the Australian Labour Party on many of these fundamental questions. With a plea to the latter Party to clarify its position on such matters as the withdrawal or otherwise of Australian troops from Vietnam, I read to the Senate some of the conflicting statements that have made it impossible for me to determine the attitude of that Party on this issue. On 13th April 1966, at the Tasmanian Conference of the Labour Party, according to “ Fact “, Mr. Calwell said -
If and when we become a government, all conscripts will be immediately brought home.
That was clear. I could understand that. But I was confused three days later - that is on 16th April - when, in a television interview on the programme “ Seven Days “, Mr. Whitlam said -
Any conscript would be given a free opportunity of withdrawing from active service.
So, three days after Mr. Calwell’s statement, Mr. Whitlam said that a conscript would be given a choice. Eight days later - that is on 24th April - in a Brisbane television interview, Mr. Calwell said -
A Labour government would not withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam and leave the United States there alone.
Seven days later, on the programme “ Four Corners “, he evaded the question by saying -
We will examine the position in the light of existing circumstances.
On 9th May, at Hobart, as reported in the “ Examiner “, Mr. Calwell said -
We will not maintain troops in Vietnam any longer than we have to, but we will not walk out on anyone.
Three days later it was announced that the Federal Caucus had unanimously decided that a Labour government would direct the Army to bring home without delay national servicemen in Vietnam. On 12th June - that is one month later - Mr. Calwell told the New South Wales Conference of the Labour Party that a Labour government would begin withdrawing Australian troops from Vietnam at the end of this year. On 6th July, three members of the delegation to Vietnam - Senator Fitzgerald and Messrs. Reynolds and Cross - in an interview reported in the “ Courier-Mail “, said that a final decision on the withdrawal of the troops would be made after a full examination of the situation at the time of assuming office.
I suggest that the best computer in the world could not arrive at a decision on those conflicting statements. As we will be asking the people of Australia to determine their views on this matter at an election at the end of this year and as this is the issue on which the election will be decided, I hope that the Australian Labour Party will come forward and clearly and definitely state its policy on this issue. I am glad to know that Senator Ormonde, who is trying to interject, is behind me and will back me in my request. The attitude of the Labour Party does not merely seem to be confusing to outsiders. lt also confuses those who are within the Party - those who are still within it.
Mr. Beazley, in the article which has attracted so much attention, made the following statement -
Except for the eras of Fisher and Curtin, Labour has never been notable for a defence policy involving significant sacrifices, financial or physical, nor for a foreign policy prepared to anticipate sources of aggression and take preventive action.
Mr. Beazley is a member of the Labour Party and one of its leading spokesmen on international affairs. He also stated -
The traditions of the Labour Party in foreign policy from 1916 to 1935 were on the whole isolationist, pacifist and unreal.
A common weakness in Left policy -
He did not define “ Left “ in his statement - is the Krishna Menon manoeuvre - denounce somebody you do not fear. Menon denounced Portugal in Goa while China mounted an attack, lt is cheap and easy for the Australian Left to denounce Chiang Kai-shek, South Africa, Rhodesia, or the United States. You can be sure they won’t attack you. But to praise Chinese’ genocide in Tibet as the elimination of feudalism, to attend peace congresses in China, to see wall pictures advocating hate of the outside world, and to come home and hold up China as the paragon of pence, as some members of the Party have done, extends this form of blindness a degree further.
This is the opinion of one of the leading foreign policy spokesmen of the Australian Labour Party about members of his Party and their foreign policy.
I feel sympathetic towards two of the questions which Mr. Beazley asked. He said -
How do you explain a strong defence policy while abolishing national service? How do you explain respect for an alliance while withdrawing troops from the side of your allies? 1 can understand Mr. Beazley’s attitude, but if he from within the Party is confused, pity us looking on from the outside. I am confident that there are some patriotic Australians in the Labour Party who would not believe in this kind of thing, but I think that Mr. Beazley put his finger on the left wing controllers of the Party who make the decisions behind which these patriotic men must follow. Mr. Beazley said -
Communism in Australia works for the withdrawal of the United States military presence in South East Asia so that Communism abroad can occupy the vacuum. The Labour Party frankly does not attempt to answer this trategy
On 26th November the Australian people will be asked to make a decision. Here we have the words of one of the chief foreign policy spokesmen of the Australian Labour
Party. He said that the Party has no policy on this question of leaving South East Asia as a vacuum into which Communism can move. I say to the Australian people that what I want is a government in this country which will not walk out of South East Asia and allow Communism to take it over. I want a government in this country which will not desert our American allies and leave us to fight aggressive Communism eventually inside this country instead of outside it with our allies.
.- I find that I have little with which to disagree in the speech made by Senator McManus. He said that Australia had fallen behind in providing assistance to underprivileged countries. In fairness we should consider the assistance that we are providing in this Budget and that we provided in the previous Budget, and also the special gift of wheat to India. I think it should be put on record that Australia is now giving as much foreign aid, on the basis of percentage of gross national product, as is the United States of America, and more than Britain.
This debate on international affairs is probably one of the most important that we shall have in the Senate during the present sessional period. Debates on international affairs always engender fairly bitter exchanges between the Opposition and the Government. If one looks at “Hansard” from 1901 to the present time, one finds that that has always been the case. Supporters of the Liberal-Country Party Government on this side of the chamber have certain beliefs on external affairs and Communism and how we should defeat it. Some honorable senators opposite also have certain beliefs on external affairs. They try to defend the Communists* actions. When somebody on this side of the chamber attacks the Communist Party, one or two honorable senators opposite will always rush to its defence. This engenders a certain bitterness in debate.
In my opinion, the statement on international affairs by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on 18th August was one of the best statements that he has made. It becomes terribly important because the Australian Labour Party has chosen to fight the next election on external affairs, compulsory national service and Vietnam.
– He has back tracked since then.
– But not all are fighting. Only the 20 year olds are fighting.
– They are both ex-servicemen.
– Both were volunteers.
– In its inconsistency.
– Much to the honorable senator’s regret.
– The honorable senator would corrupt me into betting.
– Is it compulsory reading for Liberals?
– Let the Vietnamese fight the war.
– Were you in our Party then?
-I did not think that the honorable senator liked Mr. Beazley.
– He must be running for the leadership.
.- Senator Branson, in addressing himself to this debate on the international affairs statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on 24th August, commented on what he claimed individual members of the Australian Labour Party had said over the past few months. It was a sign of great weakness in the honorable senator’s case that he was not prepared to stand in his place and, in a forthright and honest way, give the real reasons for the Government’s involvement in Vietnam which has resulted in the alienation of Australia’s reputation and status in South East Asia. One of the great problems facing this country today is the inexplicable confusion about the war in Vietnam. When one discussed Australia’s involvement during the First World War or the Second World War there was no dispute about the validity, the legality or the morality of our participation. The people knew by instinct, in their hearts, souls and consciences, that the cause was just. They rallied to a man on both those occasions. Whether one discussed the subject in a club or on a street corner one found the Australian people unanimous as to the jutice of the cause. But what do we find in the case of the Vietnam conflict? The Government will not admit that we are at war, and that is a cowardly, two faced attitude. It is using technicalities and semantics. It knows very well that we are at war but it will not admit that because a declaration of war has consequences that it is not prepared to face.
What are the consequences of being at war? Why should we ask Australia’s 20 year olds to bear the main burden of the war? It is a case of “ business as usual “ here. The Government is able to allocate $1,000 million of inflated money in its Budget for this little section of its policy. It believes that that is sufficient. The stock exchanges in Australia are following their normal pattern. This war is diverting attention from the Government’s very poor economic policy which has produced the normal boom and bust cycle of the free enterprise profit system. This war is very convenient for the Government as a means of diverting attention from the great economic problems facing the people of Australia. But no unity of purpose is being shown by the people towards the prosecution of this war. That is because the Government has never been sincere in regard to this matter. It has hedged and side tracked in its efforts to explain why we are involved in the war in Vietnam. In answer to a question asked in the House of Representatives on 2nd December 1965, the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said - lt is because of decisions of the Government that our troops are participating in Vietnam. We have, therefore, not only a right, but also a duty to make known to the public the reasons for such participation.
Then the Government finds some part of the S.E.A.T.O. treaty with which to justify our participation, and later it says that we are indirectly committed in Vietnam through the A.N.Z.U.S. treaty. But it has not been able to put before the Australian people anything specific to justify our participation in this war. Senator Branson quite rightly said that the subject of international affairs engenders a bitter debate. That has happened throughout the history of this Parliament Particularly bitter debates have taken place since the anti-Labour parties have chosen to raise the Communist bogy.
Only four or five years ago Senator McManus and other members of his Party were telling us that the great threat of Communist world domination was from Russia. Russia was the threat to our freedom, liberty and democracy. Now the story has altered and the threat is from China
To be quite candid this war is simply a confrontation with China. All the other excuses about fighting for the freedom of Vietnam are so much eyewash. But the Government is not honest enough to tell the people of Australia that this war is, to all intents and purposes, confrontation between the United States of America and China.
– I deny that it is true.
– What does Lee Kuan Yew think about it?
– I raise a point of order under Standing Order No. 379. I spy a stranger.
– I did not say anything about that at all.
– By whom?
– Does the honorable senator see American military power in the same context as the power of Hitler’s Germany and that of Russia also?
– President Kennedy initiated this line.
– We had total war.
– We were at war.
– The resources are not untapped.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - 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.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660914_senate_25_s32/>.