26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took te chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In directing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation I refer to a question that was asked of the Treasurer in another place about the separation of the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Will the Minister take up this matter with the Minister for Civil Aviation in a little more precise detail with a view to ensuring that in this year’s annual report of the Minister for Civil Aviation the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd relating to aircraft operations are shown separately from those of the company’s other interests? I refer to both the capital account and the profit and loss account.
– It is a fact that the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd are embodied in the one set of figures, and that the company has interests in airlines, television stations and other fields. To meet the honourable senator’s request would involve a considerable amount of investigation. Because the question is of such importance I .Suggest he place it on the notice paper and I will obtain a detailed reply from the Minister.
– I address my question to the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities. Are tourist organisations which encourage overseas tourists to visit Australia, thus introducing foreign capital, entitled to benefits similar to those granted to organisations which, when they increase their exports to a certain extent, receive taxation concessions? If they are not, will the Minister consider discussing this aspect with the Treasurer?
– I assume that the honourable senator refers to the exemption from pay-roll tax which Australian traders are entitled to receive in accordance with the level of their exports. It is difficult to see how such a benefit could be applied immediately to companies engaged in the tourist industry. So far as inducements of another nature to stimulate the tourist industry are concerned, I will be pleased to accept the suggestion made by the honourable senator and will confer with the Treasurer to see whether or not incentives can be provided to increase the tourist trade.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation advise the Parliament whether he is prepared to recommend to the Government a scale of loans and/ or grants in keeping with present day costs that will be sufficient to enable discharged national servicemen to establish themselves on the land or in business undertakings in those cases where ex-servicemen qualify for such loans or grants?
– I think it is fairly well known to all members of the Senate that at the present time the Government has decided there will not be a land settlement scheme similar to the schemes which operated after the First World War or the Second World War either for national servicemen or for those soldiers of the Regular Army who retire from the Services. The reasons for this decision have been given more than once. It is true that-
– 1 did not ask that.
– I understood that this was part of the honourable senator’s question. As I did not understand the question, I suggest that the honourable senator put it on the notice paper and I will get an answer for him.
– My question is to the Minister for Customs and Excise and is further to the question that I asked yesterday relating to the seizure of Japanese cars in Sydney and Melbourne. The Minister said then that the cars contained smuggled goods. Is the Minister able to give me any further information on this matter? Are prosecutions imminent? If the Minister is not able to give any information at this stage, is he able to say when he will be able to do so?
– The honourable senator seems to be showing a very keen interest in smuggling. We have heard questions also from other honourable senators on this interesting subject over the last couple of weeks. In relation to the specific items mentioned in his question, I wish to advise the honourable senator that my Department within the very near future will be confiscating more Japanese cars. We are very perturbed at the fact that there seems now to be evidence that a deliberate attempt has been made on behalf of the Japanese companies concerned to avoid customs duty.
– On 1.9th March J asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health the following question:
Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the Senate of the stage reached in the introduction of the pensioner hearing-aid concession service? Has she any information on how soon this service will be available to pensioners? What procedure will pensioners have to adopt to obtain hearing aids at the concession rale?
The Minister replied:
I do nol have detailed information but 1 will obtain it for the honourable senator and advise him.
Up to this point in time, I have received no information. I ask the Minister why I have not received a reply to my question in view of the fact that the information that 1 sought appeared in the Press last Monday? Is the policy of the Department of Health to be one in which questions by members on matters such as this will be answered through the Press and not directly to members?
– I cannot tell the honourable senator the reason why he has not received an answer from the Minister for Health. I am pleased to know that he has received the information which, after all, was his main purpose in asking the question, and which is the important matter. I understand that the information that the honourable senator has received came from the Press statement made by the Minister for Health. I am sure that honourable senators will be pleased to know that the scheme is being introduced initially in the metropolitan areas of Adelaide and Newcastle where laboratory facilities are now ready. The scheme will be extended to other capital cities and certain large provincial centres by 1st June when specially fitted laboratories will be available. Also, regular visits will be made when the scheme is fully operational by staff of the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories to other provincial towns and cities. The Minister for Health in his statement went on to say that application forms attached to publicity pamphlets explaining the scheme would be available in Adelaide and Newcastle from 1st April and in other areas as the scheme is extended. I think that those were among the points in which the honourable senator was interested.
- Mr President, I desire to ask you a question. Is it in order for a Minister when answering a question to insult an honourable senator? I admit that the senator who was insulted is new and possibly feels that he should not rise. Is it in order to insult a senator, as was done by the Minister for Customs and Excise in answer to my colleague from Victoria, Senator Greenwood?
– The way in which a Minister answers questions is his responsibility and does not come under my control.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention has been drawn to a statement attributed to the Premier of Victoria. Sir Henry Bolte, in today’s Melbourne ‘Age’, which reads:
The grain subsidy was not being financed by th Commonwealth but would come out of the Government’s, own pocket.
This refers to the $lm grain subsidy being paid on drought relief fodder in the State of Victoria. Is it not a fact that an additional Sim was granted by the Commonwealth to the State of Victoria within the past fortnight for this purpose?
– In my understanding, the terms and conditions of the arrangement were that there would be a Commonwealth supplement. Indeed, in this place last week I read a comprehensive statement by the Treasurer which covered all of the aspects of the arrangement for drought relief. I can well recall that there was a reference to this State grant that was made under special conditions.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation advise what the present position is in the industrial dispute in TransAustralia Airlines and Qantas Airways Ltd, which are both government owned organisations? In view of the past industrial dispute and the great financial loss to the nation will the Minister take over immediate negotiations in this trouble, get the aircraft in the air on conditions operating in the case of Ansett-ANA aircraft, and thus ensure justice to the men who have served both of the government airlines magnificently without the slightest blemish since their inception?
– It is of grave concern to the Government that this dispute has lasted for so long. It is still before the High Court and therefore I have no intention of going any further in answering this question.
(Question No. 9)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 15)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 32)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 48)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers: 1 and 2. A wide range of research in the cancer field is being carried out in Australia ranging through fundamental laboratory research, clinical research and epidemiology. Research in this field is being undertaken in all universities having medical schools, the majority of research institutes and most undergraduate and postgraduate teaching hospitals. 3 and 4. Information on the number of persons involved in such research is not available but it is known that there are 32 senior research workers supervising projects in this field supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council. To this must be added a number of supporting staff.
In 1967 the NH and MRC contribution increased to $265,000 and it is estimated that the 1968 contribution will be approximately $300,000. 6, 7, 8 and 9. The Commonwealth provides financial support for cancer research, its major contribution being through the National Health and Medical Research Council. No direct cancer research is undertaken by the Commonwealth or its instrumentalities.
(Question No. 60)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
What consideration has been given and what steps have been taken to implement the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications, made in 1964, ‘That the practice of the Central Drawing Office of seeking work from other departments and offices be discontinued and that printing by the Drawing Office be confined to work for the Department of Supply and its establishments, together with such other work channelled from the publishing office which it can conveniently handle’.
– The Treasurer has furnished the following reply:
The Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications noted that this practice hag contributed to the efficiency of the Central Drawing Office by providing work in what would otherwise be slack periods. The recommendation was made in the context of the establishment of a central government publishing office, and will be considered in that context. I draw attention to my answer to Question No. 64.
(Question No. 64)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
What consideration has been given and what steps have been taken to implement the following recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications made in 1964 -
That a central government publishing office be established to undertake the publishing function of departments;
That the departmental Publications Committee be abolished; and
That, as a trial, the publishing office establish a bookshop in a capital city for the sale of Commonwealth publications, and if successful, that bookshops be established in other capital cities.
– The Treasurer has furnished this reply:
(i) Approvalin principle to the opening of a bookshop in Melbourne was given on 26th October 1966. Premises have been selected and the necessary alterations are in hand. The bookshop will be opened before the end of this financial year.
(Question No. 82)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
The Commonwealth affords assistance by way of taxation concessions to the Autistic Children’s Association of New South Wales in the following ways: .
Individual taxpayers who have autistic children are entitled to the concessional deductions available to taxpayers generally, including deductions for dependants and for medical expenses. These deductions would extend to an autistic child of 16 years of age or more who is an ‘invalid relative’ for the purposes of the deductions, that is, a child receiving an invalid pension or in respect of whom a certificate has beenissued by an authorised medical officer or practitioner, certifying that the child is permanently incapacitated for work.
(Question No. 90)
asked the Minister repre senting the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will the Treasurer again examine the taxation zone allowances prescribed by the Income Tax Assessment Act in respect of persons residing and working in remote parts of Queensland to see if it is reasonably possible to increase substantially the allowances because of increased living costs?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
As the honourable senator is no doubt aware, each year the Government receives a great many representations for liberalisations of existing taxation concessions and for the granting of new taxation concessions. It is our custom to examine these representations during the preparation of the Budget when their relative merits can be assessed in the context of the scope available for the granting of concessions. I shall therefore arrange for the proposal to increase zone allowances to be considered during the preparation of the 1968-69 Budget.
(Question No. 94)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Now that the myth of the capitalist economic system being safely backed by gold reserves has been finally exploded by the action of equal and opposite currency manipulators, will the Government make the obvious move to base its economy on the real assets backing the Australian nation - the value ofits minerals, its primary and secondary production - rather than the system of tying our economy to an outdated, manipulated gold system?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
The new arrangements for dealings in gold, announced by the seven member nations of the gold pool after their meetings in Washington on 16th and 17th March 1968, end the sale of gold by their monetary authorities to private buyers in the world’s free markets. But the existing official stocks of gold held by monetary authorities will continue to be available, if necessary, in settlement of international financial obligations.
The external strength of any currency will, however, depend upon international confidence and that, in turn, will ultimately be determined by the degree of balance the country concerned can sustain in its international transactions. It will be better able to achieve this if it has large natural resources and its productive capacity is growing in a well balanced way.
In Australia we are fortunate that our primary and secondary industries, and particularly minerals production, have been expanding well and that the prospects for future growth are so good. The resources we have and the use we are making of them are undoubtedly the real basis of the external strength of the Australian currency.
(Question No. 142)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 162)
asked the Minis ter representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer:
The quinquennial investigation of the Superannuation Fund as at 30th June 1967 has not yet been made. The Commonwealth Actuary has been appointed by the Superannuation Board to undertake this investigation. For the purpose some 950 tables of statistical and valuation data for contributors and pensioners are being prepared by the Superannuation Board. The Superannuation Board is giving this task very high priority. However, a great amount of work is involved and it is unlikely that the preparation of the data for the Actuary will be completed before the end of 1968.
(Question No. 163)
– As I asked this question only a few days ago - on 28th March - I am overwhelmed with the speed at which it has been answered. I hope that other Ministers will follow the good example of the Treasurer. My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, was:
With reference to the reported statement at Hobart by Sir Charles McGrath, Chairman of the Export Development Council, that Australia is facing the worst balance of payments deficit for 11 years, that by June 1968 our current account will be down by $ 1,050m and that the Government relies on inflow of capital to retrieve the situation, is this most alarming statement true? If so, what is the Government doing to remedy the situation gravely threatening the welfare of our economy?
– The Treasurer has furnished the following answer:
In the first 8 months of 1967-68 Australia’s reserves of gold and foreign exchange decreased by $96m. This fall included a revaluation loss of $113m resulting from the devaluation of sterling in November 1967. Had it not been for this revaluation loss. Australia’s holdings of gold and foreign exchange would have increased by $17m.
Largely because of the continued inflow of capital from abroad, which tends directly or indirectly to add to imports of equipment and other goods and services, it is normal for Australia to have a current account deficit. So far as it is accompanied by, and largely the result of, capital inflow, therefore, a current account deficit is not in itself a cause for alarm.
In this financial year the current account deficit is expected to increase because of the effects of the drought on exports and because of an increase in imports in line with the domestic growth in the economy. As in the past, the greater part it not all of this deficit on current account is expected to be offset by a net capital inflow. When drought in the more important producing areas is broken, prospects for an increased volume of exports will improve.
The current account deficit has also been higher this year because of a sharp rise in defence expenditure overseas. Here too, there has been an offset on capital account provided by defence credits which have deferred part of the cost until later years.
The Government’s views on overseas investment in Australia are well known. It is welcomed because it provides a useful supplement to out own savings and permits a higher level of investment to be sustained than would otherwise be possible without serious detriment to the balance o( payments. It brings with it ‘know-how’ and technical skills which enable Australia to keep abreast of the latest products and techniques. Australia would, in the longer run, balance its external accounts without, or with reduced, capital inflow but that balance could be achieved only with lower rates of economic growth, population increase and improvement in living standards.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the following paper:
Report of the National Radiation Advisory Committee on biological aspects of fallout in Australia from French nuclear weapons explosions in the Pacific, June-July 1967.
Honourable senators will observe that the National Radiation Advisory Committee, after considering the data on radiation doses to the whole body and to the thyroid, concludes that fallout over Australia from both series of French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific is of no significance as a hazard to the health of the Australian population.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) left Australia yesterday morning to lead an Australian delegation to the dedication of the Commonwealth war graves cemetery at Ambon. Mr Nixon will also visit war graves at Labuan and posts of the Australian News and Information Bureau hi Djakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. He expects to return to Australia on 1.3th April. During his absence the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) will act as Minister for the Interior. 1 also wish to inform the Senate that today the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) will leave Australia to attend the annual meeting of Governors of the Asian Development Bank in Manila. Mr McMahon expects to be absent, for about 8 days. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) will act as Treasurer during this period.
The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) will also depart today for a 3-day visit to New Zealand to attend meetings of
South Vietnam force contributors and the Anzus Council. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) will act as Minister for Defence.
– by leave - Yesterday the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made the statement that I. am about to read. Honourable senators will appreciate that it is now incorporated in yesterday’s Hansard of another place. When the first person singular pronoun is used, it refers to the Prime Minister. The statement is as follows:
Yesterday at noon, Australian eastern time, the President of the United States announced decisions lately taken concerning the war in Vietnam. Those decisions were, firstly, to build up the South Vietnamese armed forces to a planned target of 800.000 men - an increase of 135,000- and to re-equip those augmented forces with more modern equipment from the United States; secondly, to maintain the United States forces at the level of approximately 525,000 men, which is the level of the United States forces in South Vietnam now, and to dispatch some ancillary troops to service troops which had recently been flown to South Vietnam; thirdly, to renew a resolve to continue the military struggle in South Vietnam until such time as a just and lasting peace could be worked out in that country; and. fourthly, to cease or halt aerial and naval bombardment over a major part of North Vietnam in the hope that such cessation might lead to the beginning of talks designed to secure such a just peace. I made a public statement on that matter, but I. feel that 1 should repeat it here in the House before expanding upon it. The statement that i made is as follows:
I am referring, of course, to the statement made by President Johnson: . . re-emphasises two important aspects of the approach of the. United States.
One is that the United States is firmly resolved to continue the military struggle to the point where it becomes recognised that talks designed to secure a just and lasting peace must take place.
The other is that the United States is prepared now, as it has been prepared in the past, to enter into such talks at once, and is prepared to make concessions In an effort to bring about such talks. The Australian Government has repeatedly indicated that it would support peace negotiations provided they held promise of leading to a just and lasting peace which effectively safeguards the security and freedom of choice of the people of South Vietnam.
The Australian Government regards this initiative by the American President as a further and significant exhibition of willingness on the part of the United States of America to engage in talks aimed at that end. The halting of bombing over most of North Vietnam, without insistence on an Indication from Hanoi of a willingness to negotiate or of a reciprocal cessation of military build-up by North Vietnam, will test the willingness of Hanoi to enter into discussions aimed at a peaceful settlement of a genuine kind. We must all hope that this response by Hanoi is forthcoming quickly.
At the same time, the continuation of bombing in the area to the north of the battlefields will continue to hamper the flow of troops and war material from north to south and will not leave allied troops at too great a military disadvantage.
I now propose to expand somewhat upon the statement of the Government’s attitude.
The decision by the President to halt the bombing of the larger part of North Vietnam - a part where 90% of the population lives and works - naturally has attracted world attention. I say ‘naturally’ because of the recent suggestions made in many quarters, and supported, I understand, by U Thant, that if the United States halted its bombing of controlled and selected targets in that area, the North Vietnamese would be prepared to enter into discussions aimed at securing a just, lasting and genuine peace for the South Vietnamese. I say naturally’ also because against that background this gesture by the United States, giving up as it does a military advantage, is the most significant and generous gesture yet made in the hope of starting such negotiations.
It is, Mr Speaker, an extension of the offer made by the President of the United States at San Antonio last September when he publicly offered to halt the bombing of North Vietnam as soon as the North Vietnamese had indicated that such a halt would lead promptly to productive discussions. That offer was rejected by Hanoi. Now, the President has gone the second mile. Instead of saying: ‘Give us an indication that you will begin peace talks and we will then halt bombing’, the President is saying: ‘We will now halt the bombing and ask you in return to respond by beginning negotiations’. This will provide, I think, an acid test of whether Hanoi has any genuine wish to enter into peaceful negotiations or not. We all hope they will and that Britain and the Soviet Union, to whom my Government has sent messages supporting President Johnson’s appeal, will use their best efforts to see that they do.
At the same time it is important to realise that not all bombing has been halted. In those areas contiguous to the battlefields in North and South Vietnam, those areas where North Vietnamese troops and munitions of war gather and flow towards the South, the continuation of bombardment to hamper, hinder and reduce this flow will continue. Reinforcement of men and supplies will not be stopped by this. But if even a quarter of the troops destined for the South are disabled, if even a quarter of the mortar bombs, missiles and artillery shells are destroyed before they can wreak their destruction in the South, if the time taken to transport supplies is doubled, then great assistance will have been given to Allied troops in the South and casualties among Allied troops which otherwise would have been incurred will not be incurred. That is why the President said:
I cannot in conscience stop all bombing so long as to do so would immediately and directly endanger the lives of our men and our allies.
I imagine there would be few Australians who would not agree with him. We for our part have consistently made it clear that we believe that there is a military advantage in. the bombing of controlled and selected targets of military significance in North Vietnam. We have as consistently made it clear that we supported the concept of halting such bombing when the North Vietnamese were prepared to enter into peace talks, subject to the military build-up in the South by the North Vietnamese not continuing because of the bombing halt. These latest proposals which continue to offer protection and support to Allied troops in the northern battlefields but which deliberately forgo the military advantage of more widespread bombing in the hope of securing the beginning of peace talks, also have our support and we hope they will be successful, for we in Australia seek, as was stated in the Governor-General’s Speech at the beginning of this Parliament: . . neither the destruction of North Vietnam, nor the overthrow of the Government of North Vietnam but merely the cessation of aggression against the people of South Vietnam so that those people may, by the exercise of a franchise they have shown they know how to exercise even under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances, choose their own form of Government. We seek a just and lasting peace based on these objectives. We have supported and will support every effort for negotiation of such a peace.
This latest initiative is an effort to begin such negotiations for such a peace. We hope, and I think all Australians hope, that this objective will be attained. It is now for Hanoi to respond and to show whether this peace initiative will or will not be rebuffed, whether this significant concession will or will not be ignored, whether the war will continue at its present tempo or whether, if progress is made in peace talks, it may abate. But. we should not lose sight in discussing this phase of the President’s statement of that reiteration in it of a firm resolve, should peace initiatives of this kind be rebuffed, to continue the struggle until it is clear to those who are aggressors that there will have to be talks which will lead to a true peace and not to something which the President described as a fake peace. We for our part are ready to stand with our allies, as we have in the war’s prosecution. We are ready to support our allies as we have in actions designed to seek talks to secure a true peace. It is our hope that this latest initiative may be accepted and that those people in South Vietnam may, through it, gain those rights of self determination for the preservation of which this war began and for the restoration and preservation of which the President’s statement indicates that this war will, if necessary, be continued, but which, as a result of the initiative he has taken, offers a hope of peace talks attaining this objective without further loss of life.
I present the following paper:
Vietnam: Statement by President of the United States of America - Ministerial Statement, 3 April 1968- and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) adjourned.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) 13.48] - Mr Deputy President, I move:
That the adjourned debate be made an Order of the Day for a later hour this sitting.
It does appear to me that the subject of this ministerial statement will attract passing reference during the debate on international affairs which the Senate is about to commence.
– Mr Deputy President, the Opposition welcomes the suggestion which has been made. Indeed, the convenient course would be to deal with both motions together. The motion that the Senate take note of the paper on international affairs was proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) also. As Senator Anderson has moved that the Senate take note of this statement concerning Vietnam, it would be quite convenient and in the interests of all honourable senators if both motions were dealt with together. This would give the opportunity to the Leader of the Government to reply at the end of discussion on both matters. No procedural difficulties should arise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Henty) - by leave - agreed to:
That the Select Committee on Air Pollution consist of six senators, three to be appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, two to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and one to be appointed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate.
That the Committee elect as Chairman one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
That the Chairman of the Committee may from time to time appoint another member of the Committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the Committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee.
That, in the event of an equality of voting, the Chairman, or the Deputy Chairman when acting as’ Chairman, have a casting vote.
That four members of the Committee, including the Chairman or Deputy Chairman, constitute a quorum of the Committee.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of Parliament for an amendment to the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act of 1964 to raise the upper limit on the Commonwealth’s financial assistance payable under the Act from $5.5m to $Sm. Under this Act the Commonwealth is making available to the State non-repayable grants over the 6-year period ending June .1969, as a general financial contribution towards the cost of flood mitigation works on certain coastal rivers in the State. The financial assistance is made available on the basis of matching $1 for $1 the State Government’s contribution. The State contributes §3 for every Si of local authority expenditure in the case of the Hunter River, and $2 for every $1 spent by local authorities in the case of the Macleay, Richmond, Clarence, Tweed and Shoalhaven Rivers. The Commonwealth’s assistance is being provided in recognition of the national importance of flood mitigation on these particular rivers.
During the 4-year period to June 1967, a total amount of $4. 2m has been paid to the State by the Commonwealth under the Act. The State Government has advised that the flood mitigation programme on the six rivers over the 6-year period will exceed the cost originally estimated when the scheme commenced in 1963. For this reason, the Commonwealth Government, following discussions with the Stale Government, has agreed to seek approval for the maximum Commonwealth contribution to these works to be increased by $2.5m, that is, from $5.5m to $8m. Taking into account also the amount still available to the State under the existing Act, namely $1.3m, there would be a total of $3. 8m available to the State from the Commonwealth for expenditure on these works this financial year and next. I commend the Bill to honourable senators. - Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27 March (vide page 351), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following paper:
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 27 March 1968
– 1 understand that the Senate is now to discuss the statement read today by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) and the ministerial statement on international affairs on 27th March last. Is that the position?
– The honourable senator may refer to both statements, if he so wishes.
– Both statements deal with international affairs. The statement made today by the Minister contains information that was announced over the Australian news network on Monday last, including the dramatic announcement of the decisions of the President of the United States of America. The President announced the cessation of bombing of what was termed 90% of the area of North Vietnam, and that he would not be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the next Presidential election. We have been wailing to hear what prompted those decisions. The immediate reaction of the Press was that, the President had done a disservice to the American cause in that his announcement would be looked on by the Asians as a sign of defeat for the United States. That view is supported by the editorial in last Tuesday’s edition of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. It stated:
For there is no use dodging the fact that in Vietnam the President’s policy had failed. It had brought neither victory nor peace. The Tet offensive revealed the precarious nature of the Allies’ hold even on the main cities of South Vietnam and utterly destroyed the pacification programme in the countryside. And while it is certainly true, as the President said, that the allied forces are strong enough to resist and defeat any attack by the Vietcong, this can be done only at the cost of such fearful suffering and destruction that further fighting threatens to make a mockery of allied war aims. How can we protect South Vietnam by destroying it?
The passage I have quoted does not convey an impression of acceptance of the defeat of the United States of America in the Vietnam conflict, but points out that many ques- tions are left to be answered, one of which is whether the American policy in Vietnam is the correct one. The editorial in last Tuesday’s edition of the Adelaide Advertiser’ stated:
It is the surrender of a man finally convinced that the faith of the American people in the President and in the war in which he still believed, is all but gone. . . . Why then the renunciation which leaves him wilh 9 months of diminishing authority and still a war which he now has virtually acknowledged cannot be won for the South Vietnamese unless they can win it for themselves. . . One thing is certain. Nothing will de-escalate the war faster than renunciation. If he has abandoned his own belief in victory - and what other conclusion is possible? . . .
The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ is probably the most conservative Australian newspaper. In its editorial it points out that the President’s statement could be accepted as a defeat of the United States. Whatever the purpose of the President’s announcement was, I do not think it can properly be suggested for a moment that it was a sincere aim at achieving peace in Vietnam. The statement read today by the Minister points out that it is planned to increase the South Vietnamese armed forces to the planned target of 800,000 men, an increase of 135,000 men. It is suggested that the United States is making a proposal for peace, but it intends to increase the size of its military commitments in Vietnam while stopping the bombing of some parts of North Vietnam. When the announcement was made we thought that only an insignificant portion of North Vietnam would be bombed in future. We have since learned that the unprotected area will extend only for approximately 250 miles from the demilitarised zone to within 45 miles of Hanoi. Although Hanoi stipulated five conditions for the holding of peace talks, U Thant has said that he was confident, following discussions with representatives of Hanoi, that peace talks would commence immediately America unconditionally stopped bombing North Vietnam. They were the conditions that were necesary for peace talks.
– There were several other conditions too.
– I said that whilst Hanoi had stipulated five conditions, at a later stage U Thant said he believed peace talks would commence immediately America unconditionally ceased bombing the North. Can anyone say that America has met that requirement? We have been told that America could not be expected to do so because certain men she has in the northern areas of South Vietnam below the demilitarised zone would be sacrificed if there was a total cessation of bombing. Is this realistic? Does the need to protect the divisions we have in that area necessitate the bombing of an area of North Vietnam extending for a distance of 250 miles up to within 45 miles of the capital? I do not think anyone could say that there is any justification for bombing this area. Would we not be making a genuine gesture towards securing peace if we were to stop the bombing of North Vietnam and, if necessary, were to withdraw certain forces or afford them protection and at the same time were to take steps to prevent the penetration of men from the North? If we can prevent penetration of an area north of the demilitarised zone, there is no reason why we could not do the same south of the demilitarised zone.
America, al the same time as she says she is making peace overtures says that it is proposed to build up the South Vietnamese armed forces to the extent of 135,000 nien, lt must be remembered that this announcement came immediately after America had lost one-third of its force of six indestructible FI 11 aircraft at a cost of about $6m. It would seem that the employment of manpower is cheaper than the use of air power, lt might well be that America, following her heavy losses of aircraft, thought that it was cheaper to employ manpower in the Vietnam war.
We are trying to establish that the responsibility now rests upon Hanoi to come to the conference table. But there is a responsibility on all countries engaged in this conflict to do their utmost to bring about a settlement. Although we know that Hanoi has laid down certain conditions for peace talks, one of which is an unconditional cessation of bombing in North Vietnam with which America has not complied, what is Australia doing to bring about a cessation of hostilities? Are we satisfied that it is necessary to bomb an area extending 250 miles into North Vietnam? Have we discussed with the American Government the possibility of a withdrawal from the north of South Vietnam to see whether peace cannot be brought to this war torn country? We have not received any report of such efforts on the part of the Australian Government other than certain information that we received after it was published in the Press throughout the world.
Coupled with the cessation of bombing in a part of North Vietnam was the announcement by the President of the United States that he would not seek reelection to that office. He is being projected as a hero who has sacrificed that office to ensure the unity of his country. The President’s decision came after gallup polls and voting in primary elections showed that there was a big section of the American public that was opposed to his continuing in office. During my period in public life I have known a number of sitting members of Parliament who have stated that they have resigned in the interests of the Party, the country or of something else but who happened to do so when it was known that they would be defeated if they did not resign.
Now people are trying to eulogise the President, but he will go down in history as the President who, in the longest foreign war in which America has been engaged, has been unable to achieve victory or to reach a settlement. As the Republican Party in its history of the war has stated, America has committed 500,000 men to Vietnam. Now we find that there are 800,000 men in Vietnam to battle with Communism while none of the Communist countries have found it necessary to sacrifice one man for the ideology that America is fighting against. It means the spending of over $300,000 to kill each enemy soldier in Vietnam. The nation which started the war and lost - France - has become America’s most outspoken critic while profiting heavily from the war. And so we could continue to outline the bad history of this conflict.
For many years the Australian Labor Party has been waging a campaign against this war which has been described as dirty, filthy and unwinnable. The Labor Party believes that the war is wrong and that it should be stopped, lt believes also that Australia’s participation in the war is wrong and should be stopped and that among other things there should be a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. Only now has there been a degree of acceptance of that policy. It is not Labor’s policy that there should be only a partial cessation of the bombing. Only as late as last week we heard the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) seeking to justify the bombing of North Vietnam. The very statement that we are discussing today sought to justify it. We said right from its inception that the bombing of North Vietnam would not stop the flow of men and materials from the north to the south, and indeed the North Vietnamese have been more successful since the bombing than they were prior to its commencement.
– How did you know that the bombing would not stop infiltration from the north to the south?
– Apparently the honourable senator has not a retentive memory or does not study these matters. Some time ago I read to the Parliament a statement from an authoritative American source which claimed that anybody with the idea that the bombing would stop the infiltration was forgetting the fact that the bombing of Great Britain during the last war only increased the determination of the people of Great Britain to repel the enemy; in fact the partial destruction of Great Britain as a result of bombing so increased the determination of the people of Great Britain that they eventually succeeded in their efforts against the enemy. Just as bombing increased the determination of the people of Great Britain to succeed, so has the bombing of North Vietnam increased the determination of the North Vietnamese to pursue to a successful conclusion the campaign which they believe is in their best interests. And there can be no doubt that the North Vietnamese have been more successful since the bombing started. Indeed, so successful have they been that the outcome of the last Tet offensive was such as to cause those concerned to re-examine the question of American intervention in Vietnam.
There has been a remarkable change in recent times in America’s attitude towards this war. The reason for that change, I do not know. Certainly it is not the outcome of a keen desire to achieve peace in Vietnam. It may be that the authorities are adopting some pretext to fool those of the American people who have shown a disinclination to support the present President of the United States. The objective might be to endeavour to lead these people to believe that President Johnson is a hero rather than a defeatist President. It may be that the withdrawal of President Johnson from the contest for the presidency is designed to prevent Senator Robert Kennedy from gaining the Democratic Party nomination. Perhaps they believe that someone other than Robert Kennedy will be elected if that someone else has the support of the apparently heroic President.
From time to time we seek to place on the Parliamentary record certain valuable information. I have refrained from giving information which has been obtained from sources that may be questioned and have endeavoured at all times to quote from sources of unquestionable authenticity. In carrying out that policy I have already quoted from a report of a committee appointed by the Republican Party of America. This report was incorporated in the Congressional report, on the history of Vietnam. I recommend it to the study of those who are interested in this phase of history. I have also quoted a report published by the Vietnamese Embassy in Canberra of seventeen bishops of Saigon who support the South Vietnamese Government and who made an appeal for a total cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam, an appeal which America is not prepared to heed at this stage.
I want now to point to something which could be a threat to civilisation. It arises from the health position in Vietnam and relates in particular to diseases that can be communicated by contact and that can assume plague proportions. I refer to the issue of the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ dated 23rd March which contains a report from the World Health Organisation. Amongst other things, that report states:
Last year the Twentieth World Health Assembly requested that a report be drawn up on the present health situation in both South and North Vietnam. A recent WHO Press release, in what must surely be considered a masterly exercise in understatement, gives a summary of the preliminary findings.
Honourable senators must admit that the source from which this information comes is most responsible. An independent investigation was made of the position in North and South Vietnam and, in commenting on the effect of the prolonged hostilities and unsettled conditions, Dr Candau said: . . the civilian population was imperilled as a consequence of military activities, and that air raid victims and other civilian casualties placed a burden on the health services in both north and south. A legacy of disabilities and handicaps would remain long after normal conditions were restored, he said. However, the medical situation remains grim indeed. South Viet-Nam must surely by now qualify as the most disease-ridden country in South East Asia. The causes are not hard to find.
So we are confronted with a problem arising from conditions obtaining in what must surely be the most disease ridden country in Asia at the moment. We have Australian troops in this same country. The report goes on:
In South Viet-Nam, epidemic plague and cholera and an upsurge in the volume of syphilis and gonorrhoea are distinctive features of the present epidemiological situation. The danger of an overspill of plague beyond the national frontiers cannot be excluded. The venereal diseases situation implies potential problems beyond the national frontiers and will remain a public health problem in the country for some years to come. Other communicable diseases of prevalence, especially tuberculosis, lack of adequate sanitation and water supply are major public health problems.
In the north, on the other hand, even when allowance is made for the obscurity of the present situation, the contrast seems remarkable. Generally, nutritional standards appear to have been well maintained in the circumstances and progress has been made in the organisation and provision of a wide range of medical care services. The planned use of medical personnel, the training of cadres of auxiliaries in large numbers and the use of practitioners of traditional medicine have made possible a widespread health care coverage for the population. Hospital/health centre provisions have been expanded and programmes for combatting the major diseases have been established.
The available accounts of the health services give the impression of n resolute endeavour to provide a comprehensive health service according to a national health plan which is consistent with national aspirations, needs and resources. Disease prevention, including specific prophylaxis and general hygiene, has a place of prominence in existing services and health planning.
Certainly, from the scant evidence available, it appears that the North Vietnamese have been making a very concerted attempt to improve health standards since the end of French domination. Official Hanoi figures for 1965 stated that the number of doctors had by this time risen to 1 per 2,000 population. In South Vietnam the current figure is around 1 per 20,000.
Since 1960, as part of a concerted campaign against tuberculosis, a killed BCG vaccine has been given to all newborn babies, usually within a week of birth, and to many older children and adults as well.
There is no reason to doubt the genuineness of the figures quoted above, or the optimistic tone of the WHO report with regard to the north. That the situation appears so much worse in the south, despite heavy commitments of foreign aid, is a grave indictment of the health services run by the Thieu-Ky regime and its predecessors.
In (he north, too, the destructive effects of the Americn bombardment have added greatly to the problems facing health authorities. Figures released last year by Hanoi state that between the stepping up of the bombing in February, 1965, and December 31, 1966, ninety-two ‘health establishments in North Vietnam were burnt out or destroyed by American planes. included were the famous leprosarium at Quynh-lap, and the sanitorium at Thanh-hoa
The Quynh-lap leprosarium, completed in 1959, was the largest treatment and research centre in North Vietnam, and held 2,600 beds split up among some 160 small buildings. According to the report, American planes attacked the leprosarium a total of thirty-nine times between June 12. 1965, and June 24, 1966. : The first attack killed nine doctors and 139 patients, the buildings were destroyed,, and equipment and patient and research records were lost. During subsequent bombing raids more deaths of patients and staff occurred-
– Why does the honourable senator not ask for leave to incorporate the article in Hansard?
– No. 1 would like to hear it.
– We would like to hear it.
– I am willing to have it incorporated in Hansard, f think it is a very important matter. I think the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) was in doubt as to whether I was in order in incorporating a long document in Hansard recently.
– I told the honourable senator that if he ever wants authority from me to incorporate something in Hansard he should submit the document to me a tew minutes beforehand so that 1 can examine it.
– I do not want to belabour the matter. 1 am quoting from a document which is available to any honourable senator if he wants to see it.
– What is the document?
– What is the title?
– J am quoting from the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ of 23 rd March 1968. I am reading from pages 505 and 501. This is a photostat copy made by the Parliamentary Library staff. A copy of the Journal is in the Library. I am referring now to the quotation dealing with the events at Thanh-hoa. lt states:
On July 8 1965, at 07.00 hours, 40 US jet planes dropped more than 100 one-ton bombs on the hospital, pulverising nearly 50 buildings and a certain number of civilian dwellings nearby; killing five doctors, seven patients and 38 civilian inhabitants in the neighbourhood; wounding 2 cadres and employees, 10 patients and 25 civilians. At one blow, 600 patients were deprived of shelter and the facilities for treatment.
Again, on July 14 at 19.00 hours and on August 21 at 10.00 hours, several groups of US planes returned to the attack-
– Will the honourable senator table the document?
– Yes. I want to point out what we are stopping, to some extent, in North Vietnam, and how thankful we should be. What I have been reading is a statement as to what did happen in North Vietnam. The statement comes from a reliable source after investigation of the events. Despite all this destruction in North Vietnam the North Vietnamese are still successfully continuing the war today. The North Vietnamese have built up their health services. In contrast to South Vietnam there has been an increase in the health services in North Vietnam despite the bombing. The most germ ridden country in South East Asia is South Vietnam. Look at what we and the allied forces generally, by this intervention, are offering to the people of South Vietnam. After looking at what we have done for the people of South Vietnam can we expect consideration?
– What have the North Vietnamese done? Tell us about that.
– J am anxious to do so. If the honourable senator were not so dumb and would listen he would realise that I have been trying to explain what the North Vietnamese have done. I quoted one case, the health services, to show what they have done for their people. The North Vietnamese are engaged in assisting a Liberation Front in South Vietnam because that is a policy in which they believe. Whether that policy is true or not it is one which the North Vietnamese are attempting to sell to the South Vietnamese. They are trying to show the South Vietnamese the conditions that have been established today in North Vietnam. I have quoted an independent source to illustrate this point.
While it may be said thai there was no mass uprising during the Tet offensive to assist the North Vietnamese or the National
Liberation Front, it can also be said that there was no support from the South Vietnamese to defend their Government at that lime. The position is that there is a target strength of 800,000 Americans and their allies for the alleged purpose of protecting the Government of South Vietnam. Of course there was the recent statement by the President of South Vietnam to the effect that if America, because of domestic reasons, could not continue her support then the South Vietnam Government would build up the South Vietnamese forces. He said that the South Vietnamese would light it alone but would appeal to the other allies assisting it in this campaign. Of course, the now great President of the United States has announced that he is not going to stand for re-election. He attracted no support for this campaign in Vietnam other than from his satellite countries - and Australia is fast becoming one of them. Whatever happens, the time is ripe at present for Australia to take the initiative and make some forward move to advance what has been started in America in an effort lo bring about conditions thai will lead to peace talks between North and South Vietnam. Did we explore the possibility of protecting our troops, the American troops and others fighting for the South Vietnamese Government before there was any bombing of North Vietnam? History shows that our troops had greater protection before we bombed North Vietnam than they have had since the bombing began.
– Does the. honourable senator really believe that Hanoi wants to negotiate? Does he really believe this?
– No, I do not think Hanoi wants to negotiate with an aggressor against its country. It is like the honourable senator silting down lo a table to talk with and to negotiate with an intruder it-, his own home. That is the position. We have clouded this issue. We have sought to justify ourselves by repeating over and over again that we will fight until we have a free and independent South Vietnam. We have said that we shall fight against invasion. There is not one foreign soldier fighting foi the National Liberation Front or for the North Vietnamese. The participants are Vietnamese. But by a division of the country it can be said to the other side that if its people come across that line they are invading South Vietnam. That is the justification for America and her allies to send 800,000 troops - to push those people back.
– But who drew tha line?
– 1 will tell the honourable senator. Listen to this. The line was never drawn geographically, lt was a line established under the Geneva Conference agreement Cor the purpose of ending hostilities and disarming the combatants in a particular campaign. It was never a line to designate that some people should live on one side and some live on the other. Diem’s first complaint about the North and the reason why he would nol hold an election in the South was that the North was restricting the movement of people from the South who were living in the North and not allowing them to return to the South. This campaign is something that we have created to justify our action in sending troops. Let us look at the statement that was made by the Minister for External Affairs in February last year. I believe that this is significant. He said:
The Australian Government hopes that over period of time the mainland of China will be accommodated within the international community. But diplomatic recognition of Peking or its admission to the United Nations is not a short cut to that objective. Essential elements in bringing about an accommodation include a continued willingness and capacity by China’s neighbours to resist direct or indirect attack, and in achieving this their own national efforts have to be supplemented by collective arrangements with other countries. Positive national and international programmes have to promote the economic wellbeing and development of the countries in the region adjoining China. The Australian Government does not see relations with China as an isolated problem in itself, but instead as something which is part of the bigger question of security and economic and political development in the whole region. Quite apart from what may be clone directly in regard to China, progress in other fields can contribute towards an ultimate settlement of some Chinese questions.
In that statement the Minister was saying that China cannot be accommodated in the European community until we have surrounded her with neighbours that can stop any expansionist policy that she has or until we have reached the stage where hostile nations surround her. Apparently we are to bc the saviours of South East Asia and we want a foot in Vietnam (for the purpose of maintaining bases. Apparently we are to justify the invasion of the North by reference to this demarcation line.
Because of the apparent lack of support and the fact that we are not gaining success in Vietnam, at some time there must be a withdrawal. It is generally recognised that we cannot succeed militarily. What is the future of this area and other areas around Asia? I have made speeches on the need for some action to try to win the hearts and minds of the Asians rather than to force something down their throats militarily. We must look at the recent American action as one with more politics than anything else in it and one which shows that the American leaders consider that the political life of their party or of a particular individual is of greater importance than the lives of the 8,000 Americans who have been sacrificed or of the 134,000 troops who are to be sent to Vietnam. While the number of troops in Vietnam can continue to be built up, apparently some dramatic action must be taken when the political life of an American statesman is threatened, as the gallup polls have shown is the situation in America today. The Labor Party has always claimed that there should be de-escalation of the war in Vietnam and some definite effort to achieve peace. The nearer we come to that policy and the more Australia can contribute to putting that policy into operation, so much the sooner will we achieve some semblance of peace in Vietnam.
– We have listened to Senator Cavanagh making his contribution to this debate on the statement submitted by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) on the Government’s foreign policy. In my opinion it is deplorable that the speaker who leads for the Australian Labor Party should obviously gloat over what he claims is the defeat of the United States and his characterisation of that country as an aggressor in Vietnam. He leads for a party that puts forward in print a policy that is designed to induce the Australian electorate to believe that it supports the alliance with the United States as one of critical importance in Australia’s foreign policy.
I approach the discussion of this matter with a somewhat wider perspective. Before I conclude my speech I shall make references to the statement that came from the United States on Monday. But I submit that in order to make a balanced assessment of our situation in foreign affairs today we should put that statement in perspective, as best we can after being able to give it consideration for only 48 hours. The first point of which this nation should remind itself is the great force of character, breadth of experience and undoubted integrity of the Minister for External Affairs. In his statement to the Parliament, which we are debating, he put forward the policy of the Australian Government not in terms of war but in these terms: The first objective of that policy is security for Australia, realising that we cannot live prosperous and safe if a great part of the world is living in poverty without hope and is torn by war.
– It took him a long while to wake up.
– It is only the propaganda of the Labor Party that has blinded Senator Hendrickson and others to a perception of the external affairs policy of this Liberal-Country Party Government. I am looking at the broader canvas in an endeavour to persuade the Senate that every person who sits in this chamber today speaks for his country. We are bound to yield our best in the interests of our country. Those are considerations that transcend party politics and electioneering.
The first point that we should remember in regard to the foreign policy which has been declared by the Minister and which we are debating is that we stand for the protection and advancement of Australian interests, realising that we cannot live prosperous and safe if a great part of the world is living in poverty without hope and is torn by war. The second point of which I remind the Senate and which only the dishonest in debate can obscure by distortion is that Australia works for a world order based on the principles and purposes of the United States, according to the major powers the status that their importance in the world gives them.
– The Minister meant to say ‘the United Nations’.
– Did I say ‘the United States’? I meant to say that Australia works for a world order based on the principles and purposes of the United Nations.
– The Minister did not say that.
– That is what I meant to say. At the same time, as Mr Hasluck said, Australia insists - that is the word he used - on the proper role being accorded to the middle and small powers. In that spirit Australia plays its part in collective defence against aggression. Yet today the speaker leading for the Labor Party said that we are supporting an aggressor.
The third proposition stated by the Minister for External Affairs as the cornerstone of the Australian Government’s foreign policy is that we have a special interest in the South East Asian region, the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and that evokes from us a determination to co-operate in the evolution of national independence in the countries of the area which are forging their way towards independence. We are laying the foundation for that degree of goodwill, such as we have secured in Indonesia, by an ingenuity of policy and a painstaking patience, which may be of terrific importance to Australia in the future. Mr Hasluck, with his impressive personality and thoughtfulness and conscientiousness in diplomatic channels, has been travelling quietly to and fro - to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries of the area - to ensure that the goodwill which plays such an important part in international affairs shall encompass us in the future.
Fourthly, Mr Hasluck declared the Australian Government’s policy to be one of close and responsible co-operation with the United States of America. Today the speaker leading for the Labor Party characterised the effort of the American nation in Vietnam as that of an aggressor and, according to his outlook, proclaimed the events of this week as the defeat of America. I will come to that aspect in a few minutes.
Fifthly, Mr Hasluck told us - we are apt to forget this - that we place special significance on strengthening the idea of the
British Commonwealth of Nations, drawing no racial distinction but maintaining a purpose of subsituting automatically ideas of understanding and a national desire to go forward together despite all difficulties, in place of the old normal links of Empire which have been dissolved. In addition, the desire is that the group of countries comprising the Commonwealth of Nations, inheriting a common purpose from their origin, will form a nucleus for increasing understanding in the English spirit. He pointed out that not less than six countries - Pakistan, India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore and Mauritius - are adjacent to us in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean area.
Sixthly, he said that we place real emphasis upon the need for economic development in the underdeveloped countries. 1 think we should take some heed of what Australia has achieved in this field. I mention it at this stage of my speech to emphasise that we repudiate the idea that our policy leans towards war. However, if a small country, seeking to retain its right of self-determination and freedom, is attacked, as South Vietnam is being attacked from the north, and if it is prudent and proper to join with America in going to her aid, then Australia will fight. But our entire foreign policy is not focused on war. As I have said, we endeavour to avoid it by every means possible.
On the matter of civic development and economic improvement in underdeveloped areas, let me point out that in the current year every Australian will contribute approximately $12 towards international aid. The total devoted to that purpose will be $I48m, twice as much as we contributed 6 years ago. From the point of view of the percentage of gross national product that we contribute to the cause of international aid, we rank second in the world only to France. On that basis we contribute a greater proportion of our gross national product than does America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan or any other country.
– If the amount allocated to Papua and New Guinea is subtracted we rank only thirteenth or fourteenth in the world.
– There are some miserable-minded people who suggest that we should subtract the amount allocated to
Papua and New Guinea. Of the sum that I have mentioned, we have devoted $92m to Papua and New Guinea this year, $72m of that amount being in the form of direct grants to people who are our special responsibility. That is a privilege we cherish. If we concentrate the major part of our international aid there, is that a matter for disparagement or is it a matter for credit?
The sixth plank in Mr Hasluck’s policy of encouraging economic development in this area is supported in that particularly graphic way. What idle subversive talk it is for an honourable senator to quote from a medical journal an article revealing the condition of health in a war torn country in South East Asia, and damage the cause of those people by pretending that that is due to a lack on our part. He knows that several medical and hospital efforts are actually being maintained in Vietnam. That is one way in which we are giving aid. However, before we can successfully quell disease and restore health to the people in Vietnam we must bring an environment of peace. As the honourable senator pointed out, in the warlike operations that are continuing there, due to the aggression of North Vietnam, hospitals as well as other institutions may and do become casualties of war.
So we come to a consideration o* the prosecution of the war in Vietnam. I pretend to no insight into the events of Monday, but there were those in another place who, speaking yesterday for the Labor Party, vaunted the idea that the doctrine they have preached of withdrawing from Vietnam was vindicated by President Johnson’s announcement. They were saying: ‘This is a complete acceptance of the strategy of General Arthur Augustus Calwell and that other great General who, when associated with the Fifth Army, had equal prestige, Mr Gough Whitlam.’ This gentleman, in terms that Senator Cavanagh for the Australian Labor Party today proclaimed, says: ‘Here is defeat’. Our Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), with his usual clarity, yesterday gave quite clearly the true analysis of the announcement from America on Monday.
The Prime Minister said that President Johnson made four things clear. The first was that America would build up the South Vietnamese armed forces to a planned target of 800,000 men - an increase of 135,000 - and that it would re-equip those forces with modern equipment, showing a determination to maintain a strength there that would not be defeated. The Prime Minister said, secondly, that it was an announcement to renew the resolve to continue the military struggle in South Vietnam until such time as a just and lasting peace could be worked out in that country, emphasising the general necessity of peace as distinct from a faked makeshift arrangement which would disintegrate again into immediate weakness unless it was responsibly managed. The third point in the President’s announcement was equally important and I submit that his statement should be studied most carefully by anybody who has any concern for our security in the Pacific. The President said:
Tonight, I renew the offer 1 made last August - to stop the bombardment of North Vietnam.
The President had made that offer in August and he renewed it on Monday. He offered to slop the bombing completely if North Vietnam gave any satisfactory evidence that it was willing to engage in genuine peace talks. As the Minister for External Affairs has told us in his statement, diplomatic soundings have been made, following that August announcement to test the willingness of Hanoi to engage in such peace talks. The conclusion was that nothing in reality would result.
The President went on:
We ask that talks begin promptly, and that they be serious talks on the substance of peace. We assume that during those talks Hanoi would not take advantage of our restraint.
Then he said:
We are prepared to move immediately towards peace through negotiations.
Tonight, in the hope that this action will lead to early talks, I am taking the first step to deescalate the conflict. We are reducing - substantially reducing- the present level of hostilities.
Senator Cavanagh spoke today in marked contrast to his leader in another place who yesterday gave an entirely different version of the announcement. The complaint made here by Senator Cavanagh, who led for the Labor Party in this debate, was that the announcement by President Johnson did not offer a complete cessation of bombing and a complete withdrawal. President Johnson said that he was taking immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict. He went on to stale that he was giving orders that the bombing should not proceed in areas which affected about 90% of the Vietnamese people and in areas which affected about 90% of their production. But he went on to speak - I am recalling his speech, not quoting it - words to this effect: ‘In conscience, having regard to the men that we have committed there, I cannot discontinue the bombardment in the area immediately north of the Demilitarised Zone because to do so would expose our men to the risk of unjustified casualties from incursions of the North Vietnamese. To do so would expose our men to the risk that the armaments that would be supplied to the Vietcong in the south would be built up so as to increase the casualties that would be inflicted upon South Vietnamese and Americans. That would be the effect of a total cessation of bombardment.’
Yet, we have in the Australian Labor party the disciples of complete deescalation, the apostles of the idea that if America does not accept that point of view Australian troops will be withdrawn. Those apostles offer their ideas as to the strategy that, should govern the actual operation of war in this connection, it is a pitiable performance when we consider their experience. lt is regrettable when we reflect upon the obvious sympathy which Senator Cavanagh, who led for the Labor Party, expressed for the North Vietnamese effort, lt is deplorable to see this when we consider the opinion of the whole world and certainly the opinion of that part of the Labour movement which occupies a position of prestige and responsibility - the British Labour Party - which fortunately in my view is now led in foreign affairs by Mr Michael Stewart again. I think that it is deplorable that Senator Cavanagh, speaking for the Australian Labor Party, describes the Americans as the aggressors and shows obvious pleasure at the idea of any success whatever that the news channels attribute to any North Vietnamese effort.
Why do I speak in these terms? I do so because I abhor war. 1 think that it is the disgrace of human mind that it is still considered a means of arbitrament in national conflict. 1 have emphasised those factors which the Minister for External Affairs has put before the Parliament so impressively. These are that we stand for peace, co-operation with our neighbours and the development of their economy in a manner that will encourage friendship between us. But I despise the man who would disregard an alliance upon which our safety and security depend in the foreseeable future - the American alliance - and who would with cant, obvious satirical expressions and small talk suggest that because Australia joins in the American effort, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, we are prepared to accept the new strategy that President Johnson has announced. The Labor Party would describe that in belittling terms. 1 speak in the terms that 1 have used this afternoon in an endeavour to ensure that even at mis late stage we will get the idea that, in the setting in which the statement that we are debating places the Vietnam conflict, this is only one aspect - a deplorable aspect. But -because it is difficult Australia is not going to run away. Especially is she not going to withdraw at any time without proper consultation with an ally.
Despite the distortion that has been given to the President’s speech on Monday, that speech indicated a firm resolve to maintain strength and to prosecute the war until the adversary is prepared to join in purposeful talks for peace. The President gave reality to the situation by announcing - and the whole of that explanation, I feel, has not been disclosed yet - that he was prepared to forgo the necessity to engage in political campaigning and to devote the whole of his effort to adding to the thirty-odd diplomatic approaches for peace that in his time he has made with the active concurrence and support of the Australian Government. As Mr Hasluck says, we keep in frequent contact with the American Government. This practice is followed as a matter of weekly or fairly frequent routine, as evidenced by the fact that today - is it not - Dean Rusk is meeting Mr Hasluck and the New Zealand Minister for External Affairs in New Zealand and is to come on here for consultations. The point is that the President has announced that he is ceasing to be involved in internal electoral problems for the very reason that, as he says, he is resolved, for the rest of his time in office - for the next 9 months - to concentrate on this whole effort.
Who can point to any advantage in this for Australia, as distinct from a Party that may feel that by trying to create disaffection it will reduce support for the existing
Government and promote the view that its electoral chances will improve? Who can come here today and say that in the perspective in which Paul Hasluck put the Vietnam conflict, from the viewpoint from which the Prime Minister put the conflict yesterday, it is not the duty of this country to support four square the American announcement on Monday in relation to maintaining strength until a genuine peace is declared, but to work for that peace every minute of the time when we can get the slightest reception or understanding from our adversary? Therefore, Mr President, it is my view that the Senate ought to give strong support for the statement of the Minister for External Affairs and the statement of the Prime Minister in relation to our foreign policy.
– We would have been dealing only with the statement that emanated from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) on 26th March, but that has become virtually of secondary importance in view of what has happened in the last 48 hours. Senator Wright thought fit to make an issue of United States-Australian relations. In discussing relations between democratic powers any Australian and, in particular, any member of the Australian Labor Party, who feels like making comparisons with the greatness of the late Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy and Stating that there are certain shortcomings in the present President of the United States, is in no way acting treasonably. Let us take it a little further. If it is good enough for back bench senators on the Government side to glory and gibe on occasions at question time because of economic problems confronting Britain, to sneer in order to make a political attack on Prime Minister Wilson and to indicate that Britain is decadent, then it cannot be political if wc make criticisms of certain sections in the United States. That is the first point that I want to make.
Let me go a little further to whether or not it is infra dig to make any disparaging remarks about the Minister for External Affairs. It was noticeable this morning that Peter Hastings who, I am sure, has not a membership ticket in the Labor Party, stated that the President’s speech left Mr
Hasluck, in the vulgar phrase, like a shag on a rock, that he was not consulted, and so on.
– The correspondent probably read only one or two paragraphs that have been printed in newspapers.
– 1 have not finished. If we are to deal with this subject with what I hope will be a high degree of realism, we must recognise that the situation in which the Government finds itself desperately having to get on side again has a habit of repeating itself. I have said on numerous occasions that we were confronted with this in World War II. It was said that Chamberlain was the greatest statesman that Britain ever had, but when it was found that he had feet of clay the British public had to hop on the bandwagon of Churchill.
– And what a bandwagon.
– The honourable senator knows, and 1 know, that a few years ago the Government’s policy was in favour of a plebiscite on the future of West Irian, but when the United States determined to placate Indonesia by an immediate transfer of West Irian to Indonesia the Government did not say a word; it just accepted this. If the Government is more or less to mesh in with everything that is done by the State Department of the United States it must accept this situation. Our advice has been quite reasonable. Government supporters know and I know that if it happens that McCarthy or Kennedy is President of the United States this Government, which will be in office until 1969 when a political Armageddon will come, will be quite happy to welcome the new United States President. I was very pleased with one remark made by Senator Wright.
He referred to the new society and to facing up to it. This is the theme that we have been hammering over the last 7 years. We said that if the French Government in the early post-war years bad emulated the thinking of the Roosevelts, the Attlees, the Frasers and the Curtins, and given this part of Asia self government, we would not have had the festering sore that we have now. An effort is being made to build a new society on very frail foundations. In every statement there is reference to a growing number of refugees. It is said that the Tet offensive was beaten off. Of course it was beaten off but we did not see villagers defending themselves hamlet by hamlet. They were just disinterested. In various theatres of war in World War . II we did not have that situation. We had underground movements fighting Fascism but .ve havenot any underground movements of any consequence fighting on this issue. 1 am not one of those who say that it is a case of North Vietnam versus the Thieu Government. I believe a pretty substantial segment of the community is just sick of the war.
That brings me to the statement made by the President of the United States in his address to the nation. According to a Washington report under dateline 31st March, he said that peace can be based on the Geneva Accords of 1954 under political conditions that permit all of the South Vietnamese to chart their course free of any outside domination or interference. This is the nub of the situation. Whether it is done now or in 5 years time, if the United Nations supervises an election in South Vietnam obviously the best that will he got from this Government’s point of view will be a neutralist government. If South Vietnam has a Government that is pro-Vietcong that situation will be unpalatable. 1 will deal in a few minutes with the situation in relation to Australia’s defence a few years hence. It is a situation we have to live with and digest.
What are the alternatives? Recently I asked a question about the number of members of the Army Special Investigation Branch. I was told that the total number is thirty-two. I believe that those men would be better employed in our civil aid programme in South Vietnam combating food racketeers. Senator Wright has cited figures in that regard. If we could be sure that our civil aid went to the right people we would be a lot happier about it. A thorough cleansing is necessary, from the village level up. A review is necessary of all forms of administration. I have heard Senator McManus and other honourable senators refer in this chamber to the hamlet scheme in South Vietnam. Great hopes were held for it. I welcomed the scheme. It came about as one of the results of the famous Honolulu Conference attended by President Johnson, Mr Harold Holt, our late
Prime Minister, and a number of other important people. We were told of the objectives of the hamlet programme. However, as soon as the Vietcong offensive started the scheme collapsed like a deck of cards. We must be realistic. It amazes me that various Ministers in the Cabinet who are prominent in commercial life and would soon jettison something that is obsolescent in that sphere, in the realm of international affairs are inclined to say: ‘We have to patch it up because the leaders there say they are anti-Communist.’
The point I am making is that in order to establish a new society in Asia we must take calculated risks that will, more or less, in the next decade parallel the events in eastern Europe. The various left wing governments of eastern Europe are gradually blunting the offensive spirit of the Soviet Union. We must face the fact that it is necessary to take calculated risks. The British are withdrawing from east of Suez and in the United States there is a reorientation of views. Our new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was very slow to join Mr Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore in looking for alternative defence measures on his visit to London.
I do not wish to be misinterpreted on this point. I believe that the first responsibility of the United Kingdom Government is to the economic wellbeing of the British people. It was necessary for the United Kingdom Government to study alternative proposals. Sly digs are made at Mr Whitlam and other prominent people in the Australian Labor Party. I remind honourable senators that on page 27 of the Labor Party’s Platform and Constitution our policy is clearly laid down. We say that a mutual defence scheme should be developed amongst nations within South East Asia and Indian sub-continental areas and beyond, consistent with the requirements of the United Nations Charter. It amazes me that Paul Hasluck has done nothing to accelerate - I emphasise the word ‘accelerate’ - the calling of meetings with the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia so that a mutual defence treaty can be signed, sealed and delivered.
I am aware that Government supporters say that that could happen in the next few weeks or months. We are told that our Minister for External Affairs is going hither and thither, but I. like to see results. There is a lot of talk about world poverty. We always seem to have allies who are paper tigers without hearts. A great deal of breast beating is going on and there is a lot of fear about what will happen at the next United States presidential election. As soon as we get cracking to obtain clear cut understandings with Singapore and Malaysia we will be a lot better off. Will any honourable senator opposite dispute that for any aid we give to Singapore and Malaysia we will get value? We cannot say that about the aid that goes in South Vietnam to corrupt merchants with concubines and Cadillacs. 1 have not heard Paul Hasluck or anyone else have the moral courage to say to VicePresident Ky or to any other South Vietnamese leader: ‘Wc are going to give you aid but we want to see results’. I would have a lot more respect for the statement we are discussing if it contained something to that effect. But it does not. lt contains too much namby-pamby double talk. There is talk of the lessons we are learning in Vietnam and that the events there will not happen anywhere else. There is a lot of talk about world poverty.
The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ ot 27th March last published a report of a joint statement by Anglican and Catholic Bishops in Hong Kong. They say without equivocation that the people of Hong Kong want to see considerable improvements in social services, especially for youth and labour. That is not a statement by Marxists. A fortnight ago in the Sydney ‘Catholic Weekly’ there was an amazing report on South Korea. That is another country into which we have poured money to bring about a better society. The statement pointed out that a Jesuit missionary had suggested to workers in the South Korean silk industry that they combine in a form of trade union. The authorities moved in. Firstly they dismissed the ageing workers in the silk industry. Then they suggested to the United States State Department that the missionaries involved were subversive and should be deported to the United States. Not a word was said on the incident by the Australian Government. lt is not said in the statement we arc discussing whether we are satisfied that South Korea is trying to build a new society. Honourable senators opposite ask: ‘What should we do? Should we isolate ourselves?’ The situation has become Gilbertian because in the next breath honourable senators opposite talk about the economic advancement of this country. Capital comes into Australia from Hong Kong and other Asian countries that should be fed back to them. That is not done because the investors are afraid of changes in their own countries. All this funk money is injected into our economy. It might bs that we have to live dangerously in the new society. 1 know that Senator Wright in his own heart expects a new Asian society. It may be necessary for us to prop up alternative governments that might be termed non-aligned or neutralist, or whatever tag honourable senators opposite wish to pin on them. It should be remembered that non-aligned countries may be vulnerable to Communist subversion from Peking.
The new regime in Indonesia has suffered birth pangs. Some ultra-leftist elements have got out of line because of their innate patriotism. That sort of aggression was successfully curbed without outside aid. By their success they were able to lift their own morale. That is the situation that the Labor Party has advocated for so long. Adjacent to the Singapore-Malaysia sector is Burma, virtually a neutral country. Australia should be able to assist many other countries which may be left wing, in broad terms, but would be more inclined to a Romanian attitude than to the hard line Communist viewpoint that prevails in Peking. ft is a mistake to adopt the attitude that we will help to keep a ruling class in power because we believe it is a little better than the alternative of a government of extreme Peking attitudes. There are alternative forms of government but to bring them to power will certainly mean the running of calculated risks. The Labor Party’s attitude has been greatly misinterpreted in the past although we have made our position quite clear. There is talk of de-escalation of the war in South Vietnam. Nobody wants anarchy. We must aim at reasonable resettlement and the establishment of standing forces in particular sectors of the country, accompanied ‘by a slowing down of the tempo. It would be extremely presumptuous for anybody to attempt to work out a specific timetable. If it ever comes about that free elections are held in Vietnam as laid down in the terms of the Geneva Accords of 1954, it is quite obvious that some of the (all poppies in the present Government of South Vietnam will be defeated. They have had 7 years to put their house in order. Schemes such as the hamlet programme should have been regularly advanced and we should not find now that after at least 7 years of failure to act South Vietnam is to build up its army to 700,000 men. lt is a case of too little, too late. 1 have never criticised the United States for its aid generosity. I repeat what 1 have said before, that the United States has been rather gullible and has been fooled by certain people who wrap the cloak of antiCommunism around themselves. The difficulty has been that those people seem to be able to get a blank cheque. We must look beyond the question of a neutral zone of the type between North and South Korea. I respectfully suggest to all honourable senators, irrespective of political parties, that the great problem will come for the whole world within the next 5 years when China and France achieve atomic parity with other nuclear powers. I think we are all somewhat frightened of what will happen if there is a recurrence of the situation that occurred at the time of the Cuban confrontation. I sincerely hope that the United States President of the day will have the wisdom of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and that, someone with the restraint that was displayed by Khrushchev during the Cuban affair will be available to exercise his influence on either the French or the Chinese. I hope that by then the present leaders of those two countries will have passed on. Someone might ask: ‘Do you think that China will mellow like Russia, or will the Red Guard spirit prevail?’ Of course that is something that must be faced up to. 1 know that Senator Mattner, who is listening quite intently and who is a man with a keen military appreciation, would not knock General Matthew Ridgway who years ago said thai the lessons of land warfare in Korea indicated that we would end up with more failure in Vietnam. The same Matthew Ridgway has issued to the United States Senate the warning that I am issuing today - that within 5 years or less statesmanship or brinkmanship, or whatever we might call it, will be vital. That is particularly true in relation to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which is a very complex problem.
Whatever might be the final situation in Vietnam, it will be repugnant to many people. We do not know what will bc the outcome of the unsteady settlement that has been arrived at in North Korea and South Korea. I do not underwrite the internal administration of North Korea any more than I do that of North Vietnam, and I do not want to be misunderstood in what I am about to say about the statements that emanate from the Department of External Affairs. In such statements we apply moral values, say that we are a Christian country and that we have certain points of view. If that is so, then we must be even mote severe in our attitude to all forms of exploitation of the masses. We should adopt a severe attitude in relation to the adulteration of medicines and the holding back of rice and other commodities. It would be a very fine sight indeed if our Ausrialian troops in Vietnam were, in the Robin Hood tradition, to burst the merchants’ warehouses, take the rice out, and break the stranglehold on commerce. Someone may ask: ls that a wonderful way in which to deal with such things? If we want to galvanise the masses of such countries and let them feel that there is a purpose in life and that they have equality of opportunity, then that is one way of doing it.
Through evolutionary processes we in Australia have achieved certain reforms. At various times people in authority have realised that they had to accommodate others or serious clashes would occur. But the rulers of some Asian countries are like the Bourbons of old; they never forget anything and they never learn anything. All that we find in the statement we are considering are a lot. of platitudes. I have said before, and I say again, that the Australian Government should increase its pressure on these Asian countries. Members of the Government are entitled to be a little pessimistic at the moment. It is very easy to tune in with one of the big powers and to say: ‘Rightly or wrongly, we are with them’. It would be wrong for us to think that we were a super power or anything like it. but I. do not think it is beyond the realms of possibility for an Australia of the future to have a foreign policy that is as astute and as effective as the role that is played bv the Scandinavian powers in Europe. Of course if a great power starts a war, one can only fight a rearguard action. Internal subversion is the biggest problem that we have to combat in many Asian countries. Remarkably enough, very little subversion occurs in the Scandinavian countries that lie adjacent to the Soviet Union. Senator Cormack, who is very well versed in these matters, might like to remind me of a certain Army officer who was guilty of treason. But we must remember that people defect from the Soviet world too. So what one loses on the swings one picks up on the roundabout.
How can we encourage the masses in the countries that we would like to help? How can we enthuse them? J believe that we can do so only by taking a calculated risk and by trying to change their society quite vigorously, lt may even require surgery. Sometimes if you delay surgery because of the fear of what might happen during the operation you are left with a corpse on your hands. This is the situation that we are facing at the moment in relation to Vietnam as a whole. It may well be that the best we can hope for eventually will be a settlement such as that arrived at between South Korea and North Korea. It may well require the use of forces such as was envisaged by a high United States officer, Major-General Gavin.
If the United States of America were to reorientate its policy, it would not mean the end of the world. I have been critical of some aspects of President Johnson’s external policy, but on the other hand I think it would be a catastrophe for the world if a Republican like Nixon were to become the President of the United States. He would be even more hawkish externally, and the less one says about his internal social policy the better. If the next President were to be Hubert Humphrey, McCarthy or Kennedy, this Government would rightly extend him VIP treatment if he were to come to Australia. Civilised nations can have their differences but still be aligned. Whatever happens in Vietnam, we will still be confronted with other problems. One will flow from a mutual alliance involving Malaysia and Singapore. I know we will not be able to obtain the same sort of agreement with Indonesia, but we should be able to achieve, economic agreements that would enable us to create this outer shield. To take a wider view, we could also seek to entourage Burma and India. If an armistice is negotiated in Vietnam, I hope that the society that is to be found there 7 or 8 years later will be better than that at present to be found in Korea. But I do not see how we will be much better off if the people we want to help will not help themselves.
Speaking of Australia’s relations with other countries, the Australian Labor Party has placed emphasis on the. negotiation of mutual agreements. Any criticism of President Johnson that I may have expressed has been expressed also by Senator Fulbright and a lot of other leading people in the United States. But surely even though we criticise one another in relation to a specific issue, we do not go beyond that point. Just as John Curtin, in his dealings with the British Government, decided that Australia should chart another course - the then members of the present Government parties were critical of what he did - I do not think we would mind having to assume greater defence responsibilities, as has been suggested by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. But I can assure you we would be very resentful if in the process administrations and juntas were set up that retained conditions of poverty of which we so rightly are critical and which even the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) concedes to be one of the greatest breeding grounds of subversion.
– I wish to make a couple of comments on Senator Mulvihill’s speech as I understood it. I understood him to advocate free elections in Vietnam under United Nations supervision. I believe this was provided for in the Geneva Agreements. I see nothing wrong with the holding of elections in due course providing - Senator Mulvihill did not make this point - free elections are held in both North Vietnam and South Vietnam and providing there is a period in which political parties other than the Communist Party in North Vietnam are permitted to form their base and to campaign freely without interference and subjection, which is a right that the Communists would demand in South Vietnam. If those conditions are met, if they are free elections, if all political parties are able to campaign freely in North Vietnam, then I will go along with Senator Mulvihill. But that is quite unrealistic.
– Ky let the cat out of the bag the other day about the elections in South Vietnam, did he not?
– We are talking about free elections. At least the elections in South Vietnam were supervised and they were said to be as free as they could possibly be, and, with the greatest goodwill in the world, I ask Senator Lacey whether there have ever been any of these free elections in North Vietnam that the Labor Party talks about so much. There they have a government which was imposed by force and which is sustained by force. It has never gone to the people in a free election and has never allowed other political parties to campaign against it. All we hear is this Stupid, senile criticism of South Vietnam. We never hear a word of criticism of the ruthless Communist dictatorship that exists in North Vietnam.
Let us be fair. If these principles are good enough for South Vietnam, then they are good enough for North Vietnam and they are good enough for Communist China. If Senator Mulvihill believes that, then I will go along with him. I want to know whether he supports the view which I put that there should be completely free elections in North Vietnam as well as in South Vietnam.
Senator Mulvihill also criticised the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) because the Minister had not persuaded the Malaysian and Singapore Governments to come together. Let me remind Senator Mulvihill that they are independent governments and what they do is their decision. There is no question of the Australian Government or an Australian Minister pressing them to reach an agreement. What they do and the conditions upon which they do it are matters entirely for their own decision. Senator Mulvihill nods his head. I know he is in agreement with me there. It is unfair to attack the Minister because this desirable result has not been achieved.
Senator Mulvihill also criticised some action taken in South Korea. Again I remind him that, while we might deplore this, South Korea has a different culture and a different society from this country, and I do not believe we should try to impose our society on any nation that is not quite ready to accept it. One of the great tragedies of Africa was the fact that the British, with the greatest good will, tried to impose on the people of Africa a form of government that they were not quite ready to accept, with the result that there have been dissension and chaos. 1 believe we should encourage South Korea and other countries to reach the stage of development when they will accept the society which we believe - perhaps in our arrogance - is the best society. But we should not try to impose our form of society upon them.
– That was based on the aspect of poverty. I did not say. the overall society.
– I appreciate the honourable senator’s point, but I do not think it alters the principle I am espousing. There is one final point on which I could find myself in complete agreement with Senator Mulvihill. He has suggested that we should endeavour by agreement to establish in South Vietnam the same situation as exists in South Korea. As J understand the position, South Korea has made remarkable economic progress. If North Vietnam would mind its own business, and get on with the job of establishing the type of government it wants, leaving South Vietnam to develop in the way it wants, and develop its own type of government and its own society, then I would agree with Senator Mulvihill.
I listened with great interest to Senator Cavanagh. I am not quite sure whether Senator Cavanagh is out of step with his Leader, Mr Whitlam, or Mr Whitlam is out of step with Senator Cavanagh. Senator Cavanagh spent a great deal of his time making a most ungenerous attack upon President Johnson and his motives. Whether Senator Cavanagh is protecting himself against what he believes will occur - that President Johnson’s offer of peace will be rejected by Hanoi - I do not know. But I have never heard Senator Cavanagh, in this place or elsewhere, offer one word of criticism against North Vietnam. Indeed, I have heard him speak in fulsome praise of North Vietnam. It may be that he wants to have at least one foot on the right side so that, if Hanoi rejects the offer of peace, he will be in a position to say: ‘I told you so. I told you that President Johnson was not sincere. His offer was a political trick but Hanoi, with its great wisdom, perceived this trick.’
– Is that not what Hanoi is saying now?
– Yes. I certainly hope that Hanoi will have the wisdom and humanity to accept the terms offered and negotiate. After President Johnson made his announcement. Mr Whitlam was reported in the Press as having said that tha changed attitude of the United States towards the war was in line with the Labor Parry’s attitude. Senator Cavanagh tells us today that it is not in line with the Labor Party’s attitude. Indeed, he was extremely critical of President Johnson. He attacked President Johnson very severely and, I think, very unfairly. Therefore I think that there is some truth in the suggestion that either he is out of step wilh Mr Whitlam or Mr Whitlam is out of step with him. I repeat that one is entitled to draw this conclusion, because Mr Whitlam supported President Johnson and said that what he had stated was in line with the Labor Party’s attitude.
The war itself, of course, is another matter. Perhaps Mr Whitlam, in an act of extreme political opportunism, only wanted to jump on the bandwagon and to get some political kudos from President Johnson’s action. I. do not know. But now we are told this is not the Labor Party’s attitude at all.
– The Labor Party’s policy is the total cessation of bombing of the North.
– I thank the honourable senator. I was coming to that. When Mr Whitlam made his statement, he knew very well thai President Johnson had not spoken of total cessation of bombing. President Johnson had made it clear - Senator Wright quoted his statement - that he was going to protect the American troops in Vietnam. He made it clear that he was going to use bombing for tactical reasons to impede (he flow of supplies to South Vietnam. Mr Whitlam knew that. I repeat that President Johnson’s statement was clear. Therefore, it would seem that, in an act of political opportunism, Mr Whitlam jumped on the bandwagon. In fact, if Senator Cavanagh’s statement is correct, this is what Mr Whitlam must have done.
Mr Whitlam also said that the Labor Parly’s policy on Vietnam was badly drafted. He puts one interpretation on it, Senator
Cavanagh puts another and somebody else puts a third. I accept Senator Cavanagh’s interjection that the Labor Party’s policy is the total and unconditional cessation of bombing of North Vietnam. But I go on record as saying that I do not accept such a policy. I believe it would be suicidal to allow the aggressor free transportation of troops and supplies into South Vietnam without any impediment whatever. Indeed, this would be against every military principle. Senator Mulvihill referred to the military experience of Senator Mattner. I see Senator Mattner nodding his head in agreement. We are now told that it is not the policy of the Labor Party. Therefore Mr Whitlam is out of step with Senator Cavanagh.
I bad hoped during this debate to deal with the problems associated with Britain’s withdrawal from South East Asia. However. I. am afraid that because of the way this debate has- progressed 1 must spend more time on the Vietnam issue than I had hoped. Senator Cavanagh said that the United States was the aggressor in Vietnam. I do not know what type of perverted reasoning has led him to this conclusion. 1 do not know what the North Vietnamese troops are doing in South Vietnam. There are no South Vietnamese or United States troops north of the border. But North Vietnamese troops are south of the border. This is an odd type of aggression. I wonder whether Senator Cavanagh would agree that if South Korean troops crossed the border into North Korea that the North Koreans should be charged with aggression. This is the type of logic that he is applying to this situation.
I want to quote some authorities to disprove what Senator Cavanagh said. I am indebted to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) for reminding me of what was said by Mr Stewart who was recently again installed by the Labour Government, as the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary. About 2 years ago Mr Stewart was in Australia. He was interviewed on 26th June 1966 at the National Press Club in Canberra. I wish to quote some of the questions asked of Mr Stewart and the answers that he gave. T think they are important to consider when a member of the Labor Party in Australia charges the United States with aggression. One question asked was this:
Mr Stewart, there are a number of people who believe ‘that South Vietnam should be surrendered to the Communists through a withdrawal of Western military assistance. I wonder if you would comment on your assessment of the consequences of such a withdrawal?
Mr Stewart replied:
Well, the consequences first of all would be that the people of South Vietnam would be very unhappy indeed, because I think that, whatever view one may take of the events in that country, it is perfectly clear that a very large number of people there do not want to come under Communist rule and would detest it Well, that would bc the first result. The second result would be a widespread belief in the neighbouring countries, and spreading over the world, that this kind of tactic - of disturbing the peace within a country, of sending in forces from outside to promote that disturbance until finally you have overthrown its government and imposed a Communist regime on it - the belief would tend to spread all over the world that this process, wherever it was tried, was going to be allowed to succeed. And, if that belief spread, then I think the prospects of peace are very much dimmer. That seems to me what is at issue.
The next question was:
Sir, would you say that the American presence and the Australian presence in Vietnam is a contribution to peace?
Mr Stewart replied:
Yes, I should, for that reason.
These are the words of the present Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom.
– What party does he belong to?
– To the Labour Party. 1 believe that Mr Stewart is an honourable and a wise man and he makes nonsense of the statement by Senator Cavanagh. I want to quote other authorities that Senator Cavanagh will not argue with. I want to quote the Communists themselves. On a previous occasion in this Senate J quoted Mao Tse-tung. He laid down in his manifesto the principles and the policy to be followed in Indo-China - a policy of subversion and so on. Finally, he said that a final stroke of force would achieve the Communist objective. He said that this may take 1 or 2 years. Perhaps Mao Tse-tung does not mean what he says. I do not know, but I think it would be foolish indeed for us not to accept what he says to be the basis of his policy. 1 recall that people said the same thing about Hitler and Mussolini; that those two men did not mean what they said. We learnt to our cost that they did mean it.
General Giap, the commander in chief of the North Vietnamese forces, has said that the Vietnam war is a war of national liberation. He went on to say that if the technique for this war of national liberation - so-called - succeeds in South Vietnam, it can be applied anywhere else in the world. Khrushchev at one stage described a war of national liberation as aggression directed and supplied from outside a nation but disguised in nationalistic trappings so as to pass for an indigenous insurrection. Well, he has fooled Senator Cavanagh because the honourable senator thinks that the war in South Vietnam is a war of national liberation. We have before us what the Communists say. One could go on ad infinitum, quoting Ho Chi Minh, General Giap and other North Vietnamese leaders.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was replying to Senator Cavanagh’s assertion that the United States is the aggressor in South Vietnam. I quoted a number of authorities who cannot be dismissed lightly; indeed, they must be accepted. I quoted the Communists themselves who do not hold that view. In order to wrap this matter up let me quote a few more authorities who, I believe, must be accepted. One is none other than Mr Beazley, a very respected member of the Australian Labor Party. In the ‘West Australian’ of 9th September 1966 he was reported as strongly criticising the Labor Party policy of recognising the Vietcong as a negotiating authority. The report stated:
He said that acceptance of the Vietcong as negotiators was the seal of approval on the strategy of war by subversion.
So Mr Beazley does not accept the proposition that the United States is the aggressor and the North Vietnamese are engaged merely in assisting the National Liberation Front, as Senator Cavanagh would have us believe.
Richard Hughes, a very respected correspondent, sent from Saigon a report that was published in the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 27th April 1966. This report has been available for study by Senator Cavanagh and other members of the Labor Party who support his view for a long time. Richard Hughes wrote:
North Vietnam’s Communists have now openly cast aside the official fiction that the National Liberation Front is a popular internal rebellion against a tyrannical government, and that its policy can reflect the aspirations of noble patriots who are not necessarily Communist.
This is made clear in an inside report just released. I do not intend to quote the whole of that report, but it was released by the North Vietnamese and the Americans gained possession of it. Let me quote the following paragraphs from it:
The hard inner core of the National Liberation Front (NLF) is the People’s Revolutionary Party (PRP) which is directly controlled and administered by the North Vietnam politburo . . .
They used and manipulated the NLF while the pretence of ‘a popular non-Communist internal rebellion’ suited their ends.
On a previous occasion 1 quoted from a captured document which quite unnecessarily had at the bottom of it the words: This must not be allowed to fall into enemy hands’. It provided further proof of the error of Santor Cavanagh’s assertion. One other authority whom I quote h Mr Douglas Pike. Senator Murphy put his signature to a poisonous little pamphlet called Vietnam - Myth and Reality’ in which he accepted and acknowledged Douglas Pike as a noted authority on Vietnam. True to the type of psychological warfare which is being waged in Australia and which is aided and abetted by some members of the Labor Party, the statement in that pamphlet was a complete and dishonest misquotation of what Douglas Pike said in his excellent book ‘Vietcong’, which is recognised throughout the world as one of the most authoritative books on Vietnam.
Douglas Pike being acknowledged by Senator Murphy as a noted authority on Vietnam, members of the. Labor Party cannot quibble if I quote him as an authority. After dealing with the beginnings of the revolutionary guerrilla warfare, he said in his book:
Revolutionary guerrilla warfare was quite different. lt was an imported product, revolution from the outside; ite stock in trade, the grievance, was often artificially created; its goal of liberation, a deception. Communist use of revolutionary guerrilla warfare is nowhere better described than by President John F. Kennedy in a speech before a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate on 25th May 1961. . . .
The National Liberation Front was not simply another indigenous covert group, or even a coalition of such groups. Tt was an organisational steamroller, nationally conceived and nationally organised, endowed with ample cadres and funds, crashing out of the jungle to flatten the GVN.
I could quote at great length from that book by Douglas Pike, but I suggest to members of the Labor Party who doubt the truth of what I am saying that they obtain the book from the Parliamentary Library. Let me make two more quotations from it. At pages xi and xii Douglas Pike said:
Victory by the Communists would mean consigning thousands of Vietnamese … to death, prison or permanent exile.
He said that it was a dehumanising process which he could not support. At page 80 he said:
The NLF was a true Communist-front organisation.
At page 83 he said:
As for the Communists, in the most fundamental sense their purpose in the NLF was to achieve political control of the area below the 17th parallel, thus completing the 1945 August revolution.
If I were to quote one other authority he would be Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore. He is on record as having clearly declared on more than one occasion that the Communists are the aggressors and that if South Vietnam falls all the little fishes in Asia will fall. So there is a number of authorities, from the Communists up to those accepted by Senator Murphy, who are recognised and accepted and who completely disprove the untrue assertions that are made continuously by Senator Cavanagh.
Let us go a little further and look at the situation that is developing in South East Asia. The situation in Laos today is becoming more and more critical. Prince Souvanna Phouma, who visited Australia only a short while ago and who was praised by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, as a great patriot, is on record as recently as today as saying that 40,000 North Vietnamese troops are engaged in warfare in his country. Will someone suggest that it is the little kingdom of Laos that is the aggressor? What right have 40,000 North Vietnamese troops to be in Laos, overcoming that small independent kingdom.
– In time the Labor Party will try to prove that.
– Senator Webster has raised the interesting point that members of the Labor Party will set out to prove that the
Laotians are the aggressors. That would be in line with the logic that we have been hearing. Then let us turn to the position that is developing in Burma. It is worth noting because Mao Tse-tung, in his famous manifesto, after dealing with Indo-China, went on to deal with Burma, Thailand and the Malay Peninsula. Burma was next in line. He said:
After the liberation of Indo-China, Burma will fall into line, as a good foundation has already been laid there.
What is the situation in Burma? It is deteriorating rapidly. It is of no use for somebody to tell us that Ne Win, the Prime Minister of Burma, is engaged in repression of his people, because not so long ago Chou En-Lai and other Communist leaders were full of praise for Ne Win. They said that he was a great patriot and was on the most intimate and friendly terms with China. A message from Communist China in 1967 stated:
We feel heartily glad of the Ne Win Government’s policy of peace and neutrality. The friendly relations between China and Burma set an illuminating example of peaceful co-existence.
That was in January 1967. Today we have evidence that the Communists are a new force in Burma. They have been trained and armed in Communist China. If time permitted 1 could quote at some length to prove that Burma may well be next on the list of countries to be taken over but I shall content myself with only one quotation to prove the truth of what I am saying. Before doing so, however, let me say that only a few days ago the Prime Minister of India, Mrs Gandhi, protested at Burmese tribesmen using Indian territory to move into China to be trained and armed and then sent back to take part in the liberation of Burma. This is what the ‘Intelligence Digest* of December 1967 had to say on this subject:
Yet another serious trouble spot is developing in Asia which could have very serious consequences. The possibility of a determined Communist Chinese attempt to overthrow the Burmese Government of General Ne Win and to create a second Vietnam in Burma can no longer be ruled out.
Apart from the rapid deterioration of relations between Rangoon and Peking, there is now conclusive evidence, say our observers, of a largescale Chinese infiltration into Burma - many of the infiltrators posing as refugees.
Now the Burmese National Liberation Front has been set up. All of this is sickeningly familiar to us - another National Liberation Front. This is completely in line with Giap’s statement that ‘if the war of national liberation succeeds in Vietnam we can apply it anywhere else’. Perhaps the Chinese Communists do not mean what they say, but on this evidence it would be most imprudent to ignore what they are saying, because in fact they are carrying out, step by step, the policy laid down by Mao Tsetung in 1953. In Cambodia Prince Sihanouk has said in recent weeks that as the situation continues to deteriorate in his country some government of Cambodia may have to call upon the United States of America for assistance. I point out that Prince Sihanouk has been held up as their shining light by many of those who oppose the Vietnam commitment. Now the horrible truth apparently is dawning on Prince Sihanouk.
I think we have shown pretty conclusively that the statements being made by Opposition members, particularly by Senator Cavanagh, contain not a grain of truth. One can suggest only that they are participating in the psychological war which is being waged in this country to lower the morale and the willingness of the people of the free world to resist Communist aggression in Asia. Looking at the situation in the United States today I am reminded of what I. think was my first speech on foreign affairs in the Senate. On that occasion I said that Vietnam was a test of the moral fibre of the people of the United States of America. I believe that statement to be truer today than it was then. The present situation is a test of the moral fibre of the people of the United States of America. They must decide whether, in the face of continued aggression in Asia, they have the willingness and the will to resist on behalf of the free world to allow the people of Asia to determine their own destiny in their own way.
– One of the principal objectives of a country’s foreign policy is to preserve that country’s security. Five months ago when the Senate last debated international affairs we believed that we had a foreign policy which would achieve that end. We believed that our foreign policy was based upon firm foundations. Although we had heard that
Britain had ideas of retrenching some of her commitments, we believed that she would still retain a significant presence in the East and in the Indian Ocean. There was even talk of British bases being constructed in northern Australia and Western Australia. In addition we were tied to a number of Asian countries, sympathetic to our viewpoint, in a system of collective security. Finally we had an alliance with the most powerful nation on earth - the United States of America. That alliance had been cemented by the close bonds which had been forged almost on a personal basis between the then Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Harold Holt, and the President of the United States, President Johnson.
How different is the situation today. Britain, which we believed would be here for many years, will be gone by 1971, leaving a vacuum in the Indian Ocean which the Soviet Union is already showing indications of a desire to fill. In Vietnam the situation has been worsened by an all-out attack by the North - the Tet offensive - which had a number of objectives, the chief of which was to create administrative and general chaos in the South which would make government impossible and convince the people that they had no hope of peace unless it was under Communism*’
The offensive in Asia has been directed to other countries. Yesterday Prince Souvanna Phouma of Laos declared that his country had been invaded by at least 40,000 North Vietnamese troops, and that he was now convinced that their objective was the complete subjugation of the country. North Vietnam Radio has announced the formation of a National Liberation Front in North Thailand. The situation in those countries indicates that when South Vietnam is taken, if it can be taken, they are next on the list. Of the two chief personalities in forging and strengthening the Australian-American alliance, our former Prime Minister, Mr Holt, has gone, and President Johnson has announced that he proposes to vacate the political scene at the next election.
Before going further I want to pay a tribute to President Johnson and say that when he goes Australia will lose a true and loyal friend, one upon whom we could have depended if a crisis had confronted Australia. I sympathise with him in the action that he has been compelled to take. Even those who criticised his policies in relation to Vietnam admit that he had a keen desire to establish, in his country the Great Society, a society of social justice; that he strove as far as he could to ensure civil rights for the negro population of America and that he was sincere in his belief that his country had an obligation to assist the people of South Vietnam to preserve their liberty from Communism. Apparently the odds against him have been too great. He has been a victim of one of the worst and most sustained propaganda campaigns in history. I think Australia will be worse off for his departure from the scene.
Some of us may regret that in the circumstance of his going there was not at least some consultation with our country, but when one considers the immense burden that he has borne over a number of years - I point out that his health has not been all that it should have been during that period - one must say that Australians owe a lot to him. We regret his going and we refuse to accept the insincere sneers of those who attempt to suggest that there is some political object behind his decision.
What we in Australia have to do is to look at what may happen. Britain has gone and the Indian Ocean today is a vacuum. Many of us naturally will still hope that under its new President the United States of America will continue to undertake its commitments that were so successful in Europe in opposing Communism and which at least it has tried to make successful in Asia. But one has to admit that powerful isolation sentiments have always existed in the United States and those. isolation sentiments have been powerfully strengthened by the remarkable propaganda campaign waged against America’s Asian involvement. Many Americans are justifiably bitter at tha fact that other countries which have done nothing for Asia are long on criticism and short on assistance. How much thanks has the United States received for the millions that it poured out under the Marshall Plan and for the millions that it has provided for underprivileged people throughout tha world?
Can one wonder at it if there are many Americans today who are bitter and who say that America should forget the rest of the world, withdraw into fortress America and look after itself? Of course many of us believe that the United States will never be able to make such a decision. But we in Australia cannot afford to take the risk that that decision may be made without making some provision against it. We therefore need to look the facts in the face. We need to say to ourselves: Britain has gone. There is always the possibility that the United States will reject overseas commitments including those in our area in the future. We have been told by a number of Asian countries, sympathetic to our side, that if America departs from Asia they will have to make their peace with the winning Communist side. Under those circumstances - with Britain gone, with rising isolationism in the United States and with the possibility that the small nations of South East Asia may be forced over onto the other side, onto the winning Communist side as they see it - we have to ask ourselves the question: Are we going to be left on our own?
I do not think that any honourable senator should adopt the attitude that there is nothing to be worried about in these circumstances. I think that any honourable senator who examines the situation will come to the conclusion that we have to examine our foreign policy. We have to see to what degree it now fulfils the needs of our future security. We have to see in what way it needs to be amended to provide for the future where, as I have said before, we may be on our own.
It has been claimed in the Press that there have been indications already that our Government has decided to alter its attitude on foreign policy. A number of statements have been quoted. One was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) that Australia would be sending no additional troops to Vietnam, a statement which he later qualified by saying that other circumstances might arise in the future. We have had quoted also a statement by the Prime Minister that Australia has no commitment to keep troops in Malaysia and Singapore after the British withdrawal and also a statement that in the event of, say, an American withdrawal, Australia would be bound to follow suit. This has led one critic in one newspaper to make the statement about the Prime Minister, who, after all, is the key man in the Government, that no doubt the Prime
Minister is withdrawing from the interventionist position taken by the late Mr Harold Holt. Mr Gorton has warned against Australia extending itself in Asia and has emphasised the importance of national development
I do not like to accept that as definitely the view of our Prime Minister and of our Government. I would prefer to await a statement on the attitude of the Prime Minister and the Government to foreign affairs after Australia has met with the five powers which are to discuss these questions and after our Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has had discussions, as no doubt he is having them at the present time, with Mr Rusk, the United States Secretary of State. 1 want to say this: I hope that we are not merely standing still listening to others and waiting to see what is going to happen. I hope that we are going out after help. I hope that our Government will make direct contact with Washington. I hope that our Government, as I said before, will not wait on events but will take action itself to lay the foundations of what must be our foreign policy of the future. I point out that Sir Alan Watt who has some experience in these affairs has made the statement that development in Asia requires a fundamental re-examination of Australia’s foreign and defence policies. It appears to me that this is true.
The second matter that I think demands examination is Australia’s defence policy. If we face a situation where within 5 years we may be on our own, an obligation comes to the Government to increase our self-reliance in the matter of defence. On behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, I move the following amendment to the motion that the Senate take note of the paper:
At end of motion add: ‘, but the Senate expresses concern at the deterioration of Australia’s defence position occasioned by -
Britain’s impending withdrawal from east of
increasing United States of America oppo sition to military commitments in Asia and our area; and
China’s development of long range atomic weapons, and, accordingly, calls on the Government for action to improve our defences under a four-year plan for -
significant increases in the strength of our armed forces generally;
a naval programme, including an aircraft carrier;
initial steps to development of our own aircraft industry; and
in default of a satisfactory treaty for world nuclear disarmament, acquisition by Australia of its own nuclear deterrent.’.
– What about a naval base?
– I have already said that my Party calls for ‘a naval programme, including an aircraft carrier’ and that in my opinion would include necessary naval bases.
Now, of course, my Party has advocated policies of this kind before and these policies have met with criticism to which we have not objected. But at least we have the policy to meet the new situation. 1 do not object to any criticism that may come from others, but 1 merely ask them to say what their policy is. They have to admit that a new state of affairs faces this country on defence. It is not sufficient for them to suggest that North Vietnam is right and that South Vietnam is wrong and to make all the other statements that are in accordance with this big propaganda campaign that we have seen so much of. What I and the Australian people will want to know is what these people propose to do to nee the new situation of danger in which Australia finds itself.
– I will give the honourable senator a copy of the policy of the Australian Labor Party.
– I think that the policy of the honourable senator’s Party, like the policy of a number of others, will have to be rewritten in view of what has happened in the last few weeks.
The next thing that I want to say is this: There are some people who suggest that we do not need to worry about defence because in our country we are never likely to face attack. They laugh at the prospect that we may be in any danger. They are the people who, as I have said before, believe that all we need to do to defend Australia is to place a notice up at Cape York saying: Trespassers will be prosecuted.’ What has to be remembered is this: With the increase in the population of the world and in the stresses and strains that this causes, many of the wars in the future will be fought for food and for room. The overcrowded countries, the countries with insufficient food, will look around and will fight for food and for room. We, with twelve million people in a huge continent, are in the situation that we are a prospect of both food and room. That intensifies our danger.
We have been told - I come back to this point to make it more definite - that Britain has not said that she will not come to our aid. But let me point this out: Britain is leaving all of her bases in our area. If Britain is to send us naval and air support, as some of her spokesmen have suggested, how are they to come here without staging bases on the way and without bases in this area? Immediately we ask whether we can rely on such assistance, we are told that Britain will have to make a decision on the merits of the particular moment. Then we are told that if there were a grave situation in Europe obviously Britain would not be able to help us. I believe it would be much kinder and much ‘better if the leaders of the British Government today were to say bluntly to us: ‘From now on you are on your own. You had better seek the utmost self -reliance.’
– That is what they have said, really.
– As Senator
Cormack knows, they have said that publicly, but he also knows the qualifications which they attach to it. The suggestions that they hope to be able to come, that they can do this and that they can do that-
– Are unreal.
– In effect, they are unreal and are worth nothing. We hope - many of us - that the United States will still be available as our ally, but we have no promise, we have no definiteness, and we cannot be sure of what the new President will attempt to do. I will not attempt to evaluate, as some other senators have done, what particular candidates in the presidential race will do. I merely say that we have always hoped that the United States in a period of grave crisis, when she had to weigh the welfare of her 200 million people against that of our twelve million people, would come to our assistance, but we have never had any certainty.
At least up to now, up to President Johnson’s announcement, we had an administration which bluntly committed itself to help us. Nobody knows what will be the views of the new administration that will succeed President Johnson’s.
On the question of atomic weapons - this is obviously a controversial one - I point out that it is now admitted, even by the people who suggested it would take centuries for China to develop atomic weapons, that China now has sophisticated atomic weapons, that she has them in considerable supply, that she has built a considerable number of submarines to deliver them and that she is building more. There are some people who say that a treaty is to be put before the United Nations and that we should sign it and feel safe and clear but, as we have been told by our own Minister for External Affairs, that treaty at the moment amounts only to a proposal. Its effectiveness will be vitiated by the fact that the main parties are reserving to themselves the right to inspect what they are doing in the atomic field. They are also including a right of veto on the proposed treaty’s use. Are Japan, India and other countries prepared to accept a treaty of that kind? Their attitude is that the treaty is worth nothing without guarantees, and the principal parties indicate that they are not prepared to give those guarantees. We will be called upon, if we sign the treaty, even to give up atomic development in certain areas for peaceful purposes. What does that mean? It means, in effect, that the most highly developed nations propose under the treaty to reserve for themselves the advantages of these forms of atomic power for peaceful purposes.
– Would you trust Nasser with an atomic bomb?
– If Nasser has an atomic bomb and if he threatens this country we must have one to deter him from attacking us. With China in the situation in which she is today, with her oceangoing submarine fleet, atomic weapons and power now to sweep through Asia if the Americans are forced out, when she threatens our country it would be foolish to adopt any other attitude than this: If we can get a deterrent we ought to have it. I understand that suggestions were expressed the other day that when Mr Rusk came here he would come in the hope of inducing Australia to sign the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. My attitude is clear on this matter. I know that many people who have been attacking the United States will be with her on that particular issue. I want to make it clear that I will not.
The situation in Vietnam has been discussed, I regret to say on a basis of pure political partisanship in a number - not all - of the speeches that have preceded mine. At the present moment there is definitely an attitude of gloom. There is apparently a belief that an immense victory has been gained by the forces of North Vietnam in the Tet offensive. Let us look at the facts. When the Tet offensive began, those forces had four objects in view. First, they sought a big propaganda victory, bearing in mind the coming United States elections and the fact that a considerable body of opinion believed that the situation in South Vietnam was much improved and that our side was getting on top. Undoubtedly they had a propaganda victory. All of the reports that came back from the Press correspondents, whose stories would be censored in North Vietnam but are not censored in South Vietnam, mentioned the immense damage that had been done. There were people who wondered how it would be possible for the enemy forces to mount such an offensive, without regard for the fact that it is always recognised that to combat guerillas in countries such as South Vietnam a superiority of 10 or 12 to 1 is required. At any rate, they had that propaganda victory, and one of the effects of that has been President Johnson’s announcement.
Secondly, they wanted to destroy the administration in South Vietnam. They were concerned with the fact that it was being said that over a large area of South Vietnam our forces had been able to establish order, and a situation was growing in which the people were becoming more and more happy under South Vietnamese rule. That had to be stopped, and therefore they mounted their offensives, one of the objects of which was to destroy the administration in the villages and the towns, to murder the policeman, the teacher and the government official, to make government impossible and then, by destroying towns, camps and establishments of all kinds, to bring into existence a huge body of refugees whose maintenance would be a considerable burden upon our forces. They succeeded so far as that was concerned.
The third object that they had in view was to trigger an immense rising of the ordinary people and the interesting thing is that that did not happen. Another interesting feature - I refer it to those who have suggested that the people of South Vietnam are pining to live under Communism - is that when they had an opportunity to rise with the Vietcong they did not rise. They indicated where their sympathies lay. The fourth object of the Tet offensive was to seize the northern areas, particularly round Hue. That was a failure. This is a significant point in view of the sneers that have been levelled at the fighting qualities of the South Vietnamese troops. It is often admitted that some of the worst fighting took place round Hue. The people who recaptured Hue were the South Vietnamese troops, because there were only about a brigade and a half of Americans in the area. That is an indication of the fighting qualities of the South Vietnamese troops in some of the worst fighting in the Tet offensive.
The people who praise to the skies the results of the Tet offensive say nothing about the heavy losses that the South Vietnamese troops were compelled to suffer through open attacks in certain areas. Nothing is said of the news seeping through of outbreaks and revolts in North Vietnam by the people there who are sick and tired of what they have been suffering. Nothing has been said about the indications of lowering morale in the North. Now that I have mentioned morale, in the last minute or so of my speech I want to repeat what I have often said before. We have been fighting a war on two fronts. We have been fighting a war in Vietnam and a propaganda war here in Australia. The propaganda war has been fought in other countries. We have suffered through our losses in that war. We lost it because of the weakness of governments in the face of a type of propaganda that never should have been permitted.
Do honourable senators think for one moment that in a war you can permit, as the United States Government did because of pressures on it, hundreds of Press correspondents to range up, down and around the battle areas, sending back the most damaging types of reports, including reports of the times that planes were taking off and of the strength of troops in certain areas? Do honourable senators think that that practice would have been tolerated in a Communist country? Does Ho Chi Minh permit it? Would Mao Tse-tung permit it? Of course not. Unfortunately on our side the weakness of governments in facing up to the issues has caused them to allow this practice to operate. In almost every country there have been attempts to mobilise a kind of public opinion on the basis that you give 100% publicity to every allegation against your own side but you never say a word about what is being done by the other side.
Have honourable senators ever heard Senator Cavanagh speak to them about the murders of people in South Vietnam by Vietcong troops? Have honourable senators ever heard him suggest for one moment that the people who voted with their feet when North Vietnam fell under Communist rule - about three-quarters of a million of them who walked out of North Vietnam and left all their possessions - ever had any right to be defended against being placed under Communist rule? Instead of that such people have said time and again: ‘If those people come under Communism it is all right with us because then there will be a kind of peace’. They claim to be the friends of the Asians. They say: They can live under Communism. Communism is good enough for Asians but it is not good enough for Europeans.’
– Whoever has said that?
– That is their angle. Time and time again such inspired propaganda has brought up every allegation, true or false, that could be levelled against our troops; but there has been complete silence about the atrocities that have been committed by the other side and about the fact that the North Vietnamese are in South Vietnam today because they want to teach Asia a lesson. They want to teach the people of Asia the lesson that they will never have peace unless they submit to Communism. That is what we have been lighting with our allies. We have a right to be proud of the fact that we have made a stand for people who deserve freedom just as much as people do in other countries. I conclude by saying that I believe Australia faces a difficult and dangerous situation. I believe we have to intensify self-reliance on our defence. I believe we must have the moral courage to stand up to the people whose propaganda to a big degree has been responsible for many of our present troubles.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– I find myself beginning my speech by taking up a point made by Senator McManus at the end of his speech. He said that the Communist Parties of the world, and specifically the North Vietnamese Communist Party, have been winning a propaganda battle. I hope that Senator McManus will excuse me if I criticise his use of the words ‘propaganda battle’ as being improper in the context in which he used them. I hope to make my reasons clear for saying that. Over 100 years ago Clausewitz, a Prussian general, sought to define the object of a battle. At that time when he strove to set out the principles of war in defining the function of a battle he was thinking in the narrow terms of that period when vast bodies of men manoeuvred in limited confines. He announced the dictum, amongst many others, that the object of a battle is to destroy the enemy’s will to resist. In the context in which he was speaking he was saying that the object of the battle was to destroy the enemy’s will to resist on the battlefield.
The writings of that Prussian general are still a favourite study of the Communists. They have extended Clausewitz’s dictum that the object of a battle is to destroy the enemy’s will to resist - and this is what Senator McManus means. In other words, because we live in a modern context in which people seek to give rational definition to matters they describe, the people who have given some thought to this particular problem have termed it psycho-strategy. The concept is that the battle does not exist only on the battlefield. It exists in the homeland of the enemy.
Psycho-strategy is employed to destroy the capacity of a nation to resist. The object is to destroy the hearth, the homeland and the heart of the nation involved in the battle.
In Australia, as in other civilised, socially intellectual and educationally advanced societies, we have been saying that for the first time the world is seeing the operation of psycho-strategy. It is centred upon the areas described as the intellectual elite. Senator Mattner will understand what I am talking about because he and I have discussed this point often enough. We are coming towards the end of the time in our lives in which we have been involved in the development of this country and in sustaining it in war. I suppose we are not now of very much importance. We do not have a bit of sheepskin in our hip pockets. We do not belong to the elite. A new elite is arising which does not understand the method by which it is being manipulated.
In part I agree with the suggestion that perhaps the non-Communist world, in the context of South East Asia, has been defeated at this juncture by the successful operation and conduct of psycho-strategy.
– And the fact that they are hungry.
– Who is hungry? The Western world, including Australia and the United States of America, has been attempting to stop hunger. I have never yet found a Communist anywhere in the world who has proffered the hungry people anything but the sterile iron of arms. In this debate we have seen the operation of psycho-strategy. We saw it in Senator Cavanagh, who has become a victim of it. This afternoon he quoted from a publication of the Australian Medical Association some observations in relation to what are alleged to be the terrifying results of the American bombing of North Vietnam. I had sufficient curiosity to go and look at the journal to see what he was quoting from and I saw a skilful illustration of the operation of psycho-strategy. The passage in question begins with an article in a section headed ‘Comments and Abstracts’ and contains a series of quotations from the World Health Organisation in relation to public health problems in North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The World Health Organisation said quite clearly that it had no evidence as to the public health situation in North Vietnam but it had a long series of descriptions of the dangerous health situation in South Vietnam. The reason was that the public health situation in South Vietnam was open to examination by the
Organisation. Then glibly - I can use no other word to describe it - the article went on to state how good the health organisation in North Vietnam was. Here we see an example of intellectual dishonesty of the academic. Certainly some footnotes are given, but of the six quotations relating to North Vietnam four are derived from North Vietnam sources and not from the World Health Organisation. I only mention that as an illustration of the operation of psycho-strategy in this place during a debate.
It was interesting to observe in the debate this afternoon the fundamental difference in the approach of honourable senators opposite. Senator Mulvihill warmly supported his remarks about the responsibility that devolved upon the Western world in relation to South Vietnam, and I understand what he said. Senator Cavanagh’s speech was no less emotional, but his emotion had a bitter context which was not to be found in Senator Mulvihills speech. This is the problem which confronts the Australian Labor Party in its approach to the foreign policy of this country. I could discuss at great length some of the arguments that were adduced by Senator Mulvihill. But I suggest that Senator Cavanagh, when he addresses the Senate in future, should extend to the Senate the honour of at least examining the foreign policy of this country, with which I will deal in a moment, without distorting evidence in order to support his argument.
Senator Cavanagh demonstrated some of the qualities that are displayed toy the Opposition toy making what I can only describe as sneering references to the President of the United States of America. He said that what the President has done was not a genuine gesture at all but that the President, confronted with stark realities within the United States and realising that the (majority of the people were against him, was making the best of it and was getting out. That is not in keeping with the character and quality of the President as I have seen and heard him. I shall deal with that further in a moment. Senator Cavanagh’s speech this afternoon was central to the policy of a substantial section of the Australian Labor Party. According to a verbatim report issued by the United States Information Service on 31st March, this is what the President said:
Tonight, in the hope that this action will lead to early talks, I am taking the first step - -
The first step, mind you- to de-escalate the conflict We are reducing - substantially reducing - the present level of hostilities.
He did not say that he proposed to stop the bombing, but that is what Senator Cavanagh said that the President had said. Senator Cavanagh related his whole argument to the statement that the President had said he was going to stop the bombing but that now America was bombing up to the 20th parallel of latitude. The President continued:
And we are doing so unilaterally, and at once.
Tonight, I have ordered our aircraft and naval vessels to make no attacks on North Vietnam, except in the area north of the demilitarised zone where the continuing enemy buildup directly threatens allied forward positions and where movements of troops and supplies are clearly related to that threat.
I repeat that the President did not say that he was stopping the bombing north of the demilitarised zone. He said exactly what I have quoted from a document which is in the possession of every honourable senator. The President continued:
Even this limited bombing of the North could come to an early end - if our restraint is matched by restraint in Hanoi. But I cannot in conscience stop all bombing so long as to do so would immediately and directly endanger the lives of our men and our allies.
– Who is denying that?
- Senator Cavanagh denied it.
– He did not deny it at all.
– Yes, he did. He claimed that the President of the United States of America had said that he would unilaterally cease bombing.
– No, I did not.
– The honourable senator went on to say that the President was continuing bombing up to the 20th parallel.
– The honourable senator has been talking to himself too much.
– I listened to what Senator Cavanagh said. The President said he would halt all bombing except in clearly defined areas, and he included the port of Haiphong and Hanoi. I do not want to pursue this aspect of the matter any further, because to do so would divert me from saying other things that I think should be said.
Senator Mulvihill demonstrated quite clearly by inflection if not directly - certainly Senator McManus said it directly - that the problem confronting us in South East Asia is whether or not the United States proposes to withdraw her forces. If the United States does withdraw her forces, the Australian posture in this area will be in jeopardy. Senator McManus discussed the possibility of the United States, because of the success of psycho-strategy, being forced into adopting the concept of fortress America. There is a great body of such feeling amongst the American people; it has been expressed to me by many Americans from all grades and levels of society. I have clearly in my mind a picture of a man whom I stopped to buy a newspaper from and to talk to in 1965. He asked me: ‘Where do you come from?’ I told him. He then asked: ‘What are you doing?’ I said: ‘I am visiting the United Nations’. I hope you will forgive me, Mr Deputy President, for repeating what he then said. He said: ‘Why in the hell should we work our guts out here in the United States to keep all these ungrateful people in the world going?’ That is an attitude in the United States to which the world may well pay heed. As I have mentioned in the past, America is the only nation which on a vast and substantial scale has sought to rehabilitate the world. It not only has poured out its treasure but also is pouring out its blood.
– What are their assets here?
– We are not talking about their assets here. What we are saying is that there is a generosity in the people of the United States of America which is unmatched in any Socialist republic anywhere in the world, and this is what has to be acknowledged in South East Asia as well as in this Senate and in this country at the moment. Indeed, it is acknowledged and accepted in this country except by people who are directed by the hagiology of some doctrine that they have absorbed in some place or other.
I think I should deal now with the suggestion by Senator McManus that perhaps the announcement of the President of the
United States of America that the United States can no longer sustain this role in South East Asia, which is adopted on behalf of what is described as the free world, is not indivisible from the action of the United Kingdom which feels that the compulsions of history and economics are such that it has to withdraw from east of Suez. He suggests that the Americans may well be thinking, as indeed I have been: ‘Can we support a total role in South East Asia? This may be one of the reasons why they wish to disengage, and at the mere thought that the United States might be in the process of disengagement, fear is now creeping across the whole of South East Asia.
But the extraordinary thing is that while all these mobs have been roaring up and down the streets and on university campuses and attacking the United States Embassy in London, not one of these people who say, To hell with the United States of America; it has got to get out of South Vietnam’, offers a solution. It reminds one of the remark which was wrung from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who said to some Oxford protesters who had mobbed his car: ‘You spend all your days protesting and I have to spend all my nights thinking of how the problem can toe solved.’ Not one of the critics that we hear in this place and in another place ever attempts to find a solution for the problem. It is all very well for Senator Cavanagh to say that this is an operation to win the hearts and minds of the people of South Vietnam. How do we win the hearts and minds of the people of South Vietnam when a gang of cutthroat Communist Vietcong can steal into a village at night, disembowel the pregnant women and cut the throat of the village headman? Yet there did exist, till the Tet offensive, a marked capacity in the pacification programme in South Vietnam to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese people. But the Tet truce was broken, and the Communist Vietcong invaded South Vietnam. It may be suggested, of course, that the United States should have suspected that this would happen, because the one great characteristic of the extreme Socialist is that he makes agreements with men or nations or groups who may be identified as Capitalists, in order to disarm them, and then breaks them. And this is what happened in South Vietnam.
I have said that the action of the United States of America in taking a second look at Vietnam is not unassociated with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from east of Suez, as Senator McManus has suggested. I turn now with some bitterness in my heart to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) who, rather sneeringly, 1 thought, referred to President Johnson’s determination to step down from his position as the most powerful man on this earth as something akin to the action of an old man like Diocletian, who wanted to retreat to the other side of the Adriatic to eke out his time in peace and comfort, or the Emperor Charles V, who retired to his chapel to pray. I do not believe this for one solitary moment. I believe there exists in the immense quality and character of the President of .the United States some element which this situation has emphasised. In my view, in taking the action that he did, the President, this most powerful man in the world, this Caesar of the Western world, removed the crown from his head in order to lay it on the altar of peace. And in the last 48 hours we have had sneering suggestions that this is some political trick, some political chicanery engaged in by a political charlatan. I strenuously deny this and assert *hat any man who subscribes to that view is not worthy of the designation of senator or of the right to sit in this place. It is tragic that this should have happened.
But, oddly enough, it has forced those who have been supporting the Communist penetration in South East Asia, those who have been supporting Hanoi and the Vietcong, those who have been secret or tacit supporters of this operation in South Vietnam, to now declare themselves. And the first nation that has to declare itself is the Co-chairman of the Geneva Convention - Russia.
We can test the validity of this tremendous gesture on the part of the United States of America by the reaction that we begin to see in Moscow. They are discomfited there now. They do not know how to react to this, because it is not in the book. Mr Suslov is no doubt now in the Kremlin licking his thumb and flicking over the pages to see what Lenin or Marx would have done in this position. The inevitable and inescapable truth is that the action of the United States of America tests the sincerity of the Communists wherever they are in the world.
I suggest that within the next 30 days we will discover that the Communists of this world who have been marching down the road chanting hymns of peace will be shown to be charlatans. That is what is going to result from this action by President Johnson in laying down the authority of the Caesar of the Western world, the authority of the mightiest man on this earth. Within the next 30 days we shall discover who are the people of this world who really believe in peace.
This is a time of high crisis for the Western world. It is a time of high crisis for the Australian people and it is a time of high crisis for us who sit in the Senate at the moment. It is a time which indicates that there may be problems for Australia in the future. Honourable senators will recall that a fortnight ago, when discussing the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from east of Suez, I said that we have been able to offer a substantial foreign policy to the north of Australia because we have been able to operate on our eastern side under the power and the authority of the United States of America and on our western side under the power and authority of the United Kingdom. One has gone; the other may go. This clearly demonstrates that Australia will be faced with a major problem in the next 20 years.
It may be that we will have to forge a new policy or vary our policy. There are no absolutes in this. It may be that we will have to meet the test of the circumstances and situations in which we find ourselves in much the same way as did that distinguished Leader of the Australian Labor Party of a generation past, and who was probably one of the greatest Australians we have ever known. I refer to the late John Curtin, a former Prime Minister of Australia. He had no doubts as to where he should turn when a crisis faced Australia. I believe that when America leaves, Australia will have to continue to cling to the succour and support which our ally, the United States of America, can provide in whatever path we may cleave. But inside that we certainly have a capacity and some initiative. I would deprecate at this stage and in these circumstances any suggestion that, for example, at the five power conference to take place in Kuala Lumpur - and this may be one of the by-products of President Johnson’s decision - we will be asked pretty strongly by a group of nations in South East Asia to support them not only with our economic resources, which are not unlimited although there are some, and to reinforce them with a military presence in that area. At this stage we will test, also, as President Johnson has done, the sincerity of the Communist world in relation to peace. We will begin to test the sincerity of the Australian Labor Party in relation to foreign policy.
One cannot begin to influence the people of South East Asia by economic resources unless they at least are given some sort of defence shield and cover behind which their economies can recover and not be suborned by the so-called wars of national liberation, or guerilla wars, or whatever one likes to call them. It would be wrong of me to make any prognosis at this juncture as to what is going to happen. The dust caused by the momentous decision taken by the United States, has to settle. What I would say is this: That any members of the Opposition, here or in another place, who are tempted to pursue the line of criticism of the United States that they have pursued for the last 3, 4, 5 or 10 years - whatever the period is - would be ill advised to encourage in the United States a feeling in favour of substantial withdrawal or retreat from this area because if the United States does withdraw or retreat the cascades of words that I have heard about trying to win hearts and minds in South East Asia will be valueless.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) (9.12] - I rise to support the attitude of the Opposition as outlined by my colleague, Senator Cavanagh. Before moving to the main part of my contribution to this debate on foreign policy I want to make passing reference to some of the statements of the last two speakers. Senator McManus almost moved me to tears with his sorrowful story of the decline of the President of the United States. Then he issued a challenge to the Government and said that he hoped that the Government was not standing still. From the information that has become available to us during the last day or two I would say that this Government is not standing still; it has actually gone backwards several steps in respect of its attitude to the subject under discussion.
Senator McManus moved an amendment to the motion before the Chair. It was subsequently seconded by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair). It is significant that the first three matters mentioned in that amendment are generally what the Australian Labor Party has been asking this Government to do for a long period of years. The first of those matters is a call for ‘significant increases in the strength of our armed forces generally.’ The Australian Labor Party has said always that Australia must have sufficient numbers and adequate equipment in each of the three arms of the Services so that we may be properly defended when and if necessary. The second matter related to an improvement in our naval programme, including the acquisition of an aircraft carrier. It was years ago that the Australian Labor Party first called for such a revision in our naval programme. The third matter Senator McManus referred to in his amendment was a call for initial steps to be taken to develop our own aircraft industry. Again, this is part of the Australian Labor Party’s policy and has been so for a long time.
The fourth point in the amendment states that in default of a satisfactory treaty for world nuclear disarmament Australia should acquire its own nuclear deterrent. This illustrates in very clear terms that the policy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party is in keeping with that of this Government - the policy of hawks. The Democratic Labor Party would be doing a far better job if it endeavoured to use its pressure to induce the Government to sign the nonproliferation treaty.
Now I want to refer to the remarks of Senator Cormack. Unfortunately he has left the chamber. No doubt he has gone away to discuss with his colleagues the magnificent speech he imagines he has made. The honourable senator mumbled on for some time about a Prussian general who lived some 100 years ago. What that had to do with the current problem I would not know. Then he sneeringly referred to the intellectual dishonesty of the academic because my colleague Senator Cavanagh dared to quote a statement from the ‘Australian Medical Journal’. Senator Cormack, in his speech, introduced a new term - psychotragedy. No doubt we will see this term adopted by all the great dictionaries in the near future - after he explains exactly what he means by it.
Senator Cormack criticised the Leader of my Party in another place, Mr Whitlam. He said Mr Whitlam had made sneering references but the honourable senator proceeded to do worse than ‘this himself because he used a capital S. He proceeded to elevate LBJ. No doubt tonight he will pray to St Lyndon for the terrible things that are about to befall this country. The last act of rhetoric was that he said that we shall discover in the next 30 days who are the peaceful people of this world. I would say that Senator Cormack will not be numbered amongst them. Politically we can understand these things because the honourable senator is the gentleman who came into this chamber some years ago but was found to be too reactionary and too conservative by the then Prime Minister, now Sir Robert Menzies. So he was turned out to grass for 9 years. As we say in Queensland, he was turned into the back paddock until he matured. He returned after 9 years but obviously his general thinking has not improved in that time.
This evening we are debating two speeches which were made originally in another place. One was presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) on 26th March and the other was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 2nd April. In order to get things into proper perspective I want to quote two or three paragraphs from the statement made on 26th March by the Minister for External Affairs. The second paragraph in that speech referred to a very high thinking objective. The Minister said:
The primary objective of Australian foreign policy is to protect and advance Australian interests. This is not interpreted narrowly, for our own welfare and security are bound up with that of others. We cannot live prosperous and safe if a great part of the world is living in poverty without hope and is tom by war.
The small handouts of overseas aid compared with the Government’s willingness to contribute additional troops to the unofficial war in Vietnam, would indicate that the Government does not do what it says it believes in. Further on in his speech the Minister said:
Five months ago I spoke to the House of the progress being made on all fronts - military, political and economic. The military situation when I spoke was then moving steadily in our favour and there was a growing sense of assurance and security.
Later the Minister referred to further increases in the size of Vietnam’s armed forces. He said:
Among the measures being taken are the postponement of discharges from the armed services, the recall of former soldiers who served for 5 years or less, the lowering of the conscription age from 20 to 18, and military training for civil servants under the age of 45 and students over the age of 17.
To him, and apparently to the Government, this was a very progressive move. A couple of paragraphs later he referred to the immediate needs of over 600,000 new refugees and homeless, more than 120,000 of them in the Saigon area alone’, and said that these needs were being met. The Minister added:
President Thieu announced on 21st March that the recovery programme and the return of security to the cities and towns had already reduced the total from 600,000 to 405,000.
I shall give some figures later that indicate quite clearly that the figures given by the Minister were incorrect or alternatively the figures submitted by the South Vietnam Government to various world bodies are incorrect - or both are incorrect. In other words, it would appear that both this Government and the very corrupt Government of South Vietnam are playing with figures for propaganda purposes. The Minister for External Affairs, in his statement, quoted the following from a speech made by the President of the United States on 29th September:
The United States is willing to stop all aerial and naval bombardment of North Vietnam when this will lead promptly to productive discussions. We, of course, assume that while discussions proceed North Vietnam would not take advantage of the bombing cessation or limitations.
I, like every other person who loves peace,, welcome any move at all that will bring peace to this war-torn country. But we must seriously question whether the present move is sincere. We certainly can question whether it goes far enough.
The previous speaker - my Liberal Party opponent, Senator Cormack - said that the Labor Party did not have a foreign policy. I say that the big weakness in the Government is that it has not a foreign policy. At about the time of the Tet offensive the Prime Minister said that there would be a limitation on troops for Vietnam. Obviously he was pulled into gear by his own party, because 2 or 3 days later he qualified that statement and said: ‘What I really meant is that there will be no more troops because of the Tet offensive’. Since then he has made two further statements on foreign policy and has had to withdraw them either in part or in whole. Let us be factual about these matters.
I will quote from the policy document of the Australian Labor Party precisely what our policy is on Vietnam. We do not have to change our policy because all members of the Party are dedicated to it and it has been compiled by the rank and file of our organisation, whereas in the Liberal Party policy is formulated by the Prime Minister at the top and anybody else who likes to be in the swim with him. Our policy on Vietnam states:
The Labor Party is opposed to the continuance of the war in Vietnam, and to Australian participation in it. The Party will work to end the war and to end Australian participation in it.
The war has ceased to have rational objectives.
It was claimed that it would give the South Vietnamese people a chance to decide their own future free from the pressures of terrorism.
In fact, by the methods of counter terrorism, a power struggle is sustained between Southern generals who, even if sincere and patriotic, are not aimed at freedom for ordinary people.
Civilised values are destroyed by the spectacle of Western forces attacking jungle villages with napalm, phosphorus bombs and fragmentation bombs.
Sometimes the villagers are not Vietcong supporters, sometimes the population is of mixed sympathies, sometimes the people are Vietcong supporters, and sometimes they are even Cambodians over the border.
Whoever they are, they are not being educated in democracy but confirmed in the view that terrorism is the essence of politics.
The belligerents are frozen in postures of pride and inhibited from taking steps to peace.
No obligations under ANZUS, SEATO, or the UN Charter are involved in this war.
Labor rejects the idea that it is beyond the wit of statesmanship to devise a solution.
Labor opposed the intensification and spread of the war.
Labor rejects the government’s thesis that what is really involved is the thrust of Chinese power. This thesis is never pressed to its logical conclusion in terminating trade with China, so that trade with an alleged enemy becomes a major feature of government policy.
I am sorry that my Country Party friend, Senator Webster, is not present to hear that part of our policy. Our policy continues:
China is not involved in the war except indirectly in some supplies and moral support. With the cessation of bombing of the North; with an end to the use of horror weapons which must alienate the people of Vietnam, and with recognition of those actually involved in the conflict as parties to negotiations Labor believes an atmosphere could develop in which conferences to end the war could take place.
The war is increasingly purposeless. The war is increasingly destroying the possibility of creating viable democratic institutions. The war is creating nothing but anarchy and suffering. The war is increasingly dangerous to world peace. It should stop.
Satisfied that the war in Vietnam does not involve any obligations for ‘Australia under ANZUS, SEATO or the UN Charter, and does not assist the Vietnamese people to determine their own affairs, and that no threat to Australian security from China is involved, the ALP seeks primarily to bring the war to a conclusion. To do so, the ALP, on achieving office, will submit to our allies that they should immediately -
cease bombing North Vietnam,
recognise the National Liberation Front as a principal party to negotiations,
transform operations in South Vietnam into holding operations thereby to avoid involvement of civilians in the war, cease the use of napalm and other objectionable materials of war and .provide sanctuary for anyone seeking it.
Should our allies fail to take this action, the Australian Government would then consider that it had no alternative other than to withdraw our armed forces.
The ALP, as a Government, would thereafter >assist in .providing all forms of aid necessary to restore the damage done by the war to Vietnam and to aid her political, economic and social advancement.
The policy also states:
That is, the Australian Labor Party Conference - . . believes that Australia should give Vietnam the fullest possible assistance in medical economic and technical assistance and in any other way to compensate the people as much as possible for the suffering inflicted upon them by the war, and to allow them to make rapid progress in the future.
– We have many other things in our policy. Our position is a little different from that of the Country Party. No doubt some of Senator Lawrie’s beef baron friends in the Rockhampton area are impressed by the silly interjections that he makes in this chamber from time to time. Let me now quote from Hansard a statement that was made when troops from this country were first involved in Vietnam. At that time the Prime Minister was Sir Robert Menzies. The then Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Calwell, made the following statements on 4th May 1965:
I propose to show that the Government’s decision rests on three false assumptions: An erroneous view of the nature of the war in Vietnam; a failure to understand the nature of the Communist challenge; and a false notion as to the interests of America and her allies . . .
By its decision, the Australian Government has withdrawn unilaterally from the ranks of the negotiators, if indeed it was ever concerned about them.
Those paragraphs from the speech made by Mr Calwell are worth quoting.
– Could the honourable senator help me by telling me what a holding war is?
– We have spelt that out very clearly. If the honourable senator was not able to understand it as I read it, I suggest that he give me the necessary contribution to enable me to obtain a copy of our policy statement for him. Then he will be enlightened on the policy of the Labor Party which, as I said earlier, is the only party with any foreign policy.
– What is a holding war?
– Somebody will hold you in a minute. Let me refer now to a speech that was made on 10th May 1966 - approximately 2 years ago - by the then Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Calwell. He said:
I repeat that Australia is not obliged under the SEATO or the ANZUS or any other treaty to send any troops, regulars or conscripts, to that unhappy country-
He was referring to South Vietnam - . . and I defy any supporter of conscription to prove otherwise. Let any responsible Minister challenge what I have said and point out what treaty obligation compels us to squander Australian lives in South Vietnam.
That statement is as true today as it was when it was made. Our troops are not in Vietnam under any treaty. When we ask members of the Government parties under what treaty our troops are there, they cannot tell us. The other day I did hear one member of the Government parties say that he thought we were at war, but he was not prepared to say that on behalf of the Government. He has probably been checked by his party superiors since saying that.
Let me refer now to our unhappy Prime Minister who has not been able to take a trick since he left this chamber for another place a few weeks ago. Yesterday he made the statement to which I referred earlier. I will quote only one paragraph of it because it is the only one worth quoting. I quote it because the figures mentioned by him are incorrect; or, if they are not incorrect, those quoted by Air ViceMarshal Ky and other people in South Vietnam are incorrect. The Prime Minister said:
Those decisions were, firstly, to build up the South Vietnamese armed forces to a planned target of 800.000 men - an increase of 135,000. . . .
He then went on to talk about equipping those men. It is obvious that the Prime Minister has deteriorated since he left this chamber and is having extreme difficulty handling his supporters in another place and controlling those in this place by remote control. The President’s official Press release, from which our friends from the Government side quoted earlier, has been taken out of context by the Prime Minister and his supporters here and elsewhere. I do not think that is fair. The main paragraphs in the Press release were not mentioned. As I said earlier, we would appreciate any government which could bring about peace but we believe that this country should never have been involved in Vietnam in the first place.
In his Press release the President said:
Tonight I renew the offer I made last August.
That has not been mentioned by any Government supporter, although we had flights of rhetoric from Senator Cormack who, when reading the next two or three paragraphs, emphasised the things that had some dramatic value but not the meat of the President’s statement. Senator Cormack continually emphasised the word ‘tonight’. The President’s statement went on:
Even this limited bombing of the North could come to an early end - if our restraint is matched by restraint in Hanoi. But I cannot in conscience stop all bombing so long as to do so would immediately endanger the lives of our men and our allies.
We claim that these peace moves have not gone far enough. It is Government supporters, not members of the Opposition, who are distorting the President’s words in an attempt to find comfort in the dilemma in which they now find themselves. They have been left out on a limb and do not know where to go next. Another part of the President’s statement is in these terms:
But if peace does not come now through negotiations, it will come when Hanoi understands that our common resolve is unshakable, and our common strength is invincible.
Tonight, we and other allied nations are contributing 600,000 fighting men to assist 700,000 South Vietnamese troops in defending their country.
Somewhere along the line someone lost 35,000 South Vietnamese troops. Maybe 35,000 lives do not matter much to this Government or to the Government of South Vietnam, but they are human lives. Maybe they all deserted. We do not know, but 35,000 troops went down the military drain somewhere.
The only part of this war in which the Australian Government seems determined to carry out any de-escalation is in the field of civil aid. It seems to be able to find military equipment, either purchased or borrowed - frequently borrowed - but in the field of civil aid it has been deescalating its activities. I want to know why so many stories are reaching us from South Vietnam that when civil aid is granted, either in cash or in kind, the aid frequently finds its way to the black market. I challenge the Government to tell us how much has been sent to South Vietnam in cash or in kind for civil aid over the last couple of years, particularly over the last 12 months. Does the Government know what happens to the aid when it reaches the wartorn country? Does the cash go into the pockets of the already corrupt officials and does the material aid go on to the black market? I challenge the Government to tell Australia what is happening to that aid. I am particularly interested to know how much of it is going on to the black market. These are points of great interest to Australia generally.
In round figures, there are 16 million people in South Vietnam. They have a life expectancy of 35 years. In 1965 American authorities compiled a document showing the ratio of civilian doctors to population.
I do not suppose there has been any great increase in either number in the intervening period. It was revealed that there were only 200 civilian doctors in South Vietnam. The number would be something like 5,000 if the ratio of doctors to population in America were applied to South Vietnam. That is an avenue in which the Australian Government could help in South Vietnam. It could provide medical care and teachers. I know that from time to time some of our medical people go to South Vietnam out of the goodness of their hearts to try to do something. The Australian Government does nothing about it.
In 1965 there was a proud boast that something like 4,000 classrooms had been built that year and another 2,000 would be built in the following year. I understand that for the last financial year the number was something like 1,500. But do the people of Australia know that this grandiose idea of building schoolrooms has fallen fiat because there are no teachers to man them? According to stories reaching us from Vietnam these buildings which were erected originally for the purpose of educating the children of that country are being used as Army headquarters by the South Vietnamese and the Americans.
Let me take a very quick look at some of the official estimates of the number of of people who are homeless. I mentioned a little while ago the number quoted by the Minister for External Affairs. Later I shall refer to the number quoted by another very reliable person who was in Vietnam. Much of the recent tragedy in South Vietnam has been caused by the Tet offensive. What did the Australian Government do about it? Mr Gorton came out with his changeable policy and America took direct action by sacking Westmoreland. But that did not help any of the homeless people.
Sir Colin Thornley, World DirectorGeneral of the Save the Children Fund, said on 27th March, only a few days ago, that he estimated there were 200,000 refugees in Saigon alone. The Minister told us only six days earlier that there were only 120,000. Who is right? I would rather believe Sir Colin Thornley, who has dedicated himself to the relief and welfare of people throughout the world. He went on to say that in the provinces there were at least another 700,000 refugees. Yet we are told glibly that the total number of refugees is only 405,000. That is a deliberate untruth to keep the real situation from the Australian people. The Australian Government does nothing about that situation. It is content to kill 20-year old kids. That is the Government’s main ambition. Sir Colin Thornley went on to say.
At least a quarter of the Vietnamese refugees’ could be reckoned to be children. Many were - at 14 and 15 - not only children but also widows.
In other words there were, in round figures, 225,000 homeless children, some bearing frightful injuries from napalm, hand grenades and bombs. Many were simply lost as a result of the chaos.
There is another very strange thing about this. I wonder why Australia and South Vietnam were not taken into America’s confidence before the President of the United States announced the de-escalation, or partial de-escalation, process. Was it because we are too insignificant? Dr Tran Van Do, South Vietnam’s Foreign Minister, on his way to the South East Asia Treaty Organisation conference in Wellington, said that South Vietnam could not afford to have the bombing stopped. He made that statement the day before the President of the United States said that it would be stopped.
Air Vice-Marshal Ky, the man who was almost appointed to the Liberal Party campaign committee, was reported in this way:
A few days ago South Vietnam’s Vice President, Air Vice-Marshal Ky, launched a bitter attack on the United States -
And indirectly Australia - on its Asian policy.
He was quoted in the last issue of ‘Stern’ magazine as saying:
The Americans are in Vietnam to defend their interests which do not always correspond with those of Vietnam. They are here because they want lo remain in Asia and not because they have any particular concern about us. They understand our need but not our tragedy. They start out by giving us advice saying ‘Our idea is to help you’ - and then they will colonise.
Air Vice-Marshal Ky also said:
The elections here have been a loss of time and money. They are a joke. They have served to instal a regime that has nothing in common with the people - a useless corrupt regime. We need a revolution. The laws we have protect the rich. We must make new laws that will give power to the poor.
In the same article, replying to a reporter’s implication that he did not like white men, Air Vice-Marshal Ky said:
Their time is ended and for that reason 1 am not interested in their criticism either.
This is the man whom the Government hosted and toasted here in the early part of 1967. The Government said that he was the greatest liberator of all time. He was the ace of our democratic individuals. This is what he thinks of the Government now. He does not think that the Government is worth two bob, to use Australian parlance.
A moment ago I posed this question: Why was Australia not told about these developments before they took place? Many months ago, the United States Ambassador to Australia left this country and returned to his homeland. No new Ambassador to Australia has been appointed since. In this time of indecision, in the declining days of a President who is going out of office in 8 or 9 months time, it is likely that no United States Ambassador will be appointed to Australia. This is because the United States does not think that Australia is worth worrying about. It has only to flick its fingers and the Australian Government will run to do its bidding. If the United States Government asked Australia to invade some other country tomorrow, the Australian Government would soon send more conscripts because this is the way it enjoys life.
The Prime Minister and, I am afraid, most of his Cabinet and most members of his Government have grandiose ideas of power. They think that in this empty nation with its twelve million people they are like kings of Siam. They think that Australia is the most powerful nation in the Asian area. I know that most Government members dislike intensely being described as Asians because this description has something to do with racial equality. But we are in this area. We have to live with it. These people ought to be our friends. But because of the policy being pursued by this Government we shall not have any friends in South Vietnam or in any other part of Vietnam, and indeed, we shall have no friends at all in any other part of Asia.
I wish to conclude on these points: Australia has a great responsibility to assist in peace efforts. We do not want to see any more stupid mistakes such as have been spelt out by the Prime Minister in recent weeks. We want a positive policy. This country can make its contribution. An honourable senator suggested earlier that contact ought to be established with Washington. I will bet that the only contact that this Government has made with Washington is to find out how our trade balances are. going somewhere or to see whether it can sneak more 20-year olds into this war if they are required. The complete disorganisation of our policy is a limitation to peace.
May 1 quote this one example which I think is of great interest? Yesterday, in another place, an honourable member asked whether it was the intention of the Australian Navy to cease shelling North Vietnam. At page 636 of Hansard, the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) - he is now the Minister for the Navy because the last two Ministers for the Navy have been sacked - said in reply to this question:
The answer to the honourable member’s question is no.
So, while America is prepared to stop bombing and shelling the Australian Navy is still instructed to carry on with its shelling. If this is a contribution to peace, the Government is not fair dinkum in its attitude. It is not fair dinkum as a Government. Nor is it fair dinkum as representing Australia. I suggest that the Government change its course now and that it do every. thing it can to assist in bringing about peace in Vietnam so that Australian troops involved there may come home and so that the Government will hurry the course of getting other people, who should not be in Vietnam, back to their home countries also.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I enter this debate on international affairs because I believe, with others, that this is one of the most important debates that takes place in our Parliament. This debate is of special significance at the present time because of the events which have taken place over the last few days. In addition to that, it must be acknowledged that we in Australia live in a very disturbed area of the world. Might I say that this is the first time that I have taken part in a debate concerned directly with foreign affairs although I have referred to these issues in speeches that I have made during debates on the AddressinReply to Speeches delivered by the Governor-General.
It is a great pity that men serving overseas could not hear Senator Keeffe who tonight made very damaging statements in connection with Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. I am sure that his remarks bring no credit to the Opposition, nor to the Leader and the President of the Australian Labor Party. Therefore I think that these remarks will not do the case of the Australian Labor Party any good in any situation. In disagreeing with what Senator Keeffe has said, I mention that Australia is held in very high regard in Vietnam and in other areas of South East Asia. This standing has come about by visits which have been made to these areas in recent years by our Ministers for External Affairs and our former Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt. This situation has been brought about, as. I say, by such men as the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) who have had considerable experience in this area and who have built up tremendous funds of good friendship with the people of the area. This is why Australia is so well regarded. It is only fitting and right that I should mention our late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, who consolidated what had already been wellestablished by previous Ministers for External Affairs on their visits to this area.
Again, I disagree with Senator Keeffe and any other members of the Opposition who say that our aid to South East Asia is of little significance and is unimportant. I regard our aid as particularly good. It is the right type of aid because it helps these people to help themselves. In other words, we give them the technical and scientific knowledge where we can and we let them carry on from there. This is the type of aid that is likely to bring the best results.
The events in the last few days which are concerned with the decision by President Johnson to de-escalate the war in South Vietnam are of great concern to us all. Australia has a special interest in what happens in this area. Our own men are involved in the region. But I feel that the whole of our security is at stake because of what might take place in South East Asia in the next few months or perhaps in the next year or two. It must be acknowledged that the whole of South East Asia and the Pacific area is of great importance to us politically and economically because a tremendous amount of our trade is with countries in this region.
No doubt America has very good reasons for its decision. Perhaps President Johnson is confident that by taking this action he might see the commencement of peace negotiations with Hanoi. Possibly, he may be fearful of escalating the war further because of the reaction within the United States and other countries. Further, as has been mentioned here tonight and has been mentioned quite a deal since President Johnson made his decision earlier this week, the fact that a Presidential election will be held in America in November must play an important part in this decision. I believe that this decision might be a strategy in part to force the South Vietnamese people to a greater sense of unity and to provide a greater military contribution in their area.
Before President Johnson made his statement on Monday, evidence existed that the South Vietnamese, fearful of the success of the Tet campaign, were beginning to realise that they must make a greater contribution if they hoped to keep the Vietcong out and finally to force them over the border. This change in policy, not spelt out fully yet, is of great significance to Australia. I believe that the basic policy of our Government remains firm and unaltered. 1 strongly support it. No honourable senator wants any war to begin unnecessarily; nor does any honourable senator want any war to be prolonged longer than necessary. Australia became involved in Vietnam because we believed that aggression, must be stopped wherever it raised its ugly head, and wherever the independence of any nation, particularly a young nation, was threatened. For the same reason we became involved in two world wars. Later we assisted in Korea. Not so many years ago we assisted those who threw the terrorists from Malaya and so brought peace to that area. Of course, we all acknowledge that we went to Vietnam because of our long standing friendship and alliance with the United States, which was engaged in the same area for the very same purpose. Just as we believe - I hope this will always be so - that the United States will stand by us when we are in danger, we believe that if we are to be worthy of that recognition and that help we must prove ourselves to be a dependable and trusted ally.
I consider that the cornerstone of our whole destiny from the point of view of security must surely be regarded as our close friendship and alliance with the United States, because she is at this stage of history the most powerful and influential country in the area in which we live. It is true that the Government did support the United States in its policy of bombing North Vietnam. On the other hand, the Government has consistently stated that if any assurance could be given that when bombing stopped in the hope that peace negotiations would begin Hanoi would not take advantage of the opportunity to build up its forces in South Vietnam, we would strongly support that policy. When there has been any pause in bombing, although perhaps not of long duration, there has been no evidence that Hanoi is interested in what the United States and the other countries involved are prepared to do. To the contrary, every time that there has been a bombing pause Hanoi has taken advantage of the opportunity to build up its forces in the area. I am sure that many allied troops died because of this.
Now we are faced with this dramatic announcement by President Johnson of an intention to de-escalate the war. What are the most significant implications of this new policy? In my judgment they are: What will be the reaction in Hanoi, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and even China - although we shall never know what the Chinese thinking is? Will these other countries attempt to bring pressure on Hanoi? In the event of there being no evidence of any move by Hanoi to begin peace negotiations, what action, if any, will be taken by these nations? What action is the United Nations likely to take in this situation? The Secretary-General of the United Nations has been saying for a considerable time that there is no hope of any negotiations taking place between Hanoi and allied countries unless the bombing stops. I consider that in the present situation the ball is in Hanoi’s court.
– Do you think that bombing has stopped?
– It has stopped in the north, within the terms of the agreement set out by President Johnson.
– In parts of the north.
– It has never been suggested that there would not be bombing over the border, as the honourable senator knows. What will the Australian Labor
Party do in this situation? This is of great importance to Australia. If we do not have any peace negotiations, what will the Labor Party say about Hanoi’s attitude? The Labor Party has consistently maintained that bombing by the United States has prevented peace talks. Members of that Party will find themselves in a very interesting position if these talks do not take place. I, like many others unfortunately, have a feeling that Hanoi will not begin peace negotiations, at least at this stage. Will the Labor Party condemn what the United States and Australia have been doing? It might find itself in a very difficult situation if this position comes about. I hope it does not - not for the sake of the Labor Party but for the sake of peace. If there is further evidence of an intention by the United States to withdraw gradually but permanently from South East Asia, what effect will this have - as Senator Sim asked tonight - on other South East Asian countries, particularly on Burma which has been threatened pretty consistently in recent months by China? Other South East Asian countries surely must feel a great deal of apprehension if it becomes evident that America may withdraw permanently from the area. I think it is not likely, because of the coming election, that there will be any stated United States policy along these lines over the next few months, but every action by the United States during this period in the way of building up and deployment of troops and bombing near the demilitarised zone will be an indication of what may happen from then on.
To me it seems that the independent countries of the area which are only reasonably strong militarily and economically may look towards making some form of agreement with countries near them, such as Russia and China, for their own preservation. If this should come about it could well be disastrous, not only to South East Asia and Australia but also to the rest of the free world. I trust that if peace negotiations do not take place the Government will do everything possible from now until November and thereafter to maintain the present position - call it a holding war if you like - in Vietnam in the interests of those other nations, in order that they may be encouraged to continue their opposition and in order that greater hope may be brought to the whole area. The long stand ing tactics of the Communists, as in China and other places, are to divide first by subversive action and then destroy. They have pursued these tactics everywhere. Everywhere in the South East Asian area their first action would be to weaken the will of the people and to disrupt the economy. I should like to quote the remarks of none other than the Prime Minister of Great Britain, as reported in November last in the Sydney Morning Herald’. I am unable to cite the exact date as, unfortunately, I tore the extract from the paper. It reads:
Prime Minister Wilson told Parliament yesterday he had evidence of a Communist plot to wreck Britain’s economy. He was asked if he supported a claim by the Labour Minister, Mr R. Gunter, last week that Communists behind a series of wildcat strikes were planning to make this a winter of disruption. ‘Mr Gunter had my full support in what he said’, replied Mr Wilson, and asked if he had evidence he replied: ‘Yes,’ but did not elaborate.
Mr Gunter, at the height of the unofficial dock strike, referred to Communists who had allied themselves with extreme Left-wing Trotskyite movements in industry.
He said their aim was to destroy Britain’s hopes of economic recovery.
Those tactics would be employed by the Communists if they were to press on into other countries in South East Asia. If the United States Government decided to withdraw into the eastern Pacific area without first achieving a worthwhile agreement or peace arrangement with a reasonable chance of success, I do not think I am over stating the case by saying that Australia could then be in real danger.
Australia has two fundamental planks in its general policy. One is economic growth and development and the other is national security. I do not give first priority to either plank. We cannot have growth unless we have security. I have figures, which I will cite in a moment, to support that view. We are fortunate to have a considerable amount of foreign investment in Australia. The profits we make from our export trade are ploughed back into the economy. I have obtained from the Parliamentary Library a table setting out the annual inflow of overseas investment in Australia, giving details of the categories of investment. I will not weary honourable senators by citing all the figures, but I draw attention to the fact that in 1956-57 the inflow of foreign capital amounted to $212m. By 1965-66 it had grown to $641m. We might ask ourselves why we are so particularly fortunate as to have this inflow of foreign capital in Australia. 1 think it can be said fairly that the rest of the world recognises the stability of Australia, and for that I believe the Government can claim much credit. Our potential is also recognised. We have vast resources and not all of them are fully developed.
I wish to emphasise particularly that it is recognised abroad that we have taken steps to ensure our security. Investors will not place their money in countries that are insecure. We have made alliances with powerful nations like the United States of America. We are signatories to the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty and the ANZUS Pact. We are continuing our attempts to assist the people of South East Asia and to establish even friendlier relations with them. One of the best examples of an insecure country in which investors will not place their money is Indonesia. I have a table of figures, also obtained from the Parliamentary Library, on investment in Indonesia. In recent years there has been no investment of any significance, because of that country’s instability. Because Indonesia has no national security, foreign investment in that country in the last few years has fallen away to nothing.
I repeat that we must earnestly hope for peace negotiations in Vietnam. I believe every honourable senator has that hope. We look for a peace treaty that is acceptable to both sides in the Vietnam conflict. If the horrors of war and the suffering and death of soldiers and civilians cannot be ended in Vietnam, I believe we have no alternative but to stand alongside the ‘United States in South East Asia to ensure that the conflict becomes so expensive for the Vietcong that they will be prepared to withdraw and eventually to seek peace. I believe that the countries of South East Asia, and the countries which border the Indian and Pacific Oceans, must gain their independence free from the pressure of Communist countries to their north.
The latest announcement by the President of the United States could bring results in both the military and civilian spheres. There appears to be some evidence that the countries of South East Asia recognise the dangers they face. There seems to be no doubt, as Senator McManus said, that North Vietnam embarked on the Tet offensive and has tried to make it as effective as possible at this time for propaganda purposes, and possibly because of the damage that the United States bombing is doing to Hanoi. As I mentioned earlier, there is not the slightest doubt that the approaching presidential election in the United States is an important factor in the tactics of the North Vietnamese. They realise that now they may be able to divide the civilian population of South Vietnam. There could be no more damaging effect than if they were successful in creating a lack of confidence amongst the civilian population of South Vietnam.
I wish now to refer to President Johnson’s decision not to stand for re-election. I endorse everything that Senator McManus said about this wonderful statesman who has meant so much to Australia. People who are prepared to be fair must agree that from the time of the first involvement of the United States in South Vietnam President Johnson has pursued a policy of resisting aggression. In no sense could his policy be fairly described as seeking territorial gain or pursuing national self interest. He has made a purposeful and genuine attempt to halt aggression and the spread of Communism, not only in South Vietnam but in the South East Asian and Pacific regions. I believe we have every justification for believing that President Johnson has proved himself to be one of Australia’s greatest friends. Possibly we may never have a greater friend. I hope that other Americans will follow his great example.
The proposed withdrawal of the United Kingdom forces from Singapore is an issue of great importance to Australia. This week it has been stated at the South East Asia Treaty Organisation Conference in New Zealand that the United Kingdom intends at least to make its participation in SEATO less effective. Combined with the United States proposal to de-escalate the war in South Vietnam, Australia has no guarantee that before very long there will not be a complete withdrawal of the allied forces from this area. The situation calls for a calm and considered appraisal of our position. I trust that that appraisal will be effectively carried out by our Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and Cabinet.
– The dramatic events of the past week have brought into very sharp relief the foundations upon which Australia’s foreign policy is based. They have brought about a degree of soul searching by the Australian people which perhaps is overdue. I am sure the people of this country have been very shocked by the turn of events. It is obvious from the speeches that have been made by Government senators that they are shocked and confused and that they must have serious misgivings about the foreign policy of their leaders over the past few years. On Sunday night last the President of the United States of America said this:
Tonight 1 want to speak to you of peace in Vietnam and South East Asia.
No other question so preoccupies our people. No other dream so absorbs the 250 million human beings who live in that part of the world. No other goal motivates American policy in South East Asia.
Unfortunately the speech of the President was not designed entirely to tell the people that he intended to withdraw from this year’s presidential election campaign. But it was sufficiently powerful to direct attention to the most important, nation-shaking matters that confront the United States at the present time. 1 do not suppose that in the history of America there have ever been opponents within the same party who have posed such a threat to the popularity or re-election of the President as has been posed by Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Eugene McCarthy. The wave of popularity for those two contenders for the presidency has reached such a pitch over the last month or so that gallup polls have shown 65% of the people favouring them and only 35% favouring the President. Such a decline in popularity in an election year spells plain disaster for any man in public life. We all know that drastic situations call for the adoption of drastic measures. So the drama of last Sunday night was designed to jolt the people of the United States, to direct their attention away from the growing ebb of popularity for the President and to capture their imagination, just as the President did when he assumed office after the assassination of the late President Kennedy and when he was returned overwhelmingly at the last election for the presidency.
In one evening the President of the United States was able to take the initiative from his two opponents. I saw a cartoon which depicted both McCarthy and Kennedy holding the remnants of a banner, one section of which contained the words Stop the war in Vietnam’ and the other the words ‘President Johnson is growing in unpopularity’. The cartoon also depicted President Johnson holding the butt ends and carrying on with the job, thus showing in graphic form exactly what he intended to do. As I have said, his action was designed to take the initiative from his opponents. I believe that he will be able to do this by making this dramatic appeal to the people of the United States at many levels and by giving them an opportunity to salve their consciences in relation to immorality and illegality of the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam war. I think that the Australian people are suffering from the same qualms of conscience, but they have not taken the initiative; they have just gone along with the policy that might is right, of getting in with the strength, and of going all the way with LBJ.
The President also indicated that the finances of the United States were in a parlous position. There is no doubt that the war in Vietnam, added to all the other commitments of the United States around the world, is bidding fair to wreck the economy not only of the United States but of the Western world. This economic drain is having such violent repercussions in every direction that very severe measures need to be taken to correct it.
During his speech the President said that he wanted to stop the bombing of North Vietnam, but he qualified his statement. He said that he wanted to pursue peace, but during the same speech he said that America would assist to build up the forces in South Vietnam to 800,000, that being an increase of 135,000, and that the United States would equip those forces with modern weapons. On the face of it, this seems to be a contradiction of the desire to negotiate for peace following the cessation of bombing. It has been stated that the United States would maintain her forces at 525,000, the only alteration being the sending of reinforcements of specialist forces and the like. They have been referred to as ancillary forces. The newspapers are carrying the message that the bombing of North Vietnam is being reduced in the hope that it will lead to talks designed to secure a just peace, but this is rather negatived by reports that qualifica- tions about the bombing are wider than was expected. This means that the terms of an exchange between the President of the United States of America and the leader of the North Vietnamese are still as far apart as ever and that the drama of last Sunday night was mainly for consumption in the United States.
I think I should tell the Senate about an exchange of letters between the President of the United States and President Ho Chi Minh of North Vietnam. A letter was sent to Ho Chi Minh by President Johnson on 2nd February 1967 and a reply was forwarded on 15th February - over a year ago.
– From what are you quoting?
– I am quoting from a United States Senate Congressional report. It relates to the letters which passed between President Johnson and Ho Chi Minh. In his letter to Ho Chi Minh, President Johnson wrote in the same terms as those he used in his statement last Sunday. He wrote:
Dear Mr President: 1 am writing to you in the hope that the conflict in Vietnam can be brought to an end. That conflict has already taken a heavy toll - in lives lost, in wounds inflicted, in property destroyed and in simple human misery. If we fail to find a just and peaceful solution, history will judge us harshly. “Therefore, I believe that we both have a heavy obligation to seek earnestly the path to peace. It is in response to that obligation that I am writing directly to you.
This is President Johnson writing to Ho Chi Minh-
We have tried over the past several years, in a variety of ways and through a number of channels, to convey to you and your colleagues our desire to achieve a peaceful settlement. For whatever reasons, these efforts have not achieved any results.
It may be that our thoughts and yours, our attitudes and yours, have been distorted or misinterpreted as they passed through these various channels. Certainly that is always a danger in indirect communication.
There is one good way to overcome this problem and to move forward in search for a peaceful settlement. That is for us to arrange for direct talks between trusted representatives in a secure setting and away from the glare of publicity. Such talks should not be used as a propaganda exercise, but should be a serious effort to find a workable and mutually acceptable solution.
In the past two weeks, I have noted public statements by representatives of your Government suggesting that you would be prepared to enter into direct bilateral talks with representatives of the United States Government, provided that we ceased ‘unconditionally’ and permanently our bombing operations against your country and all military actions against it. In the last day, serious and responsible parties have assured us indirectly that this is in fact your proposal.
Let me frankly state that 1 see two great difficulties with this proposal. In view of your public position, such action on our part would inevitably produce worldwide speculation that discussions were under way and would impair the privacy and secrecy of those discussions. Secondly, there would inevitably be grave concern on our part whether your Government would make use of such action by us to improve its military position.
With these problems in mind, I am prepared to move even further toward an ending of hostilities than your Government has proposed in either public statements or through private diplomatic channels. I am prepared to order a cessation of bombing against your country and the stopping of further augmentation of United States forces in South Vietnam as soon as I am assured that infiltration into South Vietnam by land and by sea has stopped. These acts of restraint on both sides would, I believe, make it possible for us to conduct serious and private discussions leading toward an early peace.
I make this proposal to you now with a specific sense of urgency arising from the imminent new year holidays in Vietnam. If you are able to accept this proposal I see no reason why it could not take effect at the end of the new year, or Tet, holidays. The proposal I have made would be greatly strengthened if your military authorities and those of the Government of South Vietnam could promptly negotiate an extension of the Tet truce.
He finished up by saying:
The important thing is to end a conflict that has brought burdens to both our peoples, and above all to the people of South Vietnam. If you have any thoughts about the actions I propose, it would be most important that I receive them as soon as possible.’
That letter was cast in the same terms as the appeal which the President of the United States made last Sunday night. Ho Chi Minh replied on 10th February 1967 in these terms:
Your Excellency: On 10 February 1967, I received your message. This is my reply.
Vietnam is thousands of miles away from the United States. The Vietnamese people have never done any harm to the United States. But contrary to the pledges made by its representative at the 1954 Geneva conference, the U.S. Government has ceaselessly intervened in Vietnam; it has unleased and intensified the war of aggression in South Vietnam with a view to prolonging the partition of Vietnam and turning South Vietnam into a neocolony and a military base of the United States. For over two years now, the U.S. Government has with its air and naval forces carried the war to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, an independent and sovereign country.
The U.S. Government has committed war crimes, crimes against peace and against mankind. In South Vietnam, half a million U.S. and satellite troops have resorted to the most inhuman weapons and the most barbarous methods of warfare, such as napalm, toxic chemicals and gases, to massacre our compatriots, destroy crops and raze villages to the ground.
In North Vietnam, thousands of U.S. aircraft have dropped hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs, destroying towns, villages, factories, roads, bridges, dikes, dams and even churches, pagodas, hospitals, schools. In your message, you apparently deplored the sufferings and destructions in Vietnam. May I ask you: Who has perpetrated these monstrous crimes? lt is the U.S. and satellite troops. The U.S. Government is entirely responsible for the extremely serious situation in Vietnam.
This is Ho Chi Minh’s reply:
The U.S. war of aggression against the Vietnamese people constitutes a challenge to the countries of the Socialist camp, a threat to the national independence movement and a serious danger to peace in Asia and the world.
The Vietnamese people deeply love independence, freedom and peace. But in the face of the U.S. aggression, they have risen up, united as one man. Fearless of sacrifices and hardships, they are determined to carry on their resistance until they have won genuine independence and freedom and true peace. Our just cause enjoys strong sympathy and support from the peoples of the whole world, including broad sections of the American people.
The U.S. Government has unleashed the war of aggression in Vietnam. It must cease this aggression. That is the only way to the restoration of peace. The U.S. Government must stop definitively and unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, withdraw from South Vietnam all U.S. and satellite troops, and let the Vietnamese people settle themselves their own affairs. Such (is the basic) content of the four-point stand of the Government of the D. R. V., which embodies the essential principles and provisions of the 19S4 Geneva agreements on Vietnam. It is the basis of a correct political solution to the Vietnam problem.
In your message, you suggested direct talks between the D. R. V. and the United States. If the U.S. Government really wants these talks, it must first of all stop unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the D. R. V. Tt is only after the unconditional cessation of the U.S. bombing raids and all other acts of war against the D. R. V. that the D. R. V. and the United States would enter into talks and discuss questions concerning the two sides.
The Vietnamese people will never submit to force, they will never accept talks under the threat of bombs.
Our cause is absolutely just. It is to be hoped that the U.S. Government will act in accordance with reason.’
I have read those letters to indicate the divergence of opinion between the two main contenders in this terrible conflict. We must realise that the North Vietnamese look upon this war as an act of aggression by a foreign country. We, on the other hand, believe that we are not only solving the problems of the South Vietnamese but also, in our own way, attempting to contain the spread of Communism, But, when making his appeal, the President of the United States must have known that he was going to compromise with the Communists and with the many hawks who have been driving him along, both in the United States and in Australia. These people originally wanted to carry on the war until Communism was crushed everywhere. There were and still aTe many people who believe that the only solution is to crush Communism. Senator McManus believes it, for he has suggested the use of the thermo-nuclear bomb. He believes that we can eventually destroy all the people whom we wish to destroy by using the thermo-nuclear bomb. But then, of course, this can have the opposite effect. Such bombs can be dropped on our own country.
– I think the honourable senator is unfair in attributing that to Senator McManus when he is absent from the chamber.
– Senator McManus should be here. In his speech tonight he asked that Australia be armed with thermonuclear bombs. Then he left the chamber. If one cannot challenge him about his statement then it is a pretty poor state of affairs.
– Senator McManus will not be disturbed by the honourable senator’s challenge.
– No. I merely want to let the Senate and the Australian people know that Senator McManus comes into the category of the hawks who would have the world reduced to rubble and destroyed. This is what Hitler did in Europe rather than give up the stupid idea that one can knock ideas and ideologies out of the heads of one’s enemies with bombs. It cannot be done. This has been proved as each war has taken place. Wars are futile. Every war ends with the leaders getting round the conference table after their people have had their heads bashed against the wall in the stupidity of modern war. Wars in the past have destroyed the buildings and cultural collections of thousands of years. They have been destroyed in a few years of spite and vindictiveness, Eventually, after the combatants have beaten themselves into the ground, militarily, economically and morally - in every way possible - they have got round the conference table and reached a settlement. It is not beyond the wit of people today to realise that we are in a critical situation in Vietnam. The bombing of North Vietnam has not stopped; there has been a slight reduction in the bombing. It is not a de-escalation of the war in that country; it is an escalation of the war.
– How can the honourable senator claim that this is an escalation?
– The President said on Sunday night that he is going to build up the South Vietnamese forces and increase them by 150,000 to 800,000. That is not a reduction; it is an increase of 150,000.
– The President did not say that.
– I will read from the statement from the United States.
– It is on page 2.
– Yes, on page 2. My actual quotation is from the Prime Minister’s statement.
– I am talking about the President’s statement. That is what the honourable senator was referring to.
– The President did say this but I cannot find the passage at the moment.
– Nor can anybody else.
– On Sunday night he said that the United States would contribute 600,000 fighting men to assist 700,000 South Vietnamese troops. He went on to say that the United States was going to supply modern American arms to the South Vietnamese.
– Where are these missing 200,000 troops?
– They are not missing. The President has indicated that the number will be increased to 800,000. That is the limit to the number of troops that will be contributed by the South Vietnamese to offset the 250,000 additional troops that General Westmoreland wanted. As the President said, that 250,000 will be replaced by South Vietnamese reinforcements. American forces will be maintained at 525,000 and the United States will despatch ancillary troops as reinforcements. The position is that there has not been a de-escalation in the war. There is virtually an increase in the amount of funds available. The President referred to the amount that he will need in his budget for the coming year - a matter of $2,500m. He is also going to supply the South Vietnamese with extra arms. Generally speaking, he is qualifying his Vietnam policy of stopping the bombing of North Vietnam. American newspapers are carrying these reports, as I said earlier.
Overall it would seem from the statement that the President is very deeply mixed up with domestic politics in the United States. This was the only way in which the President could recover his position or halt the ebb of popularity from himself. This was the only way that he could take the initiative from Senator Kennedy and Senator Eugene McCarthy. This was a way of refocussing attention on himself and this was accomplished in a way that perhaps no other President could have done. Also, because of television and the modern methods of communication, his statement had a high dramatic content. I would go so far as to say that the popularity of the presidential contenders as against that of the President has been reduced to the stage that it is now a 50-50 proposition. If the President could achieve this last Sunday night in one speech it really reflects his political agility.
But when the President’s statement is examined fully we find that there is no definite and specific move towards ending the war in Vietnam. The status quo is being maintained and in some respects the situation is being escalated. Whether or not the hiatus between now and the presidential elections will see a lessening of the ferocity of the war or whether in desperation there will be an intensification remains to be seen. I sincerely hope that, as Australia has become so deeply involved with American policy and because that policy has proved to be so uncertain and on such shaky grounds, we will have a complete reconsideration of our position. 1 believe Australia has to be more selfreliant. Mention was made of there being a withdrawal by the Americans into fortress America. It may be of great advantage if we begin to think of fortress Australia. The United Kingdom, for sheer economic reasons, has had to withdraw from South East Asia. I suppose that self-interest is a very strong motive in these matters. After all, if a country is on the verge of bankruptcy, struggling to balance accounts - in some cases not even balance but be able to pay its way - and striving to keep the wheels of industry turning, it cannot afford the luxury of dispersing funds in different parts of the world for sentimental reasons in order to sustain an old prestige that really exists no longer. I can understand the British point of view. Britain cannot afford to have troops dispersed throughout the world. Britain cannot afford to equip them, feed them and pay them. The only logical thing for the British to do is to establish a fortress Britannica from which she can regain her first strength. It was from such a position that Britain emerged at a point in history to develop, expand and establish colonies, to make her rich and to make her the strongest country in the world. The wheel has now turned completely. What is happening to the United Kingdom has happened to Assyria, Greece, Rome and Carthage. The next country on the list is the United States of America.
I was not terribly impressed by the plea of the President the other night. I think that it was steeped in domestic United States politics. I cannot see any alteration of the situation in South Vietnam or in North Vietnam. I cannot see any relief from the horror and terror of the war in that area. 1 repeat what has been said by many other humanitarians throughout the world: There is only one solution to this war and that is for the white men to go back to their own countries and leave the people of Asia to work out their own destiny.
– The Senate is debating the ministerial statement on international affairs that was delivered by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in another place. In line with the quick movements in international affairs today, we are combining with that statement a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on the speech made by
President Johnson on the first of this month. This is an interesting study. I fully subscribe to Mr Paul Hasluck’s statement. I congratulate him on the work that he has done for Australia. I have read his statement through. There is not one part of it with which I disagree. I have met a number of Australian Ministers for External Affairs, and I know of none who carried the honour of this country better than the present Minister.
Comments made by members of the Opposition during this debate suggest that there is some misplacement of policy now because of President Johnson’s decision. I do not subscribe to that suggestion. President Johnson’s statement was extremely important. I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to one or two matters. Firstly let me join with other people who have said that Australia has had no greater friend in the international sphere than President Johnson. I know of no political leader who has stood as firmly for the interests of Australia as has that great leader.
The statement that he made to the American people was one of complete balance. I believe that it will go down in history as perhaps a turning point in events in the South East Asian area. One of the important things that he did was to draw the attention of the American people to the wonderful circumstances in which they have lived in recent years. The words, which he related to the Vietnam crisis, were:
What is now at stake is 7 years of unparalleled prosperity. In those 7 years the real income of the average American, after taxes, rose by almost 30% - a gain as large as that of the preceding 19 years.
The previous speaker, Senator O’Byrne, and other people have suggested that this is a case of a man endeavouring, at a time of crisis, to throw in the towel as leader of the American people. But that statement certainly does not support that point of view.
In the statement that President Johnson made he indicated to the American people and to the world at large that he was willing to take any step in the interests of seeking peace in South East Asia. If the United States withdrew from Vietnam, the United States would not be the country that would be harmed very greatly in the foreseeable future. But in that event the comments of members of the Opposition in this debate and their criticisms of the Government and its external affairs policy would certainly be put on the line. If the Americans withdrew, as honourable senators know, that would be the greatest calamity that could occur in South East Asia.
I am most heartened by the text of the very statement that members of the Opposition have been endeavouring to criticise. They say that it indicates a de-escalation - whatever that word may mean - of the war. In my opinion that is very far from the truth. Had I approached this subject a week ago I would have held to every word that Mr Paul Hasluck has uttered. I would have held to the view that the bombing of North Vietnam, should be continued, because, with all the goodwill in the world displayed by President Johnson at this time and with his attempts to achieve a peaceful solution, I have grave doubts that the conditions are such that a peaceful solution is likely to be achieved. Let me hasten to say that no President could do more than this man has done in saying that in 7 months time he will not seek re-election. He will not be swayed by opinion at home during that period. What a position of strength that puts him in.
– He has been described as a lame duck President.
– That is a view that Senator Cavanagh may well hold. He should be absolutely ashamed of the policy that his party puts forward. It does not have one thread of policy to defend Australia. Yet he criticises the greatest friend that we have.
– Our party believes in peace.
– The honourable senator’s party believes in getting out. It is good that the Australian people have not supported the Labor Party’s policies in recent years. The results of the last election proved that the policies of this Government are acceptable to the majority of the people.
By announcing that he will retire in 9 months time. President Johnson has put himself in a position in which he will not be troubled by opposition within the United States to the policies that he will pursue from now on. In declaring 9 months before the expiration of his term that he will retire from office - I understand that this is an unprecedented action in American history - he has put himself in a position in which criticism from overseas or at home will not affect his position at all. Obviously his action will draw to him significant support from the American people during the next 9 months. I believe that his decision will bring peace - not immediately, but in the period that he has laid down, namely, the 9 months before he retires.
I believe that President Johnson will lead America for the next 9 months; that he will not be swayed by opinion at home; and that his opponents, from whom we have heard over recent weeks, will be beating a tin can in their attempts to gain the presidency. Much ground will be taken from President Johnson’s opponents. I believe that during the next 9 months he will be in a position to he the strongest force in deciding the type of person who will follow him as President. I certainly hope that it will be the type of person that has been presented to us in the person of President Johnson.
Also President Johnson’s opponents in North Vietnam will know that that is the position. They should know that they will meet strong opposition, which perhaps has not existed in recent months. They will know that they cannot damage this man. He will be in an impregnable position. When I spoke last on this subject in the Senate I was convinced that a new policy was needed in Vietnam. Certainly a new policy was enunciated this week. The President has stated very clearly that he will engage in no political contest for the next 9 months. He has offered to stop the bombing; he has offered his best negotiators to find a basis for peace, and he has declared that he wishes peace. But the point that has been missed completely and misconstrued intentionally by the Opposition in this debate is that the President said:
Let all be assured that there is no withdrawing by the American people from their stated policy in Vietnam.
That point should be brought home very forcibly to all who claim that Australia’s external policy is out of line with American thinking. I place great emphasis on the words the President used. Let me cite a couple of quotations from his speech. He said:
As Hanoi considers its course, it should be in no doubt of our intentions. It must not miscalculate the pressures within our democracy in this election year.
We have no intention of widening this war.
But the United States will not accept a fake -solution to this long and arduous struggle and call it peace.
No-one can foretell the precise terras of an eventual settlement.
Our objective in South Vietnam has never been the annihilation of the enemy. It has been to bring about a recognition in Hanoi that its objective - taking over the South by force - could not be achieved.
He then went on to use words which I would like every Australian to consider and place great hope in for the future. I hope also that Hanoi reads into them the full force of their meaning. He said:
But if peace does not come now through negotiations, it will come when Hanoi understands that our common resolve is unshakable, and our common strength is invincible.
I believe that the policy enunciated by our Minister is one with which every Australian will agree, having regard to the President’s statements, because it gives us confidence in knowing that we still have the strongest ally in the world standing behind us in our wish for peace in South East Asia.
The importance of the security of this area appears to be ignored by those who argue against attempts by the United States to see that there is peace in the region. It is almost impossible to conceive that any member of the Federal Parliament would believe that the outcome of the Vietnam conflict could not have great effects on our own country. I have stated in this place previously, and I repeat now, that the very nature of this conflict resulting from aggression from the North must have serious effects on Australia. It worries me to hear claims that America is unwarrantedly intervening in the war. Never do we hear a word from the Opposition about the fact that most of the fighting is going on in South Vietnam and that the South Vietnamese and the allies are trying to drive out the North Vietnamese troops. Oh no. We hear only the twisted thinking of Senator Cavanagh and some of his comrades on the Opposition side of the chamber.
I have mentioned previously that Lin Piao is reported in these terms: by wars of national liberation 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.
How true those words are. If the opposition in world affairs - not the Opposition in this Parliament - enunciates that policy, surely we must realise that there is a possibility of subversion of the whole South East Asian area. Lee Kuan Yew has said that should there be any withdrawal by America his country would certainly not be strong enough to stand alone. On 29th March, just a few days ago, Tunku Abdul Rahman when commenting upon Britain’s withdrawal and the fact that his country must take a greater part in its own defence, said that Malaysia did not have the resources to do so. That is very much to the point. He went on:
It has been a great encouragement that Australia and New Zealand seem keen to stand by the arrangement we have, in spite of the British withdrawal.
Of course, in the event of a big war, there is no point in asking anybody for help because this country could not defend itself against a really big power.
A North Vietnamese takeover of South Vietnam would spell doom for South East Asia. If the Americans, for some reason, decided to give up this war in Vietnam and let the North take over the South, then it will be the end of us all . . . That is why it has become very serious, and it is not easy to predict how it is going to end.
We all agree that Australia is inextricably bound up in the South East Asian area. I pray that the great strength President Johnson has shown in the words he used when indicating that he did not intend to stand again for the Presidency and that he would go all the way to relieve the greater part of the North from bombing while Hanoi considers the proposition, will flow on to us all. Of even greater importance is the fact that he pointed out that if Hanoi will not consider his proposition it must take responsibility for what is likely to happen, because I believe that by some means or other the war between South Vietnam and North Vietnam will come to an end within the next 9 months. I doubt that South Vietnam would be able to build up sufficient strength to withstand the North were America to withdraw her forces. I was pleased to hear the President say that the United States would act as a shield for South Vietnam. As far as I know, an individual never uses a shield to protect his rear; it is usually out in front protecting him. That is where the United States will be.
Security in the South East Asian area is a matter of great significance for Australia, perhaps of even greater significance than the present position in South Vietnam. It is interesting to look at the contribution Australia has made to her own defence - a contribution which has been criticised by the Opposition, and indeed by the corner Party, as being insufficient. It is interesting also to note that the Budget for 1967-68 provided for an 18% increase in defence expenditure compared with the previous year’s allocation of $950m. I sincerely hope that Australia, with its economy as it stands today, will be able to sustain that rate of defence expenditure.
Clothing Trades Award - Electoral - Compassionate Leave for Serviceman in Vietnam
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr President, I wish to make two submissions tonight. Both matters are directed to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) as. the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen).
Honourable senators will recall that in the middle of last year I voiced some criticism of the deployment of conciliation commissioners. On this occasion I wish to ventilate a grievance which concerns members of the Clothing and Allied Trades Union of Australia. The situation concerned has been brought about by the untimely death of Conciliation Commissioner Findlay who, as all honourable senators know, had a very fine record for his adaptability and his mobility in dealing with various industrial disputes.
The grievance of the union is that in the spring of 1967 it had before Conciliation Commissioner Findlay a lengthy case which dealt with piece work which is a vital factor in this industry. I understand that the case reached the stage where the transcript totalled 400 pages. Unfortunately, the union was under the impression that the Conciliation Commissioner was ready to make a judgment. With his death it was indicated to the union that it would need to make a fresh start on its case.
The situation is confounded further by the excess of duties imposed on conciliation commissioners by the flow-on from the recent metal trades decision and the dispute therefrom. In 1968, in the era of push button operations in so many fields we find that the Clothing and Allied Trades Union is being pushed around and that the rank and file members of the union are extremely restive. I understand that Conciliation Commissioner Gough was handed the assignment but he in turn is heavily overburdened. The stage has now been reached that employers in the industry in a rather unfair approach are looking for what is known as a bench review.
I respectfully suggest to Senator Wright that, in this age when emphasis is placed on streamlining arbitration, every effort should be made to accelerate the appointment of a successor to Conciliation Commissioner Findlay. Pending that appointment - and particularly in view of the fact that this union has a very fine record in every way - I think that efforts should be made to divert a conciliation commissioner from other duties to deal with this vital piece work case. Considerable time has gone into the matter and conciliation should be arrived at. This would certainly avoid the union having to go back to the barrier and run the race again, as it were. I do request Senator Wright to take this matter up with the Minister for Labour and National Service, mindful of all the circumstances concerned.
The other matter is somewhat a horse of another colour. I am speaking to Senator Wright this time in his capacity as Minister representing the Attorney-General. This story commences in 1966. It deals with the Shoalhaven Shire and the Macarthur electorate. At that time the Shoalhaven Shire Council expressed concern at what it called a bogus organisation known as the Shoalhaven Shire Progress and Development Committee, which was using the nation’s mails to transmit propaganda when in effect the organisation that the Committee purported to be was non-existent. In other words, it was a front for some development group in the electorate.
This is where the lines apparently got crossed. Representations were made to me. I deemed it a matter of electoral substance and referred it to the then Minister for the Interior, Mr Anthony. I received an answer to my question on notice No. 796 on 21st April 1966. The Minister indicated his complete unawareness of any decision taken by the Shoalhaven Shire Council in this matter. He said that he knew that nothing had been done. To my query he replied that no reference had been made of the complaint concerned to the Commonwealth Police.
At the same time, the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) said that the letter would be placed before the appropriate authority, perhaps the then AttorneyGeneral, Mr Snedden, for his attention. I do not cavil at the answer that I received from the then Minister for the Interior because, obviously, the honourable member for Macarthur did give the letter to the then Attorney-General. But, as I say, nothing flowed from this action. That would normally have been the end of the matter.
I have in my possession now the minutes of the ordinary meeting of the Council of the Shire of Shoalhaven held on Monday, 12th February 1968. For the benefit of Ministers and senators generally, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard Presidential Minute 78.
-Is leave granted?
– How long is it?
– Leave is not granted.
– That means I will have to. quote this minute because it is relevant to my remarks.
– How long is it?
– Half a page.
– Order! What is the position regarding the incorporation of this material?
– I have sought leave to incorporate in Hansard Presidential Minute 78 which is part of my submission.
– I asked the Senate whether leave was granted and there was a dissenting voice.
– I asked how long the statement was.
– I indicate to honourable senators that the particular minute occupies approximately half of the page that I hold in my hand.
– Is leave granted?
– Presidential Minute 78 reads:
CIRCULATION OF UNSIGNED DOCUMENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE STATE ELECTIONS. File 61/1/31
RESOLVED on the motion of Clr. Ryan, seconded by Clr. Ritchie, that the Presidential Minute be received.
FURTHER RESOLVED on the motion of Clr. Shirley, seconded by Clr. Ritchie, that a copy of the document ‘be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police with a request that he investigate the matter and advise whether the document constitutes an offence against the Law of N.S.W. and, if so, to take the necessary steps to trace the persons responsible for its circulation.
FURTHER RESOLVED on the motion of Clr. Shirley, seconded by Clr. Ritchie, that a copy of the document be forwarded to the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. J. G. Gorton, advising that this Council deplores the circulation of such a document and request him to advise whether he considers that there is any security aspect involved in the publication of a document of this type in view of the fact that it purports to be derived from security files.
FURTHER RESOLVED on the motion of Clr. Ryan, seconded by Clr. Sawkins, that the appendix to the Presidential Minute remain confidential in view of the possibility of litigation.
I thank honourable senators for their concurrence. The substance of the Presidential Minute on that occasion, and what was concerning the Council, was that a document purporting to be a security document was circulated concerning John Edward Hatton, who was an independent candidate in the last State election in New South Wales. The Council felt that the publication should be referred to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for attention to see whether any action could be taken and to determine whether the document was a phoney security document.
I do not intend canvassing the matter beyond this because I think honourable senators know my view. I believe that Commonwealth security is essential but I do not believe that security should be a plaything of any party politics. All I am concerned with tonight is that the Attorney-General should read the Presidential Minute. I believe that the Shoalhaven Shire Council will receive a reply on this occasion indicating, I imagine, whether this document was a distortion and that there was no truth in it whatsoever, or alternatively that somebody is masquerading and is purporting to use security documents. Obviously it is automatic that an inquiry will follow. I will leave the matters at that and ask Senator Wright to pass the subjects that I have raised on to the Ministers concerned for investigation.
(11.8] - Mr President, I am grateful to Senator Mulvihill for bringing before the Senate the matter of the concern felt by a union about a possible weakness in administration. Senator Mulvihill has not discussed a dispute that is before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but he has informed the Parliament, as the Parliament should be informed, about a matter. By doing so, I think, the honourable senator contributes to the joint effort within this Parliament to remove causes of unrest.
I wish to say, with regard to the Clothing and Allied Trades Award, that the case to which he refers goes back to 18th October 1962. The union submitted a log of claims virtually to supersede the previous award in which it sought a number of matters, one of which was payment by results. Mr Commissioner Findlay considered this matter and delivered his decision in 1964. He resolved all matters in dispute with the exception of this question of payment by results. In respect of that matter, my understanding is that he said that it was complex and that he would not make a decision at that stage other than that the existing provision would continue with an upward adjustment of 10% in the minimum wage that was guaranteed to the average worker, which is, I understand, a common provision in regard to the system of payment by results. There the matter rested from December 1964 until October 1967.
Neither party, as I understand the position, was concerned to reagitate the matter before the Commissioner but in October 1967 the union filed an application specifically in relation to one firm only, Laura Fashions Pty Ltd, and sought to vary the existing award by excluding that firm from those which have the right to pay employees by results. The union based that application’ on a particular ground which I need not discuss because it concerns the contentions, of the parties. That application, as I say, was made in October 1967 and that was. the month in which Mr’ Commissioner Findlay died. The application of the union was then referred to Mr Commissioner Gough. He gave his attention to it in November 1967 and the contention wasadvanced that it was not an arbitrablematter to vary the award but an application, in effect, that should have been brought before the Industrial Court for a breach by the particular employer of the particular provision.
From that point it got to the stage of contention between the parties. I need not go into that, but it led to the employers making an application for the whole question of the provision in the award on payment by results to be determined by theFull Bench of the Commission. When that application was referred, as the law requires, to the President of the Bench Sir Richard Kirby, as I understand, gave the decision that he would defer the application for a Full Bench hearing until a new Commissioner had been specifically assigned duties relating to all responsibilities in this industry in succession to Mr Commissioner Findlay. That decision was given approximately a month ago. The delay that has occurred since then, I hope, will not be regarded as undue once the explanation of the progress of this matter is understood by all parties. All I wish to say is that the question of appointment of additional Commissioners as required is now actively under the consideration of the Minister.
As to the other question which concerns a matter, as I understand from Senator Mulvihill, in which a council alleges the circulation of a document purporting to be a security document disparaging a candidate at an election, the honourable senator will understand - it is in consonance with the tone of his request - that this being a security matter I should make no comment at all. but I will see that his remarks and the document that he has referred to are brought to the personal attention of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen).
– I now seek to bring up the matter which I sought to bring up yesterday in reference to a national service trainee serving in Vietnam who had the unpleasant experience of being called home to his mother’s funeral. I do not propose to mention his name because it is well known to the Department of the Army as a result of my representations on Monday. If anyone seeks the name of the individual it is available. In East Glenelg, South Australia, there was a very happy closely knit family with two children. The parents were comparatively young and the eldest boy had reached the age of 21. Their happiness received some shock last year when the lad was unfortunate in the national service lottery draw. His marble came up. The family had never known ill health and he passed the medical examination and was compulsorily taken into national service under the requirements of the National Service Act. He was drafted to Vietnam and went there in December of last year.
Recently his mother, who was aged 48, suffered two strokes in quick succession and passed away. Medical opinion is that her death could have been caused or contributed to by her worry over the lad in Vietnam and the possible outcome of his service there. I suppose this is only one of the casualties of war. There is a close link between his service and his mother’s death. When he left his mother in December last year she was in perfect health and had no injury but in March of this year he was informed that she had suffered two strokes and passed away. He made application to the Army for compassionate leave for the purpose of returning to Australia and attending her funeral. He was granted compassionate leave for a fortnight and was required to go back to Vietnam last Tuesday. He came home, attended the funeral and was charged $300 by the Army for his fare home and was to be charged another $300 for his fare back to Vietnam. Tn the first place, he had no desire to go to Vietnam. In order to meet his obligations under the Act he had to return to Vietnam for a further 6 months and so that he could do this he was to be charged another $300. It is simply mean and paltry to make these charges when a lad suffers a bereavement in these circumstances.
I made representations to the Department of the Army. I understand that the Minister was away and another official was in Melbourne inspecting Army establishments. I finally got onto Mr White who made certain inquiries. He told me that the policy of the Department is to grant compassionate leave when there is a bereavement of one of the parents of a lad serving overseas and, if there is no one else in the family capable of making funeral arrangements, to grant free travel to and from the area of operations and the place where the funeral is conducted. In this instance the lad had a father who was quite capable of making the funeral arrangements and therefore he did not qualify for free travel either way. I was told also that if there was a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft coming from the area the servicemen would be given free transport on that aircraft and similarly free return transport would be provided if there was a service aircraft returning. Mr White did arrange to hold the lad in Australia until an aircraft was going back to the area so he would not have to pay the $300 fare for the return journey to Vietnam.
We have 8,000 troops in the area. Circumstances of this kind would arise only very rarely. Sympathy should be extended to a lad who is away on active service in what the Government says is the defence of Australia when he loses one ot his parents, who was of course, dear to him. His ability to attend the final observances associated with his parent should not be dependent upon his ability to raise the finance necessary to travel to and from the place of the funeral. This is not tho kind of treatment we expect to be given to national service trainees in such circumstances, which would not arise very often. I ask the Minister seriously to consider altering departmental policy so that in cases when no RAAF aircraft is available, the fare will be made available to trainees placed in a similar position. In the case to which I have referred the family is not prosperous and considerable expense has been incurred as a result of the bereavement. Consideration should be given to more humane treatment of this lad and to a refund of the sum of $300 that he had to pay in order to attend his mother’s funeral.
– I believe that unless the name of the national service trainee concerned is given we could be at cross purposes. It is true that the circumstances surrounding the case of a man named Carter-
– Yes, Ian George Carter.
– The facts are as stated by Senator Cavanagh. He has outlined Army policy. As the honourable senator has said, where a soldier is the only member of the family and he has occasion to return to Australia to arrange for the funeral service of his mother, as happened in this instance, he is granted free travel back to Australia and then for his return to Vietnam. Senator Cavanagh has stated that those circumstances did not apply in the case to which he referred as the lad’s father was able to make funeral arrangements. However, the Army tried to arrange free transport for the lad’s return to Australia. It could not be arranged. The lad was given leave on full pay but he had to pay his fare back to Australia to attend his mother’s funeral. Having attended the funeral he was held, and unless he has returned to Vietnam in the last day or so, is still being held in Australia in an endeavour to secure free transport back to Vietnam.
– As a result of my representations.
– That could be so, but I think the Army would have done so anyway. I give the honourable senator full credit for the efforts he has made in this connection. The policy of the Army has been stated and I do not think it can be altered. They are the circumstances surrounding this case.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 April 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680403_senate_26_s37/>.