25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. UREN presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Australian Government withdraw our troops from Vietnam, call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Vietnam and call on all world leaders to call a conference of conflicting parties aimed at permanent peace and self-determination of the Vietnamese people based on the principles of the 1954 Geneva Accords.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. When did he learn that the Minister for Customs and Excise had decided to amend the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations to require the permission of the Minister for Civil Aviation instead of the Director-General of Civil Aviation for the importation of aircraft? When was advice of the intention to amend the Regulations given to the SolicitorGeneral who was due to appear for the Director-General of Civil Aviation before the Privy Council in a case arising under the Regulations as they stood before the amendment?
– Answering the honorable member’s question precisely, as it was asked, I say that knowledge of the decision of the Minister for Customs and Excise to alter the Regulations came to me on the Monday or the Tuesday, which would have been 28th or 29th June. I am not sure which day it was now, from recollection. The new regulation was made on Thursday, 1st July, and knowledge came to me two or three days prior to that. The honorable member’s next question was: When did the Solicitor-General know? The SolicitorGeneral knew on the Sunday or Monday - which would have been 4th or 5th July - that the regulation had been made. I have not in my mind precise knowledge of whether he knew of it on the Sunday and did something first thing Monday morning, or whether he did not know of it until the Monday morning. So, I am not able to answer that question with the precision that the honorable gentleman would require. However, as soon as the regulation was made on the Thursday a communication was sent off immediately to the Solicitor-General in London, to inform him.
– Can the
Minister for the Army tell the House whether the Army has made an evaluation of the respective merits of the standard FN rifle and the Armalite rifle that has been issued to a certain number of Australian troops in South Vietnam? Can he tell the House the particular capabilities and the respective merits of each rifle?
– The Army has been evaluating the Armalite rifle for some time now as part of a programme of evaluation that is being undertaken by all the A.B.C.A. armies^- that is, the armies of America, Britain, Canada and Australia. As I have indicated, the rifle is still being evaluated by all those armies. Nowhere has any decision been made as to where, if at all, this weapon will fit into the scheme of things. We are playing our part in this evaluation, in pursuance of which we have issued the weapon in limited numbers to troops in Vietnam, Borneo and New Guinea.
I do not know the respective characteristics of these weapons in detail. However, the principal advantage of the Armalite rifle is that it is lighter and uses lighter ammunition and therefore more ammunition can be carried for the same weight. Its great defect at the present moment is its extreme inaccuracy beyond a range of 300 yards. There has been a good deal of exaggerated comment about the effects of this weapon. In fact, the lethality of the Armalite rifle is no greater than, if it is as great as, that of the S.L.R. rifle with which our troops and all the N.A.T.O. armies are equipped.
– I ask the
Minister for Labour and National Service whether he can be more explicit than he was yesterday when replying to the honorable member for La Trobe, and whether he will indicate to the Parliament what he really meant when he said - 1 believe it is wise to keep them guessing. Did he mean that he believes it is wise to keep the ship owners and the stevedoring authorities guessing as to how long he is prepared to keep them waiting before he does exactly what they are asking him to do, or did he mean to keep the waterside workers guessing as to whether he intended to introduce legislation - now long overdue - to provide for long service leave at 15 years instead of 20 years? Did he mean that he wants to keep both the Waterside Workers Federation and the employers guessing as to how much more time he intends to let go by before he and his Department really make some effort to get all the parties around a conference table with the object of bridging the gulf between the parties in regard to their present opposing lists of demands?
– in reply to that part of the honorable gentleman’s question in which he asked whether I will do something requested by the steamship owners, I want to make it clear that they have not asked me to do anything. So that part of his question happens to be incorrect. As to the rest of the .question, the honorable gentleman, too, can be kept guessing in the same way as everybody else.
– I ask the Minister for Health: What progress has been made in the campaign against the sirex wasp? Has further finance been allocated in this financial year for the campaign?
– The Government has decided to continue its contribution to the National Sirex Fund during this financial year. We will devote up to £100,000 for this purpose to match contributions by the State Governments. I understand that in addition to the governmental contributions the private mill owners will contribute about £8,000 in this financial year. The object of the campaign is to contain this particular pest in the States of Victoria and Tasmania. So far the campaign has been successful in that regard. In addition to that, research will continue to be carried out to see whether the pest can be eradicated entirely in those two States. The joint campaign has been reasonably successful and it will be reviewed before the end of this financial year.
– I ask the Minister for Housing: Will he justify the extravagant spending of public moneys on Press, television and radio advertising for homes savings grant purposes while he continues to place every conceivable obstruction in the way of people obtaining grants? What amounts have been spent up to the present time on the various forms of advertising, and will the Minister say why some applicants, who have built and occupied homes during the life of this Parliament, have been refused grants; why young people are compelled to save for three years to qualify for the grant even though they marry within that period after having left school; and why the joint savings of a parent and a child are unacceptable savings when, at the same time, property purchased by a parent for a child is acceptable under the Act? Will the Minister cause this farcical advertising to cease while scores of applicants are being refused the assistance the Prime Minister promised in 1963?
– The total amount spent on advertising relative to the extent of the scheme is, of course, comparatively trivial. Far from reducing it I expect shortly to undertake a further campaign to make details of the scheme and its requirements clear to members of the public who otherwise might not be aware of some of the requirements. The honorable member must appreciate that this scheme is a reward for saving; it is not a Socialist boondoggle available to both the worthy and the thriftless alike. The scheme will continue along these lines and as and when it is necessary to make further details known so that appropriate people may benefit the necessary steps to advertise it will be taken.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Industry inform the House what the proposed Australian sugar quota is under the sugar bill now being considered by the United States Congress?
– The Bill, which has been long awaited in the United States of America, was introduced into the Congress two days ago. It sets out the basis of sugar imports into the United States. The Bill was proposed by the United States Administration and submitted to Congress. I am advised that the formula which has been proposed by the Administration would allot to Australia a basic quantity of 187,000 short tons of sugar a year, which would increase with the growth of American consumption. Our recent sales to the United States have been of the order of 200,000 tons a year, although our basic quota has been only a small proportion of that. We have effected the other sales because other countries could not supply the requirements.
Having said that this base quota is proposed, I point out that this is by no means the end of the story as the American scheme operates, for the matter, I am advised, is already before a Congressional committee for study, and things do not always come out of American Congressional committees as they go into them. We have an immense interest in this matter. Sugar is the industry which, above all others, not only populates our north, but also gains for us tremendous exchange earnings at a time when our overseas balances are running down. In this situation I hope the American Administration will take into account in its attitude the very adverse balance of trade between the United States and Australia, and also the obstructions we endure in endeavouring to earn exchange in America. 1 refer to the high duty on wool, a virtual embargo on dairy products and the very serious quota restrictions on lead and zinc that we have experienced in recent years. These obstacles are not conducive to our earning funds to pay for the very expensive defence equipment which we are buying in the United States. So, in short, I hope that the quota of 187,000 tons of sugar is sustained; but I cannot guarantee it.
– I ask the
Minister for Health: Is the honorable gentleman aware whether sodium luminal is included on the pharmaceutical benefits list? I think there was a controversy about this drug some time ago and it is therefore possible that the Minister may know the answer to my question without having to check. If sodium luminal is not included on the pharmaceutical benefits list at present, does the Minister know whether it is possible for people to import that drug into Australia? Doctors have informed me that the substitute for sodium luminal produced by G. H. Faulding and Co. Ltd. is available but induces sleepiness in some people, whereas sodium luminal does not. Will the Minister ascertain the answer to my question if he does not know it at present?
– I assume that the drug referred to by the honorable member would be quite useful in this chamber. I am sorry that I am not aware whether sodium luminal is included on the pharmaceutical benefits list. As honorable members are aware, before drugs can be added to or deleted from the pharmaceutical benefits list, a recommendation is made by a special expert committee. I shall refer the matter to that committee on behalf of the honorable member and see whether I can obtain the information he seeks. Drugs may be imported into this country, but they are subject to tests by the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, another expert committee set up under the National Health Act for that particular purpose. Provided that sodium luminal passes the tests and requirements of the Drug Evaluation Committee it may be imported.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a report that Dr. Patterson, the Director of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, has offered his services as a Socialist Australian Labour Party candidate for the Queensland seat of Dawson at the next House of Representatives election? Is the report true? What notice did Dr. Patterson give to the Minister of his intention of nominating for selection as a candidate for this seat? Has Dr. Patterson ever made any public utterances which may have indicated his Socialist leanings? Could those leanings have influenced Dr. Patterson’s attitude to his Department and his administration of it?
– Shortly after 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon Dr. Patterson approached the Secretary of my Department and informed him that he intended to stand as a Labour candidate for the seat of Dawson at the next Federal election. I had not previously realised that Dr. Patterson had any Socialist sympathies. Dr. Patterson, of course, as with all members of the Public Service, has certain rights under the Public Service Act. It will be necessary for him to resign at a certain time before the election. If any person is anxious to see the conditions under which a public servant may contest an election he will find them in sermon 47c of the Public Service Act.
– My questions are addressed to the Treasurer. Has Parliament passed legislation, to take effect from 1st October next, to subsidise the price of petrol and other motor fuels in certain country areas? Is the purpose of this legislation to aid decentralisation of industry and population? If so, how does the Government reconcile with this action the increased, excise duty announced in the Budget which, in many cases, will more than completely negative the effects of the subsidy in the prescribed areas and must add to the cost of production in all areas of the Commonwealth? How can this help the export drive? Is the Government fair dinkum about decentralisation?
– Dealing with the last part of the question first, the Government is definitely in earnest in its desire to see a wider spread of industry and activity in Australia. I think we can point to a number of major industrial projects now going forward in various parts of Australia which will provide a very useful decentralisation of activity particularly in outlying States. As to the particular policy item to which the honorable gentleman has referred, a scheme which will have the effect of reducing the differentia] in the price of petrol in remote rural areas from its present level to a maximum of 4d. a gallon above city prices will, I am sure, be accepted by the people in those areas as a very considerable and valuable concession. The fact that the excise raised for revenue purposes will be increased by 3d. a gallon throughout Australia will not destroy the beneficial effect to be derived from a reduction of the differential which exists. Those living in these areas, in com mon with other citizens of the Commonwealth, have to contribute to the finances necessary for the defence, developmental and budgetary purposes of the Commonwealth. If revenue increases had not been made in these directions it would have been necessary to find an alternative source of revenue which might have an even greater impact on individuals living in outback areas. Nothing that has occurred will destroy the value of the scheme or the useful improvement it will effect in the situation of people in remoter areas. To the extent that this is an assistance in the direction of decentralisation it is to be welcomed, as it has been.
” EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA “.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that there has been some Press speculation as to the future utilisation of that magnificent ship the “Empress of Australia “? Will the Minister say whether this ship is to continue in its present role, thereby bringing great credit to the Australian National Line? Will the Minister give an up to date report on the commercial operations of the “Empress ot Australia “?
– I know of no proposal to change the present route of the “ Empress of Australia”. As to its commercial operations, it has recently been operating during the slack season, when business has not been very brisk. However, it is hoped that as the ship enters its second year of operations cargoes and numbers of passengers carried will increase. We have every confidence that it will be a success.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of a report that recently a resident of New Guinea, who already had a wife and children, married a second wife? The widowed mother of wife No. 2 then moved in with her daughter and son-in-law. This gentleman then became infatuated with his mother-in-law and made her wife No. 3. In doing so, he became his own father-in-law and wife No. 2 became his step-daughter. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will consider including this gentleman in the next honours list in recognition of his act of unflinching bravery in marrying his mother-in-law.
– Thank heavens I do not have to administer this chap. The answer to the question is, unhesitatingly, either “Yes” or “No”; I do not know which.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Can he say whether naval personnel who are in the United Kingdom for crew training in submarines will be granted home leave if their training extends over a number of years?
– This question concerns not only the Navy but also the other Services and indeed the whole of the Public Service. I will, therefore, have to discuss it with my colleague, the Treasurer. The present policy, as I understand it, is that married members of any of the Services who are posted overseas for longer than 12 months are accompanied by their families. Single persons stay overseas for the period of posting and, as far as I know, have no right to return unless they are in a hardship area. The personnel mentioned by the honorable member are in the United Kingdom and I think it would be difficult for me to prove to the Treasurer that they are in a hardship area.
– I address my question to the Postmaster-General. I refer to his department’s policy of not extending mail services to persons who live less than one mile from the present mail service route. Does he not consider that this regulation is outdated and out of place in closely settled outer suburban areas? Will he review the operation of this policy in closely settled areas?
– I must remind the honorable gentleman and the House that postal services are supposed to be run on an economic basis. I find that people want more services but also want to pay less. This is impossible. I assure the honorable member that the policies we have determined for these matters have regard to the economics of our overall operation.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is he aware that young couples, including those entitled to the grant of £250, are unable to obtain loans from banks although they have the financial securities required for a bank housing loan? I have been informed by the banks that a restriction has been placed on such lending by the Reserve Bank. If a restriction does apply, will the right honorable gentleman tell the House the reason for it, since we seek to help young people to acquire homes of their own? How long will the restriction continue?
-I think the use of the word “ restriction “ could give a quite misleading impression of what is happening in the field of lending by savings banks for housing purposes. It is true that the Reserve Bank has suggested to the savings banks that their level of lending for housing should be geared to the likely long term level of increase in their deposits. However, over the last two years, the rate of lending has been running at a level of £12 million to £13 million a month. When I remind the House that this has been going on for the last couple of years, that in the preceding year it was at a rate of £9 million a month and that in the year prior to that at £5 million a month, it will be seen that, through the savings banks - not only the State savings banks but the private savings banks as well - we have been lending at a very much higher level than we did in either of the earlier years. The honorable member may have noticed a passage in the report of the Reserve Bank to the effect that housing lending in 1964-65 seemed to represent about the highest practicable level having regard to the reserves available in the home building industry. While we can sustain a level of £12 million to £13 million a month, 1 think it can be taken that the home building industry in Australia is pretty well catered for.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. Yesterday, in answering a question on Papua and New Guinea, he said that the Government had accepted the report of the World Bank mission. Page 52 of that report, referring to primary education in Papua and New Guinea, contains a statement which I think should cause everybody great concern. The maximum attendance in three or four years’ time in primary schools will be about 60 per cent, of the school population. The World Bank says-
– Order! The honorable member has directed attention to a report. He may not quote from it.
– The report says that beyond this stage-
– I realise that honorable members opposite, who are interjecting, do not care much about this.
– Order! The honorable member will direct his question.
– The World Bank recommended that primary school enrolments be restricted. This is causing a great deal of concern in the Territory and should cause a great deal of concern in this House. Does the Minister accept that recommendation, too?
– I pointed out yesterday that the Government had accepted the recommendations of the World Rink mission on the development of the Territory. I think it is wrong to select one item out of context with the rest of the report. The World Bank, of course, has great experience of under developed countries throughout the world. It is an independent body which is able to advise us from its world experience. I point out to the honorable member that as far as education is concerned we do not look only at primary education. The mission pointed out the importance of balanced education - primary, secondary and tertiary.
– We have been pointing that out to the Government.
– The Minister is not answering the question.
– I think the honorable member himself needs some education. As I said before, we are following the course of the World Bank’s recommendations.
– Did the Minister for External Affairs see a report from Bangkok, just before the House met, to the effect that Communist guerrilla warfare had started in northern Thailand? Is it a fact that Communist literature had been left behind by the Communists and that one terrorist who was killed had infiltrated through Laos? Can the Minister confirm these points so that these outbreaks of guerrilla activities cannot, at a later date be said, in speeches made by. the honorable member for Yarra and the Leader of the Opposition, to be the start of a civil war?
– I am not in a position at the moment to give an account of any very recent events in Thailand, but it is well known that for some time the radios of Hanoi and Peking have been making statements encouraging insurrection in northern Thailand, and that some attempts at subversive infiltration have taken place. This is a well known technique, and in my speech to the House last night I tried to make very clearly the point that the tactics of Communist aggression are always to find some dissident movement, support it, encourage it, supply it and train it, and then pretend that it is a national liberation front.
– Did the Minister for Trade and Industry, in addressing a recent Country Party conference in Western Australia, sound a strong note of warning on the adverse effects on the Australian economy of uncontrolled overseas investment, and particularly of the takeover of established companies? Do the views expressed represent those of the coalition party which he leads? To what extent do they differ from those of the coalition Government as a whole, of which he is a member? Will the Minister inform the House of the degree of any such divergence and the reasons for same?
– In the address to which the honorable member refers, I spoke along lines on which I have spoken on other occasions in other centres and almost exactly along lines on which I have spoken in a debate in this House. I pointed out my views on this matter and I was at some pains to point out in detail the advantages in certain circumstances of capital inflow into this country. In the end result, my speech was published in the “West Australian “ newspaper almost like the weather. In the eastern States the speech was not distorted but the headlines were quite extraordinary, and then the newspapers proceeded to write articles on their own headlines.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Realising the need for effective trade promotion, I ask: Is there any substantial evidence that Department of Trade and Industry sponsored sales campaigns overseas through visits of trade ships, trade fairs, etc., have been successful in establishing continuous sound markets for Australian products?
– I think that the best evidence that the conduct of these trade exhibitions and fairs produces results is to be found in the fact that very many exhibitors continue time after time to exhibit at the various fairs. I think that one could conclude that this would not be the case if their experience were unsatisfactory. At Lima, in Peru, in November we shall stage a trade exhibition, at which 144 Australian firms will exhibit. This will be the biggest participation ever and quite a number of those exhibiting will be firms that have exhibited on various occasions before.
The companies are, I suppose for competitive commercial reasons, rather reluctant to disclose their individual experiences but the recent trade fair in Tokyo, according to the composite analysis of the result, directly produced for Australian companies orders amounting to £850,000. The trade ship “ Sletholm “, which has made a round cruise in the Pacific area recently, reports direct orders amounting to £500,000. The Trade Commissioner at Nairobi has reported to us that consequent upon a trade exhibition there direct orders amounting to £300,000 were forthcoming. I think that this is indicative of the fact that results can be secured from this activity. I and my Department have never claimed that our judgment is infallible in this respect. Part of this is experimental. I think that all commerce to an extent is experimental, but we certainly would not wish to pursue the expenditure of Government funds unless we were quite sure that real results were accruing both in earning foreign exchange and in providing a base for employment in Australia.
– Is the Treasurer aware that at the Royal Show held last week in Brisbane the Commonwealth Banking Corporation provided a weighing machine, staffed by most beautiful female attendants, on which people were asked to allow themselves to be weighed and to learn their weight in gold valued at £15 16s. per fine ounce expressed in the new Australian decimal currency? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the dollar sign used by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation was that uesd to denote the United States dollar, namely, an S with two strokes and not the dollar sign decided on for Australia, namely, an S with one stroke? I might add for the information of any interested honorable members that the value of my weight in gold was assessed at 82,344 dollars. I ask the Treasurer whether he will, in the interests of uniformity, and to avoid confusion with the new currency signs, instruct all Commonwealth instrumentalities under his control to use in future the dollar sign to apply in Australia on and after 14th February next, namely, the S with one stroke.
– I thank the honorable member for his absorbingly interesting narrative. He did not add whether he found, when he checked up recently, that he had increased his stature, or diminished it, since he came into the Parliament. I had not heard earlier of this enterprising innovation on the part of the Commonwealth Bank, but my recollection is that there is an option given in the use of the dollar sign. It does not necessarily maintain any greater authority in one form or another. However, I shall see what guidance has been issued on this matter by the Decimal Currency Board. I think it is desirable that we should maintain consistency as far as practicable in these matters. If I can add to the knowledge of honorable gentlemen by way of further reply to the question that the honorable member has just asked, I shall do so.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister, and it relates to the Association for International Cooperation and Disarmament which is directing the propaganda campaign in favour of surrender to the Communists in Vietnam. I ask: Is this organisation a successor to the Peace Congress which he described as a Communist front? Are its officials the same as the officials of that body? Can he say why it is that this organisation which professes to be. in favour of peace has made no protest at the failure of Hanoi and Peking to entertain the peace negotiations which were suggested?
– I do not know who the officials are in this organisation, although I do not doubt that the organisation itself is a lineal descendant of the so-calledPeace Congress Movement.
As to the material point, it is, of course, clear - and I propose to say something about it to-night in the course of the debate on’ international affairs - that the conspicuous fact throughout the whole of this matter is that although proposals for peace have been made all round the world, none of them has ever been made by Hanoi or Peking. Nor, indeed has either of those governments entertained for one moment the thought of even receiving people who want to talk about peace.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Is the temporary television station still to be established in Shield Street, Cairns, and will it be operating in 1966? Will the temporary television station retard the completion of the permanent television station? Is the permanent station to be established on Mount Bartle Frere, as planned, or is some other site being considered?
– It is expected that the temporary television station at Cairns will be operating during 1966. The honorable member’s third question related to the continuation of the establishment of installations on Mount Bartle Frere. I inform him that the survey party has found some difficulty in relation to road works on Mount Bartle Frere. I do not suggest at this moment that there will be any move away from that particular site but the matter is under investigation. The installation of the temporary station will not retard the establishment of the permanent station in Cairns.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I wish to direct the attention of the House to a report of my speech on international affairs appearing on page 212 of the current proof edition of “ Hansard “ and also to one appearing in to-day’s Melbourne “ Age “. I shall deal with the “ Hansard “ report first. It states -
The two countries are dependent on each other and it is up to all ofus to do what we can, as I said before, to cement the cracks that have appeared and to see that Malaysia and Singapore remain together.
Now comes the part to which I object -
There is no occasion for anyone in the Australian Labour Party or any other party to cause trouble.
I have checked this matter with “ Hansard “.
What I said was -
It is not for anyone in this party or any other party to cause trouble.
The Melbourne “ Age “, from information obtained from the uncorrected green typescript of the “ Hansard “ report, had this to say in big letters in today’s issue -
Mr. Benson who recently visited South East
Asia with a Parliamentary delegation was speaking in the House of Representatives during the Foreign Affairs debate. Referring to Singapore’s break with Malaysia, he said - “There is no occasion for anyone in the Australian Labour Party to cause trouble “.
I did not use those words and I want the House to know it. The report goes on - “It is up to all of us to do what we can to see that the two countries get together again. This is not the time for any of us to be sniping at one another or indulging in cross fire across the table.”
I should like the House to know that I have checked with “ Hansard “ and I did not use the words “Australian Labour Party “.
– I move -
That a joint select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the methods by which the working and capital expenses of the nation’s telephone services can be most fairly and efficiently met.
I feel that this is a matter of some significance to the Australian community. The Post Office occupies a very important position in our daily life and the Telephone Branch in particular is perhaps, in terms of monetary turnover at least, by far the major section of the activities of the Post Office.
It is difficult to get a comprehensive picture of Post Office finances. I direct the attention of the House, for instance, to at least two sets of documents which have to be looked at if any appraisal of this kind is to be made. The Estimates, which the House will consider very shortly, show the projected receipts of the Post Office. For the year ended 30th June 1966, the total revenue of the Post Office from all its activities is expected to be £203 million of which £134 million will come from the services of the Telephone Branch. The cash statement in the Estimates shows the normal expenditure of the Post Office as £136 million. Taking into account the expected revenue of £203 million, a quick calculation would seem to indicate that the Post Office will have a surplus of about £67 million. But a second item appears in the Estimates contained in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) relating to capital expenditure on the Post Office. The amount is £91 million. So there are two items. Ordinary annual expenses on a cash basis are £136 million and there is capital expenditure of £91 million, giving total expenditure of £227 million compared with receipts of £203 million. That is a picture of a kind, but it is not a very comprehensive picture of the operations of the Post Office.
To obtain a comprehensive picture of what is called the commercial form of accounting, one has to turn to another document which is produced and tabled in this House - the annual report of the Postmaster-General. The last one available is that for the year ended 30th June 1964. I presume that we will not receive the latest report for a month or two although it has been the practice for the past couple of years to produce an interim statement of the Department’s finances to assist in the Budget debate. On the basis of the commercial account for the year ended 30th June 1964, the total revenue of the Post Office from all sources was near enough to £165 million of which £102 million was earned by the Telephone Branch. So something more than one-half - nearer threefifths - of the activity of the Post Office, in a monetary sense at any rate, is reflected in the Telephone Branch.
When you turn to the expenses of the Post Office, however, you find two very significant items, neither of which appears in the cash statement. The first significant item is the provision for depreciation. For the Telephone Branch, this amounted to £23 million for the year ended 30th June 1964. The second significant item, which has appeared for only the last five years or so, is interest. For the year ended 30th June 1964, the total earnings of the Telephone Branch of near enough to £103 million had offset against them an interest commitment of £22,379,000. In other words, one-fifth of the cost of the Telephone Branch is reflected by this interest component. This interest component is a comparatively new device. Prior to 1960, no interest component was found in the Post Office accounts except a very small sum relating to certain loan funds which had been appropriated directly to the Post Office. Other than that, the capitalisation of the Post Office had come from one of two directions, first, from revenue provided out of taxation by the Commonwealth Government, or secondly, from what is called the ploughing back of capital by the Post Office. I want to make that point first, that the cost of the telephone service as at present computed, when compared with the method of computation used five or six years ago, is one-fifth higher than it might otherwise have been, by reason of the loading on of this interest component.
This morning I am merely suggesting that there are two sides of the question that we have to debate, and I want to try to present the two of them, although I may be a little biased in favour of one rather than the other. But what I am suggesting is that these are matters of such significance and magnitude that I doubt whether the Parliament as a whole knows what the issues involved really are. I suggest that a select committee of the kind proposed could at least go into these problems. Some of the details are highly technical. Again there are two sets of revenue or expenditure that I want to look at and the cases for the two of them are somewhat different. There are what might be called capital items and there are what might be called items of an annual kind, and during the course of my argument I want to look at both of these sets of items.
It might be said, and it has been said previously by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme), that if the Post Office did not collect this amount - and it is £25 million for all the activity of the Post Office, but £22 million in respect of telephone activities - by charging telephone users, the revenue would have to find an additional amount of £22 million. Again I think that is a statement of fact. If you did not get the £22 million one way, according to the totality of accounts you would have to get it another way. But at least that does not dispose of the argument that one means of getting it may be more equitable than another. The fact that you collect £22 million from users of telephones rather than raising £22 million by taxation is merely something that we have to consider in the kind of context in which we must try to evaluate the position.
Let us consider just what the Post Office is doing in this connection. I will show in a moment that this £22 million really goes into another fund, and then whatever the capital requirements of the Post Office are on the cash side of the budget, they are reduced accordingly because the Post Office has, in essence, ploughed this interest back into the undertaking. What the Post Office is doing here is, of course, what is being done in quite a large number of branches of what is called private enterprise. There, of course, it is done in the name of what is called profit, and there are some people who argue that it is profit that makes the economy efficient. That is again an argument which I suggest is a rather coloured argument: it ignores, of course, the reality that profit is made only by charging the users of the goods or services that are provided by an undertaking more than those goods or services cost to produce or provide. The difference is profit. Well, whether profit is a regulator of economic efficiency is at least a matter of some doubt.
Increasingly in recent years what has been done in private enterprise has been that higher profits than are normal have been extracted, some of those profits not being distributed to shareholders but being ploughed back into the undertaking to increase its capital structure. Again I want merely to note that that is a difference in the operation of capitalistic economic theory, if you like to call it that, in 1965 as compared with its operation in, say, 1905. In those days if you wanted additional capital you went on to the market and if investors thought your undertaking was worth investing in they would provide the capital. But what is happening now is that because of the scale of industry an undertaking finds itself in a position virtually to fix its own prices, within limits, and it fixes them so as not only to give a fair dividend to its shareholders but also to allow an additional amount to be ploughed back in order to increase the capital structure of the undertaking.
Again, on the score of sheer efficiency there is no justification whatsoever for saying that because you have succeeded in producing 100,000 motor cars you have a warrant to go further and produce 200,000 motor cars, if it is not in the interests of the economy as a whole that we should have 200,000 motor cars. Certainly we should not have 200,000 motor cars until we have enough garages to allow them to be moved off the roads at night, and enough roads for them to run on by day. Sometimes we must achieve co-ordination between correlated aspects of a broad question.
Tests somewhat similar to these, it seems, are being applied to the Post Office. To begin with, I do not regard private profit as necessarily an efficient regulator of the economy, but I do think that once you begin to interpolate into the economics of a public utility concepts of profit which are applicable only - if they are applicable at all - to private enterprise, you get into extreme difficulty indeed. I believe that a public utility such as the Post Office should charge the users of its services sufficient only to cover the costs of the services, ft need not make a profit because, after all, the profit belongs to the community as a whole. What is the point in making a profit? Everybody is a shareholder in the undertaking, whereas in the case of a private concern there is a limited degree of shareholding. In the case of the Post Office or, for that matter, any other public utility, there are no shareholders in the sense in which there are shareholders in a private concern.
The profit motive is the sort of philosophy that has been intruded into the operations of the Post Office. Now it is said that because the Post Office has a large amount of capitalisation - and it is close to £600 million, about £500 millions of which is in the telephone section - the Post Office should charge the users of telephones sufficient for its services to show a notional profit of something like 4 per cent, on the capital. Again I am simply suggesting that this is at least arguable. It can be very dubious when you come to certain other aspects of the analysis. What I am saying is that at least there is no proven theory one way or the other about it, and I think that when you do get to this kind of situation it is at least time that the Parliament had a look at it.
The fact that there are two points of view is very clearly brought out in a document that was commissioned by the former Postmaster-General, Mr. Davidson. He set up an ad hoc committee to inquire into the commercial accounts of the Post Office. It was a committee of five and on this issue it divided three one way and two the other. It reached nothing like a unanimous decision. I think this is summarised very succinctly in one clause in each of the two reports of the Ad Hoc Committee of Inquiry into the Commercial Accounts of the Post Office - the majority report and the minority report. I quote from paragraph 65 of the majority report appearing at page 17. It states -
The reason for this view is conceptually a very simple one. It is that the use of interest-free money is worth something in addition to the money itself: that is to say, the recipient of an advance obtains a financial advantage greater than the amount of the advance. In other words, ii interest is not chargeable on an advance, an advantage is obtained by the recipient at the expense of the provider. It follows that the noncharging of interest on any part of the net advances that have been provided to the Post Office would mean, for the purpose of Term of Reference 1 (a), the conferring of an advantage on the Post Office at the expense of the provider of the funds - in this case, through the Treasury, the taxpayer - thus transferring a cost from the Post Office to the taxpayer.
The report goes on to state -
If the Post Office had obtained its finance from some financier other than Treasury, it would unquestionably have been required to pay interest.
I do not dispute that proposition. If the Government obtained the capital from somewhere other than the Treasury it would have had to pay interest. But of course the Post Office is a public undertaking and it does not have to get its capital from private shareholding so, in essence, it loses the comparison. To my mind that is the whole point of the argument.
– That concept is out of date.
– It is not out of date. I want to show honorable members where the concept the other way is rather distorted. It is because the Post Office obtains its finance in the way it does that the interest component at least is a matter of opinion rather than a matter of any final fact. The fact that the Government decided, in essence, to accept the theory of the majority report means that it now loads on to the Post Office £20 million or £25 million more for services than those services currently cost. We might ask ourselves where we get to beyond that point when it is claimed by the Minister: “ I will use that additional interest to extend the capital structure of the Post Office for the future “. Again this introduces another devious theory - that those people who use the Post Office or the telephone today should contribute something towards the capital cost of those who want to use those facilities tomorrow. That at least is only one possible argument and I suggest it is not one that can be airily and conclusively disposed of by somebody putting the other point of view.
I suggest there are two points of view about this method: The Government can charge interest and erect a theory about why it charges interest. Equally, without fracturing any accounting principles, it could be suggested that because the money comes out of taxation in the first place and the Government is collecting more revenue in taxes than it requires, it would be justified in meeting the cost out of such revenue and waiving interest charges. In fact, over the past IS years this Government has provided for all capital works of the Commonwealth out of revenue with very few small exceptions. These exceptions appeared in some years when it did not choose to tax as heavily as it might.
But what the Government has done with the Post Office is different from what would be done, for example, in the case of the user of a road. The Government has said, in effect, that it will treat the Post Office like a private undertaking that has to make a profit and it will charge the Post Office interest on the money it requires. To come to the other point of view, 1 shall quote paragraph 27 of the minority report found at page 54 of the reports I have cited. It states -
For our purposes, it is sufficient to say that interest may, in the context with which we are concerned, be treated as the price which the owner can exact from the user for the use of money. When the community, as taxpayers, provides money for the community, as Post Office customers, it is a matter of judgment whether a price for the use of the money should be exacted from the customers. Such judgment must be constantly exercised upon wise principles in future.
What I am trying to suggest is that so far as Parliament as a whole is concerned the judgment is not being exercised with any wisdom at all.
There can be neither logic nor theory to justify altering retrospectively the judgments on this matter that have been made in the past. For this reason, we think that the theoretical contentions referred to in paragraph 65 of the majority report should be carefully assessed. We should add that there cannot be any ready-made rule of “ business practice” by which the charge for interest can be determined in the case of a national service.
That is the point I throw back at the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver). 1 repeat it because he was not here when I read it previously.
We should add that there cannot be any readymade rule of “ business practice “ by which the charge for interest can be determined in the case of a national service.
So far I have only put the view about the capital side of the provision for the telephone section of the Post Office and by those quotations I have tried to suggest that at least there are two views on this matter. At the moment, of course, the Government has chosen the other view to prevail although it made a very quick conversion. I quote what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in March 1959. He said -
The proposition is that we charge ourselves interest, we throw into deficit a couple of great undertakings that have been referred to, and we then raise the wind in order to meet that deficit - because it all comes back onto us. Therefore, charging ourselves interest is merely a complicated piece of book-keeping that does not produce one pennyworth of financial results.
That was the view of the Prime Minister in March that year but five months later, in August, the Treasurer chose to change it.
– The honorable member has also changed his views.
– I have not. The honorable member for Swan has made this charge before. I think that if he reads the report of Public Accounts Committee fairly he will find that this was a question that we set aside for future consideration. I agreed that the matter ought to be set aside but I did not agree with the presumption that the interest ought to be charged. I still do not agree with it. I think it is fantastic crazy book-keeping that does not give a pennyworth of result. In fact, it puts a charge of £25 million on the community for no regular reason at all.
But to get back to the other side, I want to speak about the way that telephones are currently charged. I suggest that even here there can be some differences of opinion as there are different methods of paying for the services. There are three payments made for the telephone at the moment. There is what is called an installation charge made to new subscribers. This was not previously charged. It is a new form of costing as far as the telephone is concerned and was developed in the last few years.
Some people, whilst not objecting to a charge being made, suggest that it should be amortised over a period and that the subscriber should not have to pay £5. £10 or £15 in a lump sum but that the charge should be made progressively as is rent and as a component. I suggest that there is a case for that to be done. Other countries, just as we have, have a rent component and the charge for calls. Some countries charge a higher rent and exempt a certain number of calls. I am not too sure that, in view of the greater extent to which trunk lines are now used, the time has not come to change the method of setting the tariff. Again, I think these are matters that can properly be investigated.
I, in common with other honorable members, received yesterday - I think this publication appears on most honorable members’ tables in the morning and is in their waste paper baskets by evening - a compilation entitled “ Statutory Rules Regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act “, defining certain zones and charging districts under the Postmaster-General’s Department. I do not think that is the way in which a nation should do its business. Most of the details given constitute simply the names of various telephone exchanges throughout Australia. Surely there is some rationale in costing in this Department. Variations have been made recently in telephone areas. Metropolitan zones have been extended under the policy known as “ Elsa “ and new trunk arrangements have been made in country districts. I suggest that the time has come when the Parliament, as the custodian of this institution and being ultimately responsible for the tariffs which are set, should look a little bit more closely at this matter.
We have suggested that a joint select committee be appointed to inquire into this matter and report upon the methods by which the working of the system - that is the current charges and the capital expenditures - are dealt with. 1 have tried to suggest that there is more than one way of doing this so that the nation’s requirement for telephone services can be most fairly and efficiently met. While I know that the Postmaster-General has to justify - as he should- - what is being done, I would hope that he would realise that it is better that the community should be informed upon these matters than that it should think that decisions are merely taken as the most convenient way of doing things. I would hope that the Minister might see some value in having a committee of this kind appointed. It may well be that that, having heard all the evidence, people like me may be converted to another view. On the other band, there could be some conversion the other way.
– I would be hard to convert.
– 1 know that the honorable member would be hard to convert, because, as I have, he has made up his mind on one side of the proposition. I am prepared to consider this matter from two sides but I doubt whether he is. But at least there are three people of just as good standing as the honorable member or myself in the accounting world - and two of some eminence - who take divergent views on the same proposition. I do not think a proposition of such technical complexity can be resolved by debate. I think it should be resolved by an entirely different process and I therefore have moved accordingly.
– Is the motion seconded?
– 1 second the motion, and reserve my right to speak at a later stage.
– My mind is always open to receive suggestions as to how my Department might be organised and how it could be made more efficient and I hoped this morning, when this debate was called on, that some suggestions would be made which would justify spending some time in investigating them. I regret that that has not been the situation. When one is in charge of a Department one’s mind is constantly concerned wilh issues within that department. Over the last 18 months or more I have constantly concerned myself with the basis of charging and the basis upon which the accounts of the Post Office are prepared and presented to the public.
There is nothing that has been said by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) this morning which has not been considered over this period by me in conjunction with officers of the Post Office. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spent most of the half hour available to him in a discussion relating to interest and I will come to that a little later. But he first made reference to the type of Post Office statement which is available to the Parliament and to the public. It takes - in the broad - two forms. Firstly there are the Treasury accounts. These are simply explained on the basis that all Treasury accounts presented to the Parliament are on a cash basis - the cash received, the cash paid out and the net cash balance. In relation to the Post Office it was believed in years gone by - I think it still finds acceptance in the community as it would in the Parliament - that it was desirable that there should be provided something better than a mere cash document and we therefore instituted commercial accounts in the Post Office.
One will appreciate that with a couple of million telephone accounts and with the many obligations which have been undertaken towards the end of the financial year, it is desirable in regard to both receipts and expenditure that there should be accruals at the end of the year so that the year’s accounts take into account those at the beginning of the year and those at the end, so that the real economic result for the year is presented. I believe it is impossible under our Constitution to do other than to present to the Parliament, in the Treasury document, anything more than cash accounts. Therefore the commercial statement must be a supplementary document. But I feel that both documents are prepared in such a way that they are very easily understood by anybody who sets about a study of them. I think the actual statement of profit and loss and the balance sheet and the notes which accompany them and the explanations which are given in the annual report give members of Parliament and members of the public a pretty clear picture of the accounts of the Post Office.
I now come to the motion which is before the House, lt requires three things: First, the appointment of a joint select committee. Then it requires tha’ the select committee shall have regard to two things. It shall inquire into and report upon the methods by which the working expenses of the telephone services can be most fairly and efficiently met and upon the methods by which the capital expenditure on telephone services can be most fairly and efficiently met. I believe that if this is to be accepted it might be expected that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would have proved that there is something wrong at the present time; that there is something unfair in what is being done in the charges or in the preparation of accounts; that there is inefficiency within this total operation or that there are better and improved methods which should be instituted. I do not think that this has been proven by what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said this morning.
As I said earlier, I think that most of his argument centred upon the question of whether or not interest should be charged. This is a philosophical argument in which the Government has one philosophy and the Opposition has another. We can argue this in the Parliament. There is no need to appoint representatives from this side of the Parliament and from that side to disagree in a committee. Let us have the disagreement, which has already existed for years, within the Parliament itself. Let us agree to disagree in regard to this matter. It was not first determined in the Parliament. It was a suggestion from the Public Accounts Committee some years ago that this matter ought to be looked at. The Government accepted the recommendation of the Committee and appointed Sir Alexander Fitzgerald as chairman of a committee of inquiry. That committee presented a report and the Government accepted the recommendation contained in the report. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that this was only a majority view, three to two. Does he suggest that if this matter were discussed by a select committee of the Parliament there would be a unanimous decision on it? I will bet guineas to gooseberries that it would be the Opposition on one side and the Government on the other side as members of such a committee making a recommendation to the Parliament.
– How could the Minister know the result in advance?
– We do know the result in advance. But the extraordinary thing is that once again we find that the Labour Party in this Parliament is completely opposed to the views of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom because, if honorable members undertake a study of the bases of the operations of the Post Office in the United Kingdom, they will find that the Labour Party there accepts not only that there should be an interest charge debited against the user of Post Office facilities, particularly the telephone, but also that there should be over and above that interest charge an income return of something like 8 per cent.
– That was determined in 1960.
– It was accepted by the Labour Party. If that is the situation, why is there objection - apparently real objection - by the Labour Party in Australia to this charge for interest against the user of the service? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that if the money were borrowed outside of the Treasury it would be reasonable that the user of the telephone should pay the interest charge.
– It is a cost that you have to meet.
– Of course it is a cost which we have to meet.
– The Department does not meet costs it should meet. Is that what the Minister is saying?
– There is a cost to one or two sections, as the honorable member presented the matter. The cost has to be met either by the taxpayer, who in many instances does not use other than a public telephone, or by the telephone subscriber. We say in relation to the use of a public telephone that the user will pay something more than the normal unit call fee. The user pays 6d. instead of the normal 4d. and is in fact making a contribution. In the final wash up of this matter, it is a case of whether taxation is increased to cover this cost or whether the user of the facility meets it.
The net result is that in the 1963-64 financial year when there was a demand on the Treasury for £20 million - I will deal in round figures - the total amount shown for capital works was £68 million. Interest amounted to £23 million and depreciation to £25 million. The demand on the Treasury was for a net amount of £20 million. If interest is excluded as a debit against the user of the telephone then not £20 million but £43 million is required from the taxpayer in increased taxation. To take the estimate for the current financial year on which we have just embarked, of the £90 million provided, £30 million will be required for interest charges, £34 million for depreciation charges, and £26 million net from the Treasury. If we add to the latter amount the £30 million for interest, we arrive at a figure of £56 million which has to be provided by the general taxpayer. I am prepared to argue with anybody the complete justification of charging the user with the cost of the thing which he is in fact using. This seems to me, as I said earlier, a matter of simple philosophy. This is the philosophy we accept. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has presented the philosophy which the Opposition accepts. All I can say is that while we are in government it is our philosophy which will be applied. Doubtless when the party of which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is a member is in government, it will be its philosophy which will be applied. I think it is better for us to agree to differ rather than to waste time appointing a select committee.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has suggested that we might have a look at the tariff structure. We have already done so. It will be remembered that, last year, there were considerable adjustments in the tariff structure. At 1st October, before they were altered last year, there were 20 basic categories and in each of those categories four types of telephone were available at differing rentals. So, there were overall 80 different categories. This number we reduced to nine categories. I believe that this was the introduction of - to use the word which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports used this morning - efficiency into the structure. If we go back to 1949, before this Government came to office, we find that there were 128 rental categories within the telephone operations of the Post Office. I believe that this was real inefficiency. We have given our mind to this aspect to produce a much more efficient system of administration and one which is more easily understood by the public.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to the New Zealand system also. This system is not exclusive to New Zealand. It applies in some other countries in the world. It is a system by which there is a basic rental charge plus local call fees according to whether it is based on total local calls or on a certain number of local calls covering a particular six-monthly period. But what should be remembered in making this sort of approach to the matter is the size of Australia and the population of Australia. As I have indicated in this
House before, the size of New Zealand can be shown by taking a stretch of our country between Brisbane and Melbourne extending 200 miles in from the seaboard. That is New Zealand. Australia is a tremendous area with a small population. If we were to have this type of operation - and because local call fees would be free up to a certain point at least - there would be a greater requirement for switching equipment or capital equipment. If we were to implement such a system at this time, I believe there would be a trebling or a quadrupling of the engaged signals which people get when they use telephones. If we were to implement that system at this point of time, I think - 1 say this without time to examine the matter fully here and now - there would be a tremendous complaint from the public. If we were trying to have this system in operation in two years, three years or five years, we would have to increase probably by £20 million a year the actual capital requirement. So, I say that this matter has been investigated and that it has been found not to be capable of implementation within the structure of the Australian Post Office at the present time.
We believe that the first thing we should consider is a modern system and that the maximum number of people should have a telephone rather than that money should be spent in giving such a service to fewer people although it may perhaps meet their purse a little better. But there is within this system something which must be basically understood. It is that if there is a charge covering rental and so many calls, the person who is not a frequent user of the telephone is subsidising the person who is a frequent user. This is avoided by our system because the user pays a rental charge and then pays for each service. I have seen accounts for 25s. for six months’ calls and I have seen other accounts, as I am sure other honorable members have, which run into hundreds of pounds. The small user must subsidise the large user in this kind of scheme.
So, Sir, I believe that this morning we have not been encouraged to believe that there is any justification for condemning or criticising the Post Office over the way in which we are meeting the capital needs or the way in which we are meeting the working expenses. As I have understood the discussion, the only working expense that is under criticism is the interest charge. There is no question of whether we should charge for the liability in relation to furlough or the liability in relation to superannuation, or of whether we should charge for depreciation on assets. Only one working expense is criticised. Yet this criticism is put on the broad basis of the methods by which all the working expenses are charged. As T have said, there is a suggestion of criticism or comment only in relation to interest. I suggest that the motion is badly worded if this is the only point that is to be tackled.
The other point that arises relates to capital. I know of only two or three ways by which we can raise the capital required for an operation such as this, Sir. Either you can get it from the Government through the Treasury or you can go out into the public market and compete with the Commonwealth when it is seeking to raise loan money for the States, and compete also with local government authorities and semigovernmental authorities in the States. I do not think that there would be any advocacy in this place for that course.
– The Post Office does not do that, of course.
– We do not do it.
– The Post Office charges interest on what is costing it nothing.
– The only factor on which the honorable member has an argument, and on which he bases the whole of his submission, is interest. Why does not the motion mention interest instead of dealing with total capital and total expense operations?
– The Post Office is using the interest to provide one third of its capital.
– 1 am talking in terms of raising capital, because this is what the motion deals with. You can get capital only from the Treasury or on the public market, or you can do as the British do. They seek to get it from additional profits over and above the interest charge that they make.
– The Post Office is going the third way.
– No. We are seeking to raise capital in several ways. Having available the depreciation reserve we are using, through the Treasury, the interest provision, and we are getting an additional amount from the taxpayers. I believe that this is a very sensible approach to the problem.
I say in conclusion, Sir, as I said at the beginning: This is a question of philosophy; and that is all it is. The argument has been before the public for many years. It has been considered by a special committee under the chairmanship of a person who was selected by the Government as a man whose competence and ability as chairman would not be under criticism. That committee made a recommendation. Admittedly, the report was a majority one. But I think it would be almost impossible to find a committee that would make a unanimous report unless its members were all from one side of the Parliament. Do we say that we reject the report because it was only a majority report? If this principle were to be adopted in relation to reports received, we would never accept the recommendations of committees, because so many recommendations made to the Parliament on various matters are in fact majority recommendations. I suggest that there is no justification for the House agreeing to the motion, and I ask honorable members to reject it.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the motion is not designed to condemn the Post Office or to condemn the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). The Minister has taken far too narrow a view of the use of the words “ fairly and efficiently “ in the motion. What we all ought to be concerned with is first, that everybody in Australia who wants a telephone shall be able to get one and, secondly, that the cost of servicing the telephones already installed and of installing the further telephones required is fairly and efficiently met. This is what the motion is designed to achieve. My colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who proposed the motion, the Minister, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), who is Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and who will follow me in this debate, all are accountants. I am not an accountant. I therefore have the disadvantage of being ingenuous in this matter. However, I have the advantage of having a fresh approach to it. Frankly, after thirteen years as a member of this Parliament, I cannot understand why it seems every year that more people are waiting for telephones than were waiting in the previous year and why, in this field of government activity, it is impossible to say when the backlog will be met and impossible to determine when one will be able to say that an applicant will be able to get a telephone within, say, three months, six months or one year of application.
I do not want to approach this question as it is usually approached in the Parliament and as I myself have had to approach it several times over the years - from the standpoint of where telephones are most in demand or where the supply of telephones is most deficient. If we approach the problem of supplying telephones on this basis, all we are doing is to discuss a rationing scheme. The public does not want us to concern ourselves with rationing a service which is in short supply. The public expects us to supply a service which the Commonwealth Government is responsible for providing.
I do not approach this as a philosophical or ideological issue. In Britain, telephone services have always been provided by the national Government. In Australia, for more than 50 years, since the Commonwealth took over such services from the States, they have been provided by the national Government. This is not a question on which we should be deciding whether it would be better to have this kind of utility conducted wholly by private enterprises as in the United States of America, and in most other countries, largely financed with United States or Western European capital. So far as I know, nobody in the House has ever suggested this. Nor has anybody suggested in respect of telephone services that the Government and private enterprise should engage in competition. A great number of members of the Parliament, particularly on our side, now suggest that when some activity is carried on by corporations or private individuals, there is merit in having public competition with the private operators. But nobody here has suggested that there would be merit in having private competition in the conduct of this public utility. We all accept the ideologic or philosophic basis for the Commonwealth Government’s supplying all the telephone services in Australia and for the proposition that it is illegal in Australia for anybody else to provide a telephone service and that this position is to continue. Moreover, we all ought to be concerned with the fact that this government monopoly is not meeting the public demand.
In the past, I have acknowledged in this House, outside it in public, and in private, that the Postmaster-General’s Department is now administered by a man of very great skill and experience. The first Liberal Postmaster-General for years has more experience in commercial and economic matters than has been possessed by any persons who have held his position for a long time past. Undoubtedly, therefore, within the limits of the concepts which have applied until now, the Department will be administered as efficiently and justly as possible. I am certain that the present Minister does as good a job as anybody in this House could do within the limits of the concepts that at present govern the administration of the Department. It is the concepts which have to be broadened.
There are officers in his Department who are very gravely concerned about the Department’s inability to meet the demand. It is not too much to say that the morale of a very great number- I believe the majority - of members of this Department at all levels is gravely affected by the insinuation by the public that they are inefficient. Indeed, the insinuation is sometimes made that they are corrupt. These insinuations are always made about any Government department which administers in a state of shortage. The officers of this Department are honorable, efficient and dedicated men. It is unfortunate that there is a colossal turnover in the Department and that there is a tremendous wastage at some levels and particularly in the Telephone Branch. But it is not the fault of the officers of the Department that they cannot meet the demand for telephones; that they cannot fulfil the obligations of this Government monopoly. Many officers in the Treasury are also gravely concerned about this position in the Postmaster-General’s Department. They are not officers at the top level, admittedly, because most officers at that level are too set in their ways. Some are still pre-Keynesian. They were brilliant students in the 1920’s. But there is a new generation of Treasury officers who are gravely concerned about the position in the Postmaster-General’s Department.
As one of the lay members of this Parliament, I think I am entitled to express the misgivings that the public has and that most of the Parliament have. I shall point out, with the aid of a few statistics, the position which has arisen. There are now in Australia at least 50,000 families or businesses waiting for telephones. It is impossible for them to know, in general, when they will be able to get a telephone. As things go, in a year’s time there will be more waiting, despite the fact that for the current year, as in the year just concluded, there has been an increased allocation for capital works in this Department.
– Fewer were waiting for telephones at the end of June of this year than were waiting at the end of June last year.
– 1 am glad to hear that.
Mr. Hulme__ I expect a similar result this year.
– I wish the Minister could say when we shall end a year with no applicants waiting.
– But that is unreasonable.
– Let us have some timetable so that we shall know that an applicant will be able to get a telephone in three months or six months. Is this an unreasonable or impracticable proposition? It is not regarded as unreasonable or impracticable in any other country. If one must be ideological in this matter, one can point out that in America, where private enterprise provides the telephones, an applicant never has to wait as long as he does in Australia. This is not because public enterprise is less efficient than private enterprise; it is because in Australia public expenditure can always and private expenditure can only rarely be regulated by governments and, in the case of housing and telephones, it has been regulated more than in any other case, although from time to time the motor industry also has been regulated because it depends on credit.
– Few applicants outside Sydney had to wait more than three months to get a telephone. Sydney is the real problem. More money than is being provided this year could not be used there even if it were available.
– Melbourne is also a considerable problem but yesterday the Minister agreed in an answer to the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Bosman) that 61 per cent, of the people waiting for telephones in Australia resided in New South Wales. The Minister did not say, although I believe it is a fact, that 48 per cent, of those waiting for telephones in Australia are in the Sydney metropolitan area.
I was provoked to speak on the Estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department last year by the fact that he said in answer to questions about the waiting period and the waiting list for telephones that New South Wales was getting a larger allocation for telephones in the year just ended than any other State. One would expect this on the basis of population alone.
– It was much more than the the others were given; it was 40 per cent, of the total.
– At the time the Minister said 37 per cent., but even then I should think that if 60 per cent, of the people waiting for telephones live in New South Wales, the allocation of 40 per cent, to New South Wales would not bring the applicants in that State into parity with those in the the other States. Let me be parochial now.
– We must have a technical staff to do this work. We cannot just pick up technical staff at a moment’s notice. We cannot move staff about Australia just to solve the Sydney problem. This is the difficulty.
– I know that in Sydney and Melbourne, which are the worst affected areas, there is great competition for the technical people whom the Minister’s Department employs and whom, to the advantage in general of industry in Australia, the Department trains. I know that this is a difficulty. But the Minister put it also on the basis that in Sydney, because there is a harbour in the middle of the city and because the city is built on rock, it costs more to install telephones. For the same reason it costs more in Sydney to install water, sewerage, electricity or any other utility. In no State Department and in no other Commonwealth Department would the argument be tolerated that because terrain makes installation more expensive the people must wait longer for facilities. I am not saying that telephones are as essential as water or electricity, or as important as sewerage. Nevertheless, telephones are an essential utility.
These days, business and families should not have to tolerate the inability to install telephones which applies particularly in Sydney and to a lesser extent in Melbourne. Let me illustrate - parochially, if you like - the extent of the delay. I quote from an answer which was given 12 months ago to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). In New South Wales there were four electorates in which more than 2,000 people were waiting for telephones. They were the electorates of Werriwa, Mitchell, Hughes and Mackellar. Several other electorates had waiting lists of more than 1,000. They were the electorates of Banks, Lang, Parramatta, Reid and Robertson. In Victoria, three electorates had more than 1,000 waiting. I refer to the electorates of Bruce, Lalor and Flinders. In no other electorate in any State was there a waiting list of more than a few hundred. In the Minister’s own State, in most cases the numbers waiting were in the mere tens.
I do not want to take a parochial view of this problem because I do not think we should look at the question of telephone services from the point of view of rationing. I do not accept the position - I do not think members of the Parliament ought to accept the position and I do not believe the public accepts the position - that there must always be a shortage of telephones in any part of Australia. It should be possible for the Department, which is running the biggest business in the southern hemisphere, to devise a programme under which everybody in Australia, every business and every family that wants a telephone, can have a reasonable prospect of getting one.
My own simple attitude towards the financing of telephones is that the persons who use the service should pay for them. They should pay for the capital and pay for the running of the service. I adopt that attitude on the very simple thesis that every man’s telephone is more valuable to him if more people have a telephone. The more people who can ring a subscriber or whom a subscriber can ring, the more valuable the telephone is to that subscriber. I do not want to engage in any philosophical argument about interest. I am baffled, frankly, to hear why interest should have to be paid on moneys provided for public buildings such as schools. I am baffled to know why hospitals should be in this category and I do not see why transport should have to be in this category. In all these cases - public transport, public schools or hospitals - the money comes from taxation. To a certain extent, so far as the States are concerned, they are financed from loans, but even loans are usually filled from taxation. That is, the money is raised and spent once and for all.
Why do we have to go through the motion of paying interest on it in the future? In fairness, I can certainly understand the necessity, say, where electricity is generated by a public authority and gas is generated by a private authority which has to borrow money or pay a dividend. I can understand that in such circumstances one has to impose interest on the public authority. Again, I can understand that where there is a Commonwealth authority, like the Snowy Mountains Authority, which is financed out of taxation, producing electricity and a State public authority producing electricity from buildings for which loans have been made by the Commonwealth and must be paid back to the Commonwealth, one has to include interest so as not to distort the relative cost of producing hydroelectricity as against thermal electricity. I can understand all these matters, but why do we have to pay interest on money which is found from taxation and from charges? Frankly, I cannot understand why we do it.
– Finally, it is governed by the quantum of money you have available.
– Exactly. The parallel I would like to make with the telephones is roads. Most of the cost of roads in Australia - certainly the cost of all the main roads - comes from the petrol tax. We may not equate it technically that way, but it is within I per cent, or 2 per cent. We never say that the amount which comes from the petrol tax and is put into roads has to be paid back to the Commonwealth or has to earn interest for the Government. Why should we say it in regard to telephones? The simple, ingenuous and naive proposition I make is that people who subscribe to telephones should meet the amount which is required to instal and maintain them.
Looking at the figures, roughly there would not be much difference in that from what they pay already. The £20 million, roughly, which is levied in interest, the one fifth of the cost of running the service, which the Minister has described, does not appear in the Budget. The public is frustrated, in the same way as members of Parliament from the electorates which I have mentioned are frustrated, by the fact that this Government monopoly is not meeting public demand. If we say that, because of the requirements of defence or development or social welfare, the country cannot afford the indulgence of a telephone for everybody who wants one, and if we say that some people do not need telephones, where are we to draw the line? Are we to say the same thing about other things which have proliferated in the last ten or thirty years? Are we to say that people do not need as many motor cars, that they do not need as many refrigerators? Are we therefore to say: “ Do not supply the roads which they need for the motor cars, and do not supply the electricity that they need for the refrigerators.”? Are we to squeeze people out in this way?
– We have not got all of the roads we want.
– No, but the roads we have got we have financed from the petrol tax. People need telephones and they are entitled to get them. I have suggested a way in which (his can be fairly and efficiently, done. I believe that among all the inexpert members of the Parliament we could come up with some ideas for a just and efficient provision for this public utility and essential service.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In this debate I wish to direct certain matters to the attention of my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who moved the motion.
– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate on the motion is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr. Hulme) agreed to -
That the time for the discussion of notices be extended until 12.43 p.m.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has given his antigovernment view of the Post Office and its administration quite regularly in recent years. In 1961, when the very important report of the ad hoc committee of inquiry into the commercial accounts of the Post Office was before us, my friend expressed his views and I succeeded in getting the adjournment of the debate in the hope that I might be given the opportunity of following him. That never eventuated, to my distress. It was only the other evening that I discarded the results of the research I made at the time. So I approach the question in a modern light, as is necessary in this changing world.
On that occasion in 1961 the honorable member for Melbourne Ports made it quite clear that he did not agree with the majority report that was embodied in the document. He referred to the minority report as a wishy-washy document. It was quite apparent that he did not agree with the two members of the Committee who signed the minority report. I suggest that it is apparent that the honorable member wanted no modernisation in the accounting system of the Post Office. This is rather amazing when one looks at his background as a public accountant. He advocated the concept that the Post Office be a public utility. This truly is amazing. The honorable member fails to recognise that the use of the Post Office is not uniform throughout the community. The large corporations and businesses using the facilities of the Post Office so extensively should surely make equitable contributions. Here we have the honorable member, who is a dedicated Socialist, wanting it to be a public utility giving the maximum service at the minimum cost. He wants to apply a uniform cost to all within the community.
I think it is pertinent to refer to page 20, paragraph 96 of the Committee’s report of 1961, where a view that had been put before it was expressed in this way -
This view assumes that taxpayers are identical with consumers of Post Office services and that, therefore, taxpayers receive a benefit from the investment of taxation receipts in the Post Office if they obtain Post Office services at less than cost. Such a view is, however, untenable. Almost every taxpayer is a consumer of Post Office services, but the extent to which individuals use Post Office services, and the amount they pay for them, vary greatly from individual to individual. Likewise, so do taxes paid vary from individual to individual. However, there is no correspondence, except fortuitously, between the relative taxes paid by individuals and the relative use by individuals of Post Office services.
Now 1 turn, not to what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said in the debate in 1961, but to what he said in the debate on postal and telephone rates in October last year. We find that he came back to this interest component in commercial accounting, which formed the substance of the speech that he made this morning. He then asked for maximum service at a minimum cost and he spoke - this was a strange term to come from the lips of my friend - of a rough equality between income received from Post Office services and expenditure incurred. He indicated that all he wanted and all he thought was necessary was a rough equality. Then he moved on to speak about the method of running the Post Office. That is inherent in the motion that he moved this morning. He criticised the theoretical approach of the businessmen in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of Inquiry. He drew a comparison between the three businessmen who presented the majority section of the report and the businessmen who presented the minority section.
Thank goodness the Government had those businessmen on this job of inquiring into the commercial accounts of the Post Office. In my opinion the efficiency and development of the Post Office are due to it being treated as a commercial and business undertaking in the Estimates. From the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports this morning, one would think that the Post Office simply is not regarded in the Estimates as a business undertaking. One only has to make a quick reference to the documents that we received on Tuesday night to see that it is so classified. The Government does not accept the Socialist view that the Post Office should be a pure public utility, with the dangers of efficiency declining and the cost to the taxpayers continually increasing.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, not content with his speech in early October, came up again in late October of last year when he moved for the disallowance of a regulation regarding increases in telephone charges. He then referred to the commercial accounts of the Post Office. It was apparent from his remarks that he did not like the. operating loss of £1.6 million, as revealed in those accounts. The interest charge of about £22 million in respect. of the telephone section did not please him either. He asked for a different method of accounting which would omit that interest charge. From all of his contributions to which I have referred, we see that increased charges by the Post Office under any circumstances are virtually anathema to him. As a good Socialist, he believes that the Post Office and all of its communications facilities should be run at an ever-increasing deficit. The Government will never concur in that. He hopes that on every occasion the Commonwealth Budget can provide the milions of pounds to cover the losses that might accrue from a public utility whose efficiency would decline.
I know that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is a generous fellow. We are good friends. I also know that his party looks upon him as a future Treasurer. What a Treasurer he would make in a Labour government if he adhered to this regular and consistent approach, this Socialist approach, to a business undertaking of the magnitude of the Australian Post Office.
I am concerned about his shifting ground. He was a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in 1954 when the whole of the Post Office was reviewed by that Parliamentary Committee. Without making any request in the printed report, he was a party to the Committee saying -
The Committee cannot over-emphasise the importance of comprehensive commercial accounts, and it has constantly used them for evaluating the results of the Department as a whole, as well as for the branches in each State. It seems to the
Committee that the Department lias not used the accounts for a similar purpose.
The honorable member was a member of the Committee which, when dealing with capital, interest and exchange charges, said -
The amount of capital of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to be included in its Commercial Accounts should be determined without delay.
The present basis of charges for interest on capital in the Commercial Accounts of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has long been anomalous.
He also was a party to a request that this matter should be reviewed, quite urgently, by the committee that was proposed. This morning in answer to an interjection that I made, he said that he did not deny that; but that he was not a party to the actual findings. However, he must have concluded that any sensible committee would come up with a conclusion that the capital of the Post Office must be clearly defined for the first time in the’ history of the Federation and that upon that capital there should, of course, be this notional interest charged.
– That is not in the report.
– Of course it is. It is inherent in the report. So, today, the commercial accounts stand as the very basis upon which this business undertaking operates. The Commonwealth says: “ In respect of this Department we have used all commercial methods of calculating costs in order to ascertain whether it has made a profit or a loss “. Likewise, in other departments we can see whether we are operating profitably or otherwise. The Government and its advisers now turn to the commercial accounts knowing that for the first time they can calculate whether public charges should be increased or even reduced according to fluctuations in the profit or loss.
For those reasons I am concerned that my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, constantly comes up with this accusation that the interest charge is unsound. I believe that he wants a fixed Budget provision for the Post Office established for some period ahead. I note that in his speeches he has indicated that. He speaks of flexibility in one breath, but then claims that all rates should be inflexible. I believe that in a changing world and in respect of a vast undertaking such as the Post Office he is fundamentally wrong. I wonder whether, under his scheme, the Post Office would have fared as well as it has in the Government’s Budgets for capital works in recent years. Let me point out the very high votes that have been achieved by the Government. In 1963-64 the vote for Post Office capital works was £78 million; in the following year it was £71 million; last year it moved up to £80 million; and we noted with approval that in the Budget presented on Tuesday night it is £92 million. I venture to suggest that if the honorable member and his group had had their way some years ago and had fixed a forward plan, it would have been very easy for a government to say: “ We have attended to the Post Office. We have looked forward. We have budgeted at the requested rate “. I do not think we would have seen such a substantial increase as we see in this year’s Budget.
The capital of the Post Office, as shown in the latest commercial accounts, now stands at £581 million. That has been provided by governments over the years. As that is the figure established because the recommendation of an independent committee, sensibly, was accepted by the Government, that is the figure on which interest charges are now calculated at a fair interest rate. Every strategy of common and modern business methods is used to ascertain the correct charge that the people of Australia should make. I believe that it would be quite out of context for business people as well as householders to be asked to pay today for Post Office facilities an arbitrary figure which was far out of date because of inflationary trends and not in line with the cost that other business organisations must meet.
So, the motion that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has moved this morning, for the appointment of a Joint Select Committee, simply is not justified and is not acceptable. Its purpose is political. It would take out of the hands of the Government the management of this tremendous undertaking. The Australian Government believes that the Post Office should remain a government department, just as it is in the United Kingdom under a Socialist government. In the moments that remain to me I direct the attention of the House to the status of the Post Office in the United Kingdom; as set out in a British White Paper. The White Paper states -
The Post Office has many social obligations. But the existence of these obligations does not mean that the Post Office should be run primarily as a vast social service without regard to the economic facts of life. Indeed, in most essentia] respects it is, and ought to be recognised as - and function as - a commercial organisation. If, after allowing for its social responsibilities, it fails to approach the problems of management and organisation with a business mind it will quickly become inefficient.
I support the Government and the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) when he says that we have no interest in this proposal that a select committee be appointed.
– Order! The time allotted for precedence of General Business has expired. The honorable member for Swan will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumed debate will be made an order of the day under General Business for the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave - I move -
That the Committee of Privileges, when considering the matter referred to it on 18th August 1965, have power to send for persons, papers and records.
This motion needs only very brief explanation. It is quite obvious that the Committee, when undertaking its present inquiry, may wish to have the power that is sought. In accordance with practice, I have proposed this motion for the concurrence of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 18 th August (vide page 214), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the House take note of the following papers - Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 18th August 1965. Department of External Affairs Information Handbook No. 1 of 1965 - Studies on Vietnam.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this House regrets statements made by the Prime Minister which disclose bis Government’s desire to seek a solution to the conflict in Vietnam by military means alone. The House urges, the Government to strive for a cease fire now, to be policed by a United Nations peacekeeping force, and for a conference of all parties directly involved, including representatives of both the Government in Saigon and the Viet Cong, to seek a settlement which will end the agony of the Vietnamese people, and establish their right to choose their own Government “.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) each speaking without limitation of time.
.- I should like to congratulate the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), who preceded me in this debate, upon the speech that he made. Although his views may not have been shared by many members of the Australian Labour Party, his speech showed an independence of thought which faced up to many of the real issues that confront this nation. I commend him for his independent thinking and his statement to the House.
There is no indication when this cruel subversive war in Vietnam will end. Australians, together with most other peoples of the world, are desirous that a peaceful settlement, preferably by negotiation, should be achieved. Ultimate victory by either side as a result of armed combat will cost many additional lives and will cause untold hardship of the parties concerned. It is for the purpose of obtaining peace by negotiation that several attempts have been made from many sources to have discussions with the North Vietnamese and Hanoi. But all have proved to be fruitless.
In spite of the numerous rebuffs that the United States of America has had she is still, as always, ready to negotiate a fair and just peace. It is well worth while to recall the statement made by President Johnson on 7th April last. To my mind, in that statement he defined quite clearly the purpose of the United States in Vietnam.
I can do no better than to quote that statement. The President said -
Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam and its freedom from attack. We want nothing for ourselves- only that the people of South Vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way. We will do everything necessary to reach that objective and we will do only what is absolutely necessary.
. the only path for reasonable men is the path of peaceful settlement.
Such peace demands an independent South Vietnam - securely guaranteed and able to shape its own relationships to all others - free from outside interference- tied to no alliance- a military base for no other country. These are the essentials of any final settlement.
We will never be second in the search for such a peaceful settlement in South Vietnam.
These are worthy principles. They are worthy of a nation of the calibre of the United States of America, and I am proud that our Government is wisely supporting them.
Approaches have been made to the North Vietnamese to confer on peace. It is worth recalling some of the efforts that have already been mentioned in debate, because there seems to be a section of the community that is too prone to obliterate the many calls for peace that have been made by several nations. On numerous occasions efforts have been made to confer with the North Vietnamese and other interested parties. Among them was an attempt by the British Foreigh Minister, Mr. Stewart, the Co-chairman of the Geneva Conference with Mr. Gromyko. Mr. Stewart suggested to the Soviet that all the facts of the conflict should be circulated to interested powers and that those powers should be asked for their ideas as to how settlement might be obtained. The Soviet Government was not prepared to act. Further, Mr. Stewart sought a conference on Laos in hope that this may lead to a better understanding among the powers interested in South East Asia. He did not receive a reply to his request. He then attempted to arrange a conference on Cambodia. Britain and the United States were eager that this conference should take place, but again no favorable response came from the Soviets. Honorable members know of the appeal of the 17 non-aligned nations that was made on 15th June last. Non-aligned nations are those which are not committed to support either side.
– They are not aligned.
– I thought I should explain the term for the honorable member’s benefit. Those nations put forward an appeal for discussions without pre-conditions, but this was denounced by Hanoi and Peking. At the recent conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, the British Prime Minister voiced a proposal to find a basis on which the parties would be prepared to enter into discussions. Both Peking and Hanoi derided those proposals. On 8th July Mr. Harold Davies, a British Minister, visited Hanoi to try to induce the Government there to receive the Commonwealth mission. Again, his request was rejected. In April the British Government sent Mr. Gordon Walker to visit Communist China and North Vietnam. He was not received. The SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, U Thant, stands ready at all times to use his good offices to find a peaceful solution, but not even his help is welcomed. North Vietnam refused an invitation to take part in the discussions of the Security Council after the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. On 1st August the Prime Minister of India submitted a proposal for a cease fire. Discussion on these matters was rejected.
The reluctance to discuss peace is on one side only, and the only conclusion to be drawn is that North Vietnam and China believe that they will obtain their objective by military means in their quest to subjugate South Vietnam and the whole of South East Asia. One of the Communist terms for peace discussions is that all foreign troops should leave South Vietnam. If there are foreign troops in South Vietnam, are not those of North Vietnam and of China equally as foreign as those of other nations but not as welcome? If all foreign troops were to be withdrawn from South Vietnam before peace discussions were to take place, this would be tantamount to a complete surrender to aggression from the North. It would be regarded with profound alarm by all the non-Communist countries in Asia and elsewhere and, in effect, would leave nothing to negotiate or on which to confer. Past history has shown us that security cannot be obtained by throwing a small state or country to the wolves or, in this case, to the Red dragon. If this were to occur South Vietnam would never again regain her independent status or respect. Gone would be her right to self-determination and in its place her people would be subjected to Communist control and domination and her freedom would be lost. She would have a Communist government imposed upon her by North Vietnam and Peking - a government not chosen by the people of South Vietnam - and Red China would have advanced considerably in her territorial desire to dominate South East Asia. If this were to be achieved, one would be entitled to ask in what direction would the next thrust be and which country would be next.
It is my assessment that what happens in Asia now is of greater importance to Australia’s eventual security than to that of any other nation, for if South Vietnam were to fall it would necessitate a complete rethinking by all other Asian countries of their foreign policies and their defence commitments, and the political future of South East Asia would, for certain, become more unstable and, consequently, endanger the peace of the whole world. I believe that the Government’s decision to send troops to Vietnam has the support of the Australian people. The decision was not made lightly but only after a very thorough assessment of the facts and our obligations under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. The decision is not a departure from our traditional role; it is in line with our history. We have fought in two great wars alongside our allies as a small nation determined to maintain the principles of international law and to protect the territorial rights of nations. We have acted to ensure that world domination is not achieved by aggression.
China’s ambitions are just as potent as were those of Hitler, Mussolini and the post-war Stalin which this country opposed. With other nations we took part in the Korean War, and we assisted Malaya in the early 1950’s. In each case this was done to ensure that small nations were not lost to the Communists and that their freedom was maintained. Vietnam, without American aid and assistance from other nations, would have been lost already to the Communist cause. It is the determined intention to uphold these traditional principles that has strengthened our will to stop the ever spreading growth of Communism in South East Asia and, at the same time, to assist the Vietnamese people to attain a true independence.
If we were to be attacked we would expect our friends in the S.E.A.T.O. pact to act as we have acted. We would expect them to honour their obligations. Our very existence as a free nation could well depend on how swiftly they responded to our request. The reported belligerence of President Sukarno to America - and he has warned America to get out of South East Asia - makes the fulfilment of obligations by all S.E.A.T.O. members the more important. If America is forced out of this area it will be tantamount to forcing Australia out as well. President Sukarno should be aware that if be assists in forcing America out of South East Asia he will be forcing Australia out with her. There is no half way mark.
I was interested to read in the Melbourne “Sun News-Pictorial” of 28th May last a statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that -
If S.E.A.T.O. was invoked the Labour movement would support Australia’s obligations. If we needed assistance we would get it. If other people needed assistance they could rely on the fact that they would get it and we would support it.
There is nothing whatever wrong with this statement. I agree with it and have no quarrel with it, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition continued by saying - and this is where he made his mistake -
But no request has come under S.E.A.T.O. - let the lie be nailed.
These are stong words from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It was a rather strange statement from this learned gentleman who poses in this House as an authority on most matters. I believe that the S.E.A.T.O. treaty has been invoked. On 8th May 1965 at the S.E.A.T.O. conference Vietnam was unanimously declared to be a protocol state. At the ninth meeting of the S.E.A.T.O. Council the Council expressed grave concern about Communist aggression against the Republic of Vietnam - a protocol state - under the terms of the Manila Pact. There can be no mistake. Further, the Council agreed that the members of S.E.A.T.O. should remain prepared to take further concrete steps, if necessary, within their respective capabilities in fulfilment of their obligations under the treaty. In the same newspaper article the Deputy Leader said -
America doesn’t say her troops are there under S.E.A.T.O.
Here again I believe he is remiss, because in 1964 a resolution passed by the House of Representatives in the United States of America in Congress assembled stated -
Consonant with the Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations and in accord with its obligations under the South East Asia collective defence treaty, the United States is therefore prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the South East Asia collective defence treaty requesting assistance in defence of its freedom.
It is quite clear that the United States regards Vietnam as a protocol state and that S.E.A.T.O. regards Vietnam as a protocol state. Further, in this very House in 1962, Sir Garfield Barwick pointed out that the responsibilities under the S.E.A.T.O. treaty can be carried out collectively or individually. He used the words: “ Since this treaty obligation is individual as well as collective “. To my mind it is clear that any protocol State within the S.E.A.T.O. framework upon request from a country that is being attacked, in the terms of Article 5 of the S.E.A.T.O. treaty may fulfil its obligations either individually or severally by providing assistance to the country asking for assistance. This is what Australia has done; this is what America has done. If the Deputy Leader is sincere in saying that if S.E.A.T.O. were invoked the Labour movement would support Australia’s obligations, I believe he should use what influence he may have left within his Party not only to win support for his own statement but to ensure that Australia may be politically united in what I believe to be a correct and just cause.
It is apparent that S.E.A.T.O. has been invoked. Does this now mean that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will support the Government as he has stated, or will he deny the reported statement? In the last session of this Parliament there were suggestions from the Opposition that the Government did not advise the United Nations of Australia’s action in sending troops to South Vietnam. I think the record should be put straight. I point out that the President of the Security Council of the United Nations was advised by our Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on 4th May this year - and the date is important - of Australia’s actions in the following terms -
I have the honour to inform you that the Australian Government has decided to despatch forces to South Vietnam in order to assist in securing its defence against the hostile activities including armed attacks (Article 4 of the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty), which have been supported, organised and directed by North Vietnam. This decision has been made at the request of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and it is in accordance with Australia’s international obligations.
Let there be no doubt as to how and why wc have acted. The Australian Government has acted with the utmost propriety in honouring our obligations under S.E.A.T.O. and supporting South Vietnam and our ally, the United States of America, wilh whom our security is now so tightly bound. I appreciate that many calls have been made for peace, some by more influential countries than ours, but to negotiate with an enemy so busy fighting a war that he has not time to negotiate except on his own terms seems to my simple mind comparable with flogging a tiger out of a jungle with an olive branch. Despite previous difficulties and those at present being encountered, efforts to obtain a just peace by negotiation should bc continuing and unrelenting.
.- Wc have listened to the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) conduct his usual attack upon the Australian Labour Party and pursue his same old line of attack upon Communists that we have heard on every occasion he has risen to speak in a debate on foreign affairs. The honorable member stated that Australian troops are in Vietnam because of our obligations as a member of the South East Asian Treaty Organisation, I remind him that earlier this year, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) stated that Australian troops are in Vietnam at the request of the South Vietnamese Government and not because we are a member of S.E.A.T.O.
We often hear from Government supporters the cry about Communists in South East Asia and how the whole of that area eventually will be taken over by the Communists. I believe that something has to be done by the governments of South East Asia to prevent a takeover by the Communists. It is about time that South East Asian governments did something to raise the social standards of their people and took action to improve the living conditions they endure at present. Travellers in South East
Asia who have seen the poor conditions under which the people there live must sit up and wonder, and say: “ If these corrupt South East Asian governments do not do something to improve living conditions, somebody else will “.
The South East Asian people are being driven towards Communism because of their poor living conditions. To prevent the spread of Communism the living standards of these people must be improved. They must be provided with three meals a day, a decent bed and a proper home to live in. The improvement of the living standards of the people is the only way to combat Communism. Unless the South East Asian governments are prepared to do something for their people, they will turn to Communism and the whole of South East Asia will go Communist.
During debates on foreign affairs Government supporters have been critical of the refusal of the Hanoi Government to negotiate for peace with the Government of the United States, or with the government of any other country. I remind honorable members of what has taken place since the Geneva Conference in 1954. Honorable members probably are well aware that governments which were parties to that conference did not honour the agreement that was reached. The United States Government participated in the Conference but refused to sign the agreement and, according to Anthony Eden in his memoirs - “ Full Circle “ - attempted to sabotage its provisions. Although the United States Government did not sign the agreement, it promised publicly to refrain from offering threats of war. In the circumstances other countries would be entitled to be wary in conducting negotiations with the United States of America or South Vietnam.
In October 1954 Ngo Dinh Diem returned from the United States to take control of South Vietnam with the support of General Eisenhower, the then American President. In 1955 a referendum was held at which only 15 per cent, of the Vietnamese voted. Diem took complete control of South Vietnam and cut off all trade with the north. He announced publicly that he would train a new army and march to the north. This was an open violation of the Geneva Agreement. The United States was against a national election and in his memoirs
General Eisenhower states that every expert he consulted agreed that if an election was held, at least 80 per cent, of the people - both north and south - would vote for a coalition of parties under Ho Chi Minh. The Geneva Agreement was then broken by an influx of arms into South Vietnam. United States Senator Wayne Morse has been critical of the Johnson Administration because of this action. He has stated openly that America has supplied arms to the South Vietnamese army.
Honorable members will remember the circumstances of the Diem regime. When he was of no further use to the United States Government he was assassinated. Since then South Vietnam has had 13 or 14 governments. It was not until 1960 that the National Liberation Front was formed, not by Communists but by Catholics, Buddhists and members of other religious organisations, and government officials. It was formed to fight for a better deal and better living conditions, which the people had not received following the Geneva Conference.
The Minister for External Affairs said last night that the National Liberation Front speaks confidently of a military victory. I am sure that all honorable members believe that this is an impossible task because the Front does not have the means or power to defeat the armed might of the United States. We should also be aware that about 500,000 allied troops would be necessary to hold every village and town captured by the American and South Vietnamese armies.
What are our present reasons for the build-up of troops in Vietnam? I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Is it a fact that the morale of the South Vietnamese troops is cracking up? Is the majority of the South Vietnamese Army now deserting to join the Vietcong? Is it true that the ranger battalions, which are supposed to be the crack units of the South Vietnamese army, are also folding up and are refusing to fight? I believe that the Governments of the United States and South Vietnam are concerned about the loyalties of their soldiers and of some members of the military junta which at present is leading the country. It is feared that they may decide to join the Vietcong.
The monsoonal period has arrived in Vietnam and on many occasions troops will be without air cover. The Vietcong will be stepping up its activities. More casualties will occur. There will be more deaths and more heartbreaks for the Australian families of our troops in Vietnam. The Australian Government has placed security restrictions on correspondents in the area so that they cannot interview wounded troops, or even troops in camp. They are thus prevented from sending to their newspapers the facts of the campaign in Vietnam. I am sure that all members of the Australian Labour Party would like to see an end to the war in Vietnam, but I think it is up to the United States Government to take a more sincere step towards achieving peace in Vietnam. The first thing it should do, as was suggested last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), is cease it’s bombing of North Vietnam. We could hold our present perimeters and negotiate for a peaceful settlement.
– What happened when (he Americans did just that?
– Give it a try and we may get some worth-while results.
The secession of Singapore from the Federation of Malaysia has caused a great deal of concern to many Australians. I was fortunate enough to be a member of a delegation from the Australian Labour Party which recently toured Malaysia as the guests of the Singapore Government and the Federal Government of Malaysia. We saw a large part of Malaysia. We travelled not only by air but also by car and we had an opportunity to see many of the villages and towns and the rural workers throughout Malaysia. We were able to interview representatives of the various political parties represented in the Federation, gaining from them their views about the Federation. I think it may be said that as a result of our visit we know many things about the Federation which other people probably do not know. Singapore has now seceded from the Federation and has become an independent State. Since this occurred a feeling of discontent seems to have arisen in Sabah and Sarawak, both of which depended for their development on financial assistance from Singapore. We hope that Singapore’s action will not lead to Sabah and Sarawak also breaking away from the Federation.
We spent the first five days of our visit in Singapore. Anybody who has visited Singapore recently will be well aware that it is bustling with activity. A great amount of developmental work is going on. The main business of Singapore centres around shipping. Being the fifth largest port in the world, Singapore is the gateway for South East Asian trade. The waterside workers of Singapore are nationalised. They come under the direct control of the Government. They are guaranteed a full wage every week. They are supplied each day with a hot meal. Their working conditions are pretty satisfactory. Because of the importance of shipping the Singapore Government has borrowed 50 million dollars from the World Bank in order to improve port facilities. The Government of Singapore, being formed of members of a democratic socialist party, is striving to develop a better country both socially and economically. Evidence of this effort is readily seen in housing, education and employment. There is some unemployment in Singapore but the Government is trying to overcome this anomaly by encouraging the establishment of industries in the special industrial area, which covers 9,000 acres. The Government’s aim is to provide 80.000 new jobs in the next 10 years. Factories are now working in the manufacturing and engineering industries. Products coming from the factories include cement, chemical goods, iron and steel, textiles, soap, matches and rubber goods.
It is estimated that about 10,000 people each year come into Singapore from the mainland seeking employment. This information was not given to us by the Singapore Government; we were informed of these facts by the Alliance Party in Singapore, which is the Opposition party, and which is not represented in the Federal Government. It probably never will have a representative in that Government. About 50 per cent, of the population of Singapore is under the age of 20 years. The main problems so far as these people are concerned are education and employment but under the guidance of its youthful and vigorous leaders Singapore will undoubtedly become a State worthy of world praise.
It did not take us long after our arrival to detect an uneasy tension between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The Minister for External Affairs must have been aware of this tension or friction. It existed between the Chinese and the Malays at all levels of society. In the riots in Singapore in 1964 on the Prophet’s birthday good friends became enemies. This was caused by the economic difference that existed between the Chinese and the Malays. This information also was given to us by members of the Alliance Party. We were also told, however, that the problem created by the tension between the Chinese and the Malays was not as bad as the negro problem in the United States. We all are aware of the riots that recently occurred in the United States.
I should like to refer now to the communique issued on 25th June last in London following the meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, at which 22 countries were represented. Dealing with the matter of the Conference’s opposition to discrimination the communique stated -
The Prime Ministers recognised that the Commonwealth, as a multi-racial association, is opposed to discrimination on grounds of race or colour; and they took the opportunity at their meeting to re-affirm the declaration in their communique of 1964 that “ for all Commonwealth governments it should be an objective of policy to build in each country a structure of society which offers equal opportunity and non-discrimination for all its people, irrespective of race, colour or creed “. The Commonwealth should be able to exercise constructive leadership in the application of democratic principles in a manner which will enable the people of each country of different racial and cultural groups to exist and develop as free and equal citizens.
As soon as we arrived in Malaysia the tension between the races was apparent. I often wondered whether the various Governments were trying to do something to overcome discrimination. Was it caused by the social and economic development of Singapore, which was expanding more rapidly than the other States of the Federation? Was it caused by the fear that the People’s Action Party was getting a foothold in the rest of the Federation by reason of verbal reports of its achievements? Was the Federal Government concerned about the solidarity convention of the Opposition parties, which was chaired by Dr. Toh, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, and which had as its purpose the formation of a united Opposition party in the Federation? Was the Government concerned that in the near future it might be defeated in an election and lose control of the Federation? Some of those factors must have had a bearing on Singapore’s departure from the Federation.
As an Australian and a member of this Parliament I must be critical of the Malaysian Government for not taking into its confidence the Governments of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, which have greatly assisted the Federation through the Colombo Plan. Under the Colombo Plan, Australia and New Zealand have sent doctors to Malaysia. We have sent technicians to assist in the development of the country. Our teachers are working in schools, teachers’ training colleges and universities in Malaysia. We have also assisted the Federation with military aid. In not consulting us the Malaysian Government treated us with contempt. It is reported that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was annoyed over this and that he sent a stern note to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. What was the reply he received? It would be interesting to have the notes and the replies tabled in the House. Perhaps later in the debate the Prime Minister will be able to give us some answers. He may be able to tell us whether there were any feelings at the Prime Ministers’ Conference about the breaking up of the Federation. Was he consulted about the situation in Malaysia? Was he informed that the Federation was breaking up? It will probably take many years for the breach between Singapore and the Federation to be healed. However, I, with many other Opposition members, must agree with the Government’s decision to recognise the State of Singapore fully.
.- I begin at least on a harmonious note by expressing my complete accord with my honorable friend from East Sydney (Mr. Devine) in his concern for the plight and problems of the peoples of the underdeveloped countries. I assure my friend that I do not yield to him or to anyone else in my hope - and I will strive to bring my hope to reality - that it will yet be within the imagination and the wit of humanity to achieve a greater sense of egalitarianism in these underdeveloped countries. The “haves” and the “have nots” can no longer be identified in such ugly distinction. But there the harmony, regrettably for the Opposition at least, must cease.
I want to turn my mind to the remarkable speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) last night. I hope that he will not be needlessly offended if I describe it as being a strange mixture of fiction and fantasy. But then the honorable gentleman has always shown that he has a remarkable imagination when he deals with history. The honorable gentleman has a very fertile imagination. Indeed, one can almost say of him that the fertility of his imagination is matched only by the barrenness of his regard for facts. This is made conspicuously clear in the speech that he delivered last night. He began, unlike myself, on a rather contentious note. He put down an amendment which was, I thought; cast in rather infelicitous language. But be that as it may; this is one of the hazards of political contest. If we look closely at the amendment proposed by the honorable gentleman we find that it is very strange indeed. The first point to which I want to direct my mind is his assertion that the Government should strive for a ceasefire in Vietnam, to be policed by a United Nations peacekeeping force. One of the nostrums that the Australian Labour Party has succumbed to and has embraced, like some dear humbug to the last, is the idea that we can turn to the United Nations and, by the passing of some resolution or the wave of a hand or the echoing of a sentence, bring the whole of the machinery of the United Nations into play and secure peace in South Vietnam.
I think a fair test of the validity of the honorable gentleman’s argument is to examine it in relation to the United Nations and South Vietnam. Under Article 24 of the Charter of the United Nations, the organ of that body that has the primary responsibility in the matter of peace is the Security Council. Indeed, those two words “ primary responsibility” are combined and are to be found in Article 24. Let us assume that a resolution is put to the Security Council for intervention in South Vietnam and for the establishment of a peacekeeping force and ask: What are the prospects of its success? That is a fair question. I think all of us at one time or another must come to grips with reality. This is a fair question that I put to my friends opposite. How real is the suggestion? Can any person seriously contemplate the Soviet Union, as one of the five permanent members of the Security
Council, saying:-“ Yes, we are prepared to join with the other permanent members of the Security Council not only to demand a ceasefire forthwith in South Vietnam but also to move into South Vietnam to enforce the ceasefire “? Have my friends opposite not acquainted themselves with the veto power of Article 27 of the Charter? It requites all the permanent members to vote in the one way on all substantive matters. If one does not vote that way that is the end of it.
But, for the purposes of the analysis, let us assume that the Security Council should determine this. Will all the nations in the world heed the demand that can be made by the Security Council under Article 43 for all members of the United Nations to put forces at the disposal of the Security Council at its call? How real is this proposition? That is the question. I venture to say that it is a rather forlorn hope to think that peace can be secured in South Vietnam through the Security Council. But then let us dismiss that and turn our attention to the possibility of invoking what are known as the Uniting for Peace resolutions within the framework of the United Nations Charter. A series of resolutions was passed some time ago when it was found that, upon the veto of one permanent member of the Security Council, the whole framework of peace enforcement could be put in jeopardy. This would seem at first blush to offer greater prospect of doing something. But again we must come to grips with reality. If, upon the Security Council having failed to reach agreement on a matter of substance, seven members of the Council - one, two or more permanent members may be involved - ask for an emergency meeting of the General Assembly, that meeting must be called forthwith. Alternatively, if a majority of the members of the General Assembly ask for an emergency meeting of the General Assembly, the meeting must be called forthwith. Then the matter can be put in train and the resolution can be passed.
The force of the resolution is extremely restricted. It amounts to no more than a recommendation. It is in essence a return to the co-operative spirit that sprang out of the Covenant of the former League of Nations. There is no obligation upon members of the United Nations to agree to provide forces. Certainly, forces were provided for the United Nations operations in the
Congo. But nobody can hold that up to me as being a splendid example of peacekeeping, because I venture to describe it as one of the shabbiest expressions of man’s inhumanity to man. Another example of the use of the Uniting for Peace resolutions was connected with Suez.
They are the two alternatives. There is no other that I am aware of, and when honorable gentlemen opposite contend that this Government or any collection of governments should use the machinery of the United Nations for the purpose of securing peace in South Vietnam and then enforcing it I would hope that they would at least have that quality of intellectual honesty that would require them to describe precisely how this can be done.
I turn from that to what struck me as being the second lamentable defect in the argument of my friend the Leader of the Opposition last night. It was his highly curious attack upon the proposition advanced by the Minister for External Affairs in relation to what he has described as the world power struggle. The House will recall some of the adjectives that the Leader of the Opposition used in relation to this doctrine. He described it as being simple and misleading. How simple is it? How misleading is it to all those countries that have fallen under Communist control? It is ali right for my friend the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine) to denigrate the Government Whip, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) on the matter of Communist encroachment over the face of the world, but again this is a matter of reality.
I think it is useful that occasionally we remind ourselves how real the struggle for world power is. Look what has happened within the space of a generation. What has happened to the little States in the Baltic, to Petsamo, to Karelia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, the whole of China, the Kuriles, North Sakhalin, North Korea and virtually the whole of IndoChina? Is this a myth? Is this a fiction? You can take the whole totality of every conquest of the Alexanders, the Caesars, the Charlemagnes, the Gengis Khans and roll them all together and you cannot find a comparison with what the international Communist conspiracy has achieved in the course of the last generation. But the Leader of the Opposition last night attempted to flay the Minister for External Affairs by describing this as simple and misleading. Is it simple to the millions of people to whom today liberty and freedom are completely denied? There is nothing simple and misleading about that, but apparently we have to come to our Golgotha before we can completely understand. This was, I thought, a caricature of the sense of responsibility that should flow from the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the National Parliament at this critical time.
What is the relationship of the world power struggle to South Vietnam. Before I proceed to answer that question, let me say that I was rather intrigued by the attempt of the Leader of the Opposition to embarrass the Minister for External Affairs by adverting to his historical engagement over the years. I suspected in this some resistance to respect those who are prepared to treat things historically. It did not seem to make sense to me. The discipline of the Minister for External Affairs as an historian has earned him marked respect, but last night the Leader of the Opposition chided him and made some cheap, and I thought most uncharitable, reference to that fact. But in the matter of history and in the matter of fact the Leader of the Opposition seems to have developed a remarkable allergy. Facts seem to irritate him and the history of events seems to annoy him. It is useful and essential, therefore, when we are dealing with the doctrine that the Minister has propounded - the doctrine of a struggle for world power in relation to South Vietnam - that all the elements be carefully explored.
What are the facts? Ho Chi Minh, of course, is described variously by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) and Tom the Tory - I beg your pardon, I am referring to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) - as being the leader of the fairies and a benign agrarian reformer. This is the tripe that this peripatetic pair have been wandering around Australia talking about. They have been running in and out of teach-ins - this new fangled creation - and this has been their star turn. They have been stirring up goodwill and understanding in relation to South Vietnam. This is what these gentlemen have been doing. They have been depicting Ho Chi Minh as a splendid character with a warm sense of humanity.
I hope the facts do not irritate my friends opposite too much. Ho Chi Minh emerged for the first time in Moscow in 1922. He attended the fourth meeting of the International Communist Conference in that year. At that Conference there was established a South East Asian section. In 1925 Ho Chi Minh was given the appointment of directing all activities in Indo-China. I assure my friends opposite that they will not wrest from me any apologia at all for the behaviour of the French in Indo-China. The French never understood the relevance of the colonial movement in relation to the international Communist conspiracy and, of course, they went through the holocaust of the Indo-Chinese war. The fact remains that the international Communist conspiracy has squeezed every drop of influence out of the understandable nationalist movement. I hope I understand the spirit of nationalism. I believe I do understand it as well as any of my friends opposite; but the fact remains that the Communists have used and exploited this movement in a grievous and wanton way.
This irritates the Leader of the Opposition and he finds no evidence at all of Communist activity in South Vietnam. Much to my astonishment, he went on record last night as saying that there is as much nationalism among the Vietcong as there is Communism. I thought that a most extraordinary assertion for my friend to make. Let me sum up my argument at this point. For 40 years there have operated in the former Indo-Chinese territory - in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - elements which are attached and devoted towards prosecuting to the very hilt the international Communist conspiracy, the aim of which is world domination. There are no “ ifs “ or “ buts “ about that at all. To those who argue otherwise I say with very great respect that they have succumbed to some of the soft talk that is peddled so fervently in so many parts of the country.
Lastly I want to say something about the question of negotiations. When the Prime Minister came into the chamber on Tuesday I thought he looked a little jaded and 1 said to some of my friends: “ How do you think the Prime Minister looks? “ The explanation was forthcoming that he has been kept up late at night dealing with inquiries coming from Ho Chi Minh, wanting to find out whether the Prime Minister would be prepared to send Mr. Hasluck up to Hanoi to talk to him. I think that that little bit of persiflage, that little bit of nonsense, puts into perspective the argument of the Opposition. The catalogue of attempts to negotiate with North Vietnam was given by my friend the honorable member for Phillip this afternoon and by the Minister for External Affairs last night. It has been recited over and over again. What do the honorable gentlemen opposite say? They say that you must keep this up. Where are you to stop? Cannot you imagine the scene when the Vietnamese, or their equivalent, are down here on Lake Burley Griffin. There you will find Tom the Tory and Ho Chi Jim stirring them up telling them to go back and to keep quiet.
This is the reality, and I invite my friends opposite to realise what a sheer farce they are making of the position in South Vietnam. We are faced, Sir, with an enemy who is dedicated, an enemy who is completely trained, an enemy who is intent upon wresting from the people of South Vietnam their liberties. Either we Stop him there today or we will have to stop him at some other time in the future. I finish on this note: As I listened to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, last night, the thought passed through my mind: Is he now a prisoner of the left? I was left with this conclusion: Prisoner of the left? Bless my heart and soul. All you can hear from the honorable gentleman is the clank of his chains.
.- I rise to enter this debate on foreign affairs in order to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I want to concentrate my remarks on the crisis in Vietnam, because I believe that this great crisis could escalate into a world war. I think that all people throughout the world are greatly concerned about escalation of the war in Vietnam. If there is an escalation it could turn into a nuclear war and, consequently, a nuclear holocaust. It is for this reason that we on this side of the Parliament have said consistently that we stand for a cease fire in Vietnam, and that we stand for settling the matter by means of peaceful negotiation and not by war. We have been consistent in our stand. The last time that I was in the House when the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) made a statement on foreign affairs, which was on 23rd March 1965, our policy on this side of the House was consistent. We said that there ought to be a cease fire and negotiations to try to settle the matter round the conference table, because we believe that there is no military solution to the crisis in Vietnam.
For some reason or other, at that time the Minister was not in favour of negotiations. Why was he not? It was because at that time the United States of America was not prepared for negotiations. It was prepared for escalation at that time. It is only since the Americans have put forward the proposition of negotiation that the Menzies Government has come out with its rubber stamp policy and supported the Americans in regard to negotiation. If the Government is sincere about negotiations, that is a good thing. The Minister, to some extent, both in the Chamber today and the Monash University teach-in, where I heard him, expressed the view that we should return to the 1954 Geneva Conference proposals. I think that this is a positive proposal, but could any sincere person in Australia consider that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who has just resumed his seat, believes in peaceful negotiations?
Did the honorable member at any time talk about tolerance and understanding in connection with the problems of Vietnam? He wants only war. It is an antiCommunist crusade. It is a holy war with that great warrior from Moreton, whom the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) described two years ago as “Killen the magnificent “. It is men such as he on the back benches on the Government side who are the curse of this country. I do not say that the Minister for External Affairs has the same background as those backbenchers - those jackbooted boys who believe that the only solution of the problems of the world is war. I know that there are good members - men of sanity - in both the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party who believe that we can settle these matters by negotiation.
The war in Vietnam is a heartless, cruel and vicious war, a war of extremes, as a civil war is to any country. It brings out the extremes in people and, of course, brings out cruelty and harshness against one another. The Government of Australia has committed our young men to a conflict which is a holy war - a negative antiCommunist crusade. It is a hopeless war which cannot be won by military means. There is only one way in which it can be settled. We must try to settle it by negotiation and then, by economic and political means, we may bc able to assist to lift these people out of the great poverty, hunger and disease in which they exist at present.
This is the war which defeated the might of the French colonial empire, a war in which over 500,000 French colonial troops were committed between 1946 and 1954. This is the war in which over 240,000 Frenchmen were casualties, over 100,000 Frenchmen perished, and over 40,000 Frenchmen surrendered in a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu. This is the war to which our gallant, brave, heroic, selfsacrificing Prime Minister has committed 1250 young Australians. We have been informed by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) that young Australian conscripts will be drafted into this war against their own wishes. They will not have the privilege that our gallant, brave Prime Minister had to determine whether or not to go to war. In this crisis they have been drafted without being given the right, as the Prime Minister was given the right, to determine whether or not to go to war. These young men have been drafted and more will be drafted into this holy crusade of anti-Communism. It is negative anti-Communism; there is nothing positive about it. Are these young Australian supermen - only a mere handful of them, about 1,000 troops - to do what half a million Frenchmen could not do?
One must ask why we Australians and the Americans stand so much alone. Where are our South East Asia Treaty Organisation allies? If this is the great war that is to stop the onward, downward thrust of Communism, where are the troops of Pakistan, which is our S.E.A.T.O. ally? Where are the forces of Thailand, the neighbour of Vietnam? Where are the forces of the Philippines and our other two Seato allies? Neither France nor Britain has military forces in Vietnam. Australia stands alone with Americans and a few New Zealanders. That is our lonely position. Anyone who likes to read the “New York Times” of 11th September 1964 will learn that Cabot Lodge, who somehow or other just arrived here at the right time, a day or two before the determination of this Government that we would commit ourselves to Vietnam, also did the rounds of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to try to get them to commit forces to Vietnam. There are not any N.A.T.O. forces in Vietnam. We stand alone in that position in our support of the United States.
I am proud that the Australian Labour Party made a unanimous decision - there is unanimity on this side - to oppose the sending of Australian forces to Vietnam. I was overseas when the decision was made by the parliamentary caucus, and when I read the decision I was indeed proud of the party to which I belong, because it determined that we should not send our forces to Vietnam. It considered that this was a civil war involving a problem which had to be solved by the people of Vietnam themselves. No matter what country it is, its internal problems have to be solved eventually by the people who live within its boundaries. This question of infiltration from the North has been argued time and time again, and I shall deal with it later if time is available.
I want to deal briefly with the Diem regime which was set up by the American Government. From 1955 to 1963, Premier Diem governed the people of South Vietnam. In 1962, President Kennedy became concerned about the problems that were arising in Vietnam and he sent out a bipartisan Senate committee, under the leadership of Senator Mike Mansfield, to investigate the position. Senator Mansfield said that he found chaos, intrigue and widespread corruption in South Vietnam. He also said -
It would be a disservice to my country not to voice a deep concern over the trend of events in Vietnam in the seven years which have elapsed since my last visit in 1955. What is most disturbing is that Vietnam now appears to be, as it was then, only at the beginning of a beginning to coping with grave internal problems.
Senator Mansfield pointed out that aid amounting to something like 2,000 million dollars had been poured into Vietnam. Of that 2,000 million dollars only a little over 100 million dollars had been spent on economic aid, and the balance was spent on military aid. It was during this time that
Diem had his opportunity for land reform if he wanted to bring real freedom to the peasants of Vietnam. The great mass of the people are peasants. But what happened? In the struggle between the French and the Viet Minh forces in the Mekong Delta over the years 1946 to 1954, the land was taken from the landlords and distributed among the peasants, but when the Diem regime returned it took the land from the peasants and handed it back to the landlords. That is why what is known in this country as the Vietcong, and what is known widely throughout the world as the National Liberation Front, has been able to survive against the great odds that it faces. It has been able to survive because the mass of the people are on the side of the National Liberation Front. A guerrilla war can only succeed if the masses of the people are on the side of the guerrillas, and in Vietnam the masses of the people are on the side of the National Liberation Front.
Let me say to honorable members who are interjecting that I am convinced that America wants to get out of Vietnam, but she wants to negotiate from strength. America became committed to Vietnam in the blackest and darkest era of America’s foreign policy. She became committed during the 1954-55 period under Dulles’ foreign policy. We know that at that time on at least two occasions Dulles offered the French nuclear weapons to use against the Viet Minh. If honorable members want the authority for that, I suggest that they read Eden’s memoirs because Eden was the one who vetoed the proposal on that occasion.
How can they get out and save face? They have to negotiate from strength. We know that there has been an escalation of the bombing. When we look at the bombing of North Vietnam, we note that Walter Lippman, a very eminent Liberal American newspaper correspondent, has expressed his views on why the Americans are bombing North Vietnam. For example, he is reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th July 1965 as having said -
The American air strikes were tried out as a relatively cheap and easy way of compensating for and covering up the defeat of the South Vietnamese army.
In the past six months the plight of the Saigon army has become worse and worse, and today its reserves are used up, its troops arc deserting in masses, the villages from which it could draw new recruits are in Vietcong hands, communications with the few centres that it still holds are substantially cut.
That is why America is sending forces into Vietnam. She now means to build up her forces to 125,000 strong and eventually, perhaps, to 200,000 or even 300,000. But I believe that when the Americans do so it will be solely for the purpose of trying to hold the position and protect their air bases.
There is a struggle going on in American politics. That struggle is going on between the doves and the hawks. The hawks want to escalate the war. They want to go into China, just as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) does. He is on record here as stating that he wants to de-nuclearise China. The hawks also want that. Public statement after public statement has been made in America to the effect that America should de-nuclearise China. That is their attitude. So this struggle goes on within the United States heirarchy. I believe that President Johnson is a member of the doves, that he does not want to escalate the war; but the internal struggle in American politics continues. Surely we have to come to negotiations. The question has been asked: “ Why are not negotiations going on?” It has been asked over and over again.
Let us look at the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. Its members might say: “ We fought a war from 1946 to 1954. We won the war and the French decided to go home. Vietnam was divided temporarily. The French withdrew to the South.” There were to be general elections within two years, but the people were cheated out of the general elections because of Premier Diem and, as my colleague the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine) has stated, because President Eisenhower believed, as he said in his memoirs, that on information received from all the experts on Vietnam, it appeared that over 80 per cent, of the people would have supported the Government of Ho Chi Minh. Therefore, there is a certain measure of distrust over there.
These people have not been fighting for just a few years; they have been struggling throughout the centuries. Anyone who cares to study the history of Vietnam will learn that the Annamites and the Vietnamese have been struggling against Chinese, French and Japanese oppression for over 20 centuries. And they will continue to struggle. I want them to negotiate. I am in favour of negotiation, and I am in favour of a cease fire. But we must remember that we are bombing North Vietnam and there are masses of foreign military forces in South Vietnam. The supporters of the National Liberation Front think that, because they control most of the land mass of Vietnam, they are going to win. They believe that, just as under the 1954 Geneva Agreement they were cheated out of general elections, so now they cannot trust the Americans. Therefore, there may be doubts in their minds, but 1 think pressure must be brought to bear in the world scene and that we must have negotiations.
It is suggested that there is pressure from the North. It is strange that on this occasion the Minister did not quote from the American White Paper entitled “ Aggression from the North “. Perhaps the reason he did not do so was that my colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and others have given some explanation of that document. The Minister referred in his speech to the S.E.A.T.O. Conference which was held in May of this year. He said -
The Council said that it was disturbed over evidence that the increasing infiltration of arms and combat personnel from the North into South Vietnam now includes members of the regular armed forces of North Vietnam.
Unfortunately, he could not get two of his S.E.A.T.O. allies to agree with him. Both Pakistan and France abstained from supporting that statement. No positive proposals were placed before the Parliament. The Minister merely made a statement. We want evidence. Let him place before us evidence in the form of public documents and we will examine them on their merits to see whether there is aggression from the North. We believe that the war in Vietnam is a civil war and that the only people who can settle the problems of Vietnam are the Vietnamese people themselves. We hope that there will be a cease fire, we hope that there will be a cooling off period and we hope, eventually, that the people of Vietnam will determine by a free election the type of government that they are to have.
.- I think that all I need say about the speech of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is that if we turn to the “Hansard” report of the last debate on international affairs we shall find that he made the same speech, word for word, on that occasion. Neither his thinking nor his reading has been brought up to date.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) last night gave a very clear exposition of Government policy, particularly in relation to Malaysia and Vietnam. Following this clear exposition the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) proposed a very strange amendment to the Minister’s motion that the House take note of the papers which he had presented. That amendment was in these terms -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “this House regrets statements by the Prime Minister which disclose his Government’s desire to seek a solution to the conflict in Vietnam by military means alone. The House urges the Government to strive for a ceasefire now, to he policed by a United Nations peacekeeping force and for a conference of all parties directly involved, including representatives of both the Government in Saigon and the Vietcong to seek a settlement, which will both end the agony of the Vietnamese people, and establish their right to choose their own Government.”
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) dealt very effectively with the amendment. I want to look at it from a slightly different angle. The Leader of the Opposition proposed his amendment having regard to both the present and the past context of the situation in Vietnam, the present context being that Australian troops are now in action there and the past context being that numerous delegations have been trying to open peace negotiations in regard to Vietnam. These attempts at negotiation have proved abortive for one very simple reason - the Communists believe that they can win. Because they think that they are in a winning position they do not feel it necessary to negotiate. There is plenty of evidence to support this contention. Some evidence was contained in the Minister’s speech last night in which he quoted a statement by the National Liberation Front which was reported by Radio Hanoi in this way -
With all the factors of victory within our grasp, let our entire people and army valiantly march forwards. We shall certainly win. We are resolved to win a great victory.
It is obvious that the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese will not negotiate while they are in that frame of mind. I think it was the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) who told me that Sir Arthur Fadden, a former Treasurer of this Government, would often say that when the cattle smelt the water they were very hard to stop. Obviously at this time the North Vietnamese think that they can smell victory so they will not negotiate. But I am sure that victory is not yet theirs because the determination and the resolution expressed to the honorable member for Bradfield and myself on our visit to Vietnam by Prime Minister Ky, General Thieu, General Chieu and Dr. Do and others indicated that victory for the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese is a long way off.
What does disturb me somewhat is that obviously the Opposition belongs to the group which says: “ Yankee go home “. Having been to Saigon and having seen certain things which give me a small advantage over others who have not been there, all I can say is that if the Yankees do go home the 15 million people in South Vietnam will be thrown to the Communist wolves. Let us extend this “ Yankee go home “ attitude. Suppose Australia were subjected to aggression. Would the Opposition continue to say “ Yankee go home “ or would it say: “ We are signatories to the S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. Pacts. Come and look after us.”? Of course the Opposition, or at least the sensible members of the Opposition, would be asking for help. What is the reason for the Opposition’s attitude?
Another remarkable feature of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition last night is that he did not at any stage say that we should bring the Australian troops home from Vietnam. On 4th May last, when the Parliament was debating the Government’s proposal to send troops to Vietnam, he had this to say -
Therefore, on behalf of all my colleagues of Her Majesty’s Opposition, I say that we oppose the Government’s decision to send 800 men to fight in Vietnam. We oppose it firmly and completely.
On this occasion, however, by some chance or other, the Leader of the Opposition did not mention bringing home the troops now in Vietnam. Can it be that he knows full well that the proposition he puts to the House is impractical, or does he know that sitting behind him are some of the more militant members of his party who are demanding that he adopt his present attitude and advance the amendment now before the House? It is very hard for me to make an assessment of the position, but from the fact that the Leader of the Opposition did not demand that the Australian troops be returned home and also from the fact that he did not protest very loudly about additional troops being sent to Vietnam, I can certainly say that he believes that the proposition he has advanced is somewhat impractical.
On 29th April last the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced that we would assist in the struggle in Vietnam by sending a battalion of troops. A full debate followed during the course of which a complete explanation of Australia’s position was given. However, after the House went into recess a great deal of propaganda was spread around the countryside which confused the people of Australia somewhat. I must say that the propaganda has been disseminated by some academics, who have adopted a rather lofty attitude to the whole matter, and by some members of the Opposition who have decided to handle the question by misinterpreting the facts and by speaking half truths. I include the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and the honorable member for Reid in that group.
Let us consider why Australian troops are in Vietnam. What right have we to have our troops there? These questions seem to have been under some scrutiny by the honorable member for Reid but I do not agree with the answers that he found to them.
In his statement the Prime Minister said -
The Australian Government is now in receipt of a request from the Government of South Vietnam for further military assistance.
There was a request from the Government of South Vietnam. Perhaps there needs to be more than just a plain request from a government for troops. Well, there is more. The first thing to remember is that Vietnam is a protocol State under the S.E.A.T.O. arrangement and is named as such in the Manila Pact of 8th September 1954. Let us remember that a protocol State is one in a defined area of the Treaty but which is not a signatory to the Treaty. So there are two points. First, there was a request, and secondly, Vietnam is a protocol country.
Now let us look at the Treaty. Article J I, which I will not read in full but from which 1 will not take anything out of context, is in these terms - lu order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly-
Notice these words - . . will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and to prevent and counter subversive activities directed from without against their territorial integrity and political stability.
Article II indicates that separate action can be taken by the member nations of S.E.A.T.O. within the bounds of the Treaty. Let us look a little further. Article IV, section 1 states -
I stress the word “ each “ - . recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area . . . would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Article IV, section 3 reads - lt is understood that no action on the territory of any State . . . shall bc taken except at the invitation or with the consent of the government concerned.
Let me reiterate the points 1 have made. First, the Australian Government has received an invitation. Secondly, in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, Vietnam is a protocol State. Thirdly, Article II of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty sets out the separate action that can be taken. Fourthly, Article IV sets out the grounds on which it can be taken. Obviously we are involved in S.E.A.T.O.; there can be no argument about that. The only substantive question left to answer is that of outside aggression. The honorable member for Reid told us that he would give us some more information about that matter at a later stage of his speech, but by some means he managed not to do so. The honorable member for Yarra, in one speech that he delivered on a television programme at one of the university teach-ins, appeared to be at some pains to prove that there is very little outside assistance being given to the Vietcong. Indeed, he claimed straight out that what is happening in Vietnam is simply a local revolution. This is not so, however, if one has regard to the findings of the Legal Committee of the International Con trol Commission, which included the following remarks -
Having examined the complaints and the supporting material sent by the South Vietnamese Missions, the Committee ha3 come to the conclusion that in specific instances there is evideuce to show that armed and unarmed personnel, arms, munitions and other supplies have been sent from the Zone in the North to the Zone in the South with the object of supporting, organising and carrying out hostile activities, including armed attacks, directed against the Armed Forces and Administration of the Zone in the South. These acts are in violation of Articles 10, 19, 24 and 27 of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam.
Evidence of all kinds is available in the report of that Legal Committee, and details of armaments arid equipment are given. It is quite plain that there is aggression from outside, with Communist assistance. Indeed, Mao Tse-tung has claimed to be the architect of the kind of war that is at present being waged in Vietnam, involving subversion without total war. In South Vietnam this takes a different form from the kinds of wars we have known previously. Local Communists have been taken from South Vietnam to Hanoi and Peking, have been trained in subversion, propaganda and terrorism and have then been returned to South Vietnam to subvert the villagers and spread their propaganda. If they fail in their subversion they then go on to indulge in acts of terrorism. Let me give an example of this kind of thing.
When the honorable member for Bradfield and 1 visited one of the new life hamlets - known earlier as defended villages - a South Vietnamese told us of a man in the village who, earlier in the history of the village, had been ordered to join the Vietcong, and who refused to do so. That night his child was snatched from his home. He then received another order to join the Vietcong and again he refused. The following day he received, wrapped up in a hessian bag, the right hand of his child. That is the kind of terrorist activity in which the Vietcong have been indulging in order to force assistance from people, either by making them join the Vietcong or by making them supply the Vietcong with food.
Let me now turn to an examination of the chances of victory in Vietnam. Infiltration has been occurring not only from the northern borders; it has been shown also that members of the Vietcong have been coming in from the border with Laos. The war that is going on is completely different from previous wars in many respects. It is different from the operations in Malaya or from the war that was waged in Korea. Following the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu the northern leader, Ho Chi-Minh, who was then still in control, had readymade lines of communication and supply. He had a ready-made set-up to carry on with his subversive activities against the Government in the south. At the present time, as has already been mentioned, it is rather more difficult to fight a war in the traditional way. It is the monsoon season, and planes and troops cannot move in the normal fashion. The physical conditions of the country certainly suit guerrilla activities. In the wet season the rain forests provide hideaways for armaments and food and for the members of the Vietcong themselves. At the same time as these difficulties are being experienced past Government failure to provide internal stability has provided a further difficulty. In addition, there has been a clash between the Buddhists and the Catholics. The Communists have made the most of this by provoking the Buddhists during the Diem regime by telling the Buddhists that the Catholics were discriminating against them.
I have set out some of the problems that have had to be faced to give an idea of the magnitude of the task of winning this war in South Vietnam, but I say that despite or because of the problems the South Vietnamese are more determined than ever to win out. The honorable member for Bradfield and I met Prime Minister Ky and when we asked him about this religious problem that has been in existence in Vietnam for so long he said that members of his Government were militarists first and that their first duty was to obtain security for South Vietnam. I might mention that Prime Minister Ky is a Buddhist. We then met General Thieu, chairman of the Military Cabinet. When asked a similar question he expressed like feelings, and he is a Catholic. We in Australia can only hope that the bringing together of representatives of the two religious factions at the top Government level will provide some stability.
Before I go any further I think I should elaborate on a matter that was mentioned last night by the honorable member for
Bradfield who unfortunately had not time to go into it in detail. The line has been peddled both inside and outside this House that we should be giving economic and not military aid. The honorable member for Bradfield and I had the privilege of attending a ceremony in Saigon to celebrate International Aid Day, at which Prime Minister Ky and the Foreign Minister, Dr. Do, addressed a large gathering. Flying in the square, were 33 flags of nations supporting South Vietnam and I want to record in “ Hansard “ the names of some of those nations; I am sorry that I cannot recall all of them.
The flag of the United States of America was there, for a start, and I may mention that in the last financial year the United States spent 300 million dollars on economic aid for South Vietnam, while its military aid commitment amounted to 330 million dollars. So those who think the Americans are fighting and not assisting economically should think again. Also flying were the flags of Australia, France, United Kingdom, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand and Pakistan, all S.E.A.T.O. countries and all assisting South Vietnam with economic aid. Then there were the flags of Canada and India, both member nations of the International Control Commission and assisting with economic aid in South Vietnam. There was the flag of the United Nations, which assists with technical expert advice and has conferred 59 fellowships on South Vietnamese this year. There were also the flags of the Republic of China, Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, Tran, Israel, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands, Greece, Argentina, Algeria, Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia and Tunisia. I have mentioned only 26 of the 33 flags that were flying there. Let us, therefore, have no more of this talk about a lack of economic aid. The first thing that Prime Minister Ky said was, “What we need is stability with security so that we can make better use of the economic aid. The only way we can get security is to achieve peace in our country and get rid of the Vietcong.”
In an earlier time Diem failed for two or three reasons. He failed to solve the religious problems. He failed to solve the land reform problem - and, let us face it, in the east land is life. Unfortunately governments have not faced up to the problem of absent landlords and abuses of the farming system. Prime Minister Ky on this occasion said that he would be doing something about land reform. He showed us how with the Hop Tac programme he is endeavouring to implement land reform. Diem failed because his technical programme for defended villages did not provide real security for the villagers living in them. The present Hop Tac programme, which has been likened to a stone thrown into a pond, with ripples spreading out from the point of entry, provides an area of security springing from the centre of that area. This Hop Tac programme, or pacification programme, proceeds in three stages. First there is the clearing of Vietcong from an area by troops Then there is the removal of cells of the Vietcong and finally development is carried on by civilian teams of agricultural experts, medical experts, educationalists and others.
South Vietnam is not alone in its struggle. As I have already pointed out, it has 33 nations assisting it. We in Australia must show the fortitude and the resolve to assist in the South Vietnamese struggle against aggression. If we fail, the struggle will merely be transferred to another country. Let us play our part in demonstrating to the Communist powers that, along with our allies, we will not tolerate aggression, and that what Australia wants is to live in peace with all.
.- The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) has some odd philosophies mixed up in his politics. He ended his speech with a plea for peace. He spent his 20 minutes telling us how we and our allies are going to bomb the Vietnamese into a peaceful position. He spoke about freedom and about liberty and about his friend Marshal Ky.
Honorable members on this side of the House - and I think all Australians - are not concerned with which side is right or wrong on this issue in Vietnam, but we are concerned with that country and its people and with the security of this entire area. I believe that this Government and its supporters are proceeding on a collision course which will end in catastrophe for the whole area and perhaps for the whole world. I have been disappointed while sitting in this chamber during this debate in that I have heard so little said about the fate of the people who are being devastated and de stroyed in this conflict. 1 have been disappointed also to hear the constant apologia from the other side of the House as to why Australians and Australia are involved in Vietnam.
Why are we in Vietnam? Australia, in effect, has almost declared war on significant portions of the Asian mainland. We have troops scattered throughout South East Asia. We are challenging the movement of ideas, of people and of nationalism in some of the rising nations of Asia. We are doing this not on any grounds of truth and justice but, I believe, because we are misinterpreting the whole swing of history and the burden of human needs in the area.
I believe that Australia’s participation in the war in Vietnam is a piece of strategic folly. If there were no other reasons, if there were no people involved and if there were no principles involved except that of Australia’s strategy in its own self-defence, then I believe we have made a fundamental strategic error. We have placed Australian soldiers in South Vietnam, in Borneo and in Malaya. We all know that despite the best will in the world the people of Malaysia have not been able to stay together. We also have troops or airmen in Thailand. With the meagre forces available to the people and Government of Australia the Government has chosen to scatter them throughout half of South East Asia. Are there no lessons in history? Is there nothing to be learned from the very recent past?
Let us consider for a moment what happened to the Australian troops placed in similar positions during World War JJ. The Government says that at the moment there is not going to be any sudden or violent outbreak of a world war. How does anybody know this? We were told here in the House that even on a question fundamental to Australian policy and our own security, in effect - the situation in Malaysia - we were not consulted or informed. This Government’s intelligence services seem to be singularly remiss. What happened to Australian servicemen during the last war? Have we no memories of Singapore, Rabaul, Timor, Ambon, of Greece and Crete? In every instance in which Australia placed troops in this kind of position we lost the lot. It is a fundamental strategic error. The Government and those people in Australia who are supporting it in this policy will have placed
Australia in grave jeopardy if we should need our forces for Australia’s defence. We have removed them beyond our own control and placed them under the control of people answerable to other governments. We have placed them in positions in which they must indulge in some of the barbarities that are inevitable in war. I say that again. Barbarities are inevitable in war on both sides. It is no good for honorable members opposite to try to explain away the tortures. Of course they happen. We on this side of the House do not try to apologise for the tortures performed by others either. Of course they happen, and they are an inevitable result of war.
I believe that placing Australian troops in Vietnam is a piece of strategic folly from the point of view of Australia’s defence and security and interest. It is also a psychological error. We live in Australia and Australia is here for all time. This has been said so often: The Americans can go home, the British can go home and, in fact, the French have gone home, but it does not seem to get through to the Government that we are here for good and we must live with these people. Any step we take which insults them, confounds them, that provokes them is, 1 think, fraught with danger for this generation and every future generation in Australia. This is one of the lessons of history.
The other reason we are in Vietnam, I believe, is that this Government’s policy is founded upon abstractions. It has little care for humanity. It has no care at all for suffering people - men, women and children. It speaks in hifaluting terms about the world struggle and the world sweep of Communism. On the other side of this business there are people who are basically the same as we are. When one gets among them one finds that they think and feel much the same as we do. That, of course, is a basic reason why I believe that no matter how often we are rebuffed, no matter how often people do not turn up at a conference table, we must get them round the conference table in the end in order to resolve the question. This is another lesson of history; that if you sit people down, man for man, round a table and keep at it long enough, most of the barriers between them will collapse. The barriers between peoples all over the world are falling down. Twice in my lifetime the borders between France and Germany have been the cause of almost tearing the world apart. Now it is possible to drive across those borders merely by showing a passport. When the borders between France and Germany have fallen down then no international position is insoluble.
I believe that it is part and parcel of the pattern of political thinking of the Government and its supporters that they cannot get down on the ground and mix with the people. It would be better if, instead of travelling by Boeing around the world, they got down and travelled in the trams and trains or on pushbikes, or drove on the roads and spoke to the people. It would be better if they got out of the luxury hotels and established contact with people all round the world.
In the last 15 or 20 years we have seen a continuous buildup of hysteria, of political hysteria, a phoney atmosphere, about the foreign policy of this country. Let us take the question of China. On the one side we have the Chinese tigers, the Communists who are going to sweep from the north and overrun the world. That is for propaganda purposes. But what is the position of the party of which the honorable member for Gippsland is a member when it comes to the trade policy? When these people want wheat they are regarded as Iambs to be fed. On one side they are dangerous, tigerish and wretched - and all the other terms that have been propounded for propaganda purposes. But when it comes to money we are quite happy to deal with the selfsame Chinese. So in the last 14 or 15 years there has been a successive buildup of hysterics about political philosophies. This has developed into an atmosphere of McCarthyism such as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) indulged in yesterday against my disinguished friend, Professor MacMahon Ball of the University of Melbourne. That was a disgraceful utterance to bc made by any honorable member.
But that has been only part of the whole pattern. This spoiling of Australian politics and sullying the whole atmosphere of the nation has been a continuing feature in the last 15 years and we have seen consistent developments of that pattern in this place. There is the Crimes Act with the rather fantastic notion of “ proclaimed countries “; there is the non-recognition of countries of whose politics we do not approve; the fact that we have no diplomatic representation in China, Mongolia and Eastern Europe. There is the question of East Germany and the attitude of regarding it as if all East Germans had leprosy. As one German said to me: “Do all the good Germans live on that side of the wall and all the bad ones on this side? “ We do not even talk to them and we do not visit them. Very few honorable members opposite go anywhere where they can see these people on the ground. Then we have seen the rush of the last two or three years with conscription brought in offhand, almost underhand, against the advice of military advisers apparently, and we have seen it gradually extending until insiduously and slowly but surely it is going to creep into every household in this country. When the people went to the ballot boxes last December they were not aware of the full implications of conscription.
So I believe that so far as Vietnam is concerned we are indulging in a piece of phony political hysteria. Let us take the question of passports. In Parliament in the last session the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) representing the Minister fo Immigration (Mr. Opperman), announced that because of the position in Vietnam we were going to endorse Australian passports as being not valid for Vietnam.
At least half a million Australians have British passports and they can go where they like. The British system is to have passports valid for travel all over the world. Why pick Vietnam? We have Australian soldiers on the Borneo border of Indonesia and there is no suggestion that we should not travel to Indonesia. It is all phoney. It is all hysteria and part of a pattern to try to stir the people of Australia in some vague way so that they will not understand. Vietnam is far off. It is remote, it is exotic and it is unknown. Hardly anybody in Australia has been there. Indonesia, of course, is handy and people know it. Thousands have been there. It is just up the road, so to speak, and we do not feel that it is a danger. It cannot be built up to have this sort of atmosphere, so we fly across the ocean and we pick Vietnam. A good deal of the workings of the minds of honorable members opposite is nonsense. It is little credit to the people who vote for them that nevertheless they continue to send them here.
I challenge honorable members opposite on the single question of passports. We have passports now that are not valid for travel to North Vietnam. If the Government is dinkum and this is not phoney humbug and a piece of political hysteria, the Government will apply the same restriction to passports for Indonesia. I object to it in both cases. I believe that freedom of travel in all ordinary circumstances is one of the fundamental freedoms, but if the Government is dinkum it will do in both cases what it has done in the case of passports for Vietnam. If the Government will not do it in both cases it is not dinkum.
Ask the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who I understand is going to follow me in the debate and who has a singular capacity for explaining the inexplicable and defending the indefensible, what his view is. Ask the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Allan), whose capacity in that regards is not as formidable as that of the honorable member for Mackellar, but who still always manages to vote for the inexplicable. This is the position so far as Vietnam is concerned. Why are we there? We can talk about the history of Vietnam. Books on the subject have been in and out of the Library faster than any others in my experience as a member of the Library Committee. There is a great deal of documentation there and many honorable members of this House know a great deal more of the history of Vietnam and its geography than they know about Australia, but they do not seem to care much about its people.
Are we really in Vietnam on great moral issues? Was not Australia sickened when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said that the bombing of North Vietnam - I think Dong Hoi was the place - was a great moral enterprise and an act of great moral courage? Have members of the Government ever been bombed? I know that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) has been bombed and probably he might have been flying bombers. Literally hundreds of thousands of Australians who have experienced bombing at first hand and who have been the customers, know that in reality nobody can bomb munitions dumps without killing other people. Even with all the sophisticated apparatus of modern war it is murder; it is killing people.
In my view undeclared wars and adventures of this nature are murder in the first degree. I long for the day when we will bring into international relations the same relationships as we have between people on the ground, and until that day we have all to work towards that end. It behoves a country of 11 million people - one of the richest, most prosperous, secure and well founded in the world; one of the most politically stable and one of the most homogeneous so far as humanity is concerned - to bend all its efforts to try to bring this about. If it is a grievous error and a sin and murder for one man to shoot another man because his cow happens to get into his cabbages, or just because he wants them, it is wrong to shoot him because he happens to own a canal like Suez or happens to live in a black community like Sharpeville, or happens to be a Communist like the people of North Vietnam. Yet these are matters which honorable members on the other side of the House consider reasons for capital punishment. ] believe the people of Australia should wake up to the fact that this is a great moral issue and that we have taken the side of immorality. Are we in Vietnam for the sake of democracy? No honorable member opposite has answered this question. The Minister said that there have been rapid changes of government in South Vietnam, as if that were an indication of democracy, trying to explain away the words honorable members opposite use, on the one hand, and the facts of political life in Vietnam on the other hand.
The honorable member for Gippsland speaks of Marshal Ky as one of his friends. Marshal Ky’s politics are obviously as dictatorial, undemocratic and dangerous as those of anybody else in the world. It has been mentioned that he has praised the late Adolf Hitler, and of course that does not make him a lone star ranger, because back in 1938 the Prime Minister did the same. Honorable members opposite should get out of their trance and should not talk, in words like these, to people who live in a democratic community in which the law is based on a fundamental morality. Do not talk about Australia’s interest unless you can prove conclusively that Australia’s interest is involved.
We are in Vietnam in the interests of America. It happens that America has become psychologically involved there and now is strategically involved in such a way that she cannot disentangle herself. If we were doing our duty to America the most important and friendly thing to do would be to help the U.S.A. disengage in Vietnam. By embarking on this adventure we are making it more difficult for America to disengage.
The Prime Minister is the most artful spinner of words I have met in my time, and 1 have met a few. Early last session I asked him to table the letters which requested Australian participation in Vietnam. What did he say? I thought, from memory, that he said he would not table them, but on looking up my question in “ Hansard “ I find that he did not even say there were any letters. This is what we suspected until we were told, only yesterday or the day before, that it was done by diplomatic exchange at ambassadorial level. Fancy committing Australian soldiers to war - and that is how the Prime Minister described it - by diplomatic exchanges at ambassadorial level. Have honorable members opposite no sense of the appropriate or of their responsibilities to the nation? The Minister for External Affairs and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) talk about the world power struggle, in the same terms as Adolf Hitler, Lenin, Metternich and Philip of Spain. All through history mischief makers have talked about the power struggle.
Air. Jess. - What about Bob Holt of Victoria?
– He is one of your con- stituents, so you can talk to him personally. How real is this world power struggle? How real are the historical analogies that honorable members opposite bring forth, constantly quoting the compromise of 1938 and Munich? It would be better if they turned back to 1848 and the rise of nationalism in Europe. Unfortunately, they still think not as South East Asians but as conservative western Europeans.
I have not time to deal with the historical nonsense spoken by the honorable member for Moreton and the philosophical abstractions which the Minister speaks. They talk as though Communism throughout the world is a great, sweeping, dangerous disease. I know that they will try to take what I say out of context and quote it around the country and use it for their own purposes. But what do they mean? Do they assert that every Russian is a dangerous and wicked person and that every Chinese is a foul and vicious person thirsting for the blood of everybody else and dominion over them or that every Pole or Yugoslav is like that? It would not be a bad idea if some honorable members opposite occasionally went to these countries instead of standing in their places mouthing these threats. What are they going to do if Indonesia has a Communist Government as its next chain of command? Is the Minister for the Navy going to call up his fleet and descend upon Djakarta and install there some of the minions of the Ky Government of South Vietnam?
So the real issue is this: It is a question of humanity. I believe we live in a friendly world. Last year I travelled through a great number of these countries down on the ground among the people. Whether they were Indians, Mongolians, East Germans, West Germans or the people of Moscow or Singapore there was no fundamental difference in the way they treated one when one was looking for help and could not find an hotel or when the tyre of one’s car was punctured or anything else. Like the honorable member for Gwydir, I have attended international conferences of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. When you sit beside these people at the conference table it is possible to arrive at a solution of most problems, but you do not work it out overnight.
We are here at the tail end of perhaps 2,500 years of this kind of development and we are not going to solve the problem overnight. There are a tremendous number of questions before the people of Australia and one of them is this: What is the answer in Vietnam, except devastation, war, desolation and the provoking of China to enter the war, if we proceed in this way? To provoke China into this war would be one of the most tragic follies of history and the continued participation of Australia in Vietnam is part and parcel of that provocation. I believe that the House should support the motion moved by the Opposition and that it is time that the Government was removed from office.
.- The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who has just spoken expressed surprise to find that humanity all over the world has the same hopes and aspirations and, indeed, the same desire to express itself and to work out each individual destiny. I am not surprised at this feature in the world. I believe it is part of human nature to aspire to conditions of peace under a rule of law and order. These are the hopes of mankind of all ages and in all places in the world. Listening to this debate since it started last night, I have come to the conclusion that there are two main streams of thought behind the Opposition’s attack on the Government’s decision to intervene in Vietnam. One of these streams of thought is plainly influenced by Communist propaganda. The other stream of thought is based upon Chauvinism or isolationism. The influence of Communist propaganda is something on which I am able to speak, perhaps, with some authority because, as the House knows, in the last few years I have been privileged to associate quite closely with leaders of various countries including Communist countries. I have had many conversations about a number of issues, especially the issues of South Vietnam and South East Asia, with the leaders of Communist countries.
It has been put to me by some of these people that there should be an immediate ceasefire in Vietnam and a withdrawal of Australian and American troops from that country. It is claimed by the spokesmen for the Soviet Union that if such a withdrawal were to happen we would have in place of the present regimes in Vietnam a Titoist Communist regime in that country. That suggestion is put up as being of benefit to both parts of Vietnam and to the whole of this area. It is claimed by the Russian Communists that a Titoist type of regime in the north of South Vietnam would act as a stabilising force in the area. The reason why this proposal was made is plainly that the Russian Communists are engaged in a contest at the present time with the Chinese Communists. There is an intense spirit of rivalry between these two mighty leaders of the Communist empire. The Communists in Russia are disturbed at the success that their
Chinese colleagues have been having in international affairs in extending their influence among the smaller and newer countries of the world. The Russian Communists are making every effort they can to contain Communist China by pursuing a particular course of action in North Korea, in Vietnam, and in all Asian countries around the perimeter of their partner, Communist China.
As part of this process of restoring and reinforcing Russian influence in these perimeter countries, the Russian Communists have launched a large and intensive campaign of propaganda throughout the world. They want to establish a Russian oriented government in Vietnam for their own purposes - not for our purposes - to give them some protection from Communist China. This is quite a legitimate action for the Russian Communists to take. Naturally, they are afraid of the glant that is arming itself in Communist China. This action is quite legitimate but I believe the Russian Communists to be misguided even from their own point of view. It certainly would be quite unacceptable to Australia, to the small countries of Asia or to any Western country because this action would mean the cynical abandonment of our friends in South Vietnam. It would change the balance of power and aggression would be encouraged in other countries in South East Asia, particularly aggression of the same order as the aggression that is taking place now in South Vietnam. lt is quite plain from the words of speakers from the Opposition side that honorable members opposite have been influenced by this intensive campaign of propaganda waged by the Russian Communists to secure a Russian oriented government in Vietnam. The quite impractical proposal put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) last night that Australia should now take the initiative to bring about a ceasefire between the Vietcong and the South Vietnamese is a typical example of this influence. Everyone who can read and who can hear knows that the Americans have had an open door to negotiations all the way through this conflict. Several attempts have been made by sympathetic powers to bring the two parties to the conference table, but they will not come. They will not play. It is wrong for the Leader of the Opposition, as the spokes man for a large political party in Australia, to say: “All right, all other attempts have failed; let Australia try now “. It is quits unreal. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition says this only because it is the slogan of the great peacemakers of the present time, the Russians, who want peace at any price in Vietnam because they are frightened of Communist China. That is the extent of the influence that Communist propaganda has had on the thinking of the Labour Party.
The other main stream of thought in the Labour Party, that of extreme nationalism or isolationism, is something which has become a feature of the world since the last war. This attitude has sprung up in the most unexpected places. People are determined not to be pushed around by the great powers, principally by the United States of America. One has some sympathy for this point of view because, as I said earlier, it is the will and the desire of every man to live a free life and not be subservient to any other man. The same principle applies to nations. No free nation would willingly abandon its freedom or willingly sacrifice its integrity and independence to become the kind of satellite that is found in the Soviet system. No country cheerfully accepts being bullied or being pushed about. This is quite an understandable feeling or emotion. But it is quite wrong to be influenced by that feeling in this present instance.
Our purpose in going into South Vietnam is not to go to the support of the American troops or even primarily to go to the support of the South Vietnamese. Our objective in South Vietnam is to discharge our obligations under the United Nations Charter. We believe in the universal rule of law and we believe in working for it. We took an active part in framing the Charter and we have subscribed to it. We realise that if one looks to the rule of law one must have the means of enforcing it. It is up to those countries which recognise the rule of law and which work for it throughout the world to take whatever steps they can to see that it is enforced. That is what we are trying to do, and therefore we are supporting the principles and purposes of the United Nations. One cannot have a higher moral obligation than that or a higher call on the respect and enthusiasm of all people who love freedom. We are in Vietnam to support a principle and to honour obligations entered into at San Francisco 20 years ago when the United Nations Charter was framed.
It is of more consequence to Australia and to the smaller countries, perhaps, than to others that these principles be upheld. We have more at stake than have the people of the United States of America. If there are no international code and no international law, we shall return to the rule of might - the rule of the strong. That would be a return to the law of the jungle. If we were to return to that, there would be no independence, no freedom and no liberty for the smaller countries. The big powers would carve up the world and in their anxiety to rule it according to their own lights, would ride roughshod over the smaller countries. It is in the interests of Australia, as a small country, for us to see that the United Nations Charter is enforced widely by the smaller countries as well as by the larger countries.
We are playing an active part, and have always played an active part in upholding these principles, and have honoured our obligations. Some other countries have not done this. We hope that, in course of time, by our example and by the example of others responsible for successful interventions in Cyprus and Kenya, at Suez and in Kashmir, as well as in other places at other times when forces of various countries have been sent to the aid of the United Nations, we shall be able to encourage the majority of the smaller countries to support the rule of international law as set out in the United Nations Charter. We hope that we shall be able gradually to make what is now an imperfect instrument into one that is sufficiently strong to be capable of maintaining peace universally and for all time. That is perhaps a hope the realisation of which is some distance off, but we must make a start. We are doing so now by our actions in Vietnam.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I regret that the Opposition has chosen to continue its course of acting independently of the Government in matters such as this. If ever there was one, surely this is an instance in which we should have a bipartisan approach to foreign affairs. Despite all the claims that Opposition members may make in their speeches in this debate, we have here a clearcut case of aggression. There has been a breach of the peace in Vietnam. This is something that we all are obliged to help to correct. With Australian troops committed there and with Australian families therefore involved, one would have expected the Opposition to join with the Government, as those in opposition have joined with governments in other countries, in bringing about a bipartisan approach to the situation. I deplore the attempt by the Opposition to divide opinion in Australia. I deplore the reasons for which this attempt to divide the country has been made. I can take satisfaction only from the knowledge that the course taken by honorable members opposite will bring them to disaster.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, having listened to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan), I deplore the statements made by him on behalf of his party. I deplore particularly his assertion that he cannot understand the continuing of the course adopted by Opposition members. We have adopted this course for one reason only: We want to see justice done to all the peoples of the world. ‘We want to ensure the right of the people of Vietnam to free elections. The Australian people have enjoyed free elections for many years. We wish that Australians would fight to the last person and the last drop of blood to see that we always have the right to free elections. The honorable member for Gwydir is respected by honorable members on this side of the chamber for his personal qualities but not for his political views. I believe that when he utters remarks such as he has just made he is not voicing the sentiments of the people of Australia.
I wholeheartedly support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in this vital debate on foreign affairs, particularly as it affects Australians and especially Australian boys who are being sent into action on foreign battlefields. Obviously, many of these young Australians will not return. As has been said previously by honorable members on this side of the House, the war in Vietnam represents a bottomless pit, so to speak, of jungle warfare in which victory cannot be won by military means. We have invaded what one may almost describe as a neighbouring country. We are trying to impose on the people of that country a government that they do not want. The principles of the 1954 Geneva Agreements have frequently been mentioned in this Parliament. I want to quote some statements made in this chamber by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the present Governor-General Designate, Mr. Casey, as he then was, in 1954. On 5th August of that year, in a debate on international affairs with particular relation to South East Asia and Vietnam, the Prime Minister said -
I make these remarks not because I desire even to appear to resist the development of democracy in other communities; on the contrary, it is one of the great hopes of the world. My reason for saying what I have on this point is to emphasise that the probabilities in Vietnam, both north and south of the line of division now established, are that the most organised groups will be the Communists themselves. We must, therefore, not overlook the possibility that a free election may be an election which establishes a Communist administration in the whole of Vietnam. We would do well, therefore, to consider the significance of Indo-China, not by assuming easily that the frontier of the Viet Minh is on the 17th parallel, but by contemplating that before long we may be forced to- regard the Communist frontier as lying on the southern shores of Indo-China. . . .
The views expressed by the right honorable gentleman on that occasion were somewhat similar to those set down by former President Eisenhower of the United States of America in his book, “Mandate for Change “, which has previously been referred to in this Parliament. The former President of the United States is on record in that publication as having said that he had not talked to or corresponded with any person who was conversant with the problems of, or knowledgeable about, South East Asian affairs who had not said that if the people were given free elections, 80 per cent, of them would support Ho Chi Minh. Yet the United States claims to be one of the leaders of democracy and to believe in the right of the people to the free choice of governments. Statements such as this have come from prominent leaders in the western world. What hypocrites they are to make statements about people being given a choice in electing a government when they are deliberately preventing them from doing so.
I do not believe that any honorable member wants to see Communism spread one inch further in the world, but I do believe in the principle expressed in the United Nations Charter which states that every nation is entitled to self determination. We are supposed to be upholding the principles of the United Nations yet we are spilling Australian blood, together with that of the American boys in Vietnam, to prevent the people of that little country from choosing a government that they wish.
– What rot.
– It is not rot. The honorable member knows that that is the truth. President Eisenhower is on record as having said in relation to Vietnam in an address to State Governors on 4th August 1953 -
If we lose it we lose the tin and the tungsten which we so greatly value and it would be lost immediately, so 400 million dollars voted is not a give away.
It is obvious what was in the mind of the President of the United States at that time. In an article on Indo-China which appeared in the “New York Times” on 12th February 1950 the question was asked: “ Is the prize worth the large gamble?” The article mentions that the north exports tin, tungsten, zinc, manganese, timber and rice, and the south produces and exports rice, rubber, tea, pepper and hides. That makes me think that the blood bath that is now taking place in South Vietnam is for the wealth of the nation. We never hear of any likelihood of war taking place in Alaska because there is nothing there to fight for.
The people of Australia are becoming more concerned each day. In my electorate of Hunter at least four or five mothers come to me each week in connection with the call-up of their sons for service in the armed forces. As the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said today, we on this side of the chamber ask that the boys be given a choice of whether they will be sent to South Vietnam. We believe that they should have the same right of choice that the Prime Minister had at the outbreak of World War I when he was a member of the Melbourne University Rifles Regiment.
Honorable members will recall that our Prime Minister is on record in this Parliament as having praised the virtues of the late Head of State of South Vietnam. I refer to one of the first of the 12 or 18 leaders that that country has had in the last 12 years. The Prime Minister is on record as saying that President Diem was a brave, honest little man. But when we look at the information available to honorable members in the Library we find that Diem was brought back from the United States and was installed as the President of South Vietnam by the United States authorities. President Diem is on record as having personally ordered the burning down of 300 Buddhist pagodas and imprisoning 3,000 Buddhist monks, many of whom were tortured, imprisoned and put to death. This caused the great majority of Buddhists, who comprised between 70 per cent, and 80 per cent, of the population of South Vietnam, to join forces with the Communist Vietcong. The Buddhists sighed with relief when President Diem was assassinated, and when General Khanh assumed the role of Prime Minister they thought the situation might be a little better. However, they were disillusioned because, on General Khanh’s orders, 100 Buddhist pagodas were burnt down and more than 200 Buddhist monks were arrested, tortured and disembowelled.
We can also learn from a Library volume on South East Asia that, under the Diem regime, mobile courts moved about the country and tried people who had been arrested for being in possession of a packet of cigarettes or a box of matches that had originated in North Vietnam. The possession of such articles was alleged to be subversive and was regarded as sufficient evidence for them to be imprisoned for many years.
We learn also from the “British Far Eastern Review “, a conservative magazine printed in Hong Kong, at page 476 of the edition of 18th March, that more than 2,000 Government troops deserted during the New Year festival. Yet honorable members opposite maintain that we are fighting on behalf of the majority of the Vietnamese people. In November 1 963 an article appeared in the “New York Herald Tribune” which stated that despite the State Department’s denial, the United States Government was involved in the uprising and the revolt which brought about the assassination of President Diem, and in that article the United States was accused of being responsible for that action.
I said earlier that 1 would refer to a statement made in this House some years ago by the Governor-General Designate, Lord Casey. In a debate on South East Asia on 10th August 1954, Mr. Casey, as he then was, was reported at page 97 of “ Hansard “ as saying - lt is enough to say that no Korean settlement was arrived at. In April, the French and Vietnam forces were waging an unequal conflict at Dien Bien Phu against the Vietminh. Talk of intervention, particularly in the air, in order to save the situation, was being widely canvassed at that time. Our Australian view was that such intervention would be wrong for the following reasons: -
– Who said that?
– This was Lord Casey, who was then Minister for External Affairs and who is now Governor-General Designate of Australia. He said that intervention would be wrong for the following reasons -
It would not have the backing of the United Nations, lt would put us in wrong with world opinion, particularly in Asia. It would probably embroil us with Communist China. It would wreck the Geneva conference, and it was most unlikely to stop the fall of Dien Bien Phu. These were the views that 1 expressed on behalf of the Australian Government to Mr. Dulles, Mr. Eden, and other leaders at Geneva.
I would like to hear the comments of Government supporters on that statement made by the Minister for External Affairs in this Parliament on 10th August 1954 and I would like the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to add his comments on that statement.
I have referred to a speech in which Lord Casey said that the great majority of the people in South East Asia would be against us. How true that is. What is the position today? The peoples in Asia who support United States foreign policy in Vietnam number 180 million. They are the peoples of the Republic of China, South Korea, Laos, South Vietnam, Turkey, the Philippines, Iran, Thailand and Malaya. But the peoples who are opposed to that policy number 1,470 million. They are the peoples of China. India, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, North Korea, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Burma, Afghanistan and Ceylon. The Governments of those nations have all expressed strong resentment at the policies being pursued in South Vietnam by the United States Government.
I have here a copy of the “ Far Eastern Economic Review “ of 10th June this year, in which is recorded an interview in Kuala Lumpur between Harvey Stockwin and the
Minister for External Affairs. The Minister is reported to have said -
Australia’s hope for Asia is to see peace, political stability and economic and social progress in all countries. We have no wish to intervene in the internal affairs of any Asian country.
I would like the Minister for External Affairs to say whether he was correctly reported in this impartial and conservative magazine because at the present time we have troops fighting in three countries. We have troops in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Yet he said that he does not believe in interfering in the internal affairs of any Asian country.
– I expressed the same view in my speech last night.
– The Minister says that he expressed the same view last night. Yet he concurred with the statement by the Prime Minister to the Parliament yesterday, that another 350 boys are to go to South Vietnam probably to their death. The day will come when the Minister for External Affairs, who, so far, has been respected by honorable members on this side of the House, will be looked upon with shame and disgrace by an overwhelming majority of Australians because of this Government’s policies in South Vietnam at the present time.
We know of the growing resentment of the people of the United States towards the present policies being pursued by their Government. We know that 2,700 ministers, priests and rabbis have petitioned the Johnson Administration concerning the United States policy in South Vietnam. We also know that those clerics were joined by a further 1 ,300 signatories to the petition. Senator Robert Kennedy has bitterly attacked his leader over the policies being pursued. Also, Senators George McGovern, Mike Mansfield, Fulbright, Wayne Morse, Javits and Pell have all opposed the United States policies in South Vietnam.
The honorable member for Gwydir said that we are upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter. But he failed to tell the Parliament that U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has expressed opposition to the United States policies in South Vietnam. It is my belief, and I think it is the belief of all thinking and evenly balanced Australians, that the people of Vietnam will not be satisfied until justice flows down like waters and righteousness in a mighty stream. These people have been sweltering under the heat of injustice for many years. They have been sweltering under the heat of oppression - French rule, then Japanese domination, then French domination again, and now American domination.
Vietnam is one country; the Vietnamese are one people; North and South Vietnam are one family. This sentiment is higher than mountains and deeper than oceans. The overwhelming majority of the people will remain steadfast against any foreign aggressor to the last drop of blood of the last person. We should be doing our utmost to bring about a cease fire and negotiated settlement before our good name sinks further into the mud, into which this Government has placed it.
– Mr. Speaker, I seek your assistance on a point of order. During the speech of the honorable member for Hunter, the honorable member for La Trobe interjected and said: “What about the 50,000 North Vietnamese who were executed by the Communists?” An honorable member on the Opposition side - I think it was the honorable member for Scullin - interjected and said: “ So they ought to have been.” I am not quite certain which honorable member opposite made the interjection. I do not want to do an injustice to anyone. I would like it to be known which honorable member on the Opposition side said that.
– I made no interjection in connection with the matter at all.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable member for La Trobe was completely out of order in interjecting.
– 1 would like to know which honorable member opposite said that.
– I raise a point of order. I think that this matter should be cleared up. The interjection was probably misheard on this side of the House. It sounded like: “ 50,000 Billy Wentworths “, and everyone agreed.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) presented such a miasma of so-called facts that I do not think there is any need to reply to him. He referred to Cambodia. He ought to realise that Cambodia paid Australia the compliment of asking us to represent it in Saigon. That completely refutes his suggestion that Cambodia is in any way unfriendly to us. When one picks up any newspaper at the present time or listens to any newscast, the picture one finds is not very pretty. In a sense, it may seem like the agony of the world. Many countries are living in a state of tension. Countries are separating from one another. There are serious riots in America. In short, what has come so much to the forefront in recent weeks is a fair demonstration of man’s ageold inhumanity to man.
Australia may quite deservedly be called the lucky country. But for how long will that be so? We do not know the daily terrors that people live by or live wilh in other countries: We do not know at first hand of the suppression of the liberty of people, the suppression of nations and the daily toll of life which, in fact, is being taken in many countries. The real point is: Are we going to stand by idly, like a pack of blind fools and, in our own comfort, do precisely nothing about it? I am not saying this in any sanctimonious way. I simply believe that this is something that too few of us have the honesty to face. We have a smug, inhuman attitude- which ignores the agonies of other people. 1 intend to devote my time to South Vietnam. In doing so, obviously I must start at the very beginning of the situation that exists there. To begin with, one must look at the role of China in this area. China at the present time is dominating and for some time past has dominated the whole of South East Asia like a colossus or like a very heavy cloud. Normally one would call it a dark cloud, but these days one must call it a red cloud. We cannot think of South Vietnam in isolation from China, because it is in the scheme of things in China’s imperialist approach to South East Asia. For sure, a direct attack is being made by the Vietcong on the South Vietnamese people as a whole. That attack certainly is aided and directed by the National Liberation
Front which, of course, is directed by Ho Chi Minh.
So, we must look at Ho Chi Minh and see what kind of a man he is. It is well known to everbody who takes the trouble to read anything about his history that he is an extreme Marxist and leftist. He was trained extensively in Moscow. He is an ardent supporter of Mao Tse-tung and an author and expert on guerrilla warfare. Ho has repeatedly and openly preached destruction of all the people opposing the Vietcong and now he is very obviously and very directly trying to stir up trouble in countries neighbouring South Vietnam.
So, whether anybody likes it or nol, this war is clearly a war of survival for Vietnam and in the long run is clearly a war of survival for South East Asia. No one with any knowledge of South East Asia would doubt that China has Thailand next on the list after Vietnam. From the knowledge that I have of the position, I have no doubt that the Thais themselves believe that. If South Vietnam were to go I am not too sure that the Thais would find themselves in a tenable position. Laos and Cambodia are very much uncommitted nations. They are not strong nations. Even on the northern borders of Malaya at the present time there is substantial encroachment and infiltration by Communist forces. So if we have the sense to look practically at South Vietnam to sec what it means we will see that if this key is dislodged it may well mean the ultimate downfall of all of this part of South East Asia. Whether we like it or not, wc are a part of South East Asia. We are very much a part of it, although we are Europeans. We must live with that fact, come what may.
The dreadful thing is that the war weary people of South Vietnam, who have endured this war since 1 954, are nothing more nor less than the victims of China’s very real plan for the complete domination of South East Asia. One of the really outstanding facts is that with all of these intense pressures no political party or group in South Vietnam has sought in any way to treat or to deal with the Vietcong or the National Liberation Front. Even in the face of the temptation of appeasement with the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese and of the temptations of power, the South Vietnamese are firmly determined to resist
Communists overrunning their country. Knowing that, Ho Chi Minh has refused to allow any situation which could permit normal free elections in South Vietnam. With complete arrogance and cold confidence that he can crush South Vietnam, he refuses any unconditional offers to talk. The only terms in which he is interested are his own, with the complete absence of opposition of any kind.
I ask: What has happened to the Labour Party on this issue? Its present policy is to do no more and no less than to abandon these people to a horrible fate. In this respect Labour Party policy is inhuman, inhumane and callous in the extreme. Members of the Labour Party satisfy their so-called consciences by saying: “Let the United Nations deal with this “. If only the United Nations would; if only the United Nations could. This afternoon the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) demonstrated in pretty clear terms just how much power or lack of power the United Nations has, in fact, in the General Assembly and in the Security Council with the veto obtaining. It has to be pointed out to those people who conveniently have forgotten it, that the United Nations has tried.
It has to be pointed out that U Thant went to Peking and Hanoi. The United Kingdom sent Mr. Gordon Walker and he was rejected out of hand. The United States has offered, completely unconditionally, to support the United Nations or to talk with North Vietnam on any terms. Each time the North Vietnamese, Hanoi and Peking have completely rejected President Johnson’s offer. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers tried. As honorable members know, quite recently Mr. Harold Davies tried, and he was rejected. India tried and it was rejected. Seventeen nonaligned nations tried and they were rejected. Even President Tito tried and he was rejected. In the face of that, what kind of conditions does Ho Chi Minh want? The obvious answer to that question is that he wants only his own conditions. Nobody can say that genuine and real attempts have not been made. The attempts that have been made have been most exhaustive. But every one of them has met with a positive, blank refusal.
No one, least of all Australia, has any territorial ambitions in South Vietnam. The
United States most positively has not. The only ambition that we have is to see that in the long run the people of South Vietnam will have the right to determine their own future and their own destiny.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said: “The war cannot be solved by military means alone”. In part I agree with him; in part I disagree with him. I disagree with him if the situation should be that Ho Chi Minh wins, because obviously that will solve the war by military means. But I suggest that his statement has some substance when he says that it is very important that effort should be put into economic aid for the country. The ideological war or the war against plain hunger is another war which has to be won as well as the military war. It ought to be pointed out that at present 33 nations are giving social and economic aid to South Vietnam. It also ought to be reiterated that President Johnson has offered 1,000 million dollars of economic aid for the whole of South East Asia. That includes South Vietnam.
One burning question which has not been discussed much but which is important in South East Asia is land reform. Land reform has begun in South Vietnam. As one who is very keen on seeing land reform expedited wherever possible in South East Asia, I am not completely satisfied that it has been expedited sufficiently. For people who live on the land, it is fundamental that they own their own land, however small their plot may be. I believe that one of the firmest grounds on which the economic and ideological side of this war can be won is for the South Vietnamese Government to accelerate land reform. I regard that as essential.
I believe that the Leader of the Opposition was in pretty serious error when he said that two thirds of South Vietnam was controlled by the Vietcong. I am quite sure that he made the error of making the assessment on area and not on population. If he were to examine the facts he would find that two thirds of the population are within the control of the existing Government. I might mention in passing that the previous speaker, the honorable member for Hunter, spoke about Buddhists being executed. Perhaps he is not aware of, or perhaps he overlooked, the fact that Air ViceMarshal Ky is a Buddhist.
I said earlier that these were a war weary people. They are. They have been engaged in a war since 1954 and during that period they have had 80,000 casualties. That in itself would be a terrible loss to any country. At the present time the strength of the Vietcong is of the order of 45,000 hard core troops, 15,000 support troops and 100,000 irregular troops. So the force that is fighting the existing Government is of the order of 160,000. The South Vietnamese Government has troops of varying grades and quality which number approximately half a million.
The people of South Vietnam can be divided roughly into four distinct groups. There are the Buddhists who constitute about 70 per cent, of the population, the Hoa Hao who number U million, the Cao Dai the number of whom is about the same, and the Catholics who’ number li million. Of those H million people the greater part of 1 million are refugees from North Vietnam. They probably are the strongest elements of the anti-Communist forces in the south. The others are by no means Communist sympathisers, but those to whom I have referred are the strongest anti-Communist element, lt is interesting to note that, although there are 46 provincial cities in the 46 provinces, not one is in the hands of the Vietcong. Of course, that is where the majority of the population lives. Tt is in this area that in recent times the Government has been able to move approximately 400,000 persons to relative safety.
There has been some discussion earlier today about elections. In May or June, I think, of this year there was a provincial election at which 3,500 people voted. This demonstrates that even in the difficult situation which obtains at the moment it is possible to hold a provincial election. But anybody who imagined that if a general election were held even 3± million people would be able to vote would be making a very bad guess, because it is very clear that if a major attempt were made to have a general election at the present time the Vietcong would make an all-out effort to terrorise the population. I believe that is one of the reasons why there may bc considerable difficulty about holding an election at the moment. lt is completely forgotten by those who argue the extreme leftist viewpoint on behalf of the Labour Party that a similar situation existed in Korea and to a very large extent in Berlin. I do not know whether anybody regarded the war in Korea as being a civil war. Two thirds of the population of Korea lived in South Korea. As a result of a strong stand by the United Nations and other countries, some of whom are now involved in South Vietnam, it was possible to give those people the right to determine their own future and to remain independent, as they are at the present time. The people of West Berlin are free - in the sense in which we use the term as opposed to the meaning that the Communists ascribe to it. Those people are free simply because certain nations were prepared to support them. Was that what one would describe as interfering in other people’s internal business? Those involved were protecting the right of certain people to determine their own destiny and were protecting them from being murdered in hundreds of thousands. Undeniably that is what would occur if South Vietnam were to be overrun. Yet some people would describe the war in Vietnam as being a civil war.
Many people do not realise that the distance from Saigon to Sydney is almost the same as that from Sydney to Perth. Anybody who travels from Sydney to Perth nowadays does not regard that as being a very long trip. The distance from Saigon to Darwin is the same as that from Brisbane to Darwin. When we think in those terms, which we readily understand, we note that we are not remote from what is going on in South Vietnam. Geographically, we arc very close. I have said that we are in Asia. We are part of Asia. We are fighting to protect the rights of small nations that are very much like our own nation numerically. We are trying to prevent them from disappearing into the Communist maw of Mao.
.- During the 24 hours preceding the speech that was delivered last night by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on the very important subject of foreign affairs some quite significant statements were made by the Government on the subject of defence. The first was made during the presentation of the Budget, which provided for the greatest annual expenditure on defence since the last war. That in itself is understandable, because the equipment of the Australian forces had largely been allowed to run down. Instead of adopting a system of gradual and constant replacement over the years, the Government allowed this rundown to occur and now suddenly it has presented us with this accumulated shortage. That is the main reason for our large defence bill. The other significant statement by the Government prior to the Minister’s statement on foreign policy concerned the increased commitment of Australian regular troops to the war in Vietnam and the proposal to increase the number of 20 year old youths to be conscripted for military service next year.
Both of these statements were quite momentous in themselves. They seemed to imply many considerations. Therefore, one would have expected that, when the Minister for External Affairs made his policy statement last night, he would have dwelt for some time on the two statements I have mentioned. When all is said and done, the lives of young Australians are involved. It may fairly be inferred from the statements already made by the Government that quite a number of our 20 year old conscripts will lose their lives in the foetid jungles of Vietnam.
Instead of listening to some momentous statement from the Minister about what the Government proposes for the future; instead of hearing an outline of the plan and the principles that the Government is pursuing in its approach to our commitment in Vietnam and what it hopes to achieve, all we got from the Minister was a vague assertion that the aim was to hold the Vietgong. After that there was a vacuum. The conceptions of our commitment, our strategy, in Vietnam do not extend beyond this point. Instead of listening to an interesting, absorbing and indeed very important speech, we found that we had traversed much ground that had been traversed on many occasions previously. In fact, the Minister delivered his speech like the flat pedantic dialogue of a bored conducted tour guide who is tired of telling the same story often and who is doubtful anyway about whether all the virtues he acclaims do exist.
The only candid statement that I have been able to find about the Government’s involvement in Vietnam comes from a recently appointed Minister, Senator McKellar who is Minister for Repatriation. This candid statement is rather shocking. The report of his comments which appears in the “ Australian “of 11th August states -
Australia was in Vietnam to ensure American help in the future. . . . “This is why we have had to face up to the position in Vietnam-
This is the only reason, mind you - and give aid to our allies. If we did not agree to send our troops what would happen in the years to come if we got into a pickle and appealed to our allies in the United States?”
In other words, what he was saying was that it comes down to this simple denominator: The Government is bidding on the international stock exchange of power where deals are made with human lives. It was not a matter of considering the virtues or the principles involved in the war in Vietnam; it was a plain, straight out power deal so far as this Government was concerned without regard to social and economic problems. I have made it clear in the past that I believe this is a civil war. I have no less an authority to support me than President Kennedy and his statement in 1961. I have quoted it in this House before.
What hope does the Minister for External Affairs hold out? He made some wan suggestion about a return to the Geneva Agreement of 1954. What he either conveniently forgets or intentionally neglects to mention is why the war in Vietnam is being fought. One of the conditions of the Agreement was that there should be an election in 1956 on the future of North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The Diem regime, which this Government applauds, was deposited in office without any reference to the people of the South Vietnam area. Diem promptly said: “There will not be an election. I am holding on to this territory.” This Government applauded him for that. In other words, it was party to the tearing up of the Agreement. The Minister now says that there was some benefit, some virtue, in this. He also mentioned - this was about the sum-total of the principles that he enunciated, as far as I could see - in respect of the future of this country, that the aim should be for the people to go about their daily life in peace under the rule of governments of their own choice. Perhaps he did not hear the Prime Minister’s contribution to the debate on Vietnam on 4th May this year. The Prime Minister thought it was rather a humorous suggestion to have elections in South Vietnam and indeed he first of all upheld the approach of the Diem regime in abrogating the commitment of the Geneva Conference Agreement of 1954 and rejecting the elections which were to decide the future of North and South Vietnam. Although he did not actually say that I am sure that he meant it because, if he did not mean it, it means he had not done his homework on the subject of Vietnam. I am sure he also meant that there was no need for free elections in the community for the local legislature. But in saying this he condemned himself because the Diem regime did, in fact, hold elections for the local legislature. Once again, I have no intention of going into the details of this because I have already mentioned them in this House on a previous occasion.
I am sure the Prime Minister must be aware of the ignominious way in which Dr. Dan was ejected from his rightful position in the legislature of South Vietnam by the Diem regime after he had been elected and solely because he had some criticism of Diem. This was not an isolated case. The Prime Minister lauds the former Premier of South Vietnam, Diem, and this is interesting. He refers to him as a brave and honest little man, and a patriot. This is quite interesting because practically every writer I have read on the subject of the history of Vietnam regards Diem as a corrupt, nepotic, despotic administrator who was responsible for some of the worst forms of religious discrimination. Even today people are incarcerated in concentration camps into which they were thrown during the regime of Diem solely because they disagreed with the way he was administering the country.
We must say this about our Prime Minister: He is consistent. Of course, he has monolithic, autocratic power in his own party. This is well vouchsafed for in the political writings of this country. He rules ruthlessly. This autocratic trait is part of his character. He is consistent, not only in wielding this power in his own party but in lauding it in people like Diem. I am reminded of what he was reported in the “Sydney Morning Herald” as saying on 28th October 1938 in an address at ohe Constitutional Club. He said -
Why was Hitler able to tear up the Treaty ot Versailles, absorb Austria and the Sudetenland without firing a shot? The dominating reason why he was able to do it all is that he gives the German people a leadership to which they render unquestioning obedience. If you and I were Germans sitting beside our own fires in Berlin, we would not be critical of the leadership of such results.
– Who said that?
– Our present Prime Minister. Can you not see in the phrasing the lingering longing for a similar chance to wield autocratic power? So we have one facet of the background of the Prime Minister’s character. The noisy Jingoistic belligerence of the Prime Minister explains the authoritarianism which is part and parcel of the Government’s foreign policy. There is another side that can be found in his history as an administrator. He was the reluctant dragoon of World War I, the partyless premier of World War II and he is the purposeless Prime Minister of the present. It is quite well known that this country seems to drift without design or guidance and he just presides over its course.
We find the Prime Minister prepared to launch into a situation like that in Vietnam without considering the implications for Australia’s future and without considering the effect of the interpretation the people of Asia - and, indeed, of Africa - place on this attitude. Last night the Minister for External Affairs made an interesting comment when he said -
Another risk is that in helping Asians we might ourselves limit their freedom by making decisions for them.
He was referring to our commitment in Vietnam. I am still discussing the Prime Minister’s attitude and it is interesting to compare the Minister’s statement with the Prime Minister’s remarks reported on page 1 108 of “ Hansard “ for 4th May and which I have quoted in full previously. However, I think it is worth referring to them again. If we examine the Prime Minister’s statement we find that the discussion about Australia’s commitment to Vietnam took place between the Governments of the United States of America and Australia. The decisions were cut and dried and everything was arranged. There was only one delaying factor - the Government of South Vietnam had not been consulted, lt had to be consulted and told that it had to make a request for the despatch of Australian troops to Vietnam - a matter which had already been arranged.
In other words, as we well know, the Government of South Vietnam is a puppet Government. It has no right to claim that it represents the people. It does not have the capacity to express the attitudes of the people of South Vietnam. We have the statement of Henry Cabot Lodge reported in the Brisbane “Sunday Truth” on 15th August. Mr. Lodge, the present American Ambassador in Saigon, announced that-
The United States would not leave South Vietnam even if the Saigon Government asked it to pull out.
We have people like Senator McKellar saying that it is better to fight the Communists outside Australia’s territory and not on the Australian mainland. This seems to be a catchcry of Government members: “ Let us fight it in someone else’s yard, not our own “. I do not know whether they realise the effect this is having on a lot of Asian minds who now regard the war in Vietnam as someone else’s war being fought in an Asian country. It is obvious that the Government wants to fight our battles in someone else’s country. The Government sees these conflicts, and the turmoil, problems and trouble that arise from them, in terms of armed might. This is its retaliation. There is to be no attack on the social and economic problems of those countries.
Last night the Minister for External Affairs made a most revealing statement. He said something that I have felt for some time and, indeed on occasions, expressed. But there is nothing like having the official imprimatur on one’s conceptions of what is taking place. He was referring to the appointment of governments in Vietnam and I interjected: “ Who chose this Government?” The Minister replied -
It is a government which has been accepted by the people of South Vietnam.
How does he arrive at that decision? The people of South Vietnam have never had a chance to decide which Government should be in power. They have been left so spellbound and breathless by the rapidity with which governments move in and out that they would not know which government is administering their country. Let us get to the one and only quality that is required of a government to be appointed in South Vietnam. According to the Minister for External Affairs the answer lies in what he said last night. He said -
Every government that has come to power in South Vietnam and endured there has come there on the sole principle of resisting the Vietcong and continuing this struggle.
Note that this is the sole principle. It does not matter if the government stands for corruption, oppression, cruel dictatorship and discrimination - all of which past governments of Vietnam have stood for. It does not matter if there is a perpetuation of vice, crime, poverty, suffering and want. It does not matter that the government maintains a feudalistic, exploiting land system within the country. None of these things matters so long as the government resists the Vietcong. Our Government is not interested in the social and economic considerations; all it wants is a government in Vietnam which will resist the Vietcong. This is the only virtue or quality that is required. It does not matter that they are thugs, murderers, gangsters. This is an amazing statement.
Of course, on the other hand, the Minister does lay claim to a very handy slogan - handy because of its emotive value. It is: We cannot remain neutral. How many times have we heard this? We cannot remain neutral in the face of aggression! Do not bother to interpret what “ neutral “ means! Do not try to analyse what “ aggression “ involves! Just utter the slogan because it has a good emotional value and it will intimidate the people in the community who will be frightened to disagree because it will impute disloyalty. What ridiculous rot. Are we going to make a decision and come down on some one’s side in connection with the continuing conflict between Israel and the Arab States? If honorable members take the point that they are interested only where there is Communist influence how do they get on in a situation of conflict such as exists between Pakistan and India? Pakistan is getting assistance and encouragement from China, and India is getting assistance and encouragement from Russia. This is an interesting dilemma. I should like to hear the Minister for External Affairs discourse on this at some time, because after all this is an important element of the argument which members of the Government put up. These glorious freedom fighters opposite maintain - and this is another reason for our involvement in Vietnam - that we are there to fight for these freedoms. They do not bother to define the freedoms. I would really like the Prime Minister or the Minister for External Affairs or other members of the Government to define what are these freedoms. Is it freedom for the people of those countries to suffer from malnutrition, beri-beri, hookworm, endemic disease, high infant mortality rates, a low life expectancy and an exploitative feudal system? All these are things we have done little or nothing to rectify during the centuries we as colonial powers have been in a position to do something about them. Arc these the freedoms Government supporters want to perpetuate and fight for? If honorable members opposite really want to fight for freedom - and that is what they claim to represent - why have they not done something about the oppression of the coloured people in South Africa? Where does the Government stand on that issue? These people surely have a right to freedom and an entitlement to consideration. My good friend, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), has asked: “ What about freedom for the aborigines? What about equality for those coloured people?” My goodness, for how many years has the fight taken place in this House? For how long has the struggle persisted for voting rights for the aboriginal population of this country? The honorable member for Wills has been the leader and greatest protagonist in this field. It is not good enough when there is a social or economic upheaval in a depressed or underdeveloped country immediately to declare it to be part of the international Communist movement inspired by the Red forces. I know it is comfortable. I know it is convenient. It saves the ‘hard work of exploring all the delicate implications of internal social and economic upheavals which derive from a nationalistic spirit in those countries. But it does not solve the problem. We must consider the heritage of our children and their children and the future that we are carving out for them. That is what they will have to live with if we are to declare these things in such simple terms and then move in as I rather regret the United States of America moved into the Dominican Republic in comp!ete contravention of international law and of the United Nations Charter, to quell what was allegedly a Communist insurrection and which, in fact, tunned out to be nothing more than a rebellion aimed at social reform, led by moderate forces. Of the 58 people documented by the United States as Communists taking part in the leadership of the rebellion, some had their names mentioned twice and some had been dead for some time. If this type of thing is to go on, if we are just to move into the underdeveloped countries whenever they have some sort of nationalistically inspired social and economic rebellion and incriminate them as Communist, we will deny them their entitlement to a better way of life. It seems to me to be horribly cruel and unfair that we should live in such affluence while other people suffer such impoverishment. If we are to move in to quell these movements by decisions outside the United Nations and stand for maintenance of the status quo and the perpetuation al] too often of an extreme form of dictatorship, eventually, and in a very short time, there will be complete destruction of the United Nations.
Very briefly the Minister for External Affairs last night dealt with the United Nations but did not bother to define the real problem of the future of the United Nations. 1 think the suggestion that the non-payment of fees by France and Russia is a main cause of dissension is once again an over-simplification. In fact, it is more than that. It is dragging a red herring across the course. What will undermine the United Nations and destroy world peace is, first, the unilateral action of a world peace force from the West, and, secondly, the refusal of people like those on the opposite side of the chamber to have any trust in mankind and to invest any hope in the future. They absolutely refuse to support social and economic movements for nationalistic achievement in the underprivileged or underdeveloped countries of the world. 1 wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition and suggest that unless this Government completely refurbishes its thinking on the problem of Vietnam, we will reap a very sorry harvest for future generations.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have listened to the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) who quite clearly has done a great deal of research in this matter. His research enables him to criticise the Prime Minister and Governments of the past 20 to 30 years. It enables him to denounce the Government of South Vietnam and its leading figures. It enables him to pour contempt upon the United States Administration with great detail of documentation, but not a single syllable of criticism was offered of anything of Communist origin. If the honorable member and his party want to gain and hold the respect and confidence of the Australian people, they will have to show a better Objectivity and a better consciousness of the need of the Australian people than they have done.
The substance of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) urges the Government to strive for a cease fire now in South Vietnam and to hold a conference of all parties. The Australian Labour Party has raised the question of our objectives in South East Asia and the means of achieving them, and whether Australian troops should be there. In any discussion about foreign policy we owe it to the country to be responsible, realistic and constructive. Dangers lie in irresponsible debate of foreign policy, in unrealistic proposals and destructive criticisms. The Leader of the Opposition clearly declared as the first great necessity: “ To maintain and strengthen the security of Australia “. In this statement he and the Government are in agreement. The disagreement, as the Leader of the Opposition recounts it, is on the means of achieving this security for Australia. In effect, he is saying that the Government is going the wrong way about achieving peace, stability and security. He states as a pre-condition to a solution of the problem: “ We should be seeking a comprehensive cease fire and a conference of all the parties directly involved. We should work for a total cease fire on all sides to enable a conference to be convened. We should work to secure a North Vietnamese undertaking.” These are the words of the Leader of the Opposition.
He does not tell us how we should seek a cease fire or how we should seek to obtain a North Vietnamese undertaking, or how we should achieve their willingness to attend a conference. It is now a matter of incontestable history that all who have attempted this have failed. Most of those who have attempted the role of intermediary have failed to get a hearing in Hanoi or Peking. U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, tried, as did the United Kingdom Government, President Johnson, the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, various non-aligned nations, the President of India, President Tito and President Nkrumah of Ghana. All tried and failed on every occasion. They tried by every conceivable method apart from force, to achieve the very objectives which the Leader of the Opposition seeks. We also subscribe to those objectives, but all attempts have failed. What new method does the Leader of the Opposition suggest? I listened in vain for some new alternative means. The Opposition suggests no practicable alternative to those which already have been tried and have failed. The Labour Party ignores the plain hard fact that there is no wish in North Vietnam or on the part of its Chinese Communist associate even to discuss peace. They will talk about peace loving nations but will not discuss peace, nor will they enter into any arrangement that would guarantee peace. So, in default of any other solution, the United States and those nations supporting her in South Vietnam are left with only one course. This is the use of force, to preserve the independence of South Vietnam - a small free country recognised as such by the United Nations - but not to win anything in the material sense or to control anything - facilities or resources.
No-one has ever suggested that the troops in South Vietnam, Americans or Australians, are there to win anything in the materia] sense - not to win territory or political control for their Governments and certainly not to gain any economic advantage for themselves. The whole operation of the forces there is a sad experience for them and their countries of loss and suffering consciously embarked upon to preserve a small free people and to establish peace as soon as a free South Vietnam is assured.
It is a tremendous tribute to the troops involved and to the people of their respective nations who back them that they should be enduring this fighting and suffering and the huge financial cost involved with no intention at any point of time to gain anything material from it. We do not even want to win in the ordinary sense of defeating the enemy and forcing him to abject surrender.
In the campaigns, military and politicomilitary, in which the Americans, British, Australians and New Zealanders and their friends within the non-Communist world have been involved since the end of the Second World War, on no single occasion have we or our allies operated to gain anything for ourselves, and on no single occasion have we operated except with the clear perception that in human and financial terms we would suffer. In every incident we and our allies have operated to preserve freedom and to protect a people from being overrun. In every incident we have acted to put a limit to the further expansion of predatory Communism. Where the British, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and others have operated with this as their motive and wilh the strength of resolution and moral righteousness, they have never failed.
Here is the record. West Berlin was preserved from being overrun by the immense resolution of the Americans, the British and the French in their great air lift operation, to the point where the Communists abandoned their blockade, which was designed to subjugate the city. The terrorists in Malaya and their Communist masters and supporters from outside Malaya abandoned their campaign when they realised that they could not succeed. The tremendous conflict in Korea was brought to a halt and negotiations were substituted for fighting when the Communists of North Korea and their Chinese backers came to understand that they could not win. The Russians took home their missiles from Cuba when they made the correct assessment of the resolution of President Kennedy and the American people. The Pathet Lao Communists in Laos came to a composition when they realised that they could not win. The celerity and strength of the American appearance in Lebanon were sufficient to preserve peace there when that country was threatened.
This is the pattern all around the perimeter of the central fortress of Communism. These recurring attempts to expand by force and subversion have been made. But everywhere the great resolution of the Americans and the British, with whom we have stood and with whom the New Zealanders have stood, has succeeded in its intended purpose. The purpose has never been to smash the aggressor into utter defeat. The purpose has always been to substitute negotiation for fighting. But there is no incident where the Communists have been willing to negotiate until the point was reached when they were forced to conclude that they could not succeed in their aggression through military activity. So we are fighting to win a peace.
What is the alternative proposition of those who disagree with this? The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) last night gave a convincing reply to the suggestion that economic aid alone would settle this issue. So the Communists will not negotiate. What then is the proposition? Is is that we should retire in front of the aggressive North Vietnam and its shadowy Chinese Communist partner just because they will not negotiate for peaceful settlement? Is it Labour’s proposition that our troops should come home? If so, should the Americans also go home?
For a long time neither American nor Australian personnel in South Vietnam fired a shot, but shots were fired at them. Being there but not fighting has proved to be unrealistic. For Australia, far more so than for the United States, this is not just a local conflict of ideologies. To attempt to dismiss it or to shrug it off as a civil conflict because Vietnamese are fighting Vietnamese begs the question. Such a suggestion is humbug. South Vietnam is the only fighting front in the world today where the forces of freedom are actually fighting the Communists - fighting for peace, security and all the objectives which the Leader of the Opposition enumerated and with which he agrees. To suggest, as some have done, that this is a war that the forces of freedom cannot win and that Australia should not have become involved militarily is to ignore the realities of the matter - to ignore the sad history of failures to achieve peace by any other means. So we have entered the fight in order to make it sufficiently clear to the North Vietnamese that they cannot win the war. When this is clear to them and only then will they be prepared to come to the conference table and agree to terms of peace. This has been our experience in all these other incidents.
But in a very real sense we are concerned not merely with peace in areas to the north of us. We are concerned - let us be quite frank about this - with our own ultimate security. Recent history shows that it is foolish to believe that if a country minds its own business the rest of the world will let it live in peace and quiet. The present Australian Government, like the previous Labour Government, had hoped that the United Nations would be an organisation capable and willing to protect free countries - at least small free countries. This Government will work towards the United Nations becoming such an authority but at this stage we must face the fact that the United Nations has no such power and at present has no such will. The reality today is that the United Nations is unable and nearly all of its member States are unwilling to protect South Vietnam from falling victim to the Communists of North Vietnam and Communist China.
To suggest, as some have done, that this is a war that the forces of freedom cannot win and that Australia should not have become militarily involved, is to ignore the plain hard facts of our own defence and security. A country with our limited population and present resources, geographically situated as we are, cannot take care by its own endeavours of all the contingencies that might arise involving its security. Today weapons and military equipment require enormous resources and highly developed technology. Not even the greatest of the industrial powers can be really independent today in defence matters.
If we are unable to rely on the United Nations, where does safety lie for us? This country must grow in industrial strength, and so in security, as rapidly as it can be made to grow. In this situation our national security must be based on the creation and maintenance of alliances with powerful and reliable friends. They must be alliances in which we are prepared to shoulder our responsibilities. If we demonstrate that we are prepared to do this, as we are demon strating in South Vietnam and Malaysia, we can expect our voice to be heard and listened to by those with whom we are working to reduce tension and put an end to the fighting. When you have chosen your friends and been accepted by them you cannot retain their friendship if you go about weakening their position by questioning their conduct or doubting their motives. We have formed alliances. Of course, with Britain and New Zealand we have a long and proud history of standing together in military affairs, for better or for worse. With the greatest military and industrial power in the world today, the United States of America, this Government has negotiated the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. Alliances cannot be made - they certainly cannot be kept - if we take the view: “ We want to be looked after in any event, but we will pick and choose when we will support our partner. We will not support him unless we are sure that he is going to win “. That would be an intolerable situation.
The overall struggle in this area does affect the safety and even the survival of our country. If South Vietnam falls, what are the prospects for peace? Our conduct today must ensure that we merit the unhesitating support of our allies when their support is needed by us. Of course we detest war. But not as much as we detest the thought of the loss of our freedom to Communists; nor the loss by other small peoples of their freedom to Communist tyranny. It is the policy of the Government to work towards peace. But peace in South Vietnam means a peace that preserves to all, the freedom of that country, not the peace of an enslaved people. We want to live in peace and friendship with all our neighbours, helping those with lower standards of living than we have to raise their living standards. We accept the human obligations in this situation. Above all, wa intend to survive as a free Australian nation. We want peace and we want security.
.- As I have just returned from the United States of America and have been able to observe there the kind of penetrating debate that is taking place in seeking an intelligent policy in South East Asia, I find that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), while very vehement, does not reflect the kind of cross currents that are running through the United States. If the debate is a competitive denunciation of Communism with the prize electoral support for those who denounce it best, it will be very interesting, but it will not change anything in South East Asia.
– That is not absolutely true, you know.
– I said: “If the debate-
– With a sneer.
– I said: “If”. The Minister has suggested very strongly that the attitude of the Australian Labour Party to Communism is inadequate. His he considers adequate. That is competition. He is entitled to believe our attitude is inadequate; I say that Australian political competition is not the only issue in this debate. The real point is not what we think about Communism but what the Vietnamese think. I think it is sometimes necessary to look at the claim to infallibility that seems to be emanating from the Government. I do not join in attacks to sneer at the Government about the situation in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam which, in delicacy and difficulty, are beyond anything experienced by any previous Australian government, except perhaps during the throes of the First and Second World Wars. But I do say that nearly every debate that has taken place in this Parliament has not been about the issues but has been about the Australian electorate. I do not begrudge the Government its electoral victories on these issues, but I still say that the situation in South East Asia is deteriorating whether the Government is winning elections or not. At some point of time we must discuss the issues and try to formulate an intelligent policy.
If we take the trouble to read the speeches of Truong Chinh and the theoreticians of the Vietcong to their people, we must recognise that they are extremely skilful. They are statements which must appeal to a great many of the youth of Vietnam. If the honorable members talk to some of them around our universities or around the universities of the United States, they will find that a good many of them have come to the conclusion that a person like Ho Chi Minh, because of his role in what they call their liberation from the French, is a kind of modern George Washington. I think the tragedy of Vietnam is actually that the Vietcong was allowed to gain control of the Vietnamese national independence movement. The writings of Ho Chi Minh seven years before the French left in 1954, show that one thing he envisaged as an unmitigated disaster was that the French might give Vietnam its independence without fighting. He believed that if France did so, the Vietcong would have no chance of getting control of the national movement. Nor would they be able to bleed France white financially and militarily and so produce what they hoped to produce as a second effect - a revolutionary situation in Paris. We are dealing with people who are not thinking merely in terms of the battlefields in South Vietnam, but of the world beyond.
I am one of those on this side of the House who accept what might be the Government’s thesis on negotiation. There is no pretence about that. Some months ago, I made a speech here on negotiation and I said quite openly that I believe that the North Vietnamese have the Leninist philosophy of negotiation - that is, they enter into negotiations, compromises and agreements in order to destroy the other parties to them. I said then that the North Vietnamese will negotiate on how the United States gets out of South Vietnam but not on whether the United States gets out of South Vietnam. Their negotiation is a weapon of war, not of settlement. Every attempt to negotiate with them, whether it be that by Mr. Wilson, or the other attempts in the cases enumerated by the Minister, has borne out exactly what I said then. They have said: “ There is only one condition for negotiation; you get out”. So I have been one of those who generally agree with the Government’s thesis on negotiation. I also agree generally with the Government’s thesis that ultimately this is a Chinese war. It may be China fights by proxy, but I believe ultimately that it is true to say China has the initiative in this war. This is not a very easy matter to prove, but I want to draw certain deductions from it.
I think we have had three episodes. The first was Korea, which was a pistol at the heart of Japan. Had that succeeded, the control of Japan would have been within China’s grasp. The second was the SinoSoviet split. China made certain moves for the conquest of Taiwan, which lies athwart Japan’s southern lines of communication. The Communist air force was defeated by the Nationalist air force, very largely because of the Sidewinder weapon. Then China set up what was virtually a demand that the Soviet Union should enter a nuclear war. The Soviet Union would not do this. 1 believe the third episode in the continuing Chinese thrust is this Vietnamese affair. I believe it is the ultimate aim of Communist China to unite the manpower of China with the industrial technology of Japan and the resources of Indonesia, and that is intended to be the basis of great power. The first two cases, Korea and Formosa, were obvious attempts at this.
Vietnam is an interesting case of the same strategy if one looks at the position of Japan. During the Second World War, japan’s consumption of oil was about five million tons a year; she had storage for seven million tons. Today, Japan consumes 72 million tons of oil a year and most of it goes past Vietnam. Vietnam is a strategic hub in the South China Sea and the South West Pacific. I believe that, with the fall of Vietnam to Communism, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand would go and probably Malaysia as well, and. the Philippines would be endangered. In any event, the strategic position is vitally significant. But if 1 accept this thesis, other aspects of the Government’s policy become unintelligible. 1 think that one begins to wage ideological war effectively - and it is not necessarily divorced from military action - when one reaches into the mind of the opponent. You have principles and actions which he is forced to respect and which will begin to establish mind, will and conviction in your associates or in people whose resistance needs to be stiffened. India’s belief in effective resistance to China is a case in point. What are we to say of Government policy? If I accept the Government’s thesis that China lies behind this problem, the trade policy of the Minister becomes unintelligible. The Government sends steel to China. It sends lead. It sends wheat: so that China can export its rice at a higher price. It sends China the means of increasing its military potential. How does the Government reach the mind of Peking when it says, in effect: “ We do not recognise you, but by heck, we want your money “? How does the Government affect the mind of all hesitant people in Asia when it carries out a policy which, frankly, I think means that it values money or trade more than the lives of its own sons?
Let me say this for Peking. I do not believe that Peking would give Australia war materials if directly or indirectly those materials were to lead to the death of its own people. If that is the case Peking must regard this Australian form of materialism as inferior to its own, and certainly presenting no model of superior values. 1 believe that the Government would make a real moral impact on Asia if it were to ask the Australian taxpayers to pay £50 million a year to buttress the food supplies of India, and were to sacrifice the China trade; to sacrifice the gains from selling steel and lead to China, lt would start putting mind and will and conviction into everybody with whom we are associated in South East Asia when they saw that, at cost to ourselves, we had a conviction and a policy which co-ordinated every aspect of Government policy - military, economic, diplomatic and moral - behind the survival of freedom in South East Asia.
The Government’s denunciations of China are fine but they do not nullify our trade policy which operates to strengthen China. We in Australia will never counter people who co-ordinate propaganda, ideological strategy, trade, military policy and everything else while we have a diplomatic policy that works one way and a trade policy that works far more powerfully the other way. If it be true that South Vietnam derives its weapons from China do not forget that this Government’s supply of steel and lead to China threatens the lives of our American allies about whom honorable members opposite have spoken feelingly, as well as being just the question of the national trading income that we earn. I do not think our American allies would regret the disappearance of our trade with China. Of course to cut it would cost us something. Of course it would be a real sacrifice. It is when you impose a cost and a price on yourself that you begin to get policies which do have ideological traction. People are shocked into taking notice of convictions involving sacrifice which do show that there are certain great things for which you stand.
If the Government were to act in this way it would begin to win respect.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– In the little time that remains to me, I wish to discuss Malaysia in the setting of the large issues that matter to the security of this country. I do not propose to try to canvass the merits of the dispute, or the differences between the Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew, but what is significant for this country is their difference in purpose. The Tunku Abdul Rahman had the intention of creating the Federation of Malaysia. He had the capacity to unify elements of the Chinese community with Malays, with Dyaks and with Indians. In other words, he set out to have a broad appeal. It is no denunciation of Lee Kuan Yew to say that he did not set out to have that sort of appeal. He set out to run Singapore, which is a different objective and therefore makes him a person of different significance to this country. But the Tunku Abdul Rahman, as a man devoted to creating unity in South East Asia, is very significant for this country, because his objective is vital to this country.
It is important to note that every step towards unity in South East Asia has been visited by attack. When the British federated the nine Malay States the emergency was started. When the Tunku created Malaysia, confrontation was started. But Malaysia is not the biggest objective of the Tunku Abdul Rahman. He is one of the men devoted to the idea of Maphilindo, and the successful formation of Maphilindo on a sound basis is a question of the greatest significance to this country and the world. I mean the federation, whether it be loose or fairly tight, of Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. At the moment this is prevented by the attitudes of the Government of Indonesia, but the present Government of Indonesia is not permanent and it is quite possible that in the future, restoration of the ideal of Maphilindo will take place. In the meantime, we have every reason to be grateful to the Tunku Abdul Rahman that he keeps this issue before South East Asia, because we have a massive vested interest in the unity of South East Asia. I believe that the greatest significance of confrontation is that it is an attempt to prevent Maphilindo.
Sukarno might say Maphilindo has his support. It is certainly no objective of the P.K.I.
When Malaysia was first mooted, Dr. Subandrio wrote a letter in the “ New York Times”, dated 13th November 1961, in which he welcomed Malaysia, and a week later he made a speech in the United Nations doing the same thing. A month later Aid it and the Indonesian Communist Party, the P.K.I. denounced Malaysia and slowly Indonesian Government policy was swung in the direction, not of the original statement of Dr. Subandrio but in the direction of the decisions of the conference of Aidit and the Partai Kommunis Indonesia.
The second thing that I want to say about Malaysia that is significant is that it is one of the countries in South East Asia with what we would call rational social objectives - measurable goals. We tend to assume that every government in the world holds before its people the objective of economic and social advance as the most important thing and, worse still, we tend to believe that every population in the world expects those things. I would say that in South East Asia the 70 million people of Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are under governments which, however perfectly or imperfectly, do set out for national economic objectives and make the test of their policy whether there is social and economic advance. But other peoples are led by governments which are self as a person leading a permanent revolution “ or just “ revolution “, whatever that means.
Certainly Dr. Sukarno has regarded himself as a person leading a permanent revolution. That is, the 100 million people of Indonesia and, in varying degrees, the present governments of Burma, North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, seem to have objectives of this non-measurable sort, which means that in South East Asia about 70 million people are under governments which we would say have rational objectives and 225 million people are under governments which we would say have not.
The fact that the Tunku can hold up Malaysia as the most rapidly advancing part of Asia, socially and economically, outside of Japan, makes him an extremely significant influence in South East Asia and, the merits or demerits of his dispute with Lee Kuan Yew notwithstanding, he remains a very significant figure for this country.
The last thing that I want to say about this situation in South East Asia is this: What is the vast change that has taken place? The vast change over the last 25 years is that the Pax Britannica has disappeared. At one stage, from what was the Indian Empire - now India, Burma, Pakistan and Ceylon - and right through South East Asia, underwriting the Dutch in what was the Netherlands East Indies, British power and influence emanated to the whole of South and South East Asia making it a region of ultimate effective British decision. There was defence in depth. When the Japanese took what is now Malaysia, the retreat could bc towards Burma and then towards India, but the power to spring back at Malaya and the independent position of Britain in Asia were both rendered possible by her possession of India. The Pax Britannica is obviously not going to be restored, but instinctively the people of Malaysia invoked it again when they called for British and other Commonwealth troops.
The dangerous thing that is happening is th;il wherever Chinese influence can be exerted, whether it is her new influence on Pakistan, her influence on Burma, her direct influence across the border onto India, her pressure on Nepal and the influence she formerly exerted on the former Government of Ceylon, it is always directed towards needling India - to driving Tamils out of Ceylon, to driving Indians out of Burma destitute, to heightening the tension over Kashmir, to intimidating Nepal, which provides a very large number of India’s troops, and to producing social collapse of India. The fragmentation and stultification of India arc essential to Chinese supremacy.
We cannot restore the Pax Britannica, but we can work for a stable progressive India, and it is my belief that it is not the function of Australia or the Australian people to use the resources of this country just to have an affluent society ourselves. I believe that it is our function in this part of the world to use the agricultural, mineral and other resources of this country, and above all the resources of national character, to meet the great need for stability and purpose in the world beginning in (he whole of South Asia. I believe that we need to work for will, mind and purpose in Asia and for the transformation of Indian agriculture, which badly needs fertilisers. We need to work for the transformation of Indian food standards partly by the diversion of that China trade to which I referred earlier. We will then begin creating stability and strength behind Malaysia. JJ India collapses under Chinese pressure - and remember it is the Chinese aim to fragment India - Malaysia’s position and South East Asia will be untenable.
– Mr. Speaker, I must say that I listened with great interest and some pleasure to the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in relation to Malaysia, because I think that this problem requires a cool judgment and a just appreciation of what has been done, and with what he said on that point I find myself in complete agreement. We have hopes - I hope that they are well founded - for a genuine co-operation between Malaysia and the newly independent State of Singapore. We have a friendship for both. We wish them both well, but we do desire above all things that on those matters on which co-operation between them is of great importance they will find it possible to co-operate in the most effective way. I do not desire to say any more tonight about Malaysia although it could lend itself to a good deal of discussion because this debate has concentrated itself around the problem of Vietnam. Here, again, I feel under some little embarrassment because several speeches have been made in the course of this debate which state so effectively the essence of the matter that, coming as I do tonight, I must feel that I am engaging in tedious repetition. But, still, this is a matter of immense controversy. I have been challenged - I do not know why - more than once to state the Government’s position. I thought I had stated it pretty crisply. Therefore, with great respect to my colleague the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) who made a brilliant exposition of this matter this afternoon, and others who have spoken, I will just put it in my own way tonight in the hope that I can say something reasonably comprehensive.
The debate began as a debate by the movement of an amendment by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The terms of the amendment are before honorable members. I just want to refer to one or two aspects. The amendment reads - “ this House urges the Government- 1 think this is what might be called the operative part of it - to strive for a cease fire now, to be policed by a United Nations peace-keeping force, and for a conference of all parties directly involved, including representatives of both the Government in Saigon and the Vietcong, to seek a settlement which will both end the agony of the Vietnamese people and establish their right to choose their own government.
My friend, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), submitted this to a somewhat devastating examination, I thought, this afternoon but I must say something on my own account. The first part of the amendment is taken, of course, from the Prime Minister’s Conference. The honorable gentleman must be aware of the terms of the resolution carried at the Prime Minister’s Conference, and the setting up by that conference - a matter to which I shall refer a little later - of a mission designed to ascertain whether there was some basis upon which a conference could be held. To the extent that he adopts that resolution, of which I was one of the promoters, I welcome some bipartisan policy on this vexed matter.
He speaks about the representation of the Vietcong. I do not want to be dogmatic about a matter of this kind because, compared with some other aspects of this problem, it is not the greatest of matters. But I would have thought that there was some difficulty about having representation of the Vietcong in such a conference, if we obtained such a conference, because it would seem to present difficulties of a kind that would be inevitable in the case of guerrillas who always work under cover and are not always susceptible to conference. Such direct representation would not be necessary now, strictly speaking, because what is the Vietcong? It represents the hands which are ordered by the voice of Hanoi. Do not let us forget that. In any conference, if we were lucky enough to get one, what Hanoi said would go with the Vietcong. Make no mistake about this. Therefore, it is with Hanoi, and behind that, with Peking that an effective conference needs to occur.
Then, finally, the Leader of the Opposition said, I thought rather piously, that the Vietnamese ought to be enabled to establish their right to choose their own government. That is, in one sense, although not in every sense, what this war is about - the right to choose their own government. They will have no right to choose their own government - none whatever - unless the aggressors are defeated, or unless they abandon their activities. I would have thought that, in famous words, every school boy would know that to be true.
I turn from the terms of the amendment to offer a few observations on some aspects of this matter which have given me great occasion for thought and on which 1 have arrived, I think, at clear views, and on which I think I ought to state those views. A lot of people in Australia today - at any rate, quite a few who write letters, sign petitions, pass resolutions, or make speeches somewhere or other - have as their theme: You must negotiate. They have a beautiful antithesis here. You either negotiate or you become involved in military operations. You cannot do both. I have been accused of over-simplification. About that one, all 1 can say is: “ O sancta simplicitas “. You either say: “ We stand for negotiation “, and do nothing more about it, or you say: “ We want to negotiate but if the condition of getting to the point of negotiation is to have some fighting, then the fighting must be engaged in “. Yet these people keep on writing letters, putting on rather anaemic looking demonstrations outside Parliament House and so on. They forget that negotiations for peace can be usefully engaged in only by the parties to the conflict.
Honorable members do not suppose, do they, that two or three countries which have nothing whatever to do with it are going to have pleasant little negotiations and say: “ Now we have settled the argument.”? Therefore, the willingness of Hanoi - I use Hanoi to describe the North Vietnamese - to negotiate is essential. Could anybody with his five wits, or even with four, deny that the willingness of Hanoi to negotiate is essential? If Hanoi is not willing, no negotiation can occur.
On 10th March of this year, the CommanderinChief of North Vietnam, a very considerable functionary, after demanding unconditional withdrawal of American forces - Hanoi was always putting it up as a condition for negotiation - said the following words which I emphasise -
The problem of the peaceful reunification of Vietnam is the affair of the Vietnamese people.
So far, if I may say so, so good. He then went on -
It will be settled by the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the South Vietnamese Liberation Front.
This is brilliant. It would be settled by the people, meaning the Communists - the parent Communist organisation and the son Communist organisation in South Vietnam. This deserves to go down in history as a classic of impudence, a classic of the denial of justice - the kind of democratic justice to which I would call the attention of my friends on the opposite benches.
Mr. Michael Stewart, not a member of my party, but a distinguished Labour Foreign Minister in Great Britain, has no ambiguities in his mind on this matter. He made a speech on 1st April, and I think it is is worthwhile to recall what he said. His comment was -
The House will notice in that statement -
He referred to the one that I have just mentioned - not only that North Vietnam is not thinking in terms of conference and negotiation at all but that the affairs of Vietnam are subsequently to be settled exclusively by Communist organisations and that by these principles -
These are Mr. Stewart’s words - no non-Communist in Vietnam would have any chance of taking part in framing the future of his country.
This view, of course, ls confirmed by North Vietnam itself. When approached by the 17 unaligned countries, several of whom to my direct knowledge as a result of conferences are heavily disposed in favour of North Vietnam, because they wanted to seek peace, the reply that they received from North Vietnam - I would hate to call it a dusty answer but it was certainly a dirty answer - was that the internal affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves, in accordance with the programme of the South Vietnam National Liberation Front, without any foreign interference.
I only need remind the House, because I want to put it fairly comprehensively, that the National Liberation Front is a popular Communist technique nowadays. A
National Liberation Front was established in Thailand. In 1960, by order from Hanoi, the National Liberation Front, which is now a subordinate part of the central office operating from Hanoi, was established in South Vietnam. Yet, in spite of having received letters - not too many, but some - in spite of having read from occasion to occasion, not too closely, some of the statements made by various people, some of them academic and some of them no doubt intelligent, and in spite of having cast my eye over these matters I have not, from first to last, been able to discover any pressure being put by any of these people on Hanoi. All the pressure has been put on the defending countries like the United States and ourselves whose great desire is to achieve a just peace, protecting the rights of all the people of South Vietnam to self determination without external or internal armed threat and, we would hope, under some form of international guarantee.
By a singular feat of mental gymnastics some vocal people in our own country have worked out some astonishing propositions. I have noted these because I have been on the receiving end of one or two rather abusive remarks by people whose works I had otherwise rather enjoyed. They put up propositions along these lines: “If you believe that Communist armed aggression in and against South Vietnam should be resisted in the common interest, including our own, by arms, then you are the enemy of peace “. All honorable members have heard it stated that to us - or is it to me? - “peace” is a dirty word. The basis of the statement is that if you believe in the things that I have just mentioned you are the enemy of peace. But you have your choice. You have your way of escape. If you abandon South Vietnam and do your best to persuade other nations, and in particular the United States, to do likewise, in the result you leave all of South East Asia to its fate and then, believe it or not, you are the friend of peace. This is the new series of propositions which a lot of people, some of whom are well meaning, have been advancing. Clearly such people are prepared to secure peace by surrender or flight. In other words, they want peace at any price.
Suppose the people and the Government of Australia adopted these views. What would be involved? 1 want to traverse this with some care because I think that our people have a right to understand exactly what is involved. I repeat - what would be involved? In the first place, we would need to repudiate our obligations under S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. since each of these pacts involves mutuality of obligations. Wc have not heard much for some time about S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. It used to be rather a kind of parlour game in this House to argue about S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. and what they mean. I hope honorable members will forgive me if I remind them and place on record consecutively what they mean. In 1954 we passed an Act of Parliament to ratify the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. The preamble to the Act was challenged by the then Leader of the Opposition but the challenge was not carried to a vote. The challenge was that we had selected Communism and had not extended the provisions of the Bill to cover other forms of activity. In any case, the preamble was carried unanimously by both parties in this House with no division being sought. The preamble is in these terms -
Whereas the independence and integrity of the countries and territories of South East Asia and the South West Pacific are threatened by the aggressive policies of international Communism:
And whereas those Communist policies have already shown themselves in Korea, Indo-China mid elsewhere by armed aggression, by armed insurrection assisted from without and otherwise:
And whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and of the world generally and are a violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations . . . 1 have read sufficient of the preamble to the Bill which was passed by this House although, as I have indicated, it was criticised by the then Leader of the Opposition because it should have included a reference to Fascism as well as to Communism. There it is, now part of an Act of this Parliament. Now let me turn to the Treaty. I do not think any honorable member dared to vote against the Treaty to which not only Australia but also New Zealand, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United Stales, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and France were parties. The preamble to the Treaty is as follows -
Intending to declare publicly and formally their sense of unity, so that any potential aggressor will appreciate that the Parties stand together in the area. . .
Article II of the Treaty, a very important article, states -
In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointlyLet the House mark those words “separately and jointly” - by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and lo prevent and counter subversive activities directed from without against their territorial integrity and political stability.
Could there have been in anticipation a better description of what is going on in South Vietnam and what, as I will show, the Leader of the Opposition admits is going on in South Vietnam? I come now to Article IV of the Treaty. It reads -
Each Party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate-:
South Vietnam was unanimously so designated - would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it -
Meaning each party - will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. . . .
We, like the United States, have regarded that Treaty as imposing upon us separate as well as joint responsibilities. That is what the Treaty provided expressly and clearly. Later in the Article, of course - and I say this only to complete the story - it was provided that no action on the territory of any such designated State - South Vietnam, to wit - shall be taken except at the invitation or with the consent of the Government concerned. In the case of South Vietnam, of course, this condition has been fulfilled.
So much for S.E.A.T.O. What is our position under A.N.Z.U.S., which was ratified by an Act of this Parliament in 1952? The treaty itself states in Article IV-
Each party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Then there is a very interesting article from our point of view, Article V, which says -
For the purpose of Article IV an armed attack on any of the parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the parties-
That is, on Australia proper, to bring it right home - or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific -
Iii our case, Papua and New Guinea, for instance - or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.
As the Pacific clearly means the Pacific area, an attack on troops, American troops, Australian troops, New Zealand troops, is of the highest significance. 1 say no more about that answer to the question of what would be involved. I come now to the other answers to the question: What would be involved if we did what we are sometimes told we should do? The second result would be that we would be adopting a policy of isolation and neutrality. There is no middle course here, just the adoption of a policy of isolation and neutrality, with, as a consequence, the abandonment of any right to expect any other nation to aid us in our own defence. If it is good enough for us to be isolated or neutral then it is good enough for the other man, so far as we are concerned, to be isolated or neutral. It would also involve the further adoption - and let us face up to this although it is a hard choice or a hard proposition - of a national policy in Australia of unarmed pacificism or a defence policy involving a provision adequate to secure our country by our own efforts against attack by any enemy, however powerful and however armed.
One has only to state these matters - at the risk of oversimplification as opposed to overcomplication - to see that each of these courses is unthinkable. Each of them would be tantamount to national suicide, and we must therefore face the facts. The facts are that we must honour our international obligation, we must refuse to desert our friends and we must pursue defence policies designed to enable us to make effective contributions to the common defence against Communist aggression. This policy, if it needs explanation, is the one pursued by my Government.
Of course we would all wish to see a genuine peace conference, but what has happened? At the risk of wearying the
House I just want to elaborate what my colleague stated in admirably summary form this afternoon. The document tabled by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), and which I hope will be read by all honorable members, sets out the efforts that have been made towards a peaceful settlement. I say at the very beginning that the conspicuous feature of these efforts is that none of them was made by Peking or Hanoi. Let this be remembered by every person who goes to some meeting or teach-in or some sit-in, as one honorable member described it - and wants to be gulled by a lot of theoreticians. None of these efforts was made by Hanoi or Peking.
When the United States in August 1964 took to the Security Council - and we hear a lot about the United Nations and why we should be approaching that organisation - the Tonkin Gulf incident, Hanoi refused to attend. The people in Hanoi said that they had not started the trouble, and in any event they refused to attend. They said categorically - and they have stuck to it ever since - that the matter of Vietnam was not within the competence of the Security Council. Yet there are some honorable members who bamboozle themselves into believing that all you have to do is to take the matter to the United Nations. Hanoi had no truck with such ideas, contending that the Vietnam matter was not within the competence of the Security Council.
When the greatly respected SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, U Thant, wanted to visit Peking and Hanoi - and he could not be represented as the humble obedient servant of the Western bloc - in April of this year, there was a contemptuous rejection of any United Nations intervention. Further approaches were made by the United States, which also sought to promote action by the Security Council. Peking rejected such action in advance. It did not wait for the action to be taken, but rejected it in advance. It is very interesting to recall that the United Kingdom proposed to the Soviet Union that both countries, having provided co-chairmen of the 1954 Geneva Conference - a conference which some honorable members have been saying should be resumed - should invite the parties to get busy and state their views. The Soviet reply was a condemnation of the United States and a demand for the withdrawal of the
United States forces from Vietnam, a demand which I have not yet discovered has been made by the Opposition, although I will have something to say about that before I conclude.
Then the greatly respected Patrick Gordon Walker, whom many of us know, was sent out by the present British Government, which is not of my political complexion, to see whether he might bring the chance of a conference with him. Both Peking and Hanoi declined to receive him. They would have nothing to do with him, a man of the highest character and with the most high minded desire to achieve peace if possible. In April of this year President Johnson said in a famous speech that he was ready for unconditional discussion. Peking and Hanoi made a reply in their exquisite jargon, saying that this was a swindle pure and simple. In May the Canadian representative on the International Control Commission, which some people have been saying should be brought into function, wanted to talk with the Peking and Hanoi Governments. He was rebuffed.
Then at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conferences - and I will say more about that in a little while - a Commonwealth mission was proposed and supported. It has not succeeded in making any contact with any of the Communist countries at all. Then Mr. Harold Davis, a junior Minister, well known to be very friendly towards North Vietnam and quite receivable, went off to North Vietnam, having obtained a visa through the kind instrumentality of some North Vietnamese journalists. He went to Hanoi. I have read the report that he made. He was received quite affably by the people who were not in charge, but he literally was not allowed to see any Minister or any person in authority in North Vietnam.
I have already referred to the attempt made by the 17 non-aligned nations, some of them far from unfriendly towards North Vietnam and, perhaps, far from friendly towards the United States. They met the singular fate, which must have come as a shock to some of them, of being described by the Communist authorities as the Trojan horse of American imperialism. Well, I have heard so many speeches against imperialism by some of the people who have now become described as the Trojan horse that this shocks me; but it further exhibits the fact that we are dealing with people in the north who will insult their friends in other parts of Asia or in Africa so long as it enables them to maintain their campaign to overrun, to tyrannise and to destroy.
The President of India - I do not think anybody would have suggested he was a war-monger, unlike me-
– How true.
– You always prefer the people of countries other than your own, therefore I am bound to say that you will agree he is not a war-monger, because he is not an Australian. But the President of India made an approach and Peking’s reply was that this was preposterous in the extreme. When an unexpected combination got together, India and Yugoslavia - they are not identical politically, Tito practising his own form of detached Communism - they were both rewarded for their pains by being described by the people whom the Opposition thinks it is simple to get a conference with as the errand boys of America.
Now Sir, all these events must surely convince all Australians, who have not been completely taken, in by Communist propaganda, of three things; first, that all peaceful approaches to the aggressors are doomed to failure while the aggressors think they are winning or will win by force of arms; secondly, that invoking the United Nations in this rather febrile way is at present quite futile; and thirdly, that talk about the Geneva Accords or the International Control Commission will be non-productive. Now Sir, all that, or most of it, describes what has gone on elsewhere. But at this last Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference we had something to say and do about this matter and I think I ought to put it before the House and the people.
The Prime Minister of Great Britain, at the very commencement of our meeting, produced a plan for the setting up of a mission consisting of Prime Ministers to make contact on behalf of the Commonwealth with the parties principally concerned with the problem of Vietnam and to ascertain whether some basis could be found for a conference. Just let me emphasise this point: The mission was not to negotiate. It would have found negotiation difficult because it contained within itself an immense variety of views, some being not dissimilar from my own and some being not like my own. They were a mixture. Therefore, the whole point was that the mission was to see whether a basis for conference could be found. That was an honorable task. The mission was to go and talk to these people and, without committing itself to any particular view as to the merits, see whether there was some basis for a conference.
The Prime Minister of Great Britain took advantage of a talk that he and I were having a day or two before to explain his idea to me. He did that because, no doubt, I happen to be, nowadays, the senior Prime Minister. I considered the matter overnight and, having reflected on it, I told him that I would strongly support the proposal. In the result, with some opposition, but not much, the plan was adopted. The mission was made up of the Prime Ministers of Great Britain, of Nigeria, and of Trinidad and Tobago, and the President of Ghana. Those men represented a variety of views. The Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, is a very distinguished, and in my opinion, a very wise man. The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Williams, is known, no doubt, to quite a few of my colleagues, and the President of Ghana is Dr. Nkrumah. As the agreed final communique said -
We reviewed the various efforts which had been made to achieve a peaceful solution.
This statement was made on behalf of all of us - 21 Prime Ministers, several of whom had feelings disposed in favour of North Vietnam. We had reviewed the various efforts which had been made to achieve a peaceful solution and I just emphasise once more that it is worthy of note that not one of those efforts had been made either by Peking or Hanoi. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Commonwealth’s mission has not succeeded in making contact with either of these governments. Yet, Sir, the statement of guidance worked out by our conference exhibited a reasonableness which no nation with any real desire for peace could have refused to examine’.
I do not want to trench too much on the time of the House and therefore I shall not lead all these passages, but I will take the opportunity, Sir, with the permission of the House, to table the communique because the document does contain the guide lines which were worked out for this mission if the mission ever got to first base. While the aggressors are contemptuously rejecting all peaceful propositions and pressing on with their evil activities, there is an element in Australia which is, whether it realises it or not, conducting propaganda directed to the desertion of South Vietnam by the Americans and by the rest of us, the grave weakening of South Vietnam’s defence, the abandonment of Thailand and Malaysia, victory for Peking and Hanoi and the dramatic encouragement of Communist influence and control even nearer to Australian shores. The propaganda is directed to these ends whether people realise it or not.
I ask the Australian people who fully realise the dangers involved for our own country to understand the conscious or unconscious objectives of much of the current agitation for the withdrawal of Australian troops and therefore, presumably of American troops, since to urge the withdrawal of Australian troops and the retention of American troops would be a shocking incident in Australia’s history. If that agitation succeeded and South Vietnam were abandoned, North Vietnam and its Communist terrorists, the Vietcong, would of course be vastly encouraged and aided; the last lingering hope of peace negotiations except on the basis of surrender to military conquest would disappear; S.E.A.T.O. would have failed, since the obligations under it would have been repudiated and other South Asian countries would be left to fend for themselves against overwhelming odds, and the defence position of Australia would be immeasurably weakened.
– We have still got you.
– Yes, but you almost cancel me out. Two other matters, Sir, must be remembered. First of all, if it is wrong for Australia to take an active part in the defence of South Vietnam against aggression, I wonder how it can be right for us to take an active part in the defence of Malaysia against aggression. Is there some lack of virtue in Indonesian aggressors which does not apply to the Communist aggressors? Where do the present agitators stand on that matter? Perhaps they will say that there is no aggression against South Vietnam. All I can say - in a homely phrase - is that they can tell that to the American Marines.
In the second place, victory for Communism in South East Asia would not only spell disaster and degradation to the millions of people in that area who desire to be left alone to live in peace and, with the aid of more fortunate countries, develop their resources and raise their own living standards; it would, in world terms, represent an alteration in the world balance of power in favour of the Communist powers and it would so increase the risks of world war. Sir, this needs great emphasis: As the democracies have learned, retreat and appeasement do not produce a true or lasting peace. They give aid and comfort to the aggressors. They hasten the day when the aggressor feels able to strike on the grand scale successfully. They encourage future wars. They do grievous harm to that cause - the cause of peace - which their advocates delude themselves into believing that they are supporting. On any reasoned view of this grim problem it is of course not possible to attack the presence of Australian forces without attacking the presence of the United States and of other nonVietnamese forces. But does the Australian Labour Party attack the United States presence and actions? This is interesting to me. It is very difficult to keep up with the Labour Party because it is - as you might say - here today and gone tomorrow on these matters of policy and, indeed, on all other matters. But at least, I hope that occasionally one must be able to read something that the Labour Party says, and think: This is it.
The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) is interjecting. Listen to this; it will do you the world of good. This may not have reached you in the fastnesses of Bendigo. A Labour Party information release was issued on 18th February 196S. I have the one I got. Optimistically it says, on the last page: “ Additional copies of this statement may be obtained from the Australian Labour Party’s Federal Secretariat on request”. If the honorable member has not had one I will pay the postage to have it sent to him. I just want to quote what this Labour Party, now so ambiguous, now so defeatist, now so unreal, had to say only in February of this year. I cannot read all of the document, but it professes to be the complete text of the resolution unanimously adopted by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party Executive at its meeting in Sydney on Thursday, 18th February 1965; and the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party’s Executive had before it the unanimous recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Party. When you have unanimity piled on unanimity I suppose one may hope: * Roughly, this is what they believe “. The first thing that I want to refer to is this statement -
In its statement to the Security Council on February 7th, reporting the air strikes against military installations in the south of North Vietnam, America insisted that its object in South Vietnam, while resisting aggression, is to achieve a peaceful settlement maintained by the presence of international peacekeeping machinery and that it would not allow the situation to be changed by terror and violence.
This statement- said this unanimous body - - of American purposes is unexceptionable and the case for the American action of recent days, as based on the aim of shortening the war and achieving a negotiated settlement, which would establish and maintain the rights of the South Vietnamese people, deserves sympathetic Australian understanding.
Nothing could be better. Later in the course of the same document the same people, unanimously, 1 suppose, unless unanimity had faded away halfway through the page, say this - and let everybody remember this, because I think that really if a lot of this is true we are almost on a bi-partisan policy -
The demand of the Soviet Government for the immediate departure of all American and other foreign forces from South Vietnam would be in the interests neither of the people of South Vietnam nor the people of Australia. Its immediate consequence must be a Communist takeover ot South Vietnam, snuffing out the hope of freedom and the democratic independence of that country and extending the area of Communist control closer to this country.
I say to honorable members opposite: This is not a lot of reactionary Tories speaking. This is your crowd speaking - at least, last February. The document continues -
The presence of those forces is necessary and justified as a holding operation provided that all efforts are bent towards the objects set out by the American Government in its message to the
Security Council. In other words, the presence of these forces is justified as a temporary means to an end and not an end in itself.
The object must be, at a proper time and in circumstances enabling the people of South Vietnam a free choice, to allow them to decide by their own votes on their own government and to ensure the physical independence of that government
Sir, this is, I think, remarkable and worthy of applause. T will undertake to say that it is in the teeth of the views that will be heard from one or two honorable members sitting opposite, if there is any importance to be placed on consistency. The Leader of the Opposition who, I know, believes all that himself - twisted and distorted by recent events, but in his heart, of course, he believes those things to be true - earlier this year when we had a debate said two things that are very accurate and memorable. He said -
That there has long been and still is aggression from the north and subversion inspired from the north, I do not for one moment deny.
Later on he said -
The object of the Vietcong in the war - this guerrilla war - is to avoid, as far as possible, direct entanglement with massed troops in order that by infiltration, subversion and terrorism, they may control villages, hamlets, outposts and small communities wherever these are most vulnerable.
These are brilliant and descriptive words. I do not know how they disappeared from the Labour Party’s vocabulary, because in the current debate my honorable friend the Leader of the Opposition, under the most terrible pressures, undoubtedly and obviously, instead of repeating these statements, or anything like them, said of my Government that we proposed to send conscripts to fight in a foreign land - that sounds exactly like the United States of America because we are defending certain Vietnamese from certain other Vietnamese. O what a fall was there, my countrymen, from the robust statement that here was aggression from the North and subversion in the South, fomented from the North, to this watery statement that, after all, all we are doing is to defend some Vietnamese from other Vietnamese.
Then he made the most remarkable statement I have listened to for years. He said that we are driving North Vietnam right into the arms of China because we are resisting the power of China. Of all the pusillanimous statements ever made in the House, it must be the all time high. I do not believe he thought of it. I do not believe he meant it. No man who said what he said before could possibly produce such utter nonsense. The moral is: Do not resist China and then you will not drive North Vietnam into their arms; and do not resist North Vietnam because it will save you a lot of trouble, and who are the South Vietnamese anyway? I suppose this astonishing proposition would apply also to the United States of America. That would be a reasonable inference. On the basis that we want to leave it all to the United States, it would be a reasonable inference. But the Leader of the Opposition, coming back from this excursion into fancy, goes on to say in this very speech -
The British presence in Asia is essential to India, Malaysia, and Australia, just as the United States presence in this area is essential to the security of the area.
Where do they stand? What is the policy or position of this Party?
Before 1 conclude, I want to say a word about the position of the United States. I am satisfied - and I was confirmed in this in my talks in Washington at one time or another - that the American approach to this problem is in reality just the same as ours. No sane person - I emphasise the word “sane” - could say that American forces are being used in Vietnam for the preservation of interests peculiar to America. Does any honorable member opposite say that? Speak up. Now is your chance. Well, you do not say it. So far we are in agreement. I repeat: No sane person could say that American forces are being used in Vietnam for the preservation of interests peculiar to America; for the protection of American trade, or in pursuance of some other sinister imperialist plot to take over a South East Asian country Clearly, the Americans are there to defend a world order, the defence of which is the prime purpose of the creation of the United Nations, and imposes duties upon every member nation.
In Washington, on the 10th of this month, Mr. Dean Rusk, the distinguished Secretary of State, was being interviewed He was asked what the commitment was to South Vietnam. I will not read out in full what he said. But he began by saying -
We have a very simple commitment to South Vietnam.
The first point he mentioned was -
It derives out of the South East Asia Treaty -
It is exactly the same view, honorable members will observe, as I have indicated tonight about the separate as well as joint responsibilities. Mr. Dean Rusk mentioned other matters. He went on to say -
Now, there is no need to parse these commitments in great detail. The fact is that we know we have a commitment–
This is the United States-
The South Vietnamese know we have a commitment. The communist world knows we have a commitment.
Mr. Rusk continued
Now, this means that the integrity of the American commitment is at the heart of this problem. I believe that the integrity of the American commitment is the principal structure of peace throughout the world.
But, Sir, true as that is, such defence cannot be left to the United States alone. Let me remind honorable members that the American people, living at peace in a vast and thickly populated country geographically remote from South East Asia would probably resent the notion that the United States of America is the world’s policeman, and that countries like our own can leave it to the Americans. The free world has become so accustomed to massive aid going out from the United States of America to a score of countries that it may sometimes be tempted to regard it as commonplace and inevitable. But it is neither. The United States of America has had its own long periods of isolationism, twice shattered in this century by world wars. It is to the immeasurable advantage of world peace - peace without surrender - that ever since the Second World War, the United States has been not only the greatest world power but also has handsomely accepted the responsibilities which flow from great power.
The real enemies of world peace are those who ignore or reject this central truth of modern history and promote hatred or distrust of America at every opportunity. Sir, there are some such in Australia, who talk of peace as if the mere wish for it is sufficient, and then attack its active protectors as if they were the enemies of the very element which many of them are shedding their blood and expending their resources to defend.
This does not mean that Governments like our own, which understand and appreciate the American policy and action, are mere puppets moved by strings under American control. We occupy a respectable place in American thinking. We are, and they so regard us, an adult community with notable achievements and a great future. We are quite capable of offering our views, critical or otherwise, to Washington, and we do it every week. But we make no apologies to our own people for never losing sight of the basic truths to which I have referred, or allowing to be clouded the common elements which lead us, as in Vietnam, to common action.
.- Mr. Speaker, honorable members and the general public might have expected the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to devote more than his introductory one minute to the question of Malaysia. The Prime Minister is now leaving the chamber. The right honorable gentleman always walks out on the succeeding speaker. In Malaysia, the right honorable gentleman’s policy in foreign affairs has suffered the greatest reverse since his policy on West Irian. Some 151/2 years ago, the right honorable gentleman became Prime Minister. Next door, we had a very populous country which had, in the same month, achieved its independence and which had nominated Australia as its representative on the United Nations Good Offices Committee. Now, after the 151/2 years the Prime Minister has been in office, we are engaged in operations of war against that neighbour. In every respect - diplomatic, economic and political - our relations with our populous neighbour have miscarried under the right honorable gentleman’s Government. They have miscarried within the last fortnight in respect to Malaysia, and the right honorable gentleman devotes one minute to that question.
I recall five weeks ago at his telecast the Prime Minister said, justifying the domino theory -
Does anybody with his five wits doubtRemember the cliche. It came in early in his long speech tonight -
Does anybody with his five wits doubt thatif Vietnam falls Thailand will fall and the position of Malaysia will become intolerable?
Malaysia has disintegrated, not for the factors that the Prime Minister had in mind, but for other factors of which he was ignorant, and to which he has not devoted more than a single moment tonight. What position does the right honorable gentleman hold in international affairs when the nearest Commonwealth Prime Minister, his close and intimate friend the Prime Minister of Malaysia, does not even consult him on the affairs of a country whose welfare we have guaranteed? I will come back to the question of Malaysia even if the right honorable gentleman wishes us to forget it.
The Prime Minister quoted most of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) which I seconded, and which I shall now proceed to support with argument. Every phrase in the amendment came from the communique of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. Every word came from that communique, with one exception, which related to our proposal that negotiations take place not only with the Government in Saigon but also with the Vietcong. Does the Prime Minister believe that any fruitful negotiations concerning Vietnam can take place unless there are negotiations with the Vietcong? Mr. Michael Stewart, the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, said that there would have to be negotiations with the Vietcong. Mr. Keith Holyoake, the Prime Minister of New Zealand - to quote our Prime Minister, a man of the right honorable gentleman’s own political complexion - said that there would have to be negotiations with the Vietcong. Must our Prime Minister always be out of step with all his counterparts? I quote the words of Mr. Holyoake as reported in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 17th June -
I should have thought that the representatives of the Vietcong should be brought to the conference table.
I quote him again -
I would be in favour of the United States suspending bombing once again to see what result this would bring.
And again, Mr. Holyoake said -
I would be prepared to delay the despatch of New Zealand forces to Vietnam if that would help negotiations.
The Prime Minister quoted from the Opposition’s amendment another passage which declared that the people of Vietnam -both North and South - should have the
right to choose their own government. Neither the people in the north nor the people in the south have been accorded this right up to now. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), last night, in what I thought at the time to be one of the hopeful passages in his speech, though now it seems to be an obscure one, said -
It seems to me that what we should envisage is a return to the Geneva Agreement of 1954.
That Agreement proposed steps to enable the people of North and South Vietnam to choose their own government. Does the Minister agree with that section of the Agreement, or would he ignore it? Does he agree that there should be negotiations with China, as there were in the making of the Geneva Agreement? Does he agree that there should be negotiations with Hanoi? Does he agree that there should be, as there were then, negotiations with the Viet Minh or negotiations with those whom he demonstrated last night to be the successors of the Viet Minh, to wit, the Vietcong or the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam? What did the Minister mean by a return to the Geneva Agreement? Should we negotiate with China? Should we negotiate with the Vietcong? Should there be general elections? Would we sign the Geneva Agreement now? What did the Minister mean? He brought up the subject, and we have moved to give effect to the features of the Geneva Agreement. Was he merely uttering a pious and vague platitude? It would appear that if his statement meant anything, the Prime Minister has repudiated it already.
The Prime Minister went back to the debate in this House in 1954 on the ratification of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which is commonly known as the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty. He said that the Leader of the Opposition of that time had cavilled in some way at the preamble to the Treaty. The then Leader of the Opposition did nothing of the sort. He cavilled at the preamble to our act adopting the Treaty, because that preamble limited the effect of the Treaty. The preamble to our act refers to Communist aggression; the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty does not. The American understanding attached to the Treaty limits the obligations of the United States of America under it to Communist aggression.
Mr. Calwell.- Only
– To Communist aggression only. But none of the other signatories so limited their obligations. Under the Treaty, we did not, but it is possible to interpret the preamble to our act as limiting our obligations under the Treaty. Communist aggression is not the only aggression in this area. Are we to say that the aggression of Indonesia against Malaysia is Communist aggression? It is because it is not Communist aggression that the United States does not regard herself as obliged to defend Malaysia against Indonesia. The Prime Minister, going very glibly through the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty said that, under its terms, we would be defended in New Guinea. The only prospective assault on New Guinea is from Indonesia. That country, America believes - and we, too, believe - does not have a Communist Government. Under the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty, America is not obliged to defend New Guinea. But America is obliged, under the security treaty between Australia and New Zealand and the United States, which is known as the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty, to defend New Guinea, and there is no doubt that she would.
I am sorry to have to document the Prime Minister’s vaguenesses and irresponsibilities in this respect, but while I am on the subject of the preamble to the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty, I would point out that it is embodied in the preamble to the statement of the Australian Labour Party’s policy on foreign affairs, and has been for the last two years. It has been available in printed documents. Honorable members can get them from the Federal Secretariat of the Party, from any State Branch and from the Parliamentary Library. The preamble to the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty is reproduced in the preamble to the statement of the Labour Party’s policy on foreign affairs, and we endorse that preamble to the Treaty.
The Prime Minister endeavoured to call in aid the assertion that the presence of Australian troops in Vietnam is due to the invoking of the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty. It is not. Vietnam has not asked us to help under the terms of the Treaty, nor has the United States. I have put on the notice paper on two or three occasions precise questions to the Minister for External Affairs on this subject, but he has never said that. Our troops are not in Vietnam under the terms of the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty. Nobody has invoked the Treaty to have our troops present there. The Prime Minister uses the phrase, “ we have regarded ourselves as entitled or obliged to send troops “. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), who is Government Whip, reading a prepared speech, said this afternoon that we had reported to the United Nations in accordance with our obligations under the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty. We did not do that last year at all. We sent a letter this year. We did not send one last year, and the Minister himself has said so in answers to prepared questions which I have put on the notice paper.
Subsequently, the Prime Minister used some words which the Minister for External Affairs should at least clarify. The right honorable gentleman used the phrase, “ the Geneva Conference which some honorable gentlemen say should be resumed “. Did the Minister, by his reference to the Geneva Agreement, mean that the Conference should be resumed, or did he not? What he really meant is now in doubt. The Prime Minister also referred to “ the International Control Commission, which some people say should be brought into function “. Did the Minister for External Affairs, by his reference to the Geneva Agreement, mean that the Commission should be brought into function, or did he not? What he meant is now in doubt.
– This is complete rubbish.
– I am quoting rubbish. The Prime Minister dealt at length with negotiations. Does he still believe what the Commonwealth Prime Ministers said only last month or does he regard that as a dead letter? His own attitude to negotiations, of course, has been completely consistent. Let me recall what he said only last April. These are his words -
Negotiate with an enemy which has violated its obligations in relation to a ceasefire, negotiate with a country that has ignored its international obligations, and negotiate with people who will keep on shooting when the Americans have stopped shooting! That seems to me to be a fantasy, and it 1 am the only Prime Minister left to denounce it, I denounce it.
In fact, he was the only one left who denounced it. On the very same day, at Johns Hopkins University, the President of the
United Slates disowned him as well. Last month, the right honorable gentleman subscribed to a communique which he now proceeds, in the words of one of his back bench supporters, to rubbish. Of course, the Prime Minister belittles the whole idea of negotiation and. whether it comes from academics or from bishops, he will denounce it. He says that all such suggestions come from Communist sources. A visiting American bishop, on his way back from Vietnam, said -
Every Christian church has its peace or disarmament committee. I am sorry that your Prime Minister says that. For the leader of a great Western nation to stoop to expressions such as that is unworthy, both of him and his office.
The Prime Minister then concluded with some references to alleged statements by members of the Labour Party on various occasions. He did not quote any of them precisely, but he did quote from a document issued by our Federal Secretariat last February which reported the unanimous view of the parliamentary executive of our party on Vietnam. He quoted it with approval and said that it was worthy of applause. In fact, in May of this year, it was endorsed also by the parliamentary party as a whole and it still stands.
Wherever it is possible to quote from Labour Party documents or the utterances of Labour Party spokesmen - and they are the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader and any person nominated by the Leader of the Opposition - it is impossible to discover any statement at variance with the view of our executive last February and endorsed by our caucus in May. It tallies with the Labour Party’s statement made in the week before last at he Federal Conference. This materia! is available from the Federal Secretariat and any of us will give honorable members opposite a copy within five minutes of application. I have hud to deal with this question of Vietnam because that is all that the Prime Minister wished to discuss. Now I must deal with a few more general subjects.
At least the Prime Minister’s speech was free of some of the cant which still disfigured what I thought was a vastly improved speech by the Minister for External Affairs last night. It is quite ingenuous to say. as the Minister for External Affairs so often says, that we are in Vietnam to pre serve sovereign independence or territorial integrity, or to defend the frontiers of freedom. We are in Vietnam because we believe that it is our right or our duty, or in our interests to support the United States. We were in Malaysia because we thought we should support the United Kingdom and our only arrangements with Malaysia and Singapore are still through the United Kingdom. Why should we not. frankly state that the Australian Government’s attitude towards China, for instance, or the Australian Government’s attitude in Vietnam or in Malaysia is clue to a fraternal feeling for our great allies or our dependence on support from our great allies to whom we are related.
The Prime Minister has quoted the Labour Party from time to time, or what he says is the Labour Party’s view. His own attitudes and views are all too notorious. I suppose we were all appropriately insulted, offended and disturbed by the things which were said by President Sukarno during his Independence Day speech a couple of days ago, but do honorable members think that our neighbours were any less insulted by what the Prime Minister said during the Senate campaign at the end of last year? We have to remember that the heads of state of the two countries - Indonesia and Malaysia - speak to their supporters at the risk of offending their neighbours and disillusioning the rest of the world. Honorable members will recall, at the time of the Senate election, the way in which the Prime Minister spoke of Indonesia’s infiltration into New Guinea. He said that President Sukarno had passed the point of reason and that aggression against Australian New Guinea would be met by armed resistance. He has made no subsequent reference to any of these possibilities.
I have been twice this year in various countries of South East Asia and the Prime Minister’s espousal of his doctrine of defence in depth has produced very great misunderstanding and resentment in the area because it is believed - and chapter and verse are quoted from his election speeches of last November and December - that his interest in the area is to fight in other people’s backyards. I am not saying that this is what Australia is doing, but this is the way that Australia’s actions are interpreted because of the Prime Minister’s belligerence in election campaigns. He speaks, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) so clearly showed this afternoon, for internal consumption, whatever the external results may be.
I have said about Malaysia that the recent events there represent the greatest reverse in the three and a half years since our policy miscarried on West New Guinea. We must all be disturbed by many features in Malaysia. I was there last February and I was there again with five of my colleagues last month. I noticed, and I must in all frankness say, that there was a decline in the freedoms which Malaysia inherited and has espoused and which she alone, in general, represents in South East Asia. There is less freedom for the mass media, there is less freedom for public men and there is less freedom for industrial organisers now than there was at the beginning of the year. I do not want to discount the fact that there is a disarming freedom of discussion and even argument among all representative Malaysians with visitors like ourselves. There was complete frankness and trust shown to me last February and to me and my colleagues last month by all the diplomatic, military and security heads in that country.
One would not be as frank as one should be to a neighbour and a partner if one did not comment on the decline in some of these freedoms. One of the disturbing things that I found last February was the jealousy felt and expressed in Kuala Lumpur about the Prime Minister of Singapore. On this last occasion I was appalled at the extent to which that jealousy was still more manifest. The success of the visits by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew to Algiers and Cairo a few years ago was accepted. The success of his visit to Australia and New Zealand produced resentment. This is all the more difficult for us to understand since only Mr. Lee, I believe, could have secured such support for Malaysia in Singapore. Only Mr. Lee could have secured such a strong non-Communist Government as there is in Singapore. Malaysian politics are necessarily conducted among a much smaller body of people than they are in a country of similar population but older institutions such as Australia. Both Mr. Lee and the Tunku have the exceptional quality to have produced viable political parties.
It is a pity that the Federation has been dismembered. We would say in Australia - not only in our party - that Singapore has the most efficient, honest, modern and democratic government in South East Asia. It is a model for the industrial democracy which can produce proper prospects in life for all the people in that area. What we have to do now is to decide what our arrangements with Malaysia and Singapore are to be, and on that point I ask the Minister for External Affairs to elaborate a couple of passages in his speech. The Minister said -
Whether any additional action is necessary by the Australian Government to associate itself with these arrangements is something still to be determined.
On the next page he quoted from the Prime Minister’s remarks and said -
The particular Australian association with this common defence will require study in the light of the new circumstances.
The Prime Minister shed no light on the study. He carried it no further. It is more than ever necessary that we should have clear public, mutual arrangements with Malaysia. We have seen only last week that the Malaysian Government feels no obligation to consult with us, despite the guarantees we have given to that country. There is no security of tenure in Camp Terendak or in the Butterworth Royal Australian Air Force base. It is not satisfactory that we should any longer be in the position of uncertainty which was disclosed last week.
Since the middle of last year I have had discussions on more than one occasion with every man who now holds ministerial responsibility in all the relevant fields in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. I know there would be no difficulty in securing a treaty between all those countries concerning the defence of Malaysia and Singapore. There would be no hesitation in entering into such a treaty. The only stumbling-block is our Prime Minister who regards it as a matter of pride to stick to the course which he has followed through changing circumstances for the last 10 years. He knows that if now a treaty is concluded, people will say, perfectly justifiably, that he should have had it before, in our interests and in theirs.
There is another feature, too. about it. The original bargain for Malaysia was between Sabah. Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore. No-one can be certain that there is the same validity in the bargain between Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya alone. This may be regarded as a very tendentious utterance on my part, but I invite honorable members to look at what English weeklies, like the “ Observer “ and the “ Economist “, have said on this subject. Quite clearly, it ought to be put beyond any doubt in the world that Sabah and Sarawak still want to be associated with Malaya before we continue arrangements of this unspecified kind.
I now wish to speak briefly on Vietnam. I referred to some of the cant phrases which the Minister for External Affairs himself used, but which many of his back benchers have used in greater proliferation. It is no more true to say there are separate nations and distinct states in North and South Vietnam than it would be to say that of North and South Korea or East and West Germany. They are the same nations and the same races. To use phrases like “ sovereign independence “ and “ territorial integrity “ is to adopt the traditionalist and legalist attitude of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) who is trying to interject. There is a large feature, and there has long been a large feature, of civil war in this country.
It is fantastic to refer to the frontier of freedom in the sense of democracy. Saigon is no more democratic than Hanoi, and it is certainly no more popular. But, as 1 said, we are involved in South Vietnam because the United States is involved. It is not very flattering to the United States for us to infer, as so many honorable gentlemen do including Ministers in another place, like the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) when he addressed the Returned Servicemen’s League which takes a very close, if archaic, interest in foreign affairs, and say that we must help the United States in Vietnam to ensure that the United States will honour her obligations under A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. America’s other allies have not taken that attitude. I do not believe that America would fail to honour her obligations.
Again there is vagueness. The Prime Minister yesterday very casually announced that we are sending more forces to Vietnam. He did not elaborate on the reasons.
Is it that our original forces were inadequately supported and now require these additional reinforcements and auxiliaries? Is it because the United States needs reassurance? Is it because Malaysia is now secure? It may be true - I think it is - as the Prime Minister said and as the Minister for External Affairs said, that most Australians support the sending of troops to Vietnam. But there are two features which ought to give us pause. The first is that there are greater misgivings in Australia about our participation, or more particularly the timing and the method of our participation in South Vietnam, than there was in the First World War, the Second World War or the Korean War. Secondly, there is less support for our attitude outside Australia than there was on any of those occasions. I can assure honorable members that there is no enthusiasm in Kuala Lumpur for the fact that Australian troops have been sent in this way to Vietnam. We should not have sent troops before seeking negotiations and explaining our objectives.
For reasons which I gave last May when I spoke on this subject, Australia in particular should be chary of sending forces overseas except as part of an international and multiracial force. Australia should always be prepared to honour her international obligations and, in fact, to promote international peace keeping forces and machinery. But on this occasion the Prime Minister entered upon the war without explaining to the Australian public and without explaining to our neighbours why he was doing it.
The Minister for External Affairs mentioned two other good features - I thought it was the first time he has ever stressed them in his speeches - of international aid and the United Nations. I must enter a few caveats concerning his reference to aid. Australia contributes voluntarily to United Nations specialised agencies a considerably smaller percentage of their revenue than the United Nations holds that Australia is able to pay in compulsory obligations. Under the assessments which the body itself makes, we are contributing in aid much less than we can afford to contribute. The United States, which so largely maintains the United Nations, is particularly generous in this respect. She contributes a much greater percentage voluntarily than the
United Nations says that she has to contribute towards maintaining the obligatory functions of the United Nations. 1 remember asking the Minister for External Affairs last September whether the only economic aid we had given to Vietnam, in answer to an American note in May, was an expert on insects. The Minister took umbrage at my remark. It turned out that I was inaccurate because I asked my question on 3rd September and the expert on insecticides did not go until 10th October. I was anticipating. He went with some small quantities of fumigants and insecticides and the necessary applicators and 100 metal silos to help preserve stored grain. We had not at that time sent any other assistance at all. Later we sent a surgical team and some galvanised iron roofing. The assistance we have sent to Vietnam has been completely trivial. Yet, if S.E.A.T.O. were invoked, we would be obliged to give social and economic and political assistance. We have not done so.
The Minister’s statement on this was camouflage. It comes, strange to say, in the same week when Dr. Frankel, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Executive, stated in his presidential address to the agriculture section of the A.N.Z.A.A.S. Congress in Hobart that there was an apparent reluctance on Australia’s part to support the growth of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. He said that Australia was proportionally one of the lowest contributors to F.A.O. when it should be one of the highest. He added that its current contribution was £200,000 - little more than 2 per cent, of the total income of F.A.O.
The Minister compared us with America, Britain, Belgium and Holland. They are the only countries which have contributed as large or a larger percentage of their national income. None of those nations is in a geographic situation or political situation which should impel it to contribute to a raising of standards in the world, as we are. The Minister for External Affairs said that he welcomed some of the voluntary organisations. Why does he not help some of them? I quote the following from a statement made by the Overseas Service Bureau about two months ago -
The Bureau is still unable to plan firmly more than a few months ahead, due to shortage of funds. The United Kingdom, Canadian and New Zealand Governments all provide grants to similar private agencies in their countries. The Commonwealth Government has not yet been willing to support the Bureau in this way.
I come now to the United Nations. The Prime Minister, of course, showed his usual contempt for it. His one appearance there naturally makes him resent the organisation. He did not express his current view on what the Minister for External Affairs referred to as the funds crisis. Honorable members will remember that only last month the Prime Minister, in a telecast, was saying: “ No pay, no vote. That is a good, simple rule to which I subscribe heartily “. He must feel very frustrated now that the United Nations General Assembly will be able to function effectively next month. Let us hope that it functions effectively not least in respect of Vietnam.
The United Nations cannot act unless member nations raise subjects. The Australian Government has never yet initiated any peace move in South East Asia. Next month, at the General Assembly, it will have its opportunity, because the General Assembly will be effective once more. U Thant’s suggestions, which were rebuffed a few months ago, might not be rebuffed now, when he speaks with the force of an effective organisation behind him once again. I completely agree with what the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister have said about the attitude of Hanoi and Peking to the various peace initiatives. There is no other word for their conduct than the one that the Minister himself used last night - intransigence. But Australia has done nothing to put them on the spot, to expose their chicanery and intransigence in this matter.
Let me conclude with some general references to the attitude which we should adopt towards the great powers in this area. If Great Britain or America were to withdraw from our area, it would leave a vacuum and produce chaos. I am certain that America will not withdraw. I hope that Great Britain can afford to remain, too. We want them both in this area. Peace can be maintained in any part of the world today only with the forces which are available to the great powers alone. Small powers, such as Australia, must make use of the great powers and bring restraints to bear on them through international organisations. .
In this country we very properly place great stress on what the United States thinks about various matters. . As my colleague, the honorable member for Fremantle, said this afternoon, the Government pays no respect to America’s views on trade with China. American officials tell us very frankly that they think we are trading with the enemy. I do not agree with the American attitude towards China, either politically or economically. Nevertheless, the Government pays no heed to America’s attitude in economic matters, only in political ones. The Country Party, of course, apices with us on both issues. It believes that Australia should recognise China politically, just as we recognise it economically.
Again, the Government does not pay heed to what America thinks our attitude to international aid should be. Americans arc very ready to tell us that they think we arc selfish in not contributing more generously to international agencies in the social and economic field. Our party says - it has said this for years past now - that al least one per cent, of our national income should be contributed to international aid. At our Federal Conference the week before last we spelt out our belief that we should channel our aid and encoura.ee other nations to channel their aid through international agencies.
However, there is the general question of the political attitudes of the United States. lt docs not take the same attitude towards Indonesia as Australia takes, lt believes that Indonesia is not bound to become a satellite of China: that Indonesia could form part of the Maphilindo concept which would provide some viable political and economic shield, if you like to describe it in that way. The United States - one may think naturally, it being a great power - places great emphasis on the bie nations in this area. Tt concentrates on China, Indonesia, India. Pakistan and Japan. It believes that none of the latter four nations is likely to be a satellite of China. It realises that each of them is a very significant country and will remain so. The Australian Government concentrates far too much on the peripheral nations. Australia is a peripheral nation. The strength of such nations lies in international bodies.
How can we best assist Great Britain and America in our area? We are in a better position than is any other country in this area to interpret the whole area to America and to Great Britain. We are in the best position of any of the nations in this area to interpret America and Great Britain to the other nations of this area. We are no threat militarily or economically. Nobody thinks that wc can dominate the area. Thus, people believe that we have no particular axe to grind, except that of our own preservation and the promotion of good, neighbourly relations.
Our Prime Minister dominates and displaces successive Ministers for External Affairs, such as the present President of the International Court of Justice, the GovernorGeneral designate, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and the present Minister. All of them have been ignored or displaced when the occasion requires it. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s attitude is crucial in his Government’s thinking. He thinks that the North Atlantic forces are as essential and also as permanent as he previously thought the North Atlantic empires were in this area. He may be right that they are still essential. He also thinks - this is where he is clearly quite wrong - that Australia should be closer to the North Atlantic powers than to any of her neighbours.
The vast military and economic resources of America, Russia, Great Britain and France are often sought in aid by smaller nations in other regions. Such aid, however, is suspected by other nations in those regions and produces tensions in them unless it is rendered under worldwide, or at least regional, arrangements. World organisations wish to use but to curb the power of the great nations. The majority cannot prevail against the powerful minority, but the majority wishes to curb the powerful minority. The forces of the great powers are more likely to be welcomed in strange areas if they come under international auspices. The’ role of Australia - which is so much more akin to great powers, such as Amenca and Great Britain, culturally, economically and politically - is to interpret those great powers to this area and this area to them. Only insofar as we discharge that role can our own security be ensured.
The Minister for External Affairs, in his speech last night, dealt with many matters on which he had barely touched previously. Tonight the Prime Minister has made many of those matters obscure. The opportunity should be taken to clarify them. We need our allies as much as ever, but we can help them much more than we have hitherto. Only if we help them more than we have and in a more enlightened and varied way than we have will we really effectively help ourselves and be good neighbours with all the people in this area.
.- To study the various speeches that have been made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) inside and outside this chamber from time to time is a fascinating academic exercise. It is fascinating to note how much they vary, not only in emphasis, but sometimes even in substance. There are very few people here tonight on this side of the House who do not have more than a little sympathy for the honorable gentleman. We know that he is capable of making speeches that are full of courage - perhaps a little too much courage for his own good - but that at times we are devastatingly disappointed with speeches such as he delivered tonight, with little or no courage at all. We know that a few months ago he exhibited a rare brand of courage within his own Party in publicly denouncing Communism and unity tickets and that he took this matter to the Labour Party’s Federal Conference, which is the ultimate authority in his Party. Unfortunately for his Party, and I believe for this nation, he was ignominiously beaten hands down on the issue. One would have thought that when he came in here tonight to make his first major speech in this sessional period he would have taken advantage of the opportunity to show to the Australian people that he was capable of leading the alternative government of this country. He knows that he is now accepted by the people of Australia as a more favourable leader than the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The people look to him as being more eloquent, more articulate, than the present Leader, and he knows that he is. He had the opportunity to say something sensible, something courageous, something constructive in this debate tonight.
What did the honorable gentleman say? He agreed with the statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the Australian Labour Party document which was decided upon in February and endorsed in May and which set out the Parliamentary Labour Party’s policy dealt with three aspects of the matter under discussion. One was that the Executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party condemned aggression from the north; secondly, it accepted the view that United States forces should be in South Vietnam; and thirdly, it condemned any suggestion of a withdrawal of United States forces before real peace was had.
Then the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a statement which I am sure astonished everybody, not only on this side of the House, but also on his own side. He said: “ Not one member of my Party has ever changed this policy since “. But this afternoon four other members of his Party expressed views which were diametrically opposed to what was contained in that document. I am sure he did not hear what they said. Unfortunately, those four gentlemen belong to the wing of the Party opposite to that to which he belongs. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) all categorically rejected that document about which he said: “ This is still Labour Party policy. This is still something to which all my colleagues subscribe.” The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) is another who has stated publicly, and is proud to state, that that policy has been changed since May of this year.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made his usual dig - a rather snide dig - at that wonderful organisation, the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. He said that we should not have sent our troops to Vietnam before negotiations were conducted. Having used that wonderful word “ negotiations “ he neglected to say with whom we should have had the negotiations. He skipped through the obligations that we have under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty and which the Prime Minister again spelt out tonight for the benefit of the House in a couple of minutes. But nowhere in the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was there any reference to the proved aggression which his own leader conceded some months ago. He made no reference to the rejection of the many peace offers that have been made to the Communists in Vietnam. Instead, he preferred to talk, with a sneer, about insecticides and what the United Nations could or could not do. I will not accept any suggestion that a man of his intelligence would believe for one moment that an answer to this problem lies with the United Nations. So I must ask myself: Why does he put that view forward in a speech before members of his own Party in this House? I believe that it is sheer humbug for the honorable gentleman to put that view forward.
We have heard, and most people who are listening to this debate would have heard, the Prime Minister outline again tonight in masterly fashion the events leading up to the present situation in Vietnam, and it would seem to be useless for me to repeat what he said. It would be inappropriate for me to comment at any length on what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, because those who have listened to this debate will be able to form their own judgment on the relative values of the two speeches.
I should like to speak briefly about the situation in Malaysia. Last Saturday week we heard the distressing news about the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Last night the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) detailed the history of the events leading up to that occurrence and some of its political and military significance. There are many things which the Minister did not say last night but which I wish he could have said. I am the first to admit that the sort of things I wanted to hear, the Minister could not possibly have mentioned for security and other obvious reasons. I, and I am sure most honorable members, would like to have known the extent to which the Minister and the Government had been informed by our representatives in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore about events leading up to the separation. I should like to have known to what extent the Minister and the Government had been briefed by our diplomats in those places. I should like to have known also the extent of the objectivity of the reports that the Government receives from our two magnificent diplomats in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I sometimes wonder - I have no means of testing this doubt - whether our representative in each of these places had become too close to, and too closely involved with, the personalities involved in this dispute and whether the objectivity of their reports was lessened for that reason. I sometimes wonder whether it is good practice to leave diplomats in posts for any great length of time and so lead to this possible lack of objectivity.
I should like to have known the extent of the pressures that we are told were behind the Tunku in precipitating or assisting to precipitate, this move. I should like to know whether those pressures are still there and what is their strength and significance. I should like to know why Premier Lee, an astute, brilliant and honest statesman, was so provocative during his recent tour of Australia and other places when he of all people knew the delicacy of the situation in his own country. I should like to know whether our Government knew of the pressures that were mounting and whether, through our diplomatic representatives, it offered counsel to both parties. If it did, I should like to know how strong were its representations and how they were received. The Minister for External Affairs will appreciate that in mentioning these matters I am not in any way criticising him. These are things which all members of the Parliament would like to know but about which, unfortunately, because of the security aspects involved we cannot be told.
I am not completely persuaded that the separation of Singapore from Malaysia must necessarily be defined in tragic terms. I am more than confident that, if in the future we and other nations show them sympathy, understanding and friendship in the form of aid, trade, and in other ways, in the years to come the difficulty will be resolved happily for everybody concerned including ourselves. Even though the separation is distressing, to my mind the more significant and basic cause of distress is the knowledge that the separation was not caused by confrontation. It was not Communism, it was not poverty, it was not insurrection, but it was what to me is a greater social evil than the evil of international Communism: That which caused the separation was racial prejudice. We know that only a fool will ignore history, particularly recent history, but here we have had a manifestation of racial prejudice which shocks anyone who has had any affection for the wonderful, tiny and courageous nation of Malaysia. This incident, this occurrence, together with other incidents that have occurred around the world - not the least of which were the dreadful incidents in Los Angeles last week - must have a sobering effect on newspapers and well-meaning people in this country who advocate indiscriminate and wholesale amendments of our migration policy. £
On the other hand 1 make the point that as a Parliament, if we have a sense of responsibility at all, we must ask ourselves again whether our policy is completely right. Racial prejudice is one of the worst, if not the worst social evil, but can a social evil be overcome by not associating with it? Can the social evil of death on the roads be cured by banning motor cars? Can the social evil of divorce be abolished by making marriage illegal? This certainly is not any solution. I wonder sometimes whether an objective reappraisal of our migration policy is essential in the context of what I have said.
On the question of Vietnam I have been obliged recently to speak with many of my own constituents - people who are extremely sincere and well-meaning, and of no particular political persuasion - who have expressed certain doubts in certain ways about our presence in Vietnam. I should like to deal briefly with one or two of the doubts expressed by these people. They use the form of argument: “ We know that there is aggression from the north, and we know that there is fighting going on, but “ - and then they leave what I regard as the big issue and go on to other side issues, important though they might be as I am about to mention.
One of their arguments is that our actions in South Vietnam are against morality. They put the point of view that it is immoral for us to do anything to continue the war and the misery of the South Vietnamese people when they have been at w.ar for over 25 years. They say: “ You are being immoral in prolonging this war”. Never do they think - and they are sincere in leaving this out of their thoughts - of the fate that would befall the South Vietnamese people if there were a wholesale withdrawal from the area. They say: “ You are immoral in fighting a war itself One could have a long philosophical argument about whether war per se must be moral of itself. They say: “ You are immoral in recruiting to national service our young men, taking them out of their jobs and proposing to send them to another country to fight a war “. They say: “ There are no free elections in South Vietnam and you are immoral in perpetrating this system “.
Some of the people who advocate free elections in South Vietnam do so with so much fervour that I sometimes ask them and myself why they never ask when the last free election was held in North Vietnam. They do not seem to pursue with equal fervour and vigour an advocacy that elections should be held in North Vietnam too. These objections could be arguable and could be sustained in a narrow context, but 1 put this point of view to them, I put it to the House, and I put it to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) who wm follow me - and he has put this very thing to many meetings at which I have heard him. What is the prime moral issue which a member of Parliament must consider? ls it not to look first to the safety and preservation of the freedom of the 11 million people to whom he has a responsibility? If any failure on our part to take action in any war in South Vietnam might imperil the future safety of the people of this country, then such failure would be an example of sheer irresponsibility. To allow the people to whom you have a responsibility to lose their freedom, their way of life or even their lives is to me utter immorality.
Another objection brought by these people is that Communism is simply a way of life - a philosophy - and that therefore it cannot be defeated by military means alone. They say, also, that Communism is not something that will eventually destroy Australia. ] never cease to be astonished at how quickly some of these well meaning people gloss over the acts of aggression of Chinese Communism. They agree that the Chinese Communists attacked Korea in 195 J, that there was something in Tibet in 1959, that there was a skirmish in India in 1962 and so on. I remind them that on 1st February 1 95 1 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution by 44 votes to 7 stating that China was the aggressor in Korea. In 1959 the Dalai Lama reported that in the attack on Tibet thousands had been murdered or tortured and that children by the thousand had been deported to China. We have the history of the massacre of India. Who could ever say that India behaved provocatively towards China? The quotations of Mao Tse-tung on the subject of aggression are legion. He has said: “ We will support revolutionary wars wherever they occur.”
The contention that Communism cannot be beaten by military means alone is something that the Leader of the Opposition advances as a magical cure for the problems that affect this area. Let me remind the House that no nation has yet embraced the philosophy of Communism as its way of life freely. No nation, to my knowledge, has yet been converted to Communism by nonmilitary persuasion. In every country in which Communism rules today this philosophy has been thrust upon the people at the points of many guns and after much bloodshed. Communism may be a political philosophy and a way of life but it is only a way of life which is handled and stage managed by fanatical Communists who are intent on forcing their philosophy on the people of this world at the points of guns and after bloodshed.
These people say to me that the Vietcong have the support of the people of Vietnam, so why not get out and let them run their own affairs? Well, let us look at the figures, as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr, Turner) urged us to do last night. The Vietcong number 150,000 out of a total population of 15 million. They represent 1 per cent, of the total population. Does this figure convey to the minds of honorable members the idea that the majority of the people of Vietnam are for the Vietcong? I am countered in my argument with the statement: “Of course, the Vietcong are supported by the villagers “. Well, they may be supported by the villagers but it seems strange to me that last year alone the Vietcong saw fit to murder 1,500 civilians in the villages as a means of gently persuading them to support the Vietcong.
I have no doubt that if there is a withdrawal from South Vietnam - if the policies advocated by the honorable member for Yarra, who is to follow me in the debate, and his few colleagues in the Labour Party are followed - it will mean disaster for the people of South East Asia and, in particular, disaster and complete loss of freedom and the present way of life for every citizen of Australia.
.- Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said -
We are driving North Vietnam right into the arms of China, because we are resisting the power of China.
This evening, in typical manner, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) described this as a pusillanimous and astonishing statement. It is only too evident that North Vietnam, with a thousand years of suspicion and unwillingness to become dominated by China, has as a result of the events of the last 12 months been forced closer to China than ever before in her history. The Prime Minister’s inability to recognise this is pusillanimous and astonishing, but that is one of the facts of life today. It would be better if this were not so. The Prime Minister’s view that we must keep banging away in South Vietnam is not much of an answer to the problem.
It is possible in 20 minutes to deal with only a few aspects of a vast subject such as Australia’s external relations. I will refer only to Vietnam and to the material introduced last night by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). The Minister’s speech, however, does not stand on its own. It is merely a precis of the work of his Department on the subject of Vietnam. The value and strength of the Minister’s speech is the value and strength of the facts and interpretations provided by the Department of External Affairs. The Minister’s position is as strong or as weak as the position of the Department. He said that the policy of the Australian Government follows from the facts and interpretations provided by the Department. So it is of prime importance to examine the position of the Department of External Affairs. The position is set out in what the Minister calls a series of studies made by the Department, the first of which he issued last night. It is called “ Information Handbook No. 1 of 1965, Studies on Vietnam”. I intend to examine a number of significant aspects of this document. The Department begins with a dogmatic statement of a matter that remains highly contentious. It states -
The Vietnamese achieved independence from France only after a long and bitter war which began as a nationalist movement against French colonial rule but developed into a war between France and the Vietnamese Communists known as the Vict Minh.
This dogmatic conclusion is not in accord with the evidence. There is much evidence that the Viet Minh remained significantly a nationalist movement throughout the war with the French. Indeed, there is much evidence that the Vietnamese revolutionary movement has remained significantly nationalist through to the present day. A highly accredited writer in the “ New York Times”, Robert Trumbull, expressed an opinion on this matter. It is only one of many similar opinions, not including thai of Dr. Bernard Fall, upon whom the Department relies heavily. Robert Trumbull said -
The people fighting President Ngo are the same who fought against the French, and in their view they are in arms for essentially similar reasons.
The reasons are national ones. Then there is the opinion of Professor W. W. Rostow, who is now a top American adviser on Vietnam. He said -
What is happening (in) Asia is this. Old societies are changing their ways in order to create a national personality on the world scene.
Is the Department aware of these opinions which conflict with its own conclusions. If it is aware of them, does it choose to exclude them from its studies?
The Department then goes on to examine the issue of general elections. It assumes that the Ngo Dinh Diem regime was dedicated to democracy, desired to unify Vietnam by free elections and only failed to do so because free elections could not be held in a Communist police state in the North. Free elections could not be held in the North, but this is not the position of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime. There is much evidence, completely ignored by the Department, that the purpose of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime was not to hold free elections or to unify Vietnam but to establish an effective anti-Communist base in South Vietnam. This was done by a far larger infiltration from the North by Diem and his supporters than has ever been alleged to have been arranged by the Communist Government in Hanoi. There is much evidence that the exodus of up to 1 million peasants from the North to the South was not a spontaneous, free movement of people, but that it took place to provide a base of political power in the South for the Ngo Dinh Diem regime.
Dr. Fall, who is relied upon heavily by the Department, made a statement at page 154 of his book “The Two Vietnams”, which seems to have been overlooked completely by those who compiled this apology for the Government’s policy. Dr. Fall said -
That is one million of them - as its major base of political power.
It is strange how the Minister’s device of historical interpretation - the realities of power - seems to direct his attention to only one kind of power.
But had the Ngo Dinh Diem regime been inclined to find a democratic basis for its own power it could have done so in South Vietnam. Had it done so and achieved it, how much stronger would have been the position of those who have responded by military action to its request for assistance? But the Department chooses to obscure its refusal to do so by referring on page 10 of its “ Information Handbook No. 1 of 1965” to municipal elections held in South Vietnam. Is the Department aware of the following conclusions? First, is it aware that Dr. Bernard Fall said? - . . the character the Diem regime has displayed since 1955 is autocratic, arrogant, dogmatic, unwilling to take advice and fiercely resisting any suggestion for real reform.
Amongst others, a highly respected French authority. Max CIos said -
The Saigon Government and its local represent;! lives arc cut off from any contact with the people. They possess only the outward trappings of power. The very substance of the country,” the men and the rice, have escaped it.
Then there is the South Vietnam Embassy itself here in Canberra, which in 1963, issued the following statement -
For nine years the Ngo Dinh Diem Government had pursued a dictatorial and tyrannical policy. Power was concentrated in the hands of the Ngo family and those of a number of close, incompetent and interested collaborators. The natural and necessary outcome had to be the overthrow of the Ngo regime. ls the Department aware of these significant findings which conflict so much with its own apologia for the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, or if aware of them, does it consider them irrelevant to an evaluation of that regime?
Next, the Department would have us believe that the Ngo Dinh Diem regime contributed nothing to a war against the Communists until it was attacked by them after 1959. This interpretation conflicts not only with common sense, but also with a great deal of evidence. It is unreasonable to expect that the Ngo regime would sit idly by until it was attacked by Communists. One of its main functions was to stop the growth of communism and to clean up what remained in the South of the insurgency movement.
Yet another French anti-Communist authority, Philippe Devellers, wrote -
A certain sequence of events by the Ngo regime became classical - denunciations, searches and raids, arrests of suspects, plundering, interrogation enlivened by torture (even of innocent people), deportation and regrouping of populations suspected of intelligence with rebels.
Certainly the Ngo regime did not wait until it was attacked. It did, for it, the realistic and common sense thing. It- went looking for Communists and it killed and captured them, and suspects as well. This campaign began, not in 1959 or 1960 as the Department suggest, but in 1957 or before; just as the Vietcong campaign began not in 1960, but in 1957 or before.
The Department’s subtle suggestion to the contrary is determined, not by the facts, but by the need to meet the Government’s prescription that the war in the South was begun by the North after 1959. Of course, there is no evidence of any action by the North until late 1959 or 1960. There is no evidence of the capture of any Communist weapon whatever in South Vietnam from the North until 12th May 1962. But even then the Department ignores the evidence about Northern involvement which does not suit its thesis. Let us look at a small part of the enormous volume that does exist. Paul Locauture, yet another French anti-Communist authority, says -
It must be emphasised that the Hanoi leaders did not make this shift-
That is the shift of 1960- - still a cautious one at that - on their own, but rather in response to the pressures of militants in the South, who criticised the rather indifferent attitude on their Northern comrades towards the repressive measures of the Saigon authorities.
If the Department wanted to know a little more about the “ repressive measures of the Saigon authorities”, it would not have to look far. Melbourne journalist, Denis Warner, wrote in 1961 -
It is inevitable that of the approximately 400 Vietcong killed each month, many should be innocent bystanders. Any estimate of the number killed in error is at best a fairly wild guess . . . everyone in the village is dossiered, photographed and questioned … the remaining Communists left behind are liquidated and the formal Communists are dealt with at one’s convenience.
Is the Department aware of this other side of the story or, if aware of it, is it merely that there was insufficient space to publish any indication that it existed? In respect of aggression from the north, the Department’s document presents no new evidence, relies upon conclusions and generalisations, and ignores the volume of contradictory evidence that exists. It provides photographs which, except to the simple minded, add no evidence to that which it has already provided, examined and criticised. It ignores evidence of this kind: General Paul Harkins, United States Commander, South Vietnam, said on 6th March 1963-
The guerrillas obviously are not being reinforced or supplied systematically from North Vietnam, China or any place. They apparently depend for weapons primarily on whatever they can capture. Many of their weapons are home-made.
Senator Wayne Morse, on 21st May 1964, said -
I have examined witnesses for some time on South Vietnam from the Pentagon and State Department. When I put the question to them: “ What military personnel have you found in South Vietnam from Red China, Cambodia or elsewhere?”, the answer is always “ Practically none “. So when I press the witnesses further with the question, “Am I to understand the Vietcong are South Vietnamese entirely?”, the answer is, “ Yes “. The same is true of their weapons. The Vietcong have armed themselves from Government stocks, not by foreign imports from Communist countries.
On 29th January 1965, Mr. L. A. Crozier, adviser to the Department of External Affairs itself, returned to Australia and wrote -
Recent photographs of weapons captured from the Vietcong show that they have now the best modern carbines, heavy machine guns, recoilless rifles, mortars and so on - almost all originally captured from the Government forces.
Does the Department repudiate its own adviser? Why has it not even mentioned that it possesses evidence that up to the end of 1964 almost all the weapons of the Vietcong were originally captured from the Government forces? What does explain the remarkable position taken up by the Department and the Government in respect of Mr. Crazier? The evidence of aggression previously given in public discussion still stands and has not been added to. It is that up to 16th February 1965 no more than 835 weapons from Communist countries had been captured in South Vietnam. This means that it is highly probable that not more than 6 per cent, of the weapons used by the Vietcong up to February 1965 came from Communist countries, and that proposition has never been successfully disputed by anybody in this country.
The Department’s document endeavours to hide this situation by a reference, on page 20, to the National Liberation Front’s claim that 47,000 weapons captured from the Government forces “ would amount to only a small proportion of the armoury required for approximately 100,000 regional forces and village guerrillas “. This cover up is exploded even in the document itself, for on page 22 it states - . . the Vietcong had used up their stocks of French and other captured weapons and ammunition, their main forces now have been almost entirely re-equipped with standard weapons of Communist Chinese and Communist bloc manufacture. “ Now” in this sentence is 11th July 1965, so if captured weapons were not used until the main forces were re-equipped about 1 1th July 1965, then captured weapons must have been enough up to about that time. The attempted cover up ignores the fact that not all of the 100,000 regional forces and village guerrillas are armed at the one time. The evidence is that for much of the time they did not all operate at once, and a given weapon was handed round amongst many guerrillas in an area. On page 20 the document deals with the transport of weapons into South Vietnam by sca, and states -
Vast quantities of ammunition have been brought to South Vietnam by land and sea.
Vast quantities! But no evidence of any weapons brought by sea has ever been given, except that of the 100 tons captured on 16th February 1965. Is this evidence of vast quantities? The “New York Times” of 28th February 1965 contained this article relating to this shipment of 100 tons -
Apparently the major new evidence of a need for escalating the war with all the hazard that entails is a 100 ton cargo ship loaded with Com munist small arms and ammunition. A ship that size is not much above the Oriental junk class.
The “New York Times”, on 22nd February 1965 said -
About 12,000 vessels are searched each month by the South Vietnamese coastal junk police force, but arrests are rare and no significant amounts of incriminating goods or weapons have bees found.
Is the .” New York Times “ correct? Are 12,000 vessels searched each month, and have no significant amounts of incriminating goods or weapons been found? Does the Department care whether the “ New York Times “ said this or not, and is what it said relevant to the Department’s own completely unsupported statement that vast quantities of ammunition have been brought to South Vietnam by land and sea?
The Department’s document tells us on page 22 that there has been -
But the document gives no details of type or quantity. Why does it not do so? When faced with this question recently at Monash University, the Minister for External Affairs said he could not give details because they were secret. Is that the reason? If it is, why are they secret? If large supply dumps had been captured would not the Vietcong know? Would there be any reason to keep the details secret? If the Government had any figures, would it not produce them in triumph as evidence of aggression from the North?
The Department’s document, as do all the similar documents, makes great play upon the 40,000 infiltrators into South Vietnam from the North. It does so in close proximity to claims that there are 40,000 or 50,000 members of the regular forces in the Vietcong. This allows a subtle suggestion that almost all the regular or hard core Vietcong forces are infiltrators from the North. But it ignores two things that the Department’s document manages, with so much else, to omit.
First of all, there are casualties. If 40,000 infiltrators came in between 1959 and 1965, and if they were subject to the casualty rate for the Vietcong that is claimed - about 50 per cent, a year - then there are not 40.000 left today; there are no more than 8,000.
The second thing ignored by the Department’s document is the age of the infiltrators. It is admitted that most of the claimed 40,000 infiltrators, up to the end of 1964, were South Vietnamese who had fought against the French before 1954, and who went to North Vietnam, as required under the Geneva Agreement, and then came back to South Vietnam after 1959. How old are they now? If they were old enough to fight against the French before 1954 they must have been at least 18 years old then, and they must be at least 29 years old now - a little old, perhaps, for hard core Vietcong, particularly when most of the hard core Vietcong regulars who are captured are around 20 years of age.
Even the notorious White Paper, “Aggression from the North”, which makes the same claims, for the same reasons as the Department’s document does, contains this admission on page 11 -
The casualty rate has been high, and obviously many of those who were in fighting trim ten years ago are no longer up to the rigours of guerrilla war.
Were the Department and the Minister unaware of the serious consequences of the casualty rate and the age of the infiltrators upon the claim that the war depended upon the infiltrators from the North? If they were aware of them, did they choose to omit these consequences from their story?
Now let us look at another totally inadequate picture presented by the Department’s document. I refer to the economic record of the Ngo regime. At page 10, the Department’s document indicates that the economic record of South Vietnam was very good but it ignores completely the great deal of evidence about South Vietnam’s economic performance just as it ignores completely much evidence about its political performance. For instance, in 1965, Denis Warner concluded -
A meagre 1.4 per cent, of U.S. aid or SIS million went to agriculture between 1955 and 1960. The much vaunted rural health programme did not exist. Land reform was a flop.
So, on the one side we have the presentation of a case which is not in fact a study at all; it is an exercise in public relations.
Let me make a final point. I have examined critically the record of the authorities in South Vietnam, and of the Governments that support them, because it is the authorities in South Vietnam whom we are committed to support. The record of the North Vietnam authorities is bad, too. But we are not legally and morally tied to them. No one can hope to win in South Vietnam unless the record is good. It has not been good. Therefore, we may not win. We can win only if the record is good. If it is to become good, we must know where it has been bad.
– There has been a curious air of unreality in the speeches of members of the Opposition tonight. One would have thought that they were merely examining some academic argument which had no relation to the interests of Australia. In the past year we have seen things happening to our north which have destroyed a great deal of our security. Singapore has broken away from Malaysia. The unhappy Sukarno is now the prisoner of the Communists. He apparently has found it futile to maintain any resistance against his master Aidit. Red China has emerged as a nuclear power. The security and indeed the existence of Australia is at stake. There is an air of unreality about the whole approach of the Opposition to these problems.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has just concluded his speech. Is it a coincidence that after a seemingly dispassionate argument he always reaches a conclusion which is acceptable to the Communists? This has happened so often that it is a coincidence which surely strains credulity. Tonight he was concerned with trying to show that there was no aggression from the north. He was concerned in reading into the record, so that it can be quoted by Communist sources abroad as something coming from the Australian Parliament, the conclusion that there was no aggression from the north in Vietnam. He relied almost entirely upon Communist sources to prove his point. If he is sincere, if he thinks that the Communists are always right, as one would seem to conclude from his arguments, then indeed he has given his heart and his mind into the keeping of our Communist enemies.
I think it would be unfair to name him as a Communist agent even though he does and says the same things as a Communist agent would do and say. Perhaps he is not a Communist but, on his public record, he stands always as the friend of the Communists’ friends and the enemy of the Communists’ enemies. These things are relevant to what I shall say in a moment about Vietnam.
We are in Vietnam for two reasons, each good and sufficient in itself and, in combination, of overwhelming strength. First, it is our duty to the Vietnamese people to be there, and secondly, it is our duty to the Australian people to be there. Let me examine these two propositions.
Opposition speakers have taken the Communist line that the Vietcong has the majority of local support in South Vietnam. This is the opposite of the truth. What local support the Vietcong has comes from terror and the fear of these people that we will abandon them. Consider the position that obtained on partition in 1954 when one million people came south fleeing in terror from Ho Chi Minh. He has boasted that he executed 50,000 of those who were fool enough to remain. The real total was probably far greater than that.
Opposition speakers have said that there was no election in 1956: How could there be an election when half the country was in the grip of northern Communist terror? But Opposition speakers have gone much further. They say that even in the South there would have been a majority for the Vietcong and have misquoted President Eisenhower on this very point, and they have misquoted him in the same way as the Communists have misquoted him. I have here the exact statement that he made in the book of which Opposition speakers have made so much. President Eisenhower did not say that, in an election, 80 per cent, would have voted for Ho Chi Minh. What he did say was that earlier, in 1954, when Ho Chi Minh was leading the Viet Minh in their struggle against the French, 80 per cent, of the population would have supported him against the French nominee Bao Dai, and since 1955 there was a much greater majority in South Vietnam in favour of Diem and against Bao Dai so Ho Chi Minh’s majority would not mean very much. Opposition speakers have misquoted this.
– Well, read the whole of it.
– Opposition speakers have misquoted it and they have done so in a way which is in line with what the Communists are doing. The Communists have misquoted in the way in which the Opposition has misquoted.
– Give us the page number.
– I will lay the exact quotation on the table of the House if I have permission to do so.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– 1 table a letter from the Minister giving the exact quotation, and the reference to the book and the page from which it is taken.
Now I come to the matter of aggression from the North. The honorable member for Yarra spent his entire time in trying to prove that there has been no aggression from the North. He denies Hanoi’s boast that it controls the Liberation Front in the South. Does he not know that the Communist Party is an integral party? Does he not know that Ho Chi Minh is a foundation member of the French Communist Party and a devout Communist, a man who is subservient to Peking? What is the good of the honorable members talking about the split between the Vietnamese people and the Chinese people? Of course there is a split between the people, but the people have nothing to do with it. Their leaders, their dictators, their rulers are Communists working together inside the same system. Ho Chi Minh is the spiritual brother of Mao, or rather he takes orders from Mao. He is Mao’s puppet. This is well known and is an established fact.
Let me quote now from a speech delivered on 16th June by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the British Government, a member of the Labour Party and also a person who has full access to all intelligence reports. I quote him exactly and I will also lay this document on the table of the House if I have permission. He said -
For some five years, from 1954 to 1959, the two parts of Vietnam lived uneasily indeed, but at least in comparative peace; at least able to make some progress with their economy; . . .
Immediately after 1959 came the call of the Government of North Vietnam demanding that the Vietcong activities in the South be stepped up to a full-scale attack on the Government of South
Vietnam. Not only did it call for that attack, it proceeded to give help to the Vietcong in men, in weapons, and in military direction. . . .
Now, there was no need for that action. The two parts were living in comparative peace, they could have lived in greater peace. They could today, if that call had never been made, be living in much greater happiness and at a higher standard of life than they are living today.
There was no need for this. It was a deliberate decision by the Communist North to make an attack on its neighbour, and it cannot be said . . that this could be excused by blaming it on a United States presence in the South. When this attack began there were only 700 American troops and civilian advisers in the South.
These are the words of the Foreign Secretary in the British Labour Government, a man who has full access to intelligence reports. He also said -
And I should add now that we have information of a more serious development. It is now certain that there has been operating in the South - 200 miles south of the border - a regular battalion of the North Vietnamese Army and probably several other units.
These are not my words. They are the words of the Labour man in Britain most qualified to know the facts.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Mackellar that the second request he made regarding the laying of papers on the table was refused. I do not know whether the honorable member heard that or not.
– Thank you, Sir. 1 have no doubt that honorable members opposite are embarrassed by the truth which comes from a Labour member of the British Parliament, and have therefore refused me permission to table his speech in full.
Now, Sir, there has been in South Vietnam a terror campaign of murder in the villages, condoned, apparently, by the honorable member for Yarra. He is full of denunciation for Diem, but has not a word of criticism for the murderous head men of the Vietcong or for the campaign of terror and murder against innocent villagers.
Of course, this disturbance did arouse the need for firm measures and such measures in a democracy naturally cause resentment. There were religious differences which were cunningly exploited by the Communists. South Vietnam is not the only country in which the Communists, the enemies of all religion, have tried to exploit religious differences. This exploitation was of a rather more serious kind even than the exploitation which occurs in other places. There were disturbances, of course. But they were not pro-Communist disturbances. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has pointed out, not one of the factions involved was a pro-Communist faction.
Honorable members opposite say: “ Why does not the Government do more to raise the standard of living in South Vietnam?” Let me remind them of one small thing. The Australian Government sent to South Vietnam a dairy herd and established a model dairy to provide milk for the children of Saigon. That was an excellent project, The cows were shot by the Vietcong, the equipment was destroyed by the Vietcong and because of the Vietcong the milk did not reach the children of Saigon. Is this the kind of thing which the honorable member for Yarra approves of? Apparently it is.
The very fact that there have been these disturbances and changes of government is some evidence of freedom. It is not a fully dictatorial regime in South Vietnam although it is not a fully democratic one. But surely it is our duty to protect a nascent democracy and prevent it from being overwhelmed by Communist terror. The Communists today are like the Nazis were and those who support them are like the people who supported the Nazi fifth column.
But there is worse to come - fear of abandonment. The one thing that can turn people towards the Communists is the fear that they are going to be abandoned to Communist mercy. Therefore the Communists are endeavouring to raise up a fifth column here and elsewhere so that its utterances can be used to discourage the South Vietnamese people and to tell them that their Australian and American friends are going to abandon them, that their friends are going to walk out and that they might as well surrender. This is a concerted plot run by the Communists and some of the people who are echoing the words of the Communists may be innocent of the real reason behind it.
It is a dastardly thing to raise up for these people the spectre of possible abandonment. This is what the Communists are at. This is why the Communists want that kind of material in “ Hansard “, so that it can be trumpeted round South East Asia as evidence that the Americans and the Australians are in the process of getting out and so that they can say: “ If you, in South East Asia, want to save yourselves from murder and torture, you had better come to terms with the Communists.” Communist agents are working this plan here in Australia. The people who say these things are helping to kill Australian troops.
What is the Opposition asking for now? More than we are giving? Negotiation? Honorable members opposite call it negotiation that they are asking for, but if they are asking for anything more than we are giving now, they are asking only for complete surrender. So much for our duty to the Vietnamese people. We must protect this nascent democracy against Communist aggression. And what is our duty to the people of Australia?
As the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) said last night, it is fashionable to discount the domino theory - to wipe it off as something superficial - but really the truth of the matter is that if we abandon the Vietnamese people there will not be a man or woman in Asia that will trust our word. We will yield the whole of Asia to Communism. If we walk out - if we show that our word is not to be trusted by the people of Vietnam - then the people of other Asian countries, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and further afield, will feel that we cannot give them protection and that, as such, we are untrustworthy allies. The domino theory, unfortunately, has too much of reality in it to be a comfortable theory. The Chinese thrust is southwards. If the United States were to lose interest in this area - I do not for one moment think it will do so in spite of the provocation to that end that is being given by the Communists in Australia and those who echo Communist propaganda - Australia would be a Chinese province within ten years.
What do we think of those who are striking this blow at the security of Australia? Somebody in the United States might well have a different opinion about the need for helping the Vietnamese against Communism. The security of the United States is not directly involved in this. The fall of Asia would not immediately mean the enslavement of the people of the United States as it would mean the enslavement of Australia. Naturally there might be two opinions in America as to the need for in volvement in Vietnam. Why should we endeavour to exacerbate, in the United States, an opinion which is directly inimical to the interests and survival of Australia?
There are academics - active, they say. I have here “ Hansard “ of 19th April 1954, and I recall that these same men, Fitzgerald and Davidson, were then sponsoring the false proposition that Ho Chi Minh and his Vietnam Minh movement were not really Communist. Those are the people who, on questions of fact, ask us to follow them today. Obviously they did not know what they were talking about then. They misled Australia then. If we listen to them they will be misleading Australia again.
.- Once again, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has indulged in an attack on the Australian Labour Party or on individual members of it instead of facing up to the real problem that is confronting this nation. I ask the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) whether they listened attentively this afternoon and this evening to the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). Are honorable members opposite sincere when they say, as the honorable member for Mackellar, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and numerous other Government speakers have said, that China is the power behind the trouble in Vietnam; that China is surging forward and will be a threat to Australia in the future? I ask those members what they are doing to prevent this Government selling wheat, wool, metal and other goods to China, because these goods are being used, in all probability, to clothe and feed the Vietcong troops who are shooting down members of the Australian forces. What are honorable members opposite doing to stop their Government from selling these items to China if they believe that China is the threat that they say it is?
Government supporters have been at great pains tonight to try to paint a picture that all is well on their side of the House and that they know all the answers. They would have us believe that to solve the problem all we have to do is go into Vietnam and fight - to keep banging away, in the words of the Prime Minister. The Labour Party has put forward a proposition to this House. I know that this proposition has been put forward before. The honorable member for Mackellar and the Prime Minister quoted a great socialist, Michael Stewart, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdom Government. lt is pleasing to note that some Government supporters are reading the words of socialists. I hope they are heeding them.
– But the United Kingdom Labour Party is different from your Party.
– I do not know how it is different. It has always campaigned at election time as a socialist party. It does not play about. In fact, I would say that the British Labour Party is more socialistic than the Australian Labour Party because it tells the people straight away what it proposes to nationalise. If honorable members opposite were in the position of their counterparts in the United Kingdom they would be depicting members of the British Labour Party as almost Communists if not Communists. But tonight honorable members opposite quote Mr. Michael Stewart. Well, I will quote him too. 1 think in fairness it would not be a bad idea if honorable members opposite went further and quoted what the socialist Prime Minister of the United Kingdom says about seeking ceasefire negotiations. The British Prime Minister said that these attempts must be continued, even though they are continually knocked back. There is no argument that all moves for negotiations have been turned down by Hanoi and Peking. We have no argument with Government members on that point. But is that any reason why we should not continue to try and break through in the future? Is it not better to try to find a solution right up to the 59th second than to continue killing to the full round of the clock?
It is true, I have no doubt, that Hanoi and Peking will not talk peace because they believe they are winning this battle. If honorable members opposite want my comments on Michael Stewart’s statement, I say that .1 am very grateful that we in this country have been able to obtain possession of that statement. Perhaps I am not so clever as are people on the Government side of the chamber, or even some on my own side, but 1 am always trying to find some one on whom I can rely and whose views I can read with assurance. I am prepared to accept the opinions of a fellow Socialist in the United Kingdom. I believe that he would know more of the position than I do. I am prepared to read with confidence what Mr. Michael Stewart has to say, because, by virtue of the office that he holds and the information that he can obtain, he is in a position to know much more than I do. I am prepared to give considerably greater weight to what he says than to the words of any newspaper columnist, whoever he may bc. 1 think that it is a pity that we did not hear something about certain other matters. I know it is difficult for the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to tell us everything that we would like to know. One cannot say that he should have told us more, for he went to great lengths to cover the subjects with which he dealt. At present, in our geographical situation, we are in a trouble spot. We are faced with the dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia declares that she will soon have possession of the atomic bomb and that she will be in a position to experiment and will use it. Let us not just say: “ Our experts say that Indonesia is not in a position to do these things “. Not very long ago, we were saying the same about China. China now has the atomic bomb, though perhaps she cannot produce weapons with power as great as that of the bombs that the Americans can manufacture. Nevertheless, China has atomic weapons. Indonesia is now boasting of what she will do when she has the atomic bomb. It is idle for us to say that Indonesia will not do something about atomic weapons.
The present situation poses a threat to us. We have a neighbouring nation close to our shores which has continually maintained a policy of confrontation of Malaysia. We do not know how serious the dispute between the two countries may become, particularly now that Singapore has been separated from Malaysia. We must in the future ask ourselves what our position will be. 1 have no doubt that the United Kingdom Government has already had discussions with the Australian Government on the future of the naval base at Singapore. Perhaps the future of Australia also is involved. Now may not be the time for us to ask questions about this matter. I suppose that the Minister for External Affairs, even if he has information, could not give it to us now. Nevertheless, we in Australia must be vitally concerned with this question.
In addition to the matters that I have mentioned, there is the dispute between Pakistan and India: - two powers that are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. We thought their dispute over one piece of territory had been settled. But a dispute between the two countries has now broken out again in Kashmir. This is a great tragedy. Singapore and Malaya, I suppose, and India - particularly India - are the pattern for our parliamentary form of government and our democratic way of life in Asia. India cannot afford to wage wars, no matter how minor they may be, if she is at the same time to develop. She has had a border dispute with China, which is a threat to her all the time. India, in this situation, is now engaged in a struggle with Pakistan. I have said before in this House, and I say again, that where people are killing one another, in my view, they are at war. Whether people are killing one another with guns, bayonets or other weapons, one cannot disguise the fact that when opposing nations are destroying human life they are at war. And if this is not war it is murder.
These problems are close to us in Australia. Later, I am sure, we shall hear more about these issues in this Parliament. I hoped that we would have heard the Minister say something about them on this occasion. As I have said, I do not criticise him, but I would have liked him to mention these matters and to tell us of measures that Australia could be taking to seize the initiative and try to bring about agreement between Pakistan and India without waiting for the United Kingdom or some other Commonwealth country to make the first move. We should take the initiative in most of these problems. As everybody has been quoting what somebody else has said, I intend in the next few moments to place on record the nine points made by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Wilson, in the foreign affairs debate in the House of Commons on Monday, 19th July. In summing up, Mr. Wilson said -
First, this is a war - and this is inevitable in conditions of modern war, even conventional war -which as long as it continues will bring death, destruction, tragedy, mutilation to thousands upon thousands of people whose only desire is to live in peace with their own people and who in all conscience have seen enough fighting, fighting on their own homeland, fighting without respite for almost a quarter of a century.
He said that he thought there would be no disagreement with the proposition that it was a war. He continued -
Secondly, this is a war which carries wilh it the gravest danger of escalation, of extension to the point where we might within a very short period of time see it extended to become a major land war on the Asian mainland.
There is no doubt that that is quite true. However, I doubt whether in Australia we all face up to the truth of that. On both sides of Parliament we seem to think that it is for us to score off each other and to make the problem more confusing for the people to solve. Mr. Wilson said that there was no military solution to this problem. The report states -
Fourthly, a solution to this problem will not be found by military means alone. A decision to defer any hope of a political solution, to deny the means of a political solution, is a decision that the military measures may be itensified with all that that means . . .
Fifthly, to get a political solution means getting men round a table. Every effort to do this - whether through the co-chairmen, whether through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, whether through the French initiative, whether through my right hon. Friend’s message to the heads of the Geneva Conference governments, whether through the initiative of the 17 non-aligned countries, whether through the initiative of the Commonwealth peace mission and subsequent attempts to get acceptance of that mission - has so far foundered on the unwillingness of Hanoi and - to the extent to which China accepts responsibility . . .
He said that the efforts should be continued. He points out that the key to the situation is Hanoi and says how difficult it is to break through. He then commented on Mr. Davies’s Hanoi visit. He is a man who was mentioned by the Prime Minister tonight. Mr. Wilson said that he felt that Mr. Davies’s visit had done some good, and he added that he hoped that in the cooler atmosphere of the debate recognition would be given to the difficult circumstances that Mr. Davies had to face. He said -
I believe that my honorable Friend’s visit, while it has not melted the ice, has caused some cracks and shifting to take place m what seemed solid pack ice. Those who think that these two initiatives were wrong have a duty to explain what they would have done in these unique circumstances to stop the present conflict and the danger of a further drift to war.
We on this side of the House find ourselves on common ground with our socialist friends in the United Kingdom because they, like us, continue to seek conferences, although the door has been slammed in our face and remains shut, because it is realised that we must continue in our attempts to find a solution.
He pointed out that in the United Kingdom and in every other country there is a great desire for peace in Vietnam. Then he said -
That is a banner- the “peace in Vietnam banner “ - that I hope we could all carry, although it is becoming clear that some of those who shout loudest for it, both here- and he is talking about the United Kingdom, of course - and in other countries, are concerned not with peace in Vietnam but with victory in Vietnam.
Of course, he is referring to those people from Hanoi and Peking and others who demand that the Americans get out. The Australian Labour Party has not demanded that the Americans get out. The United Kingdom Government has not demanded that the Americans get out. In fact, Mr. Wilson has gone to great pains to show why the United Kingdom Socialist Labour Government supports the Americans in Vietnam. That does not stop them from battling on. It is worth repeating what he said. He said that there are some who are concerned not with peace in Vietnam but with victory in Vietnam. He then continued -
There will be no quick or easy victory for anyone, and a refusal to negotiate now will mean an intensification of the war in which, in the end inevitably, after thousands more have lost their lives, after thousands more have been made homeless, and after innumerable children have been made fatherless, the realisation will slowly dawn that peace will come only at the conference table. If that is what occurs, as I believe it will occur ultimately, the responsibility will lie on those who refuse to come to the conference table. For - let us be clear - the enemies of negotiation are the enemies of peace.
– What about Hanoi and Peking?
– I admit that the enemies of peace are Hanoi and Peking. But that should not stop this Government from taking some initiative to continue to break through and knock on the door to try to force the issue and to try to build up greater world opinion. There was the recent slap in the face given to Marshal Tito and Prime Minister Shastri of India when an approach was made, through President Nasser, to Peking and Hanoi. The fact that they were slapped in the face and told there would be no negotiations will only strengthen in the long run world opinion and force this issue to the conference table. We must continue to strive for peace.
The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is more or less in the terms of the communique of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, except that we add the little point about the Prime Minister’s attitude. Perhaps we can say that he had something to do with the decision of the Prime Ministers’ Conference, but apart from that, his attitude that we should keep banging away is not an attitude that reflects great credit on the Prime Minister nor on this country.
We have been fortunate in this country because we have been privileged to see on television, particularly on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s channels, documentaries of statements by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Michael Stewart. It gives me great pleasure to know that there are two great Socialists in this world who are fighting for peace and that their thoughts are akin to those of the Labour Party in this country.
.- It remains for me to sum up the debate for the night. I believe this has been a memorable occasion in our experience for several reasons. The first that comes to my mind is the devastating way in which it has focused the antipodean differences in the Labour Party. For instance, we have seen considerable courage on the part of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). This, of course, could cost them dearly in their party if the agonising hedging of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is an index of the need for caution.
– Did you write the speech yourself?
– I certainly did. We have seen the extent of the decline in the philosophy and position of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). We have seen the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) and other honorable members opposite who now feel they can bark more openly. Above all, we have seen the degree of confusion which exists in the Opposition and which has come even more as a blanket over its thinking since the last occasion on which foreign affairs were debated.
There are some things which, I believe, must be emphasised in any summing-up. The first that comes to my mind is the inexcusable lack of information on vital issues on the part of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), or his continuing and increasing subservient repetition of matters to which he has not given his heart. For instance, there is that amazing phrase to which several references have been made already tonight; namely, that our actions have been driving North Vietnam right into the arms of China. This philosophy that we ought to lay off because we might offend China will not bear scrutiny for a moment.
In any case, what does a study of the nature of the North Vietnamese Government reveal vis-a-vis the Chinese regime? There are many commentators. Some of the most notable of them have stated that it is a dourly orthodox Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist regime, not in any way to be compared with the Yugoslavian outlook or even the Polish outlook. It is slavishly following a line that was learnt by Ho Chi Minh in the early stages of his career when he represented France in the Commintern and when he was receiving his early training at the hands of the Stalinists in Russia. This is a situation which is recognised by the honorable member for Fremantle who, unlike his leader, freely admits that ultimately this is a Chinese war. Those were his words. It may be by proxy. He went on to give the contradiction to his leader when he reasserted the domino theory; the way in which he believes the fall of Vietnam would lead on, in an unhappy succession, to the fall of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and ultimately Malaysia.
However, there were other ways in which the Leader of the Opposition showed his inability to understand what is going on. For instance, he made great play on the apparent obscurity of our relationship with Malaysia. He asked questions such as: What happens in the event of friction between Singapore and Malaysia? What are the obligations of our forces in the event of internal dissension between the components of the Federation of Malaysia? One would expect a man in his position to know the answers to questions of that kind. Let me quote to him from a recent book written by Dr. Millar on Australian defence. Dr. Millar discusses A.N.Z.A.M., which is an arrangement for consultation on and coordination of military planning and activities. At page 71 he says -
One thing the (Commonwealth Strategic) Reserve - the Australian component, at least - was not to be used for was to put down any civil disturbances in Malaya or Singapore.
In other words, it was clearly set down in the arrangements for consultation and coordination in respect of the setting up of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve that the Australian troops were not to be used for the kind of friction which the Leader of the Opposition cited.
The honorable member for Fremantle, who as 1 said made a courageous speech, when he was accusing honorable members on this side of the House of being prepared to come to terms in respect of trading with China in strategic materials, did not mention that all the Western powers have agreed on a list of strategic materials vis-a-vis China, and that Australia observes that list meticulously. Was it absolutely honest for him to speak in terms of our trading in steel when a moment’s scrutiny would have shown him, or the answer to a question in the right place would have told him, that certain types of steel are on the list and those types of steel are not sold by Australia even to Hong Kong. We do not trade in those materials in respect of which trade is not permitted. If we decided not to trade in the materials in respect of which trade is permitted, other nations most surely would trade in them.
In our position - we are a small nation and a primary producing nation - I believe that the Government has a duty to compare our potential to purchase weapons, such as the Mirage fighter and other extremely necessary organs of defence, with our selling wheat and what would happen if we did not sell it and it was supplied by some other nation. Of course, there is always the other side of the argument. Let us suppose that we refused to sell wheat to China and that within the next year there was a great famine. What a scream there would be from members of the Opposition and their do-good friends. We would be called the architects of starvation.
Then we heard the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) deliver another of his speeches. He sought to show that the Department of External Affairs is engaged in partisan philosophies. He quoted from a recent publication that has been given to us and which in the opening sentence refers to the war between France and the Vietnamese Communists known as the Viet Minh. He took exception to this. He maintained that this was an uninformed attitude on the part of the Department and suggested that officers of the Department had only to read the work of Bernard Fall and they would have been all right. Let me quote a passage for the benefit of the learned doctor. At page 382 of his book “Road Without Joy “, Bernard Fall states -
For the French to grant independence to such a government would have, without the slightest doubt, resulted in a solidly Communist Vietnamese state . . . thus bringing about the domination of the whole Indo-Chinese Peninsula by Communist forces.
Yet again he said -
The Communist Government of Ho Chi Minh was in full control of the country’s administration as of VJ Day. Until the French returned to Hanoi in March 1946 it used its unhindered control to liquidate hundreds-
General Giap has admitted to 50,000 as a mistake - of Vietnamese anti-Communist nationalists likely to get in the way.
That is the opinion of Bernard Fall. I maintain that it squares absolutely with the opening sentence in the document issued by the Department of External Affairs.
As one reads the speech of the Leader of the Opposition one is impressed by the fact that it is full of superficialities and slogans and is entirely devoid of a constructive word in relation to this desperate situation in which Australia is placed. When, by way of interjection, the Leader of the Opposition was asked for one solid, constructive comment he said: “ That is not our job. lt is the Government’s job.” That is a strange altitude for the Leader of the Opposition lo adopt. That is an amazing concept for a leader of a party to express. Is this parly so obsessed with its role that it feels obliged to join issue with the basic requirements of national defence and survival without suggesting any positive alternative? Is this the Labour Party’s concept of its role? ls it the task of Her Majesty’s Opposition to be utterly negative and destructive, even to the point of firing the enemy’s most important weapons for him? How far does this concept of opposition take honorable members opposite?
The Leader of the Opposition does not do this in ignorance. He challenged the Government for adopting military means alone. That is a false charge. He knows - this is revealed by the way in which he speaks - that the war that is being waged is not’ being fought just with weapons made from steel. This revolutionary warfare is guerrilla warfare plus a psycho-political, ideological content. We know the value of the political and psychological factors to the enemy. Then the Leader of the Opposition joined the enemy in the propaganda war that is raging today both outside and inside Australia. He did so, for example, in his reference to villages of the Vietnamese being destroyed by Australian and American troops. He said that we are destroying their villages. Not one word is uttered by honorable members opposite about what is being done by people from the north. This is the enemy’s technique.
The Leader of the Opposition used certain phrases when talking about Malaysia. He spoke of the partial collapse of Malaysia and dissolution from within. These are very interesting terms indeed. It is .interesting to assess the role of members of the Opposition in relation to the internal politics of Malaysia as a result of frequent visits there. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, upon his return to Australia after one of his visits, spoke about the formation of a PanSouth East Asian Socialist entente.
Let us consider the Communists’ major lines of attack on the Vietnamese situation. For example, there is this constant harking back to the type of government that exists in South Vietnam. Let me quote one or two of the contributions from honorable members opposite in this regard. The Leader of the Opposition himself said that we prop up regimes of varying degrees of corruption. Then, of course, we all remember that Shakespearian roll of phrase of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr.
Clyde Cameron) when he spoke of dirty, rotten, filthy, corrupt governments in South East Asia. We heard also from the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) who interjected: “Give them free elections”. Then the honorable member for Oxley interjected “ Which governments? “ when the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) was speaking. What is the reality of this situation?
We know the story of the way in which this particular war was prepared - undoubtedly under the unsuspecting noses of the Americans who were there with some hundreds of advisers. From the years 1956 and 1957 up to 1959 a purposeful plan was carried out to destroy, resistance and indeed to destroy the homogeneity of South Vietnam. There was a purposeful plan of murder, of the removal of mayors, youth leaders, teachers and doctors, indeed of anyone who could form the backbone of information and of leadership in the South Vietnamese villages. During the year 1960 President Kennedy - and he has been quoted enough tonight - reported that 4,000 youth leaders and mayors had been murdered in South Vietnam. All this was before the shooting war, as we now know it, got under way. Preparation was made for the complete annihilation of any kind of political activity on the part of the South Vietnamese.
As we look at the reality of this type of government in South Vietnam let us call a spade a spade. In spite of what has been said by honorable members opposite, who would deny Bernard Fall’s contention that the Government of South Vietnam was no more corrupt or arbitrary than 90 per cent, of the members of the United Nations? I quote him exactly: “Not one out of 10 governments in the United Nations today holds power by a less tainted source”. Would the Opposition contest the right to exist of these dozens of other nations in the face of Communist subversion? Would it choose to champion the Communists on the other hand as the exponents of real democracy? Do honorable members opposite want real democracy or do they want unbridled mob rule, leading speedily to that chaos and confusion where the strong minority - the dictator - slips into power and pseudo democracy gives birth to totalitarianism? This is Communist policy. This is the policy supported by many honorable members opposite without regard to the setting or the circumstances. “ Give them free elections “ is the cry, despite circumstances of murder, terror or coercion and the incomprehension of people on whom they would force a foreign political system.
This is the starry eyed naive nonsense which lies at the basis of so many failures in the United Nations recently and in the rapid acceleration of political concepts in the world. The Geneva Accords of 1954 were doomed from the start because they were in too much of a hurry and had insufficient realism about policing the interim period prior to any attempt at self determination. In my book the statement of the honorable member for Oxley “ Give them free elections” is the modern equivalent to Pontius Pilate’s call for a bowl of water. The attitude is: Leave them alone to go to hell in their own way. The honorable member is backed up by a celebrated colleague in Professor McMahon Ball.
The Leader of the Opposition said that we are driving North Vietnam right into the arms of China because we are resisting the power of China. This is the frightening conclusion to which one comes after listening, not only to so many honorable members from opposite, but to people in other parts of the nation. What does the Leader of the Opposition mean by “ because we are resisting the power of China”? Is this the way that the Opposition mind works? In their thinking has China already won? Is it futile to resist any longer? This, I certainly suspect, is one of the major arguments of the peace mongers, the Walkers and the Moyeses and those who value their skins so highly that they would prefer to be Red than dead. These men are not alone. The Communist fronts have done their work well in this country and today their effect is seen in some of the universities, some of the churches, some of the trade unions and some of the newspapers - thank God not in the majority. But Australia’s thinking in this regard is more petrified by fear than most people imagine.
The Leader of the Opposition, of course, criticised the domino theory that China would march on across Asia. Does he deny to the nation that this is Communist policy?
Does he disregard the clearly stated objectives of Marshal Chen Yi with regard to Thailand for example? Does he discount the Communist terrorist activities inside Malaysia and the number of men being trained inside Indonesia, as they have been training Chinese from Sarawak? Does he care about Sukarno’s more recent statements about Timor? If this is not the set up for dominos I do not know what is. In short, does the Leader of the Opposition care, or does he even know? Or does he prefer the melodramatic sentimentality of his ghost writers? Again the Leader of the Opposition deplores this Government’s actions in resorting to military measures. He makes a fine debating point of the half truth that you cannot win all wars with force, yet does he know what Mao Tse-tung said about political power growing out of the muzzle of a rifle? Does he remember what Marx and Engels said 120 years ago about the place of violence and terror? Does he remember Hungary, Tibet or Korea? The question uppermost in my mind after listening for nearly two years to my friends opposite is: How many of these men opposite are really free to say what they think? In my opinion, from the leader down, they look, act and debate like those who are under subservience to an outside force - all save a few who clearly quite bitterly enjoy their attacks on our security.
One area that has not been mentioned except in passing is New Guinea. Wehave done well in this land. I hope that I am right in feeling that we have many sane and sensible friends among the indigenous population. But let us remember also that Police Commissioner Cole has recently pointed out that the spearheads of the cold war are already pointing into the heart of that land. Make no mistake, the enemy will try with all the means at his disposal to develop a cold war there. First you have the dissident few. Then the Communists build up behind them. Then there is the appeal, as Marshal Chen Yi has pointed out, to civil disturbance and war. The best possible insurance lies in quality of leadership, especially in terms of our own leadership, coupled with ideological and political development of these people. Administrative officials are invaluable and I believe that we in Australia must see to it that in the years ahead we give every opportunity to our best thinkers and our best young men to make their contribution to the development of this land from which we have so little to gain. It is not a rich country. It will never repay in terms of £ s. d. the money put into it. In matters of development the young people in Papua and New Guinea are looking to us with expectation and friendship. I believe that together we can build a pattern that will give the lie to the white Australia misconception and show that we are the kind of friendly people who can build a new nation.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– This is a breach of an agreement that I made with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) for a vote to be taken tonight. Why is the Government squibbing the issue? Let us have a vote now, because the debate will not come on again.
– Do you not want to debate this matter any longer?
– We have debated it for two days. Now we want a vote. This is the arrangement thatI had with the Treasurer. My Deputy agrees with me.
– Order! The question is -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Am I in order in moving that my amendment moved last night be put to the vote?
– This is disgraceful. Why is the Minister squibbing it?
– We are not squibbing it.
– You are. I made an agreement with the Treasurer when this debate came on, and you are denying us the right to a vote. We want a vote.
Question put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority .. ..16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Yesterday afternoon the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) was asked a question by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). It was quite a reasonable question, not perhaps of the kind that I would ask, seeking information as to what the Government proposed to do about the head-on collision on the Australian waterfront. In reply to that question, the Minister first referred to a statement which he had made and which had received wide publicity in the Press.
Then he went on to say -
I have not made any statement on the matter since then, and I have quite deliberately refrained from doing so. I believe it is wise to keep them guessing.
Today, in an attempt to take this matter a stage further and get some clear understanding as to where we were going in relation to this head-on collision, I put to the Minister a reasonable type of question, concluding with an inquiry as to how long he intended to keep us guessing before he or his Department took some action towards bringing the Waterside Workers Federation and the employers to the conference table to try to stop the conditions that are tying up industry on the waterfront. I do not know whether the Minister thinks he is smart or not in telling me in this Parliament that he is going to keep me guessing, too; but, when national responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of a Minister, that Minister is writing down the prestige of this Parliament when he tries to be a smartie in the Parliament.
If I took the Minister’s reply literally, it would have me guessing as to whether he is actually preparing legislation to take away from the Waterside Workers Federation all the rights at present held by the Federation with relation to the recruitment of labour, because that is what the employers have asked for. His reply would have me guessing whether he is getting ready to provide legislation relating to redundancy dismissals without compensation of any kind and without regard for thelasttocomefirsttogo principle where any port becomes affected by mechanisation, because that is what the employers want. The reply would have me guessing, too, as to whether he wants to introduce legislation to provide for the introduction of the piecework or bonus system on the waterfront, something which would be dangerous on the waterfront, because he will not tell me whether or not he means to do what the employers want him to do. His reply would have me guessing whether he proposes to introduce by legislation a system of automatically applying disciplinary measures without first hearing the explanation of the individual, because that is what the employers want and that is what is in the log of claims which the employers have filed. His reply would have me guessing whether he wants to impose still higher and more vicious penalties for port stoppages, because that, too, is what the employers want.
The Minister said to me that the employers have not asked him to do anything. Perhaps I framed my question incorrectly. But those certainly are the things that the employers want the Minister to do, and, knowing what this Minister did on the last occasion when he introduced the long service leave provisions, I become hesitant in my thinking, and I find myself guessing whether he wants to follow the same lines of action that he followed on the last occasion. This Minister knows full well what the employers’ claims are.
The Minister knows full well that this is a case of a head-on collision. He knows full well, too, that it is a function of his Department to bring the parties together and to try to drive some sense into both sides, not to inflict all the penalties on the one side only. The fight between the waterside workers and the employers has been going on for generation after generation. We all know of the huge penalties that have been imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation to date. We all know that the waterside workers have had penalties amounting to £2 million imposed upon them since the penal legislation was introduced into this Parliament. And even the imposition of £2 million in penalties has not put an end to the trouble. Does the Government want to take still more butter off the bread of the workers? Does it want to take the bread from the homes of the workers and leave the families starving as a result of his stupid approach to the problem, a problem that is worldwide? This problem is not peculiar to Australia; it is worldwide. Instead of being funny, the Minister should have his officers get these people together at a round table conference. He should not be planning legislation and keeping us guessing. Fancy a Minister saying he is keeping Parliament guessing on a national question such as this. Such an attitude does no more than reduce his status in this Parliament to a level below that becoming a man appointed to Cabinet rank. 1 have no brief for either side in respect of what is happening on the waterfront because this is another head-on collision, and it is having such an effect on the country’s economy that none of us wants to see it last one day longer. I wonder why the Minister keeps me guessing about whether the waterside workers have a genuine case in their application for a pension. Surely the waterside worker is as good as the employee of Broken Hill Company Pty. Ltd. I remind the Minister that the employees of that company have been given a pension without asking for it. The company handed its employees £6,000 for a contribution by them of less than £500. Yet, when the waterside workers dare to ask for a pensions scheme, the Minister keeps us guessing as to whether he has an interest in the matter. He knows, too, that the decent employers on the waterfront are contributing to a mechanisation fund.
– What an exaggeration.
– All right. The number may be small, but if the honorable member is one who wants the kind of thing that the employers want, let me read the last item and see whether he is happy about it. It states that if the union will solve all the problems of the employers and will prevent stoppages and agree to drastic penalties for port stoppages, the employers will agree to look at the practicability of a contributory pension scheme. That is one of the reasons for the head-on collisions in this industry at the present time.
It is true that the blame can be levelled at both sides, but is it not competent for the Minister to do something to bring the parties together around the table in an endeavour to settle this question which cannot be settled by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission because it is outside the field of the Commission’s operations? Surely the Minister can give this House, and those who are interested in the welfare of not only the waterside workers but also of everyone else in the community a better answer than, “ I will keep you guessing “. I say to the Minister that these smart tactics do not do him or this Parliament justice. In the years that I have been in this place I have tried to couch my questions in a manner which would elicit information and help those I am seeking to help. 1 will not be treated in this way by a Minister who thinks that he is the smartie and that I can be kept guessing. Let me warn the Minister that this is the kind of approach which lowers the level of the Parliament in the public mind.
This Parliament is entitled to have questions which are put to the Minister answered in a better way than the Minister answers them. In addition, this Parliament and this country are entitled to a better effort than is now being made by the Minister and his Department towards settling the disputes on the waterfront which are resulting in these head-on collisions.
– I rise only to attempt to clear away some of the misapprehensions and confusions which exist in the mind of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). I, and other Ministers, have tried to do this on many other occasions but, for understandable reasons, we have never been successful. The honorable gentleman was clearly confused as to the substance of the question asked by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). That honorable member asked me what the Government intended to do to restore sanity to the waterfront and what action it intended to take in the light of the fact that the Waterside Workers Federation had decided to hold 24 hour stoppages on each alternate Wednesday. I replied in clear terms that I had made a statement on 30th July this year and that I had no wish to add anything further to that statement.
– The Minister did not mention the date on which he made the statement.
– I did not but I am now mentioning the date. I made the statement on 30th July this year after the Federation had withdrawn from the Arbitration Commission. I should like to read exactly what I said on that occasion. It is this -
In the bluntest of terms the Waterside Workers Federation has served notice ii will use industrial blackmail to exact increased wages, noncontributory pensions, a mechanisation fund and a guaranteed wage.
I went on to put this in print -
It puts first on its list the purely political objective of nationalisation of the stevedoring industry.
– That was last on the list, not first.
– That was the first item. It so happened that it was the first statement the Federation made. I added this comment -
In simple language, the Federation’s position is this: It has abandoned arbitration, which carries the backing of the Australian people and the Australian trade union movement. It has rejected negotiations with the employers except on its own terms. It has refused to present its views to the Woodward inquiry. In short it has turned its back on the methods of handling industrial relations which are commonly accepted in Australia.
This is not a genuine industrial dispute. It is an attempt by waterside officials to impose their will on the Australian community and to cause the maximum damage to our economy and export trade.
I have given an outline of the question that I was asked and I have given the substance of the answer that I gave. The honorable member attempted to create the impression, by asking two speculative questions, that I had received some recommendations from the employers of waterfront labour and from the steamship owners as to the action I should take with regard to these disputes. I pointed out that the honorable member was in error. I said that I had received no recommendations or suggestions from those people - nor do I want to receive any, because if anything is to be done the decision will be made by the Cabinet and by me. The honorable member then asked a purely speculative question about long service leave, and I have no wish to satisfy his speculation at this moment. I, Sir, refuse to do so. As to the last question he asked, whether initiative would be taken to call a fresh conference, I believe I should warn the House again about the kind of people we are dealing with and the kind of response you can expect to get from them if you ever do enter into an agreement with them. The honorable member will know that in 1963, after there had been a series of strikes almost as serious as those that are now taking place, at the request of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, with which the honorable member claims to be in close association and contact, I arranged for a series of meetings between senior officials of the A.C.T.U., the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the Waterside Workers Federation and the waterfront employers, with myself as chairman of the committee. We then, each and every one of us, came to a solemn agreement. This was agreed to by the Waterside Workers Federation and verified at stopwork meetings on the waterfront throughout Australia. The representatives of the Federation agreed that they would not call strikes but that if there was an industrial dispute that needed to be considered they would refer it to an industrial committee comprised of members of the waterfront unions and employers’ representatives.
All the parties to the agreement lived up to their bargain, with one exception; that was the Waterside Workers Federation itself. The Federation has not kept one single part of the bargain. In those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, do you think you could enter into a contract for a negotiation with the Federation with the certain knowledge that after it had solemnly agreed to a course of action, and its own members at waterfront meetings had endorsed that agreement, it would live up to its obligations in the future?
I believe it is right for me to point this out to the House. No one knows who controls the waterfront. There is no one who can enter into an agreement with the Federation with the sure knowledge that the agreement will be adhered to. I am sorry to say this, because I have a very great respect for the honorable member for Blaxland, but he is aligning himself with the turbulent elements on the waterfront who, I believe, are engaging in the worst form of industrial blackmail that we have ever known in this community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.59 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Att he time of the decision to exempt from tax the pay and allowances of members of the citizen forces, conditions relating to the establishment of the Emergency Reserves were still under consideration. Had the Reserves been established as part of the citizen forces, the members’ pay and allowances would, of course, have been exempt from tax. It was decided, however, not to organize these Reserves as part of the citizen forces but, as announced in the Budget proposals, the Government has decided that the pay and allowances, including bounty and call-up gratuity, of members of the Reserves should be exempt from tax.
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Suburbs of Canberra are named in accordance with the provisions of the National Memorials Ordinance and details together with the origin and significance of the names of the first twentyeight suburbs established are set out in Commonwealth Gazettes No. 99 of 20th September 1928, No. 31 of 14th June 1956, No. 25 of 7th April 1960 and No. 79 of 20th September 1962. The National Memorials Committee has also agreed to the adoption of the names, Lyons, Chifley, Russell, Phillip, Garran and Mawson for new suburbs being established. Names have not yet been determined for other suburbs being planned. The names of the thirty-four present suburbs arc: -
Acton - Name associated with the locality since the days of the early settlers - named about 1843 after town in Denbighshire.
Ainslie - Name associated with the locality since the days of the early settlers - named after James Ainslie, first overseer of “Duntroon”.
Barton- Sir Edmund Barton (1849- 1920), attended Federal Conventions 1891, 1897-1898, Australia’s first Prime Minister, in office 1901- 1903.
Braddon- Sir Edward Braddon (1829-1904), Premier of Tasmania 1894-99, attended Federal Convention 1897-99, Member of first House of Representatives 1901.
Campbell- Robert Campbell (1769-1846), pioneer merchant of Sydney, settled about 1834 on 5,000 acres near the present site of Canberra. The property was named “ Duntroon “ after his ancestors’ castle in Argyllshire, Scotland.
Capitol Hilt- The Federal Capital of the Commonwealth.
Chifley- Joseph Benedict Chifley (1885-1951), Prime Minister 1945-1949.
City- The Federal Capital City and the Cities of the British Empire.
Curtin- John Joseph Curtin (1885-1945), Prime Minister 1941-1945.
Deakin- Alfred Deakin (1856-1919), attended Federal Conventions 1891, 1897-98, Prime Minister 1903-04, 1905-08, 1909-1910.
Dickson- Sir James Robert Dickson (1832-1901), Premier of Queensland 1898-99, a strong advocate of Federation and Member of first House of Representatives 1901.
Downer- Sir John Downer (1844-1915), Premier of South Australia 1885-1887, 1892-1893, attended Federal Conventions, 1891, 1897-98, Member of the first Senate, 1901
Forrest- Sir John Forrest (1847-1918), explorer, first Premier of Western Australia 1890-1900, attended Federal Conventions 1891, 1897-98, Member of first House of Representatives, 1901. - Alexander Forrest (1849-1901), explorer, Member Legislative Assembly, Western Australia 1890-1901, attended Federal Convention 1891.
Fyshwick- Sir Phillip Oakley Fysh (1835-1919), Premier of Tasmania 1877-78, 1887-1892, attended Federal Conventions 1891, 1897-98, Member of first House of Representatives, 1901.
Garran - Sir Robert Randolph Garran (1867- 1957), Secretary to Drafting Committee, Federal Convention 1897-98, Secretary to Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department 1901-1932, Commonwealth SolicitorGeneral 1917-1932.
Griffith- Sir Samuel Walker Griffith (1845-1920), Premier of Queensland 1883-1888, 1890-1893, attended Federal Convention 1891, Chief Justice of Queensland 1893-1903, first Chief Justice of High Court of Australia, 1903- 1919.
Hackett- Sir John Winthrop Hackett (1848- 1916), Member of Legislative Council, Western Australia 1890-1916, attended Federal Conventions 1891, 1897-98.
Hughes- William Morris Hughes (1864-1952), Prime Minister 1915-1923, Member of House of Representatives from 1901-1952.
Kingston - Charles Cameron Kingston (1850- 1908), Premier of South Australia 1893-1899, attended Federal Conventions 1891, 1897-98, Member of first House of Representatives, 1901.
Lyneham- Sir William John Lyne (1844-1913), Premier of New South Wales 1899-1901, attended Federal Convention 1897-98, Member of first House of Representatives, 1901.
Lyons - Joseph Aloysius Lyons (1879-1939), Premier of Tasmania 1923-1928, Prime Minister, 1932-1939.
Mawson- Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958), Antarctic Explorer, Member of Shackleton Expedition 1907, Leader of British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Expedition, 1929-31.
Narrabundah - Aboriginal place name associated with the locality since the days of the early settlers.
O’Connor- Richard Edward O’Connor (1851- 1912), attended Federal Convention 1897-98, Member of first Senate 1901, Justice of High Court, 1903-1908.
Parkes- Sir Henry Parkes (1815-1896), Premier of New South Wales 1872-75, 1877, 1878-83, 1887-89, 1889-91, Chairman Federal Convention 1891, often called the “Father of Federation “.
Pialligo - Aboriginal place name associated with the locality since the days of the early settlers.
Phillip- Captain Arthur Phillip (1738-1814), first Governor of New South Wales, 1788-1793.
Red Hill - Name associated with the locality since the days of the early settlers.
Reid- Sir George Houstoun Reid (1845-1918), Premier of New South Wales 1894-99, attended Federal Convention 1897-98, Prime Minister 1904-1905.
Russell - Name associated with the locality for many years.
Symonston- Sir Josiah Henry Symon (1846- 1934), attended Federal Convention 1897-98, Chairman of Judiciary Committee which designed judicial system of the Commonwealth, Member of Senate, 1901-1913.
Turner- Sir George Turner (1851-1916), Premier of Victoria 1894-99, 1900-01, attended Federal Convention 1897-98, Member of first House of Representatives, 1901.
Watson- John Christian Watson (1867-1941), Member of first House of Representatives, Prime Minister 1904.
Yarralumla - Aboriginal place name associated with the locality since the days of the early settlers.
m asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
On what date, by what authority and for what reason was the name of Capitol Hill in Canberra changed to Capital Hill?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The name of the division known as Capital Hill has not been altered since it was first determined in 1928.
On early plans of Canberra prepared from Walter Burley Griffin’s design for the city, the name “Capitol Centre” appeared as one of a number of names by which Griffin identified various features of the plan.
Under the National Memorials Ordinance 1928, the first formal determination of nomenclature of divisions and public places in Canberra City District was made and published in Gazette No. 99 of 20th September, 1928.
The name “ Capital Hill “ was then determined, the origin of the name being given as “The Federal Capital of the Commonwealth “.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 August 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650819_reps_25_hor47/>.